Waterbird Society 2019

The Waterbird Society will hold its 43rd Annual Conference and General Meeting in Salisbury, Maryland at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Campus on 6-9 November 2019.


The La Quinta Salisbury is the conference hotel. For those flying into the Salisbury airport, a shuttle van service is available.  More details can be found on the transportation page.

The conference hotel is approximately 12.6 miles/20 minutes from the UMES campus. A shuttle service will be provided to/from the conference hotel for those who do not have their own transportation, and we will also facilitate ride-sharing to reduce the carbon imprint of the meeting. Note that it may not be feasible to provide transportation from other hotels so everyone is encouraged to register at the La Quinta.

Each individual should call the hotel at Phone: 1-410-546-4400 to reserve a room before the cutoff date of October 20th. After this date any unsold rooms will be released to make room for other guests.

Rates, including breakfast and free wifi, are as follows:

Dates of Stay                    Room Types         Number of Rooms            Rate
11/5/19 – 11/10/19        King w/ Sofa                     15                    $84 per night
11/5/19 – 11/10/19       2 Double Beds                    5                      $84 per night
11/6/19 – 11/10/19        King w/ Sofa                    30                     $84 per night
11/6/19 – 11/10/19        2 Double Beds                  90                    $84 per night

The La Quinta may not have enough space for all the meeting participants. We have not yet made arrangements with a secondary hotel; we plan to do so if registration numbers suggest that a second hotel will be needed.

Room sharing

The Waterbirds Society has provided a google spreadsheet to help facilitate roommate matching for any conference attendees interested in sharing a room. Click here to access the spreadsheet. **Please note: this document simply serves to help conference goers connect with one another about room sharing, and will not be monitored by the committee. It is the responsibility of the individual to email or call anyone with whom they wish to share a room. The use of this form is purely optional and does not guarantee a room share. Once you find a roomie, you may want to remove your name to prevent others from contacting you.

Here are some transportation options for you to get to the meeting…

  1. A shuttle service to our conference hotel, the La Quinta Salisbury, will be provided from the airport and to/from the conference on the UMES campus. However, we do not guarantee shuttle service from any other hotel. Therefore, if you are planning to attend the meeting and anticipate needing to use the shuttle service, please be sure to book your room at the La Quinta as soon as you can. There’s more info on the accommodation page.
  2. Drive by private car/get a ride with someone else who is driving. The Waterbird Society will facilitate ride-sharing to reduce the carbon imprint of the meeting.
  3. Fly into Baltimore Washington International (BWI) and rent a car. Salisbury is about 2.5 hrs from BWI.
  4. Fly into the Salisbury-Ocean City-Wicomico Regional Airport (SBY), which is served by American Airlines (American Eagle). To travel by air to SBY, passengers would need to connect through Charlotte or Philadelphia. The flights are offered by AA subsidiary Piedmont Airlines operating as American Eagle on Embraer 145 jets (capacity: 50 passengers).
    • As of 16 Jan 2019, there are nine weekday flights per day from Charlotte, NC and four from Philadelphia, PA. On weekends, there are eight flights to Charlotte and four to Philadelphia.
    • As of 16 Jan 2019, the round-trip basic economy airfare from Charlotte to Salisbury is $339 and the lowest non-refundable main cabin fare is $408. The round-trip basic economy fare from Philadelphia is $318 and the non-refundable main cabin fare is $378.
  5.  Bay Runner has van service every two hours from BWI to Salisbury between 8:30 am. and 8:30 p.m.
    • The one-way fare is $71 per passenger but if a group books together, the fares are $112 for two people, $146 for three people, and $34 for each additional passenger. Waterbirds will facilitate match-ups for those who want to book as a group.
    • Each trip is served by a 14-person van so reservations are essential and some may have to wait for a later van. They do NOT have larger vehicles or enough vehicles to add extra vans for additional customers. They do not serve National Airport.
  6. Charter bus from BWI. Depending on demand, we will charter 2 or 3 buses on Wednesday, return Sunday. Some will have to wait after arrival as we will need to cluster passengers into as few buses as possible without imposing too long a wait. Students would not pay for the bus transportation but non-students would be charged $70 round-trip.

