Attending a European Ornithological Union conference is always a pleasure. No matter the country and city, the organizing committee goes out of its way to make everything work as well as possible. This time Lund was the host city and the university was the venue. I was pleasantly surprised by Lund, a lively city that I enjoyed walking around in the few days I spent there.

It was the fourth time I attended an EOU conference, the first being eight years ago in Badajoz. That was my first international conference, where I presented a poster about my Master’s thesis. I am no longer a new face and it has been a long journey since then. This time I gave a presentation on bacterial gut colonization in wild Great tits, the first results of my postdoctoral project in the Laboratory of Multitrophic Interactions in Ceske Budejovice (Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences).

Figure 1 Talking about gut microbiomes © Martina Ferraguti.

It was a great idea that came about thanks to excellent collaboration with researchers at the University of Copenhagen, especially Kasun, the main co-author of this study, and Katka, who supports any good idea that is difficult to implement. In this case, we were interested in studying how nestlings, which hatch with sterile guts, become colonized by bacteria, investigating the source of this microbial colonization and the potential consequences later in life. This was a nicely executed experiment that has already been published (Diez Méndez et al. 2023)

Attending this EOU conference was particularly attractive to me because there was a great organized symposium by Kasun H. Bodawatta, Charli Davies and Elin Videvall on the avian microbiome, which fitted perfectly with my research. The symposium was followed by an afternoon session in Molecular Ecology, where most of the talks were on the microbiome, including mine.

I was happy to learn that my talk had been scheduled for the first day of the conference. This has a couple of advantages: First, the nerves are gone soon and the rest of the conference can be more enjoyable, at least for me, as I can focus on socializing and networking. Secondly, colleagues interested in your research approach you over the next few days and there is more than enough time to discuss ideas.

Figure 2 A cloudy day in Söderåsen National Park © David Diez Méndez.

The morning microbiome symposium and the afternoon molecular ecology session was wrapped up with a round table discussing microbiomes, followed by a joint dinner where colleagues working on the microbiome exchanged ideas in a Swedish pub. The round table was excellent and highlighted the doubts about methodology that we all share and that are confusing for those trying to enter the field.

EOU conferences are also excellent social events. From the coffee breaks to the informal dinners, there are endless opportunities to talk to old friends and colleagues, or to researchers you have heard of or whose work you follow but have never had the chance to talk to. In my case, it was a great opportunity to talk to colleagues I have only met via email or video conference and plan future projects. As a postdoc, the future is always very present!

I should not forget to mention the conference trip. This time I participated in the trip to Söderåsen National Park. It was a pleasant, although short, walk through this “new” national park, where I could appreciate its talus slopes and cliffs. My stay in Lund came to an end with the conference dinner and afterparty. I hope to see friends and colleagues again in Bangor (Wales) in two years’ time, if not sooner. Finally, I would like to thank the BOU for supporting my participation in this conference and I am already looking forward to EOU25!