I thank you all for your support during 2022, a year in which we returned to an in-person conference for the first time since 2019. It was wonderful to see so many friends and to attend conference sessions in person.
At our September meeting, we presented the Swarth and Craig awards to Robert E. Gill and Kenneth P. Able, respectively. We thanked outgoing Board members Kimball Garrett, Daniel Gibson, Karen Havlena, Diane Rose, and past president Kurt Leuschner for their service, and Diane for her tireless efforts in making the conference successful. We welcomed new Board members Elisabeth Ammon, Teresa Connell, Daniel King, and Daniel Ruthrauff. The conference also marked the return of our student conference scholarship program. A get-together of scholarship students, other young birders, and scholarship program alumnae, facilitated by WFO Administrator Maci MacPherson, resulted in productive brainstorming and ideas for 2023 programs.
As we look forward to 2023, I’d like to share information about our financial status and activities for the upcoming year.
The WFO Board believes that members should be informed on a regular basis about our organization’s financial status and our primary sources of income and expenses. We are in excellent financial condition and have a current balance across all funds of $561,238. This amount is distributed among three funds.
- General Fund: $280,047
- Publications Fund: $211,093
- Scholarship Fund: $70,098
The General Fund covers the operating expenses of WFO. Our largest expenses are the production of our quarterly peer-reviewed journal Western Birds and the annual conference, with a smaller amount devoted to administrative expenses. In 2023 our budget estimates that these expenses will total roughly $152,750. Our primary sources of income are donations, the annual conference, and membership fees. Conference income usually covers conference expenses and provides some extra income, while donations and memberships cover most of the remaining annual expenses. I’m happy to say that Western Birds, under the leadership of Editor Phil Unitt (who has served as editor since 1986), continues to provide high-quality peer-reviewed articles. We are currently engaged in a project to improve the internet searchability of Western Birds articles, which we hope to complete in 2023.
The Publications Fund is primarily used for our monograph series, Studies of Western Birds. The most recent volumes of this series are Trends and Traditions: Avifaunal Change in Western North America; The Biology of a Desert Apparition: LeConte’s Thrasher; and The Birds of Gambell and St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. We look forward to publishing The Birds of Inyo County, California in 2023. Additional volumes are in various stages of preparation. The Publications Fund is also available for special editions of Western Birds.
The Scholarship Fund supports our activities for students. In previous years, this has been primarily the conference scholarship program. In 2019 we added a research grant program for students. During the pandemic year of 2020, we experimented with virtual programs for youth, offering a series of Zoom sessions called Ask the Experts. In 2023 we will have virtual programs including webinars, podcasts, and Zoom-based discussions, and perhaps other events for our youth members. Our newsletter, ably edited by Judith Dunham, regularly features articles about recent and upcoming student programs, as well as reports on other WFO activities and interesting information about birds in the WFO area.
In 2023 the conference will return to Colorado. This will be a joint conference with our partner organization Colorado Field Ornithologists, to be held July 19–23 at Copper Mountain resort in the Breckenridge area. We hope you will join us to enjoy mountain birding along with speakers, workshops, science sessions, and ID panels. The WFO Birdathon will take place from April 1 to May 15; this year a portion of the money raised will go toward conservation of the Tricolored Blackbird.
I hope to see many of you in the upcoming year.
—John Harris, President