Since its organization, the Virginia Society of Ornithology has raised money, funded scholarships, and made grants to promote bird study in the state. There are currently four awards. For more information about specific awards, application procedures, criteria, or to nominate a person for an award, please contact the President of the Virginia Society of Ornithology.

Byrd Award

The Mitchell A. Byrd Award, established in 2011, recognizes outstanding scientific achievement in the field of ornithology. Recipients shall demonstrate an exceptional record of contribution to the scientific knowledge of Virginia’s birds through evidence including, but not limited to, publications such as papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals and books or book chapters derived from the candidates’ original scientific research, conference presentations, recommendation letters from scientific peers, and other forms of peer recognition (e.g. an award from a national scholarly society). Any member of the Virginia Society of Ornithology may nominate a candidate for the Byrd Award. The Byrd Award Committee selects a recipient for the award from among the candidates, and the award is presented during the Annual Meeting. 

Recipients of the Byrd Award

2012—Dan Cristol - William & Mary
2013—Bryan Watts - William & Mary
2014—James (Jim) Fraser - Virginia Tech
2015—Dana Hawley - Virginia Tech
2016—No Recipient
2017—Dr. Sarah Karpanty - Virginia Tech

Jackson M. Abbott Conservation Award

In 1973 the Virginia Society of Ornithology established a conservation award to be given to individuals or organizations that have demonstrated outstanding conservation work in the state of Virginia. The award, a framed certificate acknowledging the accomplishments of the recipient, is presented at the annual meeting. In 1989, the award was renamed in honor of Jackson M. Abbott for his lifelong devotion to conservation and his effective work on its behalf. A list of recipients can found here.

A Call for Nominations 

The Virginia Society of Ornithology is seeking nominations for the Jackson M. Abbott Conservation Award, given for outstanding work in conserving Virginia’s birds and/or the state’s natural areas.

The Conservation Award was renamed the Jackson M. Abbott Conservation Award in 1989 based on Abbott’s extensive efforts to conserve Virginia’s birds.  While Abbott began the Fort Belvoir Christmas Bird Count in 1941 and the 250-acre Jackson Abbott Wetland Refuge on Fort Belvoir is named after him, he is best known for his work to protect Bald Eagles in Virginia, especially in the upper reaches of the Chesapeake Bay.  Some previous recipients of the award include James W.Waggener for his efforts to establish the Occoquan Wildlife Refuge (1999), the Non-game Division of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for their work in promoting conservation and public awareness of birds (2002), and the Center for Conservation Biology (2007).

Nominations, including at least three letters of recommendation and a list of the nominee's accomplishments, should be submitted to VSO’s Conservation Committee (chair: Patti Reum no later than January 15, 2018. The Conservation Committee will make its recommendations to the VSO Board at the February meeting. The award will be presented at the 2018 Annual Meeting.

Recipients of the Jackson M. Abbott Conservation Award

1973—The U. S. Coast Guard for its preservation of Osprey nests on navigational aids.

1974—Persons responsible for recent legislation strengthing the protection of birds of prey in Virginia.

1975—Philip Shelton for his efforts to persuade the Commonwealth of Virginia to institute effective strip-mining controls.

1976—North Carolina Governor and Legislature for its efforts to protect the New River against a pump-storage hydroelectric project.

1977—Dennis Holland for his efforts to maintain the integrity of the National Wildlife Refuge system.

1978—The Virginia Chapter of the Nature Conservancy for its work in preserving the barrier islands of the Virginia Eastern Shore.

1979—Mitchell A. Byrd for his work on endangered species in Virginia.

1980—Jackson M. Abbott for his work on conservation of the Bald Eagle.

1981—Citizens for Southwest Virginia for their effort to insure that development of the Mount Rogers Recreation area would not impact the natural beauty of the area.

1982—Walter E. Feurer for his work at the Cheatham Annex and his efforts in environmental protection.

1983—Margaret O’Bryan for her efforts on behalf of the non-game tax bill.

1984—John Fulton for his work at Kerr Reservoir to improve wildlife habitat.

1985—Sylvia Ann Brugh for her opposition to the Burke’s Dam Project and efforts leading to Scenic River designation for that section of the river.

1986—Susan B. Haines for her work to protect the Bald Eagle population at Mason Neck.

1987—Henry Bashore for his enthusiasm, leadership, and efforts to establish conservation awareness on the Northern Neck.

1988—Ed Risley for his active participation on committees to preserve Assateague, Dyke Marsh, Mason Neck, and Huntley Meadows.

1989—Norma Hoffman and Citizens Alliance to save Huntley Meadows for significant contributions to preserve habitat and promote public awaremess.

1990—Gary Fraser and Karen Mayne of the USFWS for their efforts to protect Bald Eagle habitat along the James River.

1991—Ken Howard for his many efforts to preserve Huntley Meadows Park.

1992—no award given.

1993—Porter Kier for his work in habitat protection on the Northern Neck.

1994—AMOCO Corporation Yorktown Refinery for their local conservation efforts.

1995—Barry Kinzie for his work with habitat preservation at Woodpecker Ridge.

1996—Craney Island Dredge Materials Management Facility for its work in promoting shorebird habitat and protecting sensitive nesting areas.

1997—Virginia Department of Transportation Pine Chapel Unitwhich manages the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel for cooperating to protect nesting habitat for Black Skimmers and Common Terns.

1998—Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel Commission for their cooperation in facilitating access for bird study.

