All workshops and programs held at the Stockton Hilton Hotel.

It is highly recommended that you bring your binoculars to all programs and workshops.

We have transitioned to a new registration system for this year’s Symposium. There are 4 steps in the new registration process. Click below to learn more.

Field Trip: Birding with Jon Dunn—Sacramento County Highlights

6:00 AM — 5:00 PM

Registration begins at the Stockton Hilton Hotel

3:00 PM — 9:00 PM

Social Hour — Hors D’oeuvres/No Host Bar:

6:00 PM — 7:00 PM

Please come and help us kick off this year’s CVBS! Come meet the CVBS board & staff members! Reconnect with old friends! Meet new ones! Take advantage of the scrumptious Hors D’oeuvres buffet & No Host Bar!

Introduction: David Yee

7:00 PM — 7:30 PM

During this time, we will cover Friday’s field trips and make any special announcements and additions/or changes to the Symposium schedule.

Keynote Speaker: Ed Harper

7:30 PM — 9:00 PM

Simply in Awe of Birds

The start of our 2019 CVBS will be sparked by a myriad of photos and relevant commentary describing the wonder of birds. Ed Harper weaves together an informative narrative accented with stunning photography to describe the phenomenal avian wonders of our planet. The presentation tweaks our aesthetic senses while honing a deep appreciation of our natural world. Whether it is the definitive song caught by a cocked ear or a splash of color to please our searching eyes, birds elicit a special joy to our lives. Come to be entertained and to learn more about the mysteries of the avian world. There is always something new to add to our knowledge about birds!

An esteemed photographer, birder, and presenter, Ed Harper was a long-time educator before taking up bird photography. He and his wife Susan travel extensively, viewing and photographing the world’s wildlife and scenery. Ed also spends much of his time in his beloved home state of Montana. Ed traditionally kicks off the Symposium with one of his stunning photography presentations. He also creates and directs the challenging Bird ID workshops at the Symposium and at Western Field Ornithologists conferences.

Field Trips: Bufferlands, Colusa NWR, Cosumnes River Preserve, Eastern Stanislaus Co., Jon Dunn Field Trip, Merced Refuges, Micke Grove Regional Park, Pardee Reservoir Eagle Boat trip, Ripon Oak Park & WTP, Salt Spring Valley Reservoir, San Joaquin NWR, SE Solano County, Staten Island & Delta Meadows SP, Sutter Buttes, W. Amador and Yolo Co.

5:30 AM — 2:30 PM

Field Trip: Birding with Jon Dunn in the Delta—Western San Joaquin and Southeastern Solano Counties

6:00 AM — 2:30 PM

Nature/Wildlife Photography Workshop, Part 1: Class & Field Trip: Ben Knoot

7:00 AM — 2:30 PM

Are you struggling to get great shots in the field? Join Tropical Birding guide and published photographer, Ben Knoot for this two-part informative workshop to advance your skills in the field. We will start the Friday AM presentation in class on some of the more advanced skills you can implement in the field to improve your photography, then we will venture out into the field and put our new skills to use. Photo editing continues Saturday. This workshop is geared toward beginners to intermediate photographers, but more advanced photographers are welcome to attend. A DSLR or equivalent mirrorless camera is highly recommended, but a bridge camera is also acceptable (no point and shoots). A tripod is not necessary. Workshop fee includes Photo Editing on Sat.-$25. Limit 10.

Ben Knoot is a 23-year-old nature photographer originally from California. Ben applied for and received CVBC Youth Scholarships from 2009-2012. Before graduating in 2018, he studied Environmental Policy and Environmental Education at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington State.

Ben now leads educational and instructive photography tours and workshops for Tropical Birding Tours. Ben’s goal while guiding is to provide a memorable, exciting and successful experience so that other people can enjoy photographing earth’s beauty as much as he does. Ben has been published by several organizations including, Natures Best Photography, Audubon, Ranger Rick, NANPA, Wildlife Photo Magazine and the BBC. His deep love and passion for nature has guided and will continue to guide the way he chooses to live his life, with a sense of wonder and curiosity of all things new and exciting. See his work at his website.