Abstract submission is open! Abstract submission deadline is 31 July 2019.

The following symposia and workshop are planned for the 2019 meeting. If you are interested in participating, please contact the organizers.


Pelicans of the World

Organizers: D. Tommy King (tommy.king@aphis.usda.gov), Giorgos Catsadorakis (doncats@otenet.gr), Juliet Lamb (jslamb@g.clemson.edu )

This symposium, organized by the IUCN Pelican Specialist Group, will bring together experts from six continents on the world’s eight species of pelicans. We will discuss the current status and trends of pelican populations, recent research into their basic biology and habitat use, and pressing conservation issues including habitat loss and modification, forage fish availability, hunting, contaminants, oil spills, and interactions with fisheries and aquaculture. The goals of the symposium are to publish proceedings providing a comprehensive synthesis of current knowledge, identify key priority areas for future study and monitoring, and improve collaborative relationships for studying and conserving pelicans around the world.

Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets: their biology, conservation and management…and is there a need for a Working Group?

Organizers: Chip Weseloh (chip.weseloh@canada.ca), Danielle D’Auria (danielle.dauria@maine.gov)

The Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) and the Great Egret (Ardea alba) are the two largest and most wide-spread Ardeids in North America. They are also among the “least threatened” herons in North America, as identified by the IUCN. Hence, they are rarely the subject of intensive or well-funded study, though being ubiquitous on the landscape and easily identified, they lend themselves well to citizen science studies. Most regional populations of GBHEs appear to be stable while those of GREGs appear to be increasing. However, both species do pose a management concern, especially at aqua-culture facilities. We propose a symposium to foster discussion into their biology, conservation and management challenges and strategies. Four specific topics identified for discussion (and presentation) include: management issues at aqua-culture facilities, human/wildlife conflict at mainland rookeries, effective and ineffective field techniques, and the application of citizen science. Both oral and poster presentations are invited.

Avian Interactions with Offshore Energy Development 

Organizers: Holly Goyert, Scott Johnston, Pam Loring, Caleb Spiegel (caleb_spiegel@fws.gov), and Kate Williams (kate.williams@briloon.org)

Energy development has a range of effects on waterbirds and other avian species that use the offshore environment. Understanding these effects and how to minimize associated risks will be an essential component of waterbird conservation in the coming decades, particularly as newer offshore energy sources, such as wind energy, continue to grow. This symposium will focus on assessing the current state of knowledge and identifying key gaps in our understanding of observed and predicted avian interactions with offshore energy development, including oil and gas extraction, wind energy, and hydrokinetics. We welcome talks on baseline distributions and abundance to inform project siting and impact assessments, as well as studies assessing interactions at existing facilities. The symposium will focus primarily on waters off of North America, but will also incorporate research conducted in other areas that could have relevance to North American waterbirds.

Black Rail ecology and conservation

Organizers: Whitney Wiest (whitney_wiest@fws.gov) and Bryan Watts (bdwatt@wm.edu)

The smallest rail in North America, the Black Rail (Laterallus jamaicensis), is found in salt, brackish, and freshwater marshes.  This species is one of the most secretive of the secretive marshbirds and much of our knowledge of its life history and distribution has been gleaned from historical records over the last 200 years.  This symposium aims to provide updates on recent research investigating the species’ life history and habitat use, status and trends, and conservation strategies.  This symposium is intended to build on the information that was presented at the 2016 Waterbirds symposium focused on the eastern black rail subspecies. The eastern subspecies was recently proposed for protection under the Endangered Species Act in October of 2018.

