Conservation Committee


This committee investigates ways and means of furthering the aims of the VSO in the field of conservation.  The committee is responsible for informing the officers and directors of both favorable and unfavorable proposals and developments and recommending a course of action that will protect the interests of VSO. The Committee will keep abreast with the “science” behind important conservation issues and present these issues with accuracy and objectivity.  Between Board Meetings the Chair may act on new conservation issues after consultation with the President and other Committee members.  Any such matters must be brought before the next regularly scheduled Board Meeting for approval, or circulated among members for consideration and approval. 

Conservation Fund

The VSO Board established the VSO Conservation Fund (originally named the Small Grants Conservation Fund) in March 2007. The VSO Conservation Committee manages the fund. Every year, the Virginia Society of Ornithology awards conservation grants to worthy candidates conducting research in the field of bird conservation with potential benefits to Virginia species and habitats. The VSO Board of Directors has budgeted $2,500.00 annually. Awards are usually $500.00, $1,000.00 or occasionally more and the amount is determined by the Conservation Committee.

Applicants are encouraged to submit a request in writing to the Conservation Committee Chair. Each application should include:

  1. A short research proposal describing benefits to our knowledge of Virginia’s avifauna or to a Virginia species

  2. Requested funding level

  3. Detailed budget for requested funding

The Conservation Committee will then consider each application, confer with the entire Board of the VSO, and notify applicants of an award by August 15 th and November 15 th each year. Just
to be clear, there are 2 separate competitions for these awards; this is not a two-step process. Recipients are asked to report their findings to the VSO board and members at the completion of their project, occasionally at the VSO Annual Meeting.

There are two deadlines for application:   JULY 31 and JANUARY 31

Please submit your application for a grant to Patti Reum (Conservation Chair of the VSO) at .

Donations to the VSO Conservation Fund are tax deductible and always welcome. You may donate via PayPal on our web store or mail donations to: Virginia Society of Ornithology, VSO Conservation Fund,  P.O. Box 5994 Williamsburg, VA 23188.

Conservation grants awarded in 2015

  • $1,000 to Center for Conservation Biology for Red-cockaded Woodpecker project

  • $500.00 to Young Birders group central VA to build and install a Chimney Swift nesting tower at Ivy Creek Natural Area in Charlottesville.

  • $500.00 to Boxerwood Nature Center for implementation of Eastern Bluebird nesting box monitoring project and curriculum design for third graders in Lexington and Rockbridge County. Submitted by Patti Reum/Conservation Chair/ Virginia Society of Ornithology – August 11, 2015

Actions of the Conservation Committee and Items of Interest


Letter from VSO President Jeff Trollinger in March (Click Here to View) expressing concerns about guyed instrument tower at Wallops Island.

Letter to VA Senators on concerns for Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Virginia Society of Ornithology
P.O. Box 5994
Williamsburg, VA 23188
June 1, 2016
Dear Senator Warner,

The Virginia Society of Ornithology (VSO) is a grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to the study, conservation and enjoyment of Virginia’s birds.

We urge you to vote NO on any amendments offered that would prohibit the use of funds to prosecute or hold liable any person or corporation for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).

Preventing enforcement of the MBTA could potentially deal a lethal blow to many of the birds that Virginians and Americans love and which are already in decline, like the Golden-winged Warbler. It could also affect common backyard species, like the Baltimore Oriole. 

Migratory birds play a key role in the U.S. economy, supporting recreational opportunities that create jobs and generate billions of dollars in revenue. They are good indicators of environmental health and safety and also provide environmental benefits, including pollination, insect and rodent control, and seed dispersal.

Please uphold the protection offered to birds by maintaining the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in its current form.


The Board of Directors of the Virginia Society of Ornithology

Patricia Reum/Conservation Chair


August 4  -  Sign on letter to secure adequate funding for the Division of Natural Heritage of VA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation in the coming 2016 General Assembly session. (also signed onto this letter in 2015)

June 29  -  Sign on with ABC against the following senate rider: "The Senate may soon consider a rider in the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill to bar the Department of Justice from enforcing the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), which protects over 1,000 species of migratory birds and makes it illegal to harm them except under very specific circumstances."

June 27  -  Letter to Dominion Board of Directors re: Atlantic Coast Pipeline project and concerns for birds, using Golden-winged and Cerulean Warblers as examples.

May 14  -  Sign on with American Bird Conservancy Letter to administration officials asking for further attention to the problem of wildlife mortality caused by open pipes. While some progress has been made by federal agencies to raise awareness and remove threatening pipes, more needs to be done to eliminate this threat and make sure it doesn’t keep happening in the future.

May 11  -  Comment to National Park Service about Piping Plover threats at Outer Banks


American Bird Conservancy Sues Feds Over 30-Year Eagle Kill Rule

(Washington, D.C., June 19, 2014) Today, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) filed suit in federal court against the Department of the Interior (DOI), charging DOI with multiple violations of federal law in connection with its December 9, 2013, final regulation that allows wind energy companies and others to obtain 30-year permits to kill eagles without prosecution by the federal government. Click here for full story.

