New York State
Ornithological Association

For the birders and birds of the Empire State

See also the official NYSOA 2006 Annual Meeting report including photos

What I Learned
at the 2006 NYSOA Annual Meeting

by Brian Glidden
Lillian Stoner Award Winner

(From the December 2006—February 2007 High Peaks Audubon, newsletter of the High Peaks Audubon Society, Inc.)

As a burgeoning birder and ecology student at Plattsburgh State University, attending the NYSOA annual meeting in Oneonta this year was a great experience.  The presentations were of high quality, the setting was nice, and the people were friendly.  Here’s a shakedown of two of the highlights:

The first evening’s presentation was a stunning, feathery portfolio presented as a slideshow set to music by artist Jeff Nadler (who must be a very quiet guy in the woods).  Included were photo after photo of crystal clear, close up shots of Adirondack birds.  The few images of a beautiful Snowy Owl, Jeff admitted he captured just outside the park border, but no one, including me, seemed to mind.  From misty Common Loons to Bicknell’s Thrushes to Black-backed Woodpeckers to various native neotropical migrants, the presentation provided a very pleasant way to spend an early evening, and a question and answer session at the end proved very informative. 

Song Sparrow sonogram by Don Kroodsma After the second day’s fun-filled field trips and papers session, we gathered for the cocktail reception and banquet.  I received the Lillian Stoner Award, which was indeed exciting, but the highlight of the night was surely the guest speaker, retired Cornell professor Donald Kroodsma, who gave a charismatic presentation on Raven Lite software.  This is a software that enables the listener to view sonograms of individual bird songs, slow them down, and compare them.  Slowing down a Winter Wren’s song many times, for example, enables one to thoroughly analyze tonal differences between single notes or phrases that would be undetectable to the human ear at their normally bubbly speed.  It enables us to understand more fully how the birds themselves hear their and their neighbors’ different songs, and it even
shows patterns and tonal differences that can help us identify subspecies! 

In addition to explaining the potential of this software for evolutionary science, Kroodsma spoke enthusiastically about genuinely starting to listen to individual birds.  For example, he walked us through some sonograms at high and then low speed, asking us to decide, among eight sonograms on the screen, which one we had heard.  Thinking about the song and its individual parts really made me think about what I was hearing, and Kroodsma’s demeanor really made me feel that it will be just as worthwhile to “leave the checklist at home” at times, and start to get to know individual birds, and through them their species, more fully.

Just to be in a room as part of a group of birders who are as avid and passionate as any, was a warming experience, and I and my two fellow student companions, Justin King and Carrianne Pershyn, all had an eye opening, good time.  I thank Matt Medler and Pat Thaxton of HPAS for nominating me for the Lillian Stoner Award, and giving me the impetus to go to NYSOA ‘06, John Thaxton who allowed me to write this piece and Dr. Kenneth Adams of PSU for getting me started in a noble hobby and perhaps career. 


The Lillian Stoner Award is provided by NYSOA to one or more students nominated by members of our organization.  There were three Lillian Stoner Award winners at the 2006 Annual Meeting: 

  •  Brian Glidden, nominated by High Peaks Audubon.
  •  Jackson Mesick, nominated by the Audubon Society of the Capital District.
  •  Matt Podolsky, nominated by the Cayuga Bird Club.

Clubs or individuals who know a student whose interest in birds can be fostered through this award are encouraged to nominate that student. Details can be obtained by contacting NYSOA Awards chair, or any other NYSOA officer or director.

Published in New York Birders, January 2007

More photos taken during the NYSOA 2006 Annual Meeting

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