Anyone who enjoys waterbirds – of any type – can help protect them by joining the Waterbird Society, a worldwide organization dedicated to birds that depend on water.
The Waterbird Society is a not-for-profit organization based in the United States that focuses on the scientific study and conservation of waterbirds worldwide. The organization uses a wide definition of "waterbird" and any bird species that depends largely on water for habitat and feeding is included under the society's umbrella focus, including:
- Ducks, geese, swans and other familiar waterfowl
- Albatrosses, shearwaters, boobies, petrels, penguins and other seabirds
- Egrets, herons, cranes and similar wading birds
- Terns, skimmers and gulls
- Loons, cormorants, grebes and other swimming birds
- Plovers, sandpipers and similar shorebirds
The organization was founded in 1976 as the Colonial Waterbird Group but changed its name in 1986 to the Colonial Waterbird Society. The name was changed again in 1999 to the Waterbird Society to better emphasize the organization's worldwide focus on aquatic birds, though its mission of research, communication and conservation has not wavered no matter what its formal name.
What the Society Does Today
The Waterbird Society seeks to promote better worldwide communication and coordination between studies and conservation efforts focusing on aquatic birds. To do this, the group participates in a wide range of projects and initiatives to help raise awareness and foster cooperation between individuals, research institutions and other bird and wildlife conservation groups. The types of projects the society is involved with include:
- Meetings: The Waterbird Society plans an annual meeting to coordinate presentations and organize communication among interested members and attending groups. The meetings are scheduled in different areas of the world each year to help spread the organization's goals to a wider audience and to emphasize the birds' worldwide ranges.
- Publications: The society publishes the journal Waterbirds: The International Journal of Waterbird Biology to highlight ongoing research and concerns related to aquatic birds, as well as special symposia reports dedicated to specific types of waterbirds as warranted by current issues, interest and research. The journal is published quarterly in March, June, September and December.
- Policy: The Waterbird Society readily contributes research and statements relevant to local and national policies that have a potential impact on different waterbirds and serves as an advocate for effective conservation and preservation efforts with government organizations. The information provided by the society can also help its members express their political concerns more effectively with regards to environmental and conservation policies.
- Conservation: The society makes itself available to help coordinate conservation initiatives between different groups and helps support projects that significantly help or affect waterbirds of any kind, whether through funding, research, publication or other means.
- Research: Different research grants are available through the Waterbird Society to help fund projects that investigate the needs of aquatic birds, from population studies to environmental and ecological assessments to bird banding or other projects. Projects may focus on a single aquatic bird species, a related group of species, a certain habitat or other interest areas. The organization will also help researchers by broadcasting appeals for assistance and questionnaires so a wider group of respondents can participate in surveys or projects.
- Awards: Annual awards are presented by the society to students, individuals or groups that make significant contributions toward waterbird research or conservation, or for distinguished service that strongly impacts these birds. Two international awards, a distinguished service award and awards for student papers, posters and travel assistance are regularly presented.
- Education: By being involved with student awards, research grants and publication and dissemination of study results, the Waterbird Society is actively educating not only other researchers, wildlife biologists and ornithologists, but also interested individuals and the public about the needs of the world's aquatic birds.
Joining the Waterbird Society
The Waterbird Society currently has members from more than 30 countries, and membership is open to anyone with an interest in research and preservation involving aquatic birds, including biologists, researchers, students and concerned birders. Both individual and organization memberships are available, as well as family and lifetime memberships. A regular, individual membership is $50-60 (USD) depending on whether the member selects a printed or electronic version of Waterbirds, or both.
Donations of any amount are also appreciated to help fund the society's projects, research grants and overhead costs. Memorial and estate donations can be arranged, and anyone who donates an endowment of $20,000 or higher is able to select where their funds will be used.
For more information or to join the Waterbird Society, visit www.Waterbirds.org.
Photo – Brown Pelican © Andrea Westmoreland