WOS holds annual meetings where members learn more about birds, present results of their research, rekindle old relationships and make new friends. Meetings consist of a plenary lecture by the winner of the Margaret Morse Nice Medal, a symposium on a topic of current ornithological interest, and sessions in which ornithologists present scientific papers. Papers deal with current research on all aspects of bird biology, conservation, and systematics, and often a workshop is given on undergraduate instruction of ornithology. In addition, participants informally exchange a great deal of ornithological information.
There also are motion pictures, exhibits of bird art and nature photography, and a WOS business session. Field trips to natural areas and birding hot spots, informal luncheons, and a banquet complete the extended weekend affair. Evening receptions are often held at the local zoo or museum, with opportunities for behind-the-scenes visits. Meeting sites are selected throughout the U.S. and Canada so members can see new birds and habitats in the company of local experts and researchers. Meetings provide a wonderful opportunity for students and established professionals to meet and discuss interesting topics, participate in forwarding the most recent advances in ornithological knowledge, and to travel to new birding locations.
Because WOS is deeply committed to encouraging those who are new to the field of scientific ornithology, students are eligible to compete at each meeting for the Alexander Wilson Prize for the best student oral presentation, the Lynds Jones Prize for the best student poster, and (beginning in 2007) the Nancy Klamm Awards for the best oral presentation and poster given by undergraduate students. Those who present papers and posters are eligible to receive travel awards, are guests of the Society at the annual banquet (except in years when WOS meets as part of the North American Ornithological Conference), and all students receive substantial discounts on the meeting registration fee as well as on their annual membership dues.