The COVID-19 pandemic will force a two-year delay, but WSO members can still plan on getting ready for Great Birding on a Great Lake! Two Rivers, located on the breezy shores of Lake Michigan, will be hosting the 81st WSO convention, originally scheduled for 2020. The next WSO convention now is scheduled for May 19-22, 2022. Attendees will enjoy a wonderful weekend full of field trips, social events and educational presentations.
The WSO Board of Directors, meeting virtually on Jan. 16th, approved the new convention date after deciding that holding a large indoor event would not be safe yet this spring. Two Rivers was the intended site of the 2020 convention, which was canceled along with most other group events under the statewide “Safer at Home” restrictions imposed last March.
The board established a committee to study whether pandemic conditions might still allow WSO to hold some sort of regional or statewide gathering later in 2021. Progress on the vaccination effort also will play a role in scheduling field trips in the months ahead.
In 2022, WSO will be hosting Saturday convention events at the Sepia Chapel instead of the Lighthouse Inn. The Sepia Chapel was built in 1891 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was recently awarded “Best Historic Renovation” by Wisconsin Main Street and has capacity for 350 guests.
The venue is located by the banks of the East Twin River, where iconic Mackinaw fishing boats are docked. It features soaring globe chandeliers, a cozy fireplace, loft space, ebony stained original hardwood floors, a full-service bar and a 24-foot indoor waterfall.
On Thursday, May 19, check-in will begin in Two Rivers Central Park where we’ll host a Member Appreciation Picnic. Our annual awards banquet will take place later that evening in the Two Rivers Community Center. There also will be an optional night hike at Point Beach State Forest where we’ll search for Eastern Whip-poor-wills and other nocturnal creatures.
Friday, May 20 will be devoted to birding field trips. All day field trips will start before dawn. Shorter field trips also will be offered to Collins Marsh in the morning and along the lakeshore/Two Rivers area in the afternoon. Beginning-birder workshops will take place at Woodland Dunes Nature Center, and a Big Sit will take place at the Manitowoc Containment area on Lake Michigan where birders will have the opportunity to learn shorebird and gull ID with Chuck Sontag and gull expert Amar Ayyash.
To close the evening, birders can recount their day’s highlights at a Birds N Beers at The Waverly Inn.
On Saturday, May 21, we still plan to offer guided field trips by kayak or bicycle. What better way to experience the birds than by “green birding?” Both are dependent on weather and water conditions.
Lunch at Sepia Chapel will be served at 11 a.m. and is included in convention registration. WSO’s annual meeting will follow, along with an educational segment on topics including gull identification, invasives in the lakes, aerial insectivores, water quality, and scientific illustration by convention T-shirt designer Becca Jabs. A research poster discussion will feature some of Wisconsin’s brightest biology students from universities around the state.
Saturday evening begins with a social hour cash bar at 5:30, with our banquet at 6:30. Then we’ll turn our focus to the highlight of the convention, keynote speaker Dr. Ben Zuckerberg, who will present “Climate Change: How Birds are Dealing With It and What Atlas Findings Prompt Us to Do.”
All-day field trips resume on Sunday, May 22. Destinations will allow for “going home” trips so birders can limit their driving time after a long weekend. Woodland Dunes will again have its hiking trails open from sunrise to sunset, and a beginner birding workshop will be available in the morning.
-- This is one of several timely articles in this month's Badger Birder newsletter; don't miss out on the latest birding and conservation news. Become a WSO member today! --