Mass Audubon Birders Meeting
A tradition in the New England birding community since 1992
Every March, birders from around New England have come together to attend Mass Audubon's annual Birders Meeting. With the help of supportive sponsors, we've successfully brought together engaging speakers from around the country and drawn enthusiastic participants to this annual conference.
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30th Annual Birders Meeting
Raptor Rapture: Research & Recovery
March 6, 7, 13, & 14 • Online Event
Raptors have re-entered the conservation spotlight amid several species’ dramatic, human-assisted recoveries—but these success stories are shadowed by the emergence of new threats. Many birds of prey, from Ospreys and Red-shouldered Hawks to kestrels and owls, have adapted to different forms of human disturbance. Still, the specters of habitat destruction, climate change, and rodenticide poisoning are dampers on raptor populations across the globe.
The pandemic-driven explosion of interest in birding and wildlife photography has renewed public attention on these charismatic and hard-to-miss birds. Mass Audubon is excited to share some of the behind-the-scenes efforts that conservationists are making to maintain healthy raptor populations.
This year's speakers will discuss successful Osprey recovery programs, new research on the most misunderstood group of raptors (vultures), the surprising lives of urban Red-shouldered Hawks, and efforts to track the international migration of Broad-winged Hawks. Each of the four sessions will consist of a live, online presentation followed by a Q&A.
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Schedule & Speakers
Sunday, March 6 • 7:00-8:30 pm ET
Return of the Osprey
Mass Audubon President David O'Neill will open the meeting with a few short remarks on Mass Audubon's continued wildlife conservation efforts. He will be followed by Dr. Tih-Fen Ting and Katelyn Depot, who will speak on Osprey recovery.
"Osprey Recovery in Westport, MA"
with Katelyn Depot, South Coast Osprey Project
Westport is home to one of the densest Osprey populations in the world, with about 100 active nests spread over a few square miles of salt marsh along the Westport River and nearby Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary. Fifty years ago, there were only a handful of Ospreys left in the state due to the widespread effects of the insecticide DDT. This presentation will describe how community efforts contributed to one of the earliest and most successful Osprey recoveries in the region, and about how this success has enabled us to contribute to more recent Osprey recovery efforts as a provider of chicks for the Illinois Osprey hacking program.
Katelyn Depot is the Osprey Field Technician for Mass Audubon's South Coast Osprey Project. As part of her work, she spends the summers monitoring about 100 Osprey nests in Westport and Dartmouth, MA. Learn more >
"'Hacking' a State-Endangered Species in Illinois
with Tih-Fen Ting, University of Illinois Springfield
Because Ospreys have rebounded so successfully on the South Shore of Massachusetts, they have effectively run out of space. This population is now being used as a source for translocation programs to help Osprey numbers recover in other areas. "Hacking" is a protocol that involves translocating juvenile birds from the wild and then raising them at other sites chosen for release when they are ready to fledge. Illinois started hacking Ospreys in 2013, and has hacked 94 Osprey chicks between then and 2021—including 36 from the South Coast Osprey Project in Massachusetts.
Dr. Tih-Fen Ting is an Associate Professor of Ecology & Environmental Science at the University of Illinois Springfield. Professor Ting has worked with threatened and endangered raptor species at the state to federal to international level including Osprey, Short-eared Owl, Northern Spotted Owl, and Lanyu Scops Owl. Learn more >
Monday, March 7 • 7:00-8:30 pm ET
Vultures of the World: New Discoveries & Threats
with Keith Bildstein, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
A richly-illustrated talk from the author of a new monograph on vultures published by Cornell University Press. We'll review new research on the movements, feeding behavior, and social ecology of this widely underappreciated and misunderstood group of raptors. Keith will also talk audiences through the ancestral history and current conservation status of the world’s 26 species of vulture.
Keith Bildstein is the retired director of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Pennsylvania. For 26 years, he coordinated the activities of the sanctuary's graduate students, international trainees, and visiting scientists. He has authored or coauthored more than 170 papers in ecology and conservation, including more than 70 on raptors. Learn more >
Sunday, March 13 • 7:00-8:30 pm ET
Living with Urban Red-shouldered Hawks
with Cheryl Dykstra, Independent researcher & consultant
Raptors were once known as creatures of remote places, intolerant of human presence and activities. However, in recent decades, some raptor species have moved into and occupied urban areas all around the world. What caused this change? Why are some species able to live in our cities and not others? How do urban raptors survive the threats that humans and human activities pose? And what can we do to conserve them? What scientists are learning may surprise you! Cheryl’s research team has studied urban Red-shouldered Hawks for more than 20 years, and what they have discovered provides insight into both the ecology of urban raptors and the ability of humans to live alongside them.
Cheryl Dykstra is an independent researcher and consultant in West Chester, OH, a suburb of Cincinnati. She has worked as a researcher for the USFWS and USEPA, and has served as the Editor-in-chief of the Journal of Raptor Research since 2006. Learn more >
Monday, March 14 • 7:00-8:30 pm ET
Conserving the Broad-winged Hawk from Canada to Colombia
with Laurie Goodrich, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
Broad-winged Hawks are one of the most celebrated raptors during migration across the northeastern United States, but increasingly they have shown range retractions and declines in certain regions of their historical nesting range. Nest success, habitat use, and winter sites have been studied to understand the conservation challenges facing this iconic long-distance migrant. In this talk, Laurie will discuss the results of a satellite-tracking study of nearly 20 female Broad-winged Hawks from throughout the Northeast. She'll discuss migration behavior and maps, new discoveries pertaining to winter and nesting season ecology, and some of the threats increasingly facing these birds.
Dr. Laurie Goodrich works as Director of Conservation Science for the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association in Pennsylvania. She also co-leads land conservation efforts for the sanctuary. Learn more >