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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

IFO- Take a Course!

The latest issue of Birding arrived the other day, bundled with a brochure outlining the 2008 Institute for Field Ornithology (IFO) offerings. I contributed the cover shot of a hen White-tailed Ptarmigan that I took on the slopes of Mount Audubon, west of Boulder, Colorado (and I've got some other shots sprinkled throughout the brochure.) I'm also excited to be assisting Ted Floyd on one of the workshops- Colorado Bird Community Biology: The San Luis Valley. The course will be 6-10 June, headquartered at The Nature Conservancy's Medano-Zapata Ranch . This little bison ranch (100,000 acres or so) sits on the high valley floor around 7500 feet above sea level near the Great Sand Dunes National Park, between the Sangre de Cristo and San Juan Mountains. To say that the natural setting is spectacular is an understatement, and the creature comforts at the ranch facility are top-notch, too.

Extremely varied habitat is found within and nearby the ranch, including two wetland-dominated national wildlife refuges (Monte Visa NWR and Alamosa NWR) the sage-shrubland valley floor, piƱon-juniper foothills, montane forest mountain slopes, and alpine tundra (not to mention the continent's tallest sand dunes.) Among the diverse ecological settings of the San Luis Valley and its surrounding mountains we will address the following questions:
What causes communities to have the avian constituents that they do?
What factors limit membership in bird communities?
How do member species partition the resources in their communities?
How is bird community ecology affected by humans?
Of course, we won't be sitting around a classroom with the windows closed talking all day- our class will be field-based and you can count on lots of great birding in a remote, under-visited (thank goodness!) part of the state. If you'd like more information, email me and I'll send you an itinerary or try to answer whatever questions you may have.

Check out the other 2008 IFO offerings, too- lots of great topics in great places with great instructors!

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