19th Alaska Bird Conference will go virtual in Homer

A Western Sandpiper is framed by the chaos of thousands, as it forages on the mudflats of Copper River Delta. Photo courtesy of Milo Burcham

With COVID-19 case numbers and the delta variant continuing to pose uncertainties for in-person gatherings, the 19th Alaska Bird Conference is going virtual from Homer Nov. 15-19.

Keynote speakers include John Marzluff, a professor wildlife science at the University of Washington;  Pat Druckenmiller, director of the Museum of the North at the University of Alaska Fairbanks; and freelance wildlife camerawoman Erin Ranney, a third generation Bristol Bay commercial harvester.

The first day of the conference will include the annual meeting of the Alaska Shorebird Group and the joint annual meeting of Boreal Partners in Flight and the Alaska Raptor Group.

Day two includes a noon keynote address from Marzluff on how humans influence birds in national parks, with the focus on his raven research and what people can do to reduce their impact, plus a workshop on seabird mortality.

The focus of Druckenmiller’s noon keynote address on Wednesday, Nov. 17 will be 90 million years of birds in Alaska, beginning with the Cretaceous Period, when birds co-existed with their dinosaurian ancestors, then following their fossil history up to the present.

On Thursday, Nov. 18, there will be a special session on education and outreach, with invited speaker Miyoko Chu of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, plus talks on conservation, contaminants and biotoxins and genetics.

The draft program also includes possible field trip opportunities in Homer.

Find updates to the program online at www.alaskabirdconference.org/scientific-program/.

Register online at www.alaskabirdconference.org/registration/.

The cost is $50 for professional attendees and $25 for students. Requests for full scholarships available for the conference should be emailed to birdconferenceak@gmail.com.