About Wilson Ornithological Society

The Wilson Ornithological Society (WOS) is an international scientific society comprising community members who share a curiosity about birds. The WOS produces the quarterly Wilson Journal of Ornithology as the latest iteration of scientific journal publication supported by the Society since 1888. The WOS is committed to providing mentorship to both professional and amateur ornithologists through sponsorship of research, teaching, and conservation. Find us on wilsonsociety.org, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@WilsonOrnithSoc).

Congratulations to This Year’s Publication Award Recipients

The WOS is pleased to announce the latest winners of our annual publication awards, for papers and reviews published in 2022.

The Edwards Prize, awarded to the authors of the best Major Article in each volume of The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, goes to Amanda W. Van Dellen and James S. Sedinger for their paper Predation risk and settlement decisions by colonially nesting Black Brant (Branta bernicla nigricans). You can read Dr. Sedinger’s blog post about the prize-winning paper here.

The Olson Prize, awarded to the author of the best book review in each volume of The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, goes to Christopher J. Clark for his review of Hummingbirds: A Celebration of Nature’s Jewels by Glenn Bartley and Andy Swash.

The Edwards Prize-winning article and the Olson Prize-winning review are available Open Access via the links above. Plaques commemorating the awards will be presented to the winners at our annual meeting, to be held in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on June 20–23, 2023.

The Edwards Prize, first awarded by the Society in 1970, is named in memory of Ernest P. “Buck” Edwards (1919–2011), who proposed the idea of a prize for best paper and provided initial supporting funds. The Edwards Prize-winning paper is chosen by a panel comprised of the Editor-in-Chief of the WJO and the corresponding authors of the two previous award-winning papers. The Olson Prize, first awarded by the Society in 2009, is named in honor of Storrs L. Olson (1944–2021), a prolific writer of witty, erudite book reviews for the WJO and other bird journals. The Olson Prize-winning review is chosen by a panel comprised of the Book Review Editor of the WJO and the authors of the two previous award-winning reviews.

Congratulations to this year’s publication award winners!

PRESS RELEASE: Three Professional Societies Unite on NSF Grant to Increase Access & Inclusivity in Ornithology

The landscape of science is changing: People from increasingly varied backgrounds, identities, cultures, and genders are pursuing careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. Support for this more diverse population of scientists needs to extend beyond “one size fits all” to better meet the needs of today’s scientists. Expanding support and strengthening the sense of community for individuals and groups who have not been historically welcomed in a discipline can foster a deeper sense of belonging and meaningfully broaden representation within that field. Researchers from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and Virginia Tech have teamed up on a new project recently funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in an effort to create widespread cultural change and increased inclusivity within the field of ornithology.

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Announcing the 2023 Margaret Morse Nice Lecturer

Each annual meeting of the Wilson Ornithological Society opens with a plenary by the recipient of that year’s Margaret Morse Nice Medal. We are delighted to announce that this year, the medal winner and lecturer is Dr. Scott Edwards of Harvard University. His plenary lecture will be titled “Linking Micro- and Macroevolution: Exploring divergence, innovation and adaptation in birds.”

Dr. Edwards’s lecture is scheduled for 9am EDT on Wednesday, June 21, and will be available to virtual attendees as well as those joining us for the in-person meeting in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Please join us in congratulating and welcoming Dr. Edwards!

Guest Post: Why Do Kingbirds Prefer to Dine on Drone Bees?

This post was contributed by Stephen Klotz, co-author of a recent paper in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology on Western Kingbirds preying on honeybees.

a watercolor painting showing a man watching out a window as a gray and yellow birds hunts honeybees
Klotz’s watercolor illustration of Schmidt’s experimental setup.

Justin Schmidt called me one morning and asked me to make a painting illustrating the “experimental setup” outside his office-cum-insectarium located in his home. A Western Kingbird was capturing honeybees in flight whenever they left a paper-mache beehive he had invented and manufactured.  He had seeded the hive with the lactic and citric acid, which attract bees, and hung it on a mesquite branch alongside a picture window. Several weeks later, a swarm had settled in. Justin could stand at the window in his office and observe the traffic from the hive once it became occupied. (Wild honeybees in Arizona below the Grand Canyon, incidentally, are all Africanized “killer bees,” and some swarms are prodigious in size.) Soon a Western Kingbird began perching on an adjacent mesquite branch and spent the day leisurely feeding on honeybees, returning for several weeks. Justin, whose long career included studying honeybees, quickly spotted that the bird was feeding exclusively on drones. Justin and the bird recognized the drones by their slower flight and very large heads and eyes.

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Guest Post: The Sapsuckers of East Limestone Island

This post was contributed by Anthony Gaston, co-author of a recent paper in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology on population change and nest tree longevity of a small-island population of Red-breasted Sapsuckers.

A Red-breasted Sapsucker digging sap wells on a western hemlock on East Limestone Island. Photo by Keith Moore.

Woodpeckers are very distinctive birds. Evolution took a lot of trouble to organize a bird that climbs tree trunks and drills holes in wood, and then, having made one such bird, it went on to make 239 different species, 23 of which live in North America. They all share the vital characteristics of having a stiff tail to lean back on and a strong, sharp bill for hacking into trees. Other birds have tried to reach the same niche—nuthatches, creepers, woodcreepers—but none has developed the same skill at woodworking. Watching a big woodpecker hacking at an electrical power pole, spraying large flakes of wood in all directions, is a truly awesome sight and probably a very annoying one for anyone working on the line.

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