Ecology and management of gulls in urban landscapes

Organizers: Susan Elbin (selbin@nycaudubon.org), John Anderson (janderson@coa.edu ), and Lesley Thorne (lesley.thorne@stonybrook.edu )

This symposium focuses on the science and management of urban-nesting gulls. Although it may appear these city birds are everywhere and increasing, survey numbers often prove otherwise. Presenters will examine issues specific to the ecology of gulls in urban landscapes: foraging behavior, energetics, reproductive success, spatial ecology, microbiome characteristics, monitoring, and approaches to human-gull conflicts where they occur.


Planning for the proposed 2023 Atlantic and Gulf Coast coordinated colonial waterbird survey

Organizer: Ruth Boettcher (ruth.boettcher@dgif.virginia.gov)

This workshop is opened to all Seabird Colonies and Adjacent Waters Working Group  members and Atlantic and Gulf coast colonial waterbird biologists and managers committed to helping plan a 2023 large-scale coordinated breeding survey.  The primary objectives of this one-day workshop include: establishing the geographic extent of the survey; gaining buy-in from states and provinces to participate in this effort; and organizing a planning team and structure that will ensure the development of a sound survey design. Come prepared to share your ideas and expertise as we tackle this exciting, but challenging undertaking that we all said needs to be done, but never quite got around to doing it.

  • Opening reception: Wednesday 6 November 2019
  • Poster session receptions: Thursday 7 November and/or Friday 8 November
  • Closing banquet: Saturday 9 November 2019
  • SILENT AUCTION: Saturday 9 November 2019 @ 2 p.m., through close of banquet

Coming soon!

  • Maryland’s wonderful annual Waterfowl Festival takes place on Nov. 8-9 in Easton, Maryland. This event is wildlife conservation, the promotion of wildlife art and the celebration of life on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Don’t let the name fool you – this is about much more than waterfowl! The artists and artwork cover the full range of avian life and even some non-bird wildlife. Easton is a truly lovely, charming town with a number of excellent art galleries, restaurants, and shops.
  • Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, on the campus of Salisbury University, features the world’s largest and finest public collection of decorative and antique decoys.
  • Salisbury Zoological Park – Founded in 1954 when some animals were placed on permanent exhibition in the City Park, the Zoo now provides naturalistic enclosures for species native to North, Central and South America. The Salisbury Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. The zoo is a 20 minute drive from the conference site.
  • Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge – just over an hour from the conference site. Blackwater was established in 1933 as a waterfowl sanctuary for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway. Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is home to an incredible amount of plant and animal diversity in its three major habitats: forest, marsh and shallow water. The refuge contains one-third of Maryland’s tidal wetlands, which makes it an ecologically important area within the state.Blackwater NWR is home to the largest natural population of formerly endangered Delmarva peninsula fox squirrels and is also home to the largest breeding population of American bald eagles on the East Coast, north of Florida. The refuge has been referred to as the “Everglades of the North,” and has been called one of the “Last Great Places” by the Nature Conservancy.

Since 2005, the Atlantic Marine Bird Cooperative (AMBC) has brought together partners to better understand and conserve Northwest Atlantic marine birds and their habitats, through cooperative science-driven actions.

Accomplishments include development of the NW Atlantic Seabird Catalog, the Business Plan for Addressing and Reducing Bycatch in Atlantic Fisheries, and a numerous tracking, surveying, and modelling projects that inform offshore energy development. The AMBC is also an official member organization of the World Seabird Union.

On November 7 – 8, 2019, the AMBC will hold a 1.5 day meeting. AMBC meetings are a place for discussing projects, sharing ideas, and fostering productive partnerships related to NW Atlantic marine birds. The 2019 meeting will highlight recent accomplishments, including actions undertaken by a number of active AMBC working groups, and offer a forum for continued collaboration. In addition, participants will have an opportunity to review and discuss current advances and future directions in how the group operates, and what it works on.

The AMBC is honored to be hosted, once again, by the Waterbird Society at their 43rd Annual Conference and General Meeting in Salisbury, MD (University of Maryland Eastern Shore).

If you are interested in participating in the AMBC meeting, please contact Caleb Spiegel directly at caleb_spiegel@fws.gov

Registration will be available soon via this website.