Bird Identification Panel: Moderated by Ed Harper

3:30 PM — 5:30 PM

This program has become an annual favorite. What better way to learn about the finer points of bird identification than by listening to the experts go through the process! Our illustrious panel will include Jon Dunn, Joe Morlan, Keith Hansen, and Ben Knoot. They will be presented with photos of difficult-to-identify bird groups (golden plovers, female goldeneyes, etc.), then each will mention what features they use to aid in clinching an ID.

Dinner at the Stockton Hilton Hotel

6:00 PM — 7:30 PM

Keynote Program: Nathan Pieplow

7:45 PM — 9:00 PM

The Language of Birds

All around us, the birds are constantly telling us who they are and what they are doing. In this talk for any audience, Nathan Pieplow unlocks the secrets of their language. You’ll listen in on the pillow talk of a pair of Red-winged Blackbirds, and learn the secret signals that Cliff Swallows use when they have found food. You’ll learn how one bird sound can have many meanings, and how one meaning can have many sounds—and how, sometimes, the meaning isn’t in the sounds at all. This talk from the author of the Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds is an accessible, entertaining introduction to a fascinating topic.

Nathan Pieplow is the author of the Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds, published in two volumes, Eastern (2017) and Western (2019). An avid bird sound recordist and videographer, he is the author of the bird sound blog, an author of the Colorado Birding Trail, and former editor of the journal Colorado Birds. He teaches writing and rhetoric at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Local Field Trips: Caswell Memorial State Park, Cosumnes River Preserve, Flood & Waverly Rds., Lodi Lake Wilderness Area, Mokelumne Day Use Area, Ripon WTP, Stockton Rural Cemetery, White Slough Water Pollution Plant, Woodbridge Rd., and Woodbridge Wilderness Area.

6:30 AM — 10:30 AM

Nature/Wildlife Photography Workshop, Part 2: Photo Editing: Ben Knoot

7:00 AM — 12:00 PM

Nature/Wildlife Photography Workshop, Part 2: Photo Editing

Using photos taken in the field on Friday, we will continue Saturday morning with the editing workshop where Ben will provide further techniques to really allow your photos to pop.

Bird Sketching Workshop: Rene Reyes

8:00 AM — 10:00 AM

Have you ever observed a bird and just wished you could sit down and begin to draw it on paper, but didn’t know where to start? Here’s a chance to learn how so with local artist and the creator of this year’s logo, Rene Reyes. Join in this Bird Sketching workshop for an artistic morning.

Rene Reyes started drawing birds at the age of four, using colored markers and crayons on the unpainted walls of his childhood home. René is now a professional biologist and a wildlife painter working mostly in gouache and watercolor. His paintings depict the native fauna of California’s Central Valley, where he now resides with his wife, Pamela, and two daughters, Maya and Ella.

Beginning Birding: Sal Salerno

11:00 AM — 12:15 PM

This workshop will cover the basics: how to choose and use optics and field guides, when and where to bird, and the first steps toward identifying a bird. The Beginning Birding Field Trip will follow in the afternoon.

Sal Salerno is president of Stanislaus Audubon Society and editor of “The Birding Sites of Stanislaus and Merced Counties.” Sal has been teaching an Early Birders class at Modesto Junior College since 2008. His newest book is “Of Bird, Birders, and Birding.”

Presenters: Luke Matthews, Stan Wright, Dan Airola

11:00 AM — 12:15 PM

Update on Central Valley Bird Conservation and Research Programs

Join us for short presentations on conservation and research programs based in the Central Valley. Led by Chris Conard.

Bird-friendly Programs on Sacramento Valley Rice Farms

Luke Matthews will summarize wildlife projects on rice farms throughout the Sacramento Valley. The Rice Commission and its many conservation partners work to enhance the value of rice lands to provide more food, flooded habitat, and nesting habitat for a wide range of avian species.

Luke Matthews is the Wildlife Programs Manager at the California Rice Commission. At UC Davis, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology, and a master’s degree in Avian Sciences. His master’s research focused on updating information regarding food availability for wintering waterfowl in the Sacramento Valley.

