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Virtual Science Pub RVA | Birds, Birders, and Bias

eye and birds painting
Art courtesy of Christopher Buzelli

Tracking the health of the world’s 10,000+ bird species is an immense challenge. Hundreds of thousands of people are needed to report what they see in backyards, neighborhoods, and wild places around the world. Two critical components of this work are who is doing it and how well they are doing it.  

Explore the topics of "Bird, Birders, and Bias" when you connect with two scientific thinkers and a flock of other curious minds in a virtual Science Pub RVA conversation on August 31.

"Detection Probability" with Dan Albrecht-Mallinger
How conspicuous or cryptic a bird is to an observer depends on the species, habitat, time of year, and the Birder him or herself. The single most important tool we have in avian conservation is the Birder. To detect population declines, wildlife scientists rely on volunteer efforts, including Christmas Bird Counts and the Breeding Bird Atlas. Understanding detection probability–the likelihood of observation–requires an exploration of natural history, human learning, and the core question of the scientific process: how do we know what we know? 

"Birding While Black" with John L. Ditto, Jr., M.D.
A Hollywood comedy about men competing in a bird counting contest, “The Big Year”, ignited Dr. Ditto’s curiosity and he’s been bird watching ever since. Dr. Ditto will discuss his birding passion, share tips, and tell stories about his experience #BirdingWhileBlack and beyond.  Along the way, he’ll share facts and insights about some of his favorite birds, including those frequently visible in Virginia’s backyards.

Dan Albrecht-Mallinger recently figured out how to breathe into his mask without fogging his binoculars, which has immeasurably improved his experience of social distancing. Dan works for VCU's Center for Environmental Studies, teaching undergraduate classes on sustainability, environmental history, and applied statistics. He has worked with birds since 2006 and completed his M.Sc. at VCU studying Golden-winged Warbler conservation in Virginia's Appalachian counties.

John L. Ditto, Jr., M.D. carries a humorous “black man card” in his wallet gifted to him by office colleagues who jested that his birding hobby could lead to identity confusion. Dr. Dittos is a board-certified Otolaryngology head and neck surgeon and a fellow of the American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery. He received his medical degree at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine, Columbia, Missouri. Dr. Ditto received his ENT surgical training at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan and has published in the Archives of Otolaryngology. He has served as the Richmond Audubon Society’s Field Trip Coordinator and occasionally leads birding field trips on their behalf.   

Monday, August 31 at 7:30 p.m.

Online! Grab a coffee or cocktail and say cheers with us virtually via your computer, tablet or phone. Join other curious minds in the Zoom environment to connect with two scientific thinkers. Register here for your free ticket on Zoom.

Who Should Come
All curious minds are welcome - No background in science needed.

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