1999—James W. Waggener for his work in helping to establish the Occoquan Refuge.

2000—Robert Bloxom, delegate from the Eastern Shore, for his work in promoting conservation.

2001—no award given.

2002—Non-Game Division of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for work in promoting conservation and public awareness of birds.

2003—Kiptopeke State Park for their work in preservation of habitat and cooperation in bird studies.

2004—Virginia Coastal Reserve for coordinating with Wallops Island in the use of radar equipment set up on the Eastern Shore to monitor bird migration.

2005—no award given

2006—no award given

2007—Center for Conservation Biology

2008—Radford Army Ammunition Plant

2009—Virginia Field Office of the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service

2010—Larry & Thrye Valade

2011—no award given

2012—Stephen Eccles

2013—Larry Cartwright

2014—no award given

2015—Larry Wright

J.J. Murray Research Award

Call for Applications - Deadline 29 January 2018

This annual $1000 student research grant is one of the ways in which the VSO supports the study of Virginia avifauna. 

Criteria and eligibility: The Murray Award was established in 1980 to honor the Rev. J. J. Murray, Sr., a charter member of the VSO and the editor of its journal, The Raven, from its inception until 1969.  The award is designed to promote graduate and undergraduate research, and the research must consist of current or projected field studies on Virginia birds.  Proposals will be judged for their scientific merit and the likelihood that the work will make a meaningful contribution to our understanding of Virginia avifauna.  Upon completion of the research, the recipient will be asked to present the results at a VSO annual meeting, and are encouraged to publish the results in an appropriate journal.  The recipient will also be awarded a one-year membership in the VSO.

Application procedures: Proposals should be no more than five pages in length (including citations) and provide the following information: background, objectives/hypotheses, methods, expected results and benefits to VA birds, and a budget. Submissions will be evaluated by the VSO and must be received by 29 January 2017.  If the research is part of a degree program, students should include the name of the institution and department they are enrolled in, the degree they are working towards, and the name of their academic or research advisor.  Each proposal should include a letter from the student's academic advisor verifying that the applicant is a student in good standing, and that he/she is receiving the advisor's support for this project.  Both proposals and letters of reference should be submitted electronically as Word documents or PDFs, although they can be submitted separately.  Applicants will be notified of the results by early April 2017.

Please send proposals or requests for information to:

Lesley Bulluck
Department of Biology & Center for Environmental Studies
Virginia Commonwealth University
Trani Life Sciences Building
1000 West Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23284

Recipients of the J.J. Murray Research Award


Erin Heller (Virginia Tech) - $1000 - Confirming the dietary composition of the red knot using VA barrier island spring stopover habitat
Jessica Hernandez (Virginia Tech) - $1000 - Sexually transmitted microbes as a cost of extra-pair mating in female birds
Nicholas Flanders (Old Dominion University) - $500 - Using remote cameras to asses the diversity of avian frugivores that use oak mistletoe in forested wetlands in SE VA
Chance Hines (Old Dominion University) - $500 - Hackberry: potential keystone of fall migratory songbird stopover habitat

James Eike Service Award

In 1983, the Virginia Society of Ornithology Board of Directors approved the James Eike Service Award, named in honor of James Eike, a member of the Virginia Society of Ornithology from 1933 until his death in 1983. Eike’s long and faithful service, his dedication, and his enthusiasm in promoting the work of the VSO gave him a unique status in the organization. The recipient is recognized by the presentation of a silver Raven pin. The first pin was given to Claire Eike, in honor of her late husband for whom the award was named. The James Eike Service Award is given to recognize a VSO member for outstanding service to the Virginia Society of Ornithology. Eligibility for consideration would include service as an officer, board member, foray director, field trip leader, or other contributions to the organization.

The Eike Service Award Committee is soliciting nominations for the award. Nominators should send a letter of nomination giving the rationale behind the nomination. In addition two letters of support are required. These materials should be sent to Bill Williams at by February 1, 2018. The committee will review all nomination packets and make its recommendation to the VSO Board in the spring with the award itself being presented at the 2018 VSO Annual Meeting.

Recipients of the James Eike Service Award

* indicates the names of those initial recipients who received the awards at the 1984 meeting.

Jackson Abbott
Robert Ake
J. William Akers
John Bazuin
Ruth Beck
Edward ‘Ned’ Brinkley
Wesley Brown
Mitchell Byrd
Thelma Dalmas*
John Dalmas
Anton Decker
John Dillard
Andrew Dolby
James (& Claire) W. Eike* for whom award is named
Linda Fields
Charlotte Friend
Charles Hacker
David Hughes
Enoch Johnson
Teta Kain
YuLee Larner
Larry Lynch
John Mehner
Clair Mellinger
Dorothy Mitchell*
Myriam Moore*
Bill Opengari
Jackie Parton
Richard Peake
Sue Ridd
Stephen Rottenborn
Alan Schreck
Frederic Scott*
Dot Silsby
Walter Smith
Peggy Spiegel
Sue Thrasher
Jerry Via
Robert J. Watson*
Bill Williams
Grace Wiltshire
Jo Wood
2017 - Wendy Ealding and Meredith Bell
2018 - Arun Bose

Myriam P. Moore Service Award

The highest service award is the Myriam P. Moore Award. Instituted in 1983, this award is given to a member in recognition of a very high level of achievement in service areas for 25 or more years and a demonstrated devotion to the principles and objectives of the VSO. This award has been given three times, the first time to Myriam P. Moore at the 1983 Annual Meeting.