Bill Williams Completes Second Term as President of Virginia Society of Ornithology

by Monica Hoel

There are a lot of things Bill would like us to know about the VSO. 

Once you say “Society” one’s mind conjures notions of high tea and formality. But the Virginia Society of Ornithology (VSO-virginiabirds.org) is far from that.


The group was founded in 1929 to provide a foundation for those who are passionate about birds and birding and the pursuit of greater knowledge regarding all things avian. As the group approaches their 100th anniversary, it’s fair to say that birds are still the unifying force, but the breadth of the organization’s work has expanded exponentially. The organization allocates funds for conservation, awards grants for community birding projects, provides graduate and undergraduate scholarships to support avian research studies and they run a very successful American Kestrel nest box program. The VSO organizes field trips to every corner of Virginia with the support of its affiliate bird clubs. It presents awards to those who distinguish themselves in areas of ornithology, avian conservation, and service to the organization. Members receive a quarterly newsletter, a quarterly journal (Virginia Birds) and an annual research-based journal (The Raven). The VSO’s Virginia Avian Records Committee maintains an official list of the state’s bird species.


And that’s not all!


Bill is particularly proud of one of the organization’s most ambitious projects: the commonwealth’s second breeding bird atlas (VBBA2). The presentation of this research is the culmination of field work by more than 1,000 birders who meticulously documented evidence of species that bred in Virginia from 2016 through 2020. Bill says this is important as more than a historic record. “Land use planners use this sort of information to determine the potential impact of development.” The research is being compiled into an interactive website, instead of a hefty, printed volume, to allow for more universal access.


This was Bill’s second time to serve as president of the organization, but the completion of his term is unlikely to see him ride off into the sunset – or a thicket of trees. After 31 years as a public school teacher and administrator, Bill joined the Center for Conservation Biology where he is a research associate. He says he got started as a birder during his student days at Emory & Henry when a friend on his hall (Dick Gage) shared his enthusiasm for birds. Later he was mentored by Dr. Turner Clinard and by Dr. Bob Jervis from the E&H Biology department who would load up a van at 6 am to take students birding around the fringes of campus.


Bill was bitten by the birding bug and still remembers seeing his first Yellow Warbler by the campus duck pond. And the rest, as they say, is history. Or, actually, ornithology.

Enjoy a conversation with Bill on the Duck Pond Wall podcast.

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  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/903-headed-to-the-virginia-highlands-festival-this"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/383,118,1175,910/6560_67371737_644792832707714_971696063926763520_n.rev.1563759429.webp 2x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/383,118,1175,910/6560_67371737_644792832707714_971696063926763520_n.rev.1563759429.jpg 2x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/383,118,1175,910/6560_67371737_644792832707714_971696063926763520_n.rev.1563759429.jpg" alt="Liv Jennings, E&H Class of 2019." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/383,118,1175,910/6560_67371737_644792832707714_971696063926763520_n.rev.1563759429.jpg 2x" data-max-w="792" data-max-h="792" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/903-headed-to-the-virginia-highlands-festival-this">Headed to the Virginia Highlands Festival This Week?</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Look for a 2019 E&H grad (Liv Jennings) who’s making the event thrive! <a href="/live/news/903-headed-to-the-virginia-highlands-festival-this" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1369-got-a-minute-catch-up-with-veteran-teacher-mary"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,222,1788,2011/8545_image0000001.rev.1600188531.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,222,1788,2011/8545_image0000001.rev.1600188531.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,222,1788,2011/8545_image0000001.rev.1600188531.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,222,1788,2011/8545_image0000001.rev.1600188531.jpg 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,222,1788,2011/8545_image0000001.rev.1600188531.jpg" alt="Mary Lampkins, E&H Class of 1988." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,222,1788,2011/8545_image0000001.rev.1600188531.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,222,1788,2011/8545_image0000001.rev.1600188531.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1788" data-max-h="1789" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1369-got-a-minute-catch-up-with-veteran-teacher-mary">Got a Minute? Catch up with veteran teacher Mary Lampkins (’88)</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Mary Lampkins (E&H ’88) says her older siblings had to endure her “playing teacher” when she lined them up for pretend school as early as when she was five years old. But she has used an impressive career in education to prove that she wasn’t just playing. And in 2020, Mary retired after 32 years of teaching in the Washington County, Virginia, school system. <a href="/live/news/1369-got-a-minute-catch-up-with-veteran-teacher-mary" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>