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2016 Annual Convention in Lamar

held May 5-9

Colorado Field Ornithologists - 2016 Convention Wrap-up

A cooperative Golden-winged Warbler was present at Stulp Farms, Prowers County, throughout the convention, and was enjoyed by well over a hundred birders. Photo by © Brandon Percival.
A cooperative Golden-winged Warbler was present at Stulp Farms, Prowers County, throughout the convention, and was enjoyed by well over a hundred birders. Photo by © Brandon Percival.
The stunning Golden-winged Warbler at Stulp Farms… A Greater Roadrunner sneaking behind a cholla… Cassin’s Sparrows skylarking at sunrise…and well over 200 other species during a long weekend of birding and field ornithology in southeastern Colorado in early May of this year. And the best thing of all: So many people got to see many of these great birds. We smashed our previous attendance record, with 228 pre-registrations for this year’s convention. We’re still figuring out how many walk-ins, VIPs, and so forth participated, and we may never know for sure! It’s safe to say that more than 250 people were directly involved in this year’s convention.

The proceedings got under way Thursday evening, May 5, at Willow Creek Park, where we were welcomed by CFO President Doug Faulkner and Lamar Mayor Roger Stagner. Doug and Roger were commendably winsome, witty, and brief, and the picnic dinner, provided by Phil’s Grill out of Cheyenne Wells, was fantastic. The barbecue sauce was so good, we wondered if the ingredients were entirely legal. Even the vegetarians were well pleased, and that’s saying something for an eastern Colorado barbecue! Phil’s Grill will be a tough act to follow. The birding was good too: Mississippi Kites, White-winged Doves, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers were at Willow Creek Park that Thursday evening.

The well-attended Saturday scientific paper session enlightened convention attendees. Photo by © Casey Setash.
The well-attended Saturday scientific paper session enlightened convention attendees. Photo by © Casey Setash.
A highlight on Friday, May 6, was a well attended Student Mixer, hosted by CFO board members Christy Carello and Ted Floyd. Our venue was Brew Unto Others, a coffee shop in Lamar, and store manager Rachel Marks rolled out the red carpet for us: all-you-can-eat pizza, fruit, veggies…even drinks! Another Friday highlight was our ever popular quiz program, Jeop-birdy, hosted by the incomparable Christian Nunes, CFO Vice President. And this year, the A/V equipment even worked. More or less.

The Saturday afternoon scientific paper session was stimulating, inspiring, and at times entertaining. Abstracts will appear soon in CFO’s quarterly journal of ornithological record, Colorado Birds. Many folks remarked on the gratifying contributions from so many young people: a high school senior, undergrads, and grad students. The three oldest presenters were forty-somethings.

Our Saturday banquet, business meeting, and keynote address were held at the Elks Lodge on the south end of town. After dinner, Gloria Nikolai and Amber Carver were welcomed by the CFO membership to the CFO Board of Directors, and continuing Director Christy Owens was appointed CFO Secretary; outgoing Directors Larry Modesitt and Mike Henwood were thanked for their service to CFO. “Pass the hat,” an annual fundraiser to support young ornithologists, raised more than $1,000. Awards were presented to folks who have made major contributions to the cause of birding, field ornithology, and avian welfare in Colorado: Jane Stulp, John Stulp, Janeal Thompson, Gale Tempel, Paul Tennery, Karen Downey, and Duane Nelson were among those who received awards—and extended standing ovations. Following dinner and the presentation of awards, our keynote speaker, Dr. Garth Spellman, delivered a superb overview of the history of the bird collection at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, including an exhortation to birders to get involved with the museum’s science and outreach.

Special field trips featured culture, insects, scenery, and more. This Juniper Titmouse delighted visitors to the Lazy UO Ranch, Las Animas County. Photo by © Ted Floyd.
Special field trips featured culture, insects, scenery, and more. This Juniper Titmouse delighted visitors to the Lazy UO Ranch, Las Animas County. Photo by © Ted Floyd.
Field Trips! They were wonderful, a mix of fabled birding destinations and sites brand-new to the birding community. Long day trips ventured all the way to and indeed beyond the state line, and pleasant walks in town were consistently productive. Birders enjoyed arrival trips and departure trips; “chase trips” and “slacker trips”; field workshops and specialty trips; “all-taxa” excursions, cultural sidelights, and good ole fashion bird walks. And oh! The birds! Lesser Prairie-Chicken…Black Rail…American Golden-Plover…Ruddy Turnstone…Vermilion Flycatcher…Scissor-tailed Flycatcher…Carolina Wren…Gray-cheeked Thrush…Painted Bunting…

Thank you! The CFO board extends heartfelt thanks to the many folks who graciously gave their time and money—and in some cases, blood, sweat, and tears—to the cause of our excellent field trips. It is no exaggeration to say that we couldn’t have a convention if we didn’t have field trip leaders. To those of you led groups through rattlesnake-infested deserts and mosquito-filled marshes, down lonely stretches of blacktop and bumpy dirt roads, to lonely outcroppings and stinking sewage ponds: Thank you! CFO also thanks the various vendors who demonstrated the newest birding gear, answered birders’ questions, and promoted the cause of birding.  

See you in Steamboat! The 2017 CFO convention will be held in beautiful Steamboat Springs, Routt County, northwestern Colorado, next June. Please check this site as details become available in the months ahead.

For more on this and other recent and upcoming CFO conventions, use #CFOConvention for all social media. And check out eBird for full checklists for all CFO convention field trips.