48th Annual WFO Conference

Each year WFO holds a multi-day conference with scientific papers, field trips, workshops, panels, a keynote address, the annual membership meeting, and other events. The location varies each year as WFO attempts to span its region of coverage while also making its conferences accessible to the bulk of its members.

Save the Date—San Diego Here We Come!

With San Diego County’s list now well over 500 species waiting for your discovery, the WFO conference is an opportunity you won't want to miss. Mark your calendar for an unforgettable ornithological exploration.  Here are the details:

Dates: October 9–13, 2024
Location: The Dana Hotel on Mission Bay, San Diego, California

Featured Species:
Light-footed Ridgway’s Rail

The conference’s theme bird is the endangered Light-footed Ridgway’s Rail, a bird you will be able to see on select conference field trips.

Below you will find new information on registration and a reminder about booking your hotel stay.


Register Here

The conference pass price includes all sessions and field trips (except pelagic and kayak trips.) All 1-Day and conference passes include one (1) ticket to the Thursday night reception at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Your meals, hotel rooms and Saturday night banquet are separate.


Please note that registration for field trips and sessions are first come, first served. A waitlist is available for sessions over capacity. Full descriptions of the field trips and sessions can be found at the link below.

Download Field Trips PDF
Download Sessions Description page

Reservations at The Dana Are Now Open

Research Papers Sought for Conference Science Session Presentations - Deadline Thursday, August 15, 2025
Abstracts are now being accepted for this year’s WFO conference science sessions, to be held in San Diego Friday, October 11 and Saturday, October 12, 2024. All researchers, including students, are welcome to present. The deadline for submitting abstracts is August 15, 2024. See the complete details about applying.

Plan ahead to attend the conference by reserving your accommodations at our host hotel, The Dana., at WFO’s negotiated conference rate of $189 per night. To make your reservation, contact the hotel through one of the following options:

  • Call the hotel reservations department at 800-445-3339 and mention you will be attending the Western Field Ornithologists conference.

New this year, we will use the Whova App for event information. View your personalized agenda, chat with fellow conference attendees, share photos from your experience, and more!

  • On the App Store or Google Play, download the app: Whova – Event and Conference App
  • Search for “Western Field Ornithologists”
  • After you’ve registered for the conference, login with the email you used for registration and set up a password.
  • Through the app, you will have access to the conference agenda, your personalized schedule and all the important details for the event.

Field trips have been meticulously planned to provide attendees with rich birding experiences. Full-day trips will be scheduled for Thursday and Sunday, half-day trips for Friday and Saturday.

Space is limited so be sure to select your field trips during the registration process.

  • Discover the vibrant biodiversity of Southern California’s wetlands and coastal areas, where you can find the Light-footed Ridgway’s Rail (the conference theme species), Western Snowy Plover, Belding’s Savannah Sparrow, California Gnatcatcher, and Elegant and Royal Terns.
  • Venture into the expansive Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which offers an impressive array of Colorado Desert specialties.
  • Embark on offshore pelagic trips in search of shearwaters, storm-petrels, alcids, boobies, and other birds found off San Diego’s coast in October.


Thursday Night Reception at the San Diego Natural History Museum

  • Join us for a unique experience at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Enjoy food and drinks while taking in the beauty of the Museum. Phil Unitt, the Dennis and Carol Wilson Endowed Chair of Ornithology and curator of the Department of Birds and Mammals at the San Diego Natural History Museum, will provide a behind the scenes tour and workshop.

Don’t miss the ever-popular Photo ID Panel and Sound ID Challenge.

  • Nathan Pieplow, author of the Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sound, will host this game-show-style challenge for bird identification by sound. Teams and the audience will be kept guessing and learning.
  • Ed Harper will host his ever-popular Photo ID Panel, offering images that progress from the easily identifiable to the puzzling and the vexing. As audience members ponder their own IDs, they listen to seasoned birders discuss the fine points.

Saturday Night Banquet and Keynote Speaker

  • Kevin J. Burns, our keynote speaker, has been a professor at San Diego State University for 25 years. At SDSU he teaches courses in ornithology and evolutionary biology. He is also curator of the bird collection at the SDSU Biodiversity Museum. His lab, the Kevin J. Burns Lab, uses genetic data to study the systemics and population genetics of birds. The lab’s work has involved tanagers and various western species, including Bell’s Vireo, Allen’s Hummingbird, and California Thrasher. Kevin has published more than 75 scientific papers on birds and is an elective fellow of the American Ornithological Society.

Take home a piece of the 48th Annual Western Field Ornithologists Conference. Purchase t-shirts, caps, pins and patches, coming soon!

Important Links and downloads:


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