Looking Back at the 46th WFO Conference

Birders at Weston Pass. Photo: Don Marsh

WFO’s 46th conference, at Copper Mountain Resort in Summit County, Colorado, July 19 to 23, was an event held jointly with our partner organization Colorado Field Ornithologists. The meeting drew about 240 participants from the two organizations.

We enjoyed an array of half-day and full-day trips to destinations representing the range of habitats in central Colorado. Some trips were oriented toward exploring the diverse habitats within a particular county. A number of other trips focused on local high-elevation sites, which yielded such specialties as White-tailed Ptarmigan and Brown-capped Rosy-Finch. Several field trips were successful in locating Cassia Crossbills, a species only recently detected in Colorado. The conference site itself was at an elevation of 9,000 feet, with a stream running through the resort and a resident American Dipper.

Mountain Goats at Mount Evans. Photo: John Harris

The conference program featured two afternoons of science sessions, led off by Chris Wood’s presentation on the inner workings of using eBird data to generate insights for the conservation of birds. A new addition to the conference was the well-received BioBlitz, which utilized iNaturalist to document taxa (not just birds!) seen during the convention. Workshops focused on a variety of topics including Earbirding With Your Phone by Nathan Pieplow; Pinyon Jay Community Science with the Great Basin Bird Observatory; Introduction to iNaturalist by Hannah Floyd; Digiscoping 101 with Clay Taylor; How to Start Learning Bird Songs by Sue Riffe; and Beginning eBird by Megan Jones-Patterson and Sue Riffe. Our traditional Photo ID Panel with Ed Harper and Sound ID Challenge with Nathan Pieplow were popular as always. Saturday night featured the banquet with keynote speaker Jessie Barry, who spoke on the development and impact of Merlin.

WFO had a group of 10 scholarship students in attendance. They participated in a number of special programs, including a preconference camping trip, special field trips, and social events.

This year’s conference benefited from the generous support of a number of sponsors: major sponsors American Birding Association, Swarovski, and Zeiss, and additional sponsors Tranquilo Bay Ecolodge, Colorado Wildlife Council, Kowa, Front Range Birding, Maven Optics, Opticron, Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition, Partnership for International Birding, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, and Holbrook Travel.

Marmot at Summit Lake. Photo: John Harris

The conference planning committee spent many hours planning and implementing the conference. Led by chair Doug Faulkner, the committee included Sondra Bland, Kyle Carlsen, Chip Clouse, John Harris, Nick Komar, Linda Lee, Maci MacPherson, Don Marsh, Megan Jones Patterson, Sue Riffe, David Tønnessen, and Shaun Wilde. Additional volunteers at the conference included Liga Auzins-Wurster, Lena Hayashi, Marjorie Jannotta, and Philip McNichols. Many of the committee and other volunteers are members of both CFO and WFO.

Thank you to all who helped to make the conference a success! We look forward to seeing you in 2024 at WFO’s 47th annual conference.

—John Harris, President

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