A public presentation on the appearance of the ivory-billed woodpecker in the forest swamps of Eastern Arkansas will highlight the annual meeting of the American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) to be held at the University of California, Santa Barbara on Tuesday through Saturday, August 23 to 27. The remarkable bird was thought to be extinct for 60 years.
The plenary talk on the latest findings on the woodpecker will be given by John Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology at Cornell University. Entitled "Rediscovery of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker and its Conservation Implications," the talk will be held at 8 p.m. on Thursday, August 25, and is available to the public in Corwin Pavilion via live video feed. The televised lecture is free and open to the public, but seating is limited.
(Individuals attending other parts of the conference, which will have scores of lectures and posters on ornithological research, will have paid a required registration fee, which is $300 in advance and will be $325 at the conference. The entire meeting is open to the press, with appropriate credentials. Advance press registration can be arranged by contacting Stephen Rothstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Four additional scientific talks about the ivory-billed woodpecker will be held from 10:15 to 11:15 on Wednesday morning, August 24, at Lotte Lehman Hall.
The California condor, another bird of great interest to the public, will be discussed at a symposium entitled "Endangered Species Recovery: the California Condor as a Model," beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 27. A panel discussion and press conference will be held at 2:30 p.m. at Lotte Lehman Hall. California Assemblyman Pedro Nava has introduced a bill in the California legislature that many scientists believe is essential to condor recovery –– the banning of lead-based ammunition in Southern California. The situation pits conservationists against hunters and a lively dialogue between the two groups is expected.
Friday's 8:30 a.m. plenary talk by Cristina Sandoval, director of the Coal Oil Point Reserve at UCSB, is entitled "Responses of Western Snowy Plovers and other Birds to Management: a Model for Shorebird Conservation." It will provide an overview of a highly successful management program, which meeting participants will observe at UCSB's West Campus during brief field trips.
Beaches, upland habitats and a large estuary are part of or immediately adjacent to campus and avian diversity is thought to be higher at UCSB than at any other university in the U.S. or Canada. Three bird species listed as endangered breed on or adjacent to campus lands. They are Belding's savannah sparrows, snowy plovers and least terns. "This is a really hot place for birdwatchers," said Stephen Rothstein, professor of biology at UCSB and a conference organizer.
The American Ornithologists' Union is the oldest and largest organization in the Western Hemisphere devoted to the scientific study of birds. Although the AOU is primarily a professional organization, its membership of about 4,000 includes a number of amateurs dedicated to the advancement of ornithological science.