by Kristen Rosamond
The Raptor Research Foundation (RRF) is the largest professional organization dedicated to raptor research in the world. They host an annual conference to bring raptor researchers together, providing a platform to spread scientific information and current raptor research.
I was able to attend RRF’s 53rd annual meeting in Fort Collins, Colorado in November of 2019. This was my first opportunity to attend and present at a scientific conference. I presented a poster focused on the hypotheses and evidence for differential migration in Peregrine Falcons. I was fortunate to be a part of this project, which originated from the late Oscar Beingolea, a raptor biologist and falconer from Peru. He dedicated much of his life to peregrine falcon research, and I was privileged to help spread knowledge of such a powerful and charismatic species to the international raptor community.
The RRF meeting offered a multitude of compelling presentations on raptor migration, foraging, population dynamics, and conservation. I was eager to attend a talk by Neil Paprocki of University of Idaho that focused on differential migration in Rough-legged Hawks. It was interesting to learn about differential migration research in a raptor species that I was unfamiliar with and compare Rough-Legged Hawk migration patterns with those of Peregrine Falcons. I learned that female birds winter north of males in both species. However, the timing of migration between the sexes differs between the species, with female Rough-legged Hawks beginning fall migration before males, and males migrating before females in Peregrine Falcons.
I also especially enjoyed a poster that Marie-Sophie Garcia-Heras, a postdoctoral researcher at Oregon State University, presented on Bald Eagle predation of Marbled Murrelets on the Oregon coast. I am interested in seabirds as well as raptors, so I was excited to see a project that incorporated both types of species. Marie-Sophie Garcia-Heras’ research detailed a breakdown of Bald Eagle prey types, which she ascertained by collecting prey remains both in and around Bald Eagle nests. She suggested that raptors may predate endangered Marbled Murrelets more heavily than past research has suggested.
It was inspiring to witness the level of dedication and enthusiasm that researchers at the meeting had for raptor research and conservation. It was also rewarding to connect with other Early Career Raptor Researchers at the conference. It was exciting to be a part of the raptor research community and learn an abundance of information about raptors in just a few days.
The RRF conference was a great experience to mark the start of my career as an avian research biologist. The meeting made me excited to attend and present at other conferences in the future. I left Fort Collins with a new appreciation for both raptors and the scientists who dedicate their lives to studying and protecting them.
Kristen Rosamond and Nico Arcilla of IBCP with Sandra Cuadros at RRF Conference.