Eagle over Great Duck Island

The Waterbird Society, an international group dedicated to the study and conservation of waterbirds, holds its 39th annual meeting at College of the Atlantic Aug. 11-15.

Up to 200 people are expected to attend the conference to hear presentations from Dr. Stephen Kress, Director of National Audubon Society’s Seabird Restoration Program, Dr. Bruno Ens of the Sovon, Dutch Centre for Field Ornithology and other eminent waterbird researchers.

“The Waterbird Society is one of the leading international societies of scientists studying everything from sandpipers to pelicans and back again,” said Dr. John Anderson, the W.H. Drury Professor of Ecology and Natural History at COA. “This is a chance to rub shoulders and have a beer with some of the all-time greats of the Seabird and Wading Bird world, to make new friends and contacts, and to explore the cutting edge of this branch of science in t-shirts and flip-flops rather than suits and ties.”

A special half-day boat trip to view Pelagic Seabirds and whales aboard the Bar Harbor Whale Watch that is happening as part of the conference is open to members of the public. The trip will launch from 1 West Street Friday morning at 6 a.m., and the cost is $58. Tickets may be purchased in front of the Turrets building on Tuesday from 2-7 p.m. or Wednesday from 12-1 p.m.

The theme of this year’s meeting is “Waterbirds 2015: Challenges and Responses.” The scientific program will consist of oral and poster sessions, and includes 119 contributed presentations (29 posters, 90 papers). Symposia include “American Oystercatcher Ecology,” “Impact of Off-Shore Wind on Seabirds,” “Loon Ecology” and other subjects.

Students are encouraged to attend and present their study results; awards will be given for the best student oral and poster presentations.

“College of the Atlantic students have been presenting their work at the Society’s Annual meetings since the early 1990’s, and have always been struck by the friendliness and inclusivity of society members. Previous meetings have been in places like Baja California, Wilhelmshaven Germany, and Vancouver, B.C., so it is a real joy to be able to show off COA and COA students on our home turf,” Anderson said.

The meeting is being held in conjunction with the American Oystercatcher Working Group, the Wilson’s Plover Working Group and the Northwestern Atlantic Marine Bird Cooperative. A half-day whale/seabird cruise, birding trips on Mount Desert Island, morning bay trips past seabird nesting islands in Frenchman Bay and a trip to the gill and Leach’s Storm Petrel colony on Great Duck Island will be among the field trips offered. Social events include an opening reception, a reception at the poster session, and the annual society banquet.

This year’s organizing committee co-chair is Kate Shlepr, a 2013 COA graduate, who will be presenting some of her Master’s work from the Bay of Fundy. Current COA students Rachel Karesh and Meaghan Lyon will also present work from COA’s Alice Eno Station on Great Duck Island. In addition to the scientific program, the Dorr Museum will host a student and alumni Art exhibit, featuring work depicting birds and islands by Lindsey Nielsen, Robin Owings, Anna Perry, Anna Stunkel, Peter Jenkins, and Sarah Drummond.

For more information, visit waterbirds.org.