Continuous-effort Mist Netting Across Two Decades at Stone Lakes NWR

Stan Wright has maintained multiple continuous-effort (year-round) banding sites at Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, south of Sacramento, for over two decades. He began the program as part of an avian disease study but is still banding long after the studies concluded. There have been many interesting finds, changes in avian diversity, as well as changes to the banding sites themselves.

Stan Wright After a career as a biologist with the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District, where mist-netting and banding birds were among his official duties, Stan now teaches courses in ornithology, natural history, and infectious diseases at Sacramento City College.

Life Under the Fast Lane: Ecology and Conservation of Sacramento’s Bridge-Nesting Purple Martins

Since the 1990s, Dan Airola and his colleagues have been studying Sacramento’s highly threatened Purple Martin population, the last remaining in the Central Valley, and undertaking conservation actions. He will discuss the continued decline of the population and its causes. He also will discuss the upcoming conservation plan developed for this population to provide more effective protection from short-term effects of urban land use and the long-term effects of pesticides on the population.

Dan Airola has been the editor of Central Valley Birds since 2011, is on the CVBC Board, and is a professional Wildlife Biologist who has worked on endangered species and conservation issues in Northern California for over three decades.

Lunch & CVBC Meeting:

12:30 PM — 2:15 PM

The CVBS serves as the annual meeting of the Central Valley Bird Club. We will conduct a brief meeting to give members (if you attend the Symposium, you are an automatic member) an update on the club, and to take care of any business that requires the approval by the membership. This is also when we will conduct the ever-popular raffle where many of the vendors and artists donate wonderful items and works to support the Club.

Beginning Birding Field Trip: Sal Salerno

2:15 PM — 4:15 PM

This field trip will employ many of the principles that Sal covered in the morning workshop. He will visit Oak Grove Regional Park in north Stockton, where wintering birds abound. Bring binoculars, a field guide and notebook. Participants in the Beginning Birding Field Trip are expected to have participated in the Beginning Birding Class, Saturday morning.

A Shared Vocabulary for Bird Sounds: Nathan Pieplow

2:30 PM — 5:00 PM

In this workshop, you will work on advanced listening skills, paying attention to the fine details of a sound. Just as beginning birders learn the different parts of the bird and how to distinguish colors like “buff” and “rufous,” you will learn the different parts of a sound and how to distinguish tone qualities like “burry” and “polyphonic.” In the process, you will learn a common vocabulary for describing bird sounds. You will also study how to visualize sounds and read spectrograms, and which smartphone apps can best facilitate the process. No matter what your level of experience, this workshop will help you listen to sounds more analytically, describe them more accurately, and use them more effectively in identifying birds.

Wine & Cheese Reception/Book Signing:

5:00 PM — 6:00 PM

This is a time to visit and have fun with one another. Many of our speakers have authored books that may be in your library, so remember to bring yours if you want it signed. Some books will be available for purchase.

Dinner at the Stockton Hilton Hotel

6:00 PM — 7:30 PM

Keynote Program: Jennifer Ackerman

7:45 PM — 9:00 PM

The Genius of Birds

Explore the brilliant minds of birds with acclaimed science and nature writer Jennifer Ackerman, author of the international bestseller, The Genius of Birds. In this illustrated talk, you’ll learn how birds make and use their own sophisticated tools, teach one another new skills, exercise astonishing feats of memory, create works of art, navigate, communicate in ways that resemble language, and even pass along cultural traditions. You’ll never look at a crow, a chickadee, or a jay in the same way again!

Jennifer Ackerman has been writing about science and nature for three decades. Her most recent book, The Genius of Birds, is an international bestseller and has been published in 20 languages. The book was named one of the ten best nonfiction books of 2016 by The Wall Street Journal, “nature book of the year” by the London Sunday Times, and a “best science book of 2016” by National Public Radio’s Science Friday. Jennifer’s previous books include Bird By the Shore, a book of essays about the natural life of the Atlantic coast, just revised and reissued by Penguin Books; Sleep Eat Drink Dream: A Day in the Life of Your Body; and Chance in the House of Fate: A Natural History of Heredity. Her articles and essays have appeared in Scientific American, National Geographic Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Natural History, and many other publications and have been included in anthologies such as Best American Science Writing and Best Nature Writing. Jennifer is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including an NEA Literature Fellowship in Nonfiction, a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship, and a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Carving Seminar (Beginners): Jim Burcio and Bob Solari

