Midwest Birding Symposium 2013: Speaker Clips

MBS Speaker Clips

John Acorn

MBS Topic: Birding Deficit Disorder

John Acorn describes his talk: "After many years working on field guides, hosting television shows, and speaking at birding and nature festivals, I am now an instructor at the University of Alberta. Some of what I teach involves bird identification and many of our students go on to work in environmental consulting or related fields where bird identification is a marketable skill. You might think that a captive audience of intelligent 23-year-olds would be the ideal group to teach birding to, but to be honest I'm starting to miss the retired folks and the everyday fanatics. You folks are better students, but it's not the young peoples' fault. In this talk, I will share some of my experiences, successes, failures, and frustrations, and I will relate my stories to the notion of 'nature deficit disorder' and its unsung relative, 'birding deficit disorder.'"

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Al Batt

MBS Topic: Stories by Al Batt

Listen to stories from a man of whom the President of the United States once said, "Who?" Find a tee-hee's nest with a ha-ha's egg in it as you listen to Al Batt's talk. You will learn why Al has never been asked to bring the potato salad to the Association of Normal People's Picnic. Some people claim that Al is a storyteller from Minnesota, but he's just a guy who loves birds.

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Mark Cocker

MBS Topic: Birds and People: Exploring the Cultural Significance of Birds

All over the world human cultures have their own unique relationships with birds. For the better part of a decade, author Mark Cocker and photographer David Tipling traveled far and wide seeking out and documenting the human-bird connections. Mark Cocker writes in the book: "The sense of freedom evoked by birds in flight has been a source of inspiration alike to tribal communities and the world's major civilizations. Writers, poets, artists and composers have drawn on the qualities of birds for thousands of years. Today birds often play the role of ambassador in our entire relationship with nature. For environmentalists they are collectively the miner's canary, their populations helping us to gauge the health of natural environments from the inner-city to the remote Arctic tundra. Yet our connections with birds far exceed any simple utilitarian value. Very often at a domestic level they are cherished for their own sake, as simple companions, as aesthetic adornments, and as expression of some unspoken bond between ourselves and the rest of nature."

Mark's talk will share some of the most interesting human-bird connections while taking the audience along on a global journey of discovery.

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Cameron Cox

MBS Topic: Seawatching

Seawatching is the challenging act of identifying waterbirds in flight. Since many different species can fly past a waterfront observation point, often at great speed or in tightly packed, mixed-species flocks, identification of these distant shapes can be a mystery. In this talk, Cameron Cox shares the subtle clues that unlock the identity of flying waterbirds, be it wingbeat cadence, individual structure, flock shape and behavior, or subtle flashes of color.

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John Schaust

MBS Topic: A New Look at Some Old Neighbors

Backyard birds? What could be new? How about this: Backyard birds that eat up to 14 feet of prey in a day! Birds that live to a record age of 30 years old! Or male birds that keep a harem of up to 15 females! And by the way, just what is a hippocampus and why would a chickadee be hungry without it?

For the complete scoop on these and many other fascinating facts, join John for an uncommonly fun look at our most common backyard birds.

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Sharon Stitler

MBS Topic: SmartPhone Birding (camera, maps, field guide and rare bird alerts all in your pocket)

Sharon Stiteler was given a Peterson Field Guide to Birds when she was seven years old and snapped. She loves birds, it's just the way she's wired. Since 1997 she has made it her goal to get paid to go birding. She runs the popular birding blog, Birdchick.com and has been in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and on NBC Nightly News as well as making regular appearances on Twin Cities' TV and radio stations. She's an international speaker and her writing can has been found in several publications including WildBird Magazine, Outdoor News, Birds & Blooms, 10,000 Birds and Birding Business. She wrote the books Disapproving Rabbits, City Birds/Country Birds and 1001 Secrets Every Birder Should Know, is #32 in the Geek A Week Trading Card set and works part-time as a National Park Ranger. When she's not digiscoping or banding birds, she's a blue-ribbon beekeeper.

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