After a two-year in-person hiatus due to covid precautions and restrictions, birders and nature enthusiasts throughout Maryland gathered in Solomons for its annual convention this past weekend. The Convention was held at the Solomons Inn Resort and Marina.  Since its inception, this marks the fourth time that the annual MOS Convention has been held in Solomons.

Credit: Sal Icaza / The Southern Maryland Chronicle

“We are delighted to see our members in person finally, and to enjoy activities as an organization,” stated Maryanne Dolan, MOS’ Secretary.  “It’s like a big family reunion, so we are very excited,”  Dolan explained

Founded in 1945, MOS is a nonprofit organization aimed at fostering the interaction and exchange of information among people interested in wild birds; it encourages the enjoyment, study, and conservation of these wild birds.  With 15 chapters state-wide, it has a robust membership of approximately 1,900.  

MOS President, John McKitterick seen here presenting the prestigious Valued Service Award to volunteer, Marcia Watson. Credit: Sal Icaza / The Southern Maryland Chronicle

MOS has a long and rich tradition of collaboration with other birding organizations on conservation, research, and educational matters. Notably, MOS, along with DNR, helped with the formation of the Maryland Bird Conservation Partnership (MBCP), an all-volunteer organization whose mission is to maintain and enhance native bird populations and the habitats they use. This is achieved by fostering partnerships with public and private entities and promoting community action. “Together, with the Maryland Ornithological Society and DNR, we are committed to conserving our precious natural resources; our birds,” stated Chris Eberly, Director of the Maryland Bird Conservation Partnership. “Disseminating knowledge and education is key. The MOS Convention does just that,” concluded Eberly.

2022 Convention Chairperson Meg Harris was visibly working non-stop to ensure a successful convention.  “I just want for all attendees to have a great time, to gain knowledge, and be inspired by our expert line-up of speakers and field trips,” said Harris.

And indeed, attendees were inspired, and Harris succeeded.  One of the presenters and keynote speakers that Harris referred to was Mr. Greg Kearns, who delivered an informative and thought-provoking Zoom presentation to an attentive crowd. Mr. Greg Kearns, a highly sought-after speaker and presenter, is a Senior Park Naturalist at Patuxent River Park at Jug Bay. Mr. Kearns untangled the connection between Canada Geese, wild rice, and the decline of soral rails migrating through Jug Bay. Consequently, Mr. Kearns implemented mitigation measures that increased the wild rice acreage by 30 times. Sora Rail (Porzana Carolina) is a small migratory waterbird found in Jug Bay that winters throughout the Caribbean and South America.  

2022 Convention Chairperson, Meg Harris welcoming Convention attendees Credit: Sal Icaza / The Southern Maryland Chronicle

“Remarkable presentation worthy of high-level of accolades,” stated Convention volunteer attendee Melissa Hensel of Garrett County, “but what is even more remarkable is his measurable achievements.” Concluded Hensel.

As part of the Convention, attendees had the opportunity to explore many parks and birding areas throughout Southern Maryland, including, but not limited to: Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, Point Lookout, American Chestnut Land Trust, Allen’s Fresh Natural area, and Calvert Cliffs State Park.  Many of the birding tours were guided by experts from the Southern Maryland Audubon Society, a key sponsor of the Convention.

“This was my first MOS Convention and my first visit to the Solomons area.  I am already looking forward to next year’s Convention.  What a great event with so many activities and outings for us. The MOS organizers, especially Meg Harris, did a tremendous job,” mentioned Mr. Roberto Anson, an avid birder originally from Costa Rica, now a resident of the Baltimore area. “And it will not be my last visit to Solomons; what a beautiful place. I love it so much that I’ve extended my stay by four days to explore more of Southern Maryland.” Mr. Anson summarized.

The spirit of service, volunteerism, fellowship, and education were on full display in Solomons this weekend during the MOS Convention.

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