Conservation Groups Request Study of Wind Energy Impacts on Wildlife and Habitat

More than 70 conservation organizations, rallied by the American Bird Conservancy, have requested that the U.S. Department of the Interior conduct a nationwide programmatic Environmental Impact Study to identify public land areas for wind energy development as well as areas where wind energy development should be avoided to conserve wildlife and sensitive habitats.

As stated in an April 23, 2014 letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, the organizations "are supportive of renewable energy as a way to address anthropogenic climate change, but only if it addresses wildlife and habitat impacts. In particular, this means appropriate pre-construction assessments of risk leading to proper siting, post-construction mitigation and independent monitoring of fatalities, and compensation if and when public trust resources are being taken."

A related news release by the American Bird Conservancy, quotes Dr. Michael Hutchins, National Coordinator of the ABC's Bird Smart Wind Energy Campaign, "The signatories to this letter believe that birds and other native wildlife are important to Americans and that every precaution should be taken to minimize fatalities due to for-profit energy development. . . . This process would identify those areas where wind should not be developed, but would not preclude the need to conduct site-specific risk assessments for wind projects outside those areas."

The statement concerning the need for site-specific assessments addresses a concern raised by VSO Conservation Committee member, Rick Webb, who cautioned that a national-scale EIS may be overly broad, and geographically limited issues may get insufficient consideration.

The VSO Conservation Committee will continue to follow the process.

The letter to Interior Secretary Jewell and the ABC news release are posted Here.


Lead Poisoning in the news- More Grand Canyon Condors Die of Lead Poisoning

Ingestion of Lead Ammunition Is Leading Cause of Death for Endangered Birds. April 16, 2013.

TUCSON, Ariz.— Lead ammunition continues to take a deadly toll on endangered California condors that live in and around the Grand Canyon. Seven of the 80 wild condors in Arizona and Utah have died since December; three of those deaths have been definitively linked to lead poisoning from ingesting spent lead ammunition fragments in carrion and lead poisoning is suspected in the other four deaths. Read the full press release from the Center for Biological Diversity.

Bill to require nonlead ammunition for hunting in California passes first Assembly committee test- Sacramento, CA - Apr 16, 2013

Proposed legislation that would require the use of non-lead ammunition for all hunting in California today passed its first legislative test. Assembly Bill 711, co-authored by Assembly members Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) and Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) sailed through the Assembly’s Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee. Audubon California is co-sponsoring the bill with the Humane Society of the United States and Defenders of Wildlife. Read the full press release from Audubon California.

More links on this topic

Lead ammo ban gains traction in California. Assembly, Fresno Bee - April 16, 2013 - Click Here to View

Lead Ammo Poisons Condors in Grand Canyon, LiveScience - April 16, 2013 - Click Here to View

Conservationists renew push to ban lead shot, Arizona Daily Sun - April 17, 2013 - Click Here to View

Lead bullet fragments poison rare US condors, BBC News - April 17, 2013 - Click Here to View

Several California condors dead since September, Houston Chronicle - April 17, 2013 - Click Here to View

Laughing Gulls no match for rising seas

In one of the most dramatic responses to sea-level rise to date, laughing gulls within a historic stronghold along the Lower Delmarva Peninsula have collapsed in less than a decade. A recent survey conducted by the Center for Conservation Biology has revealed that the population declined from more than 25,000 to less than 4,400 breeding pairs between 2003 and 2013.  By Bryan Watts, Click here for full story.

American Bird Conservancy Updates

New Study Finds Pesticides Leading Cause of Grassland Bird Declines  (Washington, D.C., February 25, 2013)

A new study led by a preeminent Canadian toxicologist identifies acutely toxic pesticides as the most likely leading cause of the widespread decline in grassland bird numbers in the United States, a finding that challenges the widely-held assumption that loss of habitat is the primary cause of those population declines.


“Why Bambi Must Go”

Professor Daniel Cristol, of William & Mary published in the Op-Ed section of the New York Times,18 May, 2012. Increasing deer populations are a major contributor to declining migratory bird populations.

Cats Indoors Study Finds Free-Roaming Cats Pose Threat from “Serious Public Health Diseases”

American Bird Conservancy media release  (Washington, D.C., September 18, 2012).

A study published in the peer-reviewed public health journal, Zoonoses and Public Health, has found that free-roaming cats pose a threat from “serious public health diseases” to humans, domestic animals, and wildlife.

Conservation Links

American Bird Conservancy
Barn Owl Projects of Virginia
Birdlife International
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy
National Audubon Society
Partners in Flight
The Virginia Bird Conservation Initiative (VABCI)
Virginia Wind Environmental Working Group