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2017 Annual Convention in Steamboat Springs

held June 1-5

Colorado Field Ornithologists - 2017 Convention Wrap-up

This convention offered a bit of everything: scenery, adventure, and snow; moose and river otters; butterflies everywhere; and birds! Field trips fanned out all across northwestern Colorado, with some straying north into Wyoming; we saw everything from Gray Vireos to Red-necked Grebes, from Veeries to Greater Sage-Grouse. More than 200 of us registered for the convention, and we enjoyed nonstop learning and camaraderie the whole time we were there.

Bobolinks delighted CFO members at the Welcome Picnic. Photo by Ted Floyd.
We kicked things off with a Welcome Picnic Thursday evening at the idyllic Carpenter Ranch, west of Steamboat a ways. Ranch managers Betsy and Geoff Blakeslee hosted the event, CFO volunteer Linda Lee handled logistics, and Sharon Ashburn and her crew with Stay at Home Chef catering fed us till we were more than full. And we birded! Black-chinned and Broad-tailed hummingbirds buzzed the flowers at the ranch headquarters, Sandhill Cranes bugled as they flew overhead, and Bobolinks sang in the hayfield beyond.

Field trips to mountain pine forests provided conventioneers with great studies of woodpeckers, including Williamson’s Sapsuckers. Photo by Rob Raker.
The full-day field trips on Friday went off without a hitch. Thanks to the helpful and hardworking field trip leaders! After an impromptu social, we enjoyed Jeop-birdy, an educational and entertaining program hosted by CFO Board member Christian Nunes. And another Thursday highlight was the well-attended student mixer at Ciao Gelato, hosted by CFO board members Christy Carello, Ted Floyd, and Doug Faulkner.

Saturday was long and glorious. After half-day field trips, we repaired to the great indoors for a well-attended and well-presented scientific paper session. Afternoon book signings with keynote speaker Sheri Williamson were popular too. Following an early-evening social, we assembled for the annual membership meeting and banquet. David Gillilan and Christy Carello were welcomed as CFO’s new President and Vice President, respectively, and incoming directors Christy Payne, Sue Riffe, and Jason St. Pierre were likewise welcomed to the organization. Outgoing board members Lisa Edwards, Doug Faulkner, and Ted Floyd were thanked for their many years of service to CFO. Our “Pass the Hat” fundraiser and silent auction raised nearly $2,800 for the CFO project fund, which supports field ornithological research in Colorado, as well as for CFO student scholarships. The keynote presentation, by acclaimed hummingbird expert Sheri Williamson, was—not surprisingly—about hummingbirds. Sheri mesmerized a capacity crowd with a marvelous blend of science, conservation, and bird lore.


Is this Ireland? Actually, this is a scene from the Friday morning field trip to the Yampa River Preserve. Photo by Ted Floyd.
Wetlands abound in and around Steamboat Springs, home to species like the Wilson’s Phalarope. Photo by Rob Raker.

Sunday and Monday were for the birds. Full-day field trips were the order of the day on Sunday, and we birded our way home on Monday’s “departure trips.” After a chilly (but brisk and beautiful!) start to the convention, the weather on Sunday and Monday was calm and fairly warm. All trips reported good birding and lovely scenery.

CFO conventions are for the birds, but we were well pleased with many non-avian delights, including this Boisduval’s blue. Photo by Ted Floyd.
Thank you! In recent years, the CFO convention has emerged as a complex and professional-quality event, yet the effort is overseen by CFO’s all-volunteer board of directors. CFO is grateful to college student Johanna Beam for her brilliant convention art, to Sheri Williamson for adding her je ne sais quoi to the convention experience, to the vendors who provided valuable information and expertise to all, to the folks who donated items to the silent auction, and to the many CFO members who contributed to “Pass the Hat” and to the silent auction. Bill Watkins and the staff with Sodexo were critical in delivering the excellent banquet and filling meals to-go, and April Gilliland and her staff at the Colorado Mountain College helped in so many ways with our remarkably economical and convenient lodging. Hard to complain when you wake up to Dusky Flycatchers and Green-tailed Towhees singing right outside your window! Finally: We said it before, and we’ll say it again—A hearty thanks to the 33 field trip leaders for being the heart and soul of our convention.

These folks contributed to the Saturday science session and other scientific content for the convention. Photo by Doug Faulkner.
Next year. It’s been a while since we held a convention in the Front Range. Well, we’ll be in bird-rich eastern Boulder County in 2018; it will be our first convention in Boulder in more than 30 years. For those of you who live in and around the Denver region, we’re coming home! And for those of you from elsewhere, please join us as we take in the amazing East-meets-West avifauna of one of the most dynamic biological landscapes on the continent.