8:00 AM — 12:00 PM

Join master carvers from the Pacific Flyway Decoy Association for a four-hour carving seminar. All of the necessary materials, including a study guide and the best knives on the market, will be provided for this seminar. Short lectures with lots of hands-on carving will enable you to complete a Killdeer. Topics include where to get your supplies, how to use reference material, wood selection, and how to use hand tools and power tools. There is a $25 fee for materials. The price includes a one-year membership in the Pacific Flyway Decoy Association and a club directory, so you’ll know who is carving in your area. Must be fifteen years old or older. Pre-registration necessary.

Presenter: Joe Morlan

8:00 AM — 9:30 AM

Subspecies for Birders

When we see a bird that looks different, or doesn’t quite match the picture in the book, is it a different species or perhaps just a different subspecies or other type of variation? Modern field guides now illustrate some distinctive subspecies, but what exactly is a subspecies? How do subspecies differ from other kinds of variation within or between species? How are these variations properly classified and why are these distinctions important? Joe Morlan will outline some of the more identifiable subspecies while providing a perspective on the subspecies concept itself in what promises to be an entertaining and informative presentation.

Joe Morlan has taught field ornithology at City College of San Francisco since 1978. He is the coauthor of “Birds of San Francisco and the Bay Area” and “Birds of Northern California.” He has served as the Chair of the California Bird Records Committee and was the recipient of the 2010 ABA Ludlow Griscom Award for contributions to regional ornithology.

Presenter: Jon Dunn

9:45 AM — 11:15 AM

I Know It When I See It

The issue of taxonomy has been one that has perplexed, confused, and alienated both the scientific and birdwatching communities. Tasked with making these decisions is the Committee on Classification and Nomenclature (often referred to as the NACC) of the AOU (now AOS), a group making taxonomic determinations for some 135 years. In recent years there has, of course, been a factoring of genetic evidence in reaching decisions, but the Committee has adopted the Biological Species Concept, and factors in multiple lines of evidence (interbreeding or not and the degree of hybridization, vocalizations, behavior are some of the factors) and the previous history of treatments and why those decisions were made. In at least one case, the change made was based on a study that was fraudulent! The Committee also establishes English names, and these times provoke the most heated discussion, both within and outside of the Committee. Think Long-tailed Duck, or Pacific Wren.

Jon has a been a member of this Committee since 2000 and wouldn’t even begin to consider himself an “authority” on taxonomy (his undergraduate degree was in political science with a minor in history), but hopefully he can lead an informative discussion of many of the issues that vex the birding community.

Jon Dunn has lived much of his life in California, where he became a birder at age eight, an event triggered, he says, by the life-altering appearance of a bright male Hooded Oriole in his garden. Jon has extensive knowledge of the identification and distribution of North American birds and has published numerous papers in a wide variety of journals. He has also long been interested in Asian avifaunas. Jon has been Chief Consultant/Editor for all seven editions of the National Geographic Society’s Field Guide to the Birds of North America, the most recent published in 2017. He is the co-writer and host of the two-video set Large and Small Gulls of North America, as well as co-author (with Kimball Garrett) of Birds of Southern California: Status and Distribution and the Peterson Field Guide to Warblers. Jon is a member of the Committee on Classification and Nomenclature of the American Ornithologists’ Union and the ABA Checklist Committee, and has served more than 20 years on the California Bird Records Committee. In 2012, Jon was the recipient of the ABA’s Roger Tory Peterson Award, given for a lifetime of achievements in promoting the cause of birding. Beyond birds, Jon has a keen interest in politics, history, and the cinema.

Local Field Trips: Bufferlands, Caswell Memorial State Park, Clifton Court Forebay, Cosumnes River Preserve, Flood/Waverly Roads, Heritage Oak Winery, Lodi Lake Wilderness Area, Mokelumne Day Use Area, Ripon WTP, Stockton Rural Cemetery, White Slough Water Pollution Plant, Woodbridge Rd and Woodbridge Wilderness Area.

11:45 AM — 3:45 PM