The Columbia, Missouri chapter of the Audubon Society — serving Audrain, Boone, Cooper, Howard, Monroe & Randolph Counties

The Columbia Audubon Society was organized in 1958 and serves six mid-Missouri counties: Audrain, Boone, Cooper, Howard, Monroe, and Randolph. Our mission is to preserve the natural world and its ecosystems focusing on birds, other wildlife, and the earth's biological diversity through education, environmental study and habitat restoration and protection.

News & Issues

Monday, Dec 1, 2014

Controlled Burn at Wild Haven Natural Area Planned for Early December 2014

CAS hopes to burn roughly 15 acres of Wild Haven Natural Area soon as part of a regular effort to maintain and improve the natural habitat. We are burning to maintain native habitats of open oak-hickory woodland (well-spaced mature trees with a diverse ground layer and scattered fire-resistant shrubs and young tress) and savannah (native meadow on west; native plantings near picnic shelter). Fire will control invaders like autumn olive, bush honeysuckle, and red cedar.

The burn area is twice as large as we've burned previously, but will be easier to manage because we are relying more on O'Rear Road and Hinkson Creek as firebreaks. After this burn, this area will have been burned twice in three years and we will burn less frequently (about a three year interval). We may establish some additional burn units.

We'd like to burn in early December, depending on weather and fuel conditions. Ideal weather woudl be: clear skies; temperature 40-60 degrees F; moderate humidity (25-60% RH), to allow fuel to burn easily, but not too aggressively; light (5-15 mph) north wind, to move the fire predictably and to blow smoke away from O'Rear road.

Volunteers are welcome, and should contact John Besser to be placed on the e-mail list for notification when the time arrives: jbesser1@gmail.com


Monday, Dec 1, 2014

Dec. 20: Christmas Bird Count and Chili Supper

As part of the annual national Audubon event, we will count birds within a 7-mile radius centered roughly in Rock Bridge State Park, and area we have counted for decades. The circle is broken into 13 areas with somewhat arbitrary boundaries encompassing geographic areas such as Eagle Bluffs.

Each area has a leader familiar with the area, with many leaders having done the area for decades and a few leaders filling in holes. It again looks like the majority of leaders will be the same as last year and will be contacting other team members over the next weeks. If you know that you want to count in an area where you have counted before, let the team leader know. If you have never done it before, or have a desire to try a different area, call Laura Hillman (442-3703) and leave a message; she will to to get you in a spot that needs more members. Most teams count from sun-up to late afternoon but will sometimes take members for morning or afternoon.

The main reason to stop counting (other than freezing!) is to attend the Chili Supper where the tallied results of 13 areas will be collated to give a grand circle total for each species known to be seen in the circle. The Chili Supper is held at the Community of Christ, 1111 Fairfiew Road, at 6:00 p.m. There is no charge, but the organizers will be looking for volunteers to bring dishes to the mail. The variety and goodness is usually spectacular. Lori Hagglund (Hagglund.Lori@gmail.com) is in charge of the supper so please contact her to volunteer chili and other goodies.


Friday, Oct 10, 2014

CAS needs volunteers for prairie seed collection

Seed collection is underway for the CANS/Bonnie View prairie restoration project. The goal of this project is to transform over 13 acres of fescue pasture into a beautiful and bird-friendly prairie and savanna habitat. Starting this fall, and continuing through the growing season next year, we will organize teams of volunteers to collect seeds of wildflowers and grasses from prairie remnants and restored prairie habitats throughout central Missouri. These trips will not be long (usually about two hours) or physically demanding, and they will let you explore and learn about prairie habitats in your backyard. Volunteers should bring gloves, pruning shears/clippers, water, sunhat and a belt (to hang a seed collection bag).

We hope to have a half dozen seed collecting trips this fall, and we have three planned for October, which are listed events here on the website. Plans are subject to change, so if you are interested in any of these trips please contact the leader so you can be informed of any changes. John Besser [email jbesser1@gmail.com; cell 573-639-2211] Becky Erickson [email beckyerick711@centurylink.net; phone 573-657-2314]


Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014

Prairie Restoration at Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary and Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary

The past few months, John Besser, Bill Mees and Allison Vaughn have been attending educational meetings, talking to experts, and developing plans. About what, you ask? How to restore an old fescue pacture to fields of native grasses, wildflowers and other forbs.

This project will convert 13.5 acres from fescue planted for cattle into a prairie for birds. Five of the 13.5 acres of the land are in Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary, the other 8 acres are in the adjacent Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary. This project represents a true partnership between CAS and Columbia Parks and Recreation. The re-establishment of prairie will benefit wildlife, especially birds, and also augment public education.

Although planning is complete, budgets set, and site preparations begun, this is only the beginning. Eighteen months will have passed before the first native seeds are cast across the land in November 2015. Then we wait.

John, Allison and I hope you will want to take an active part in the project. Over the next couple of months and next summer, volunteers will collect native seed at Prairie Fork Conservation Area, Rocky Fork Conservation Area, and Tucker Prairie. Purchasing native seed is the most expensive aspect of the project. Seed collecting will augment the supply of specific plant species as well as reduce the cost associated with seed purchases.

If you are one of those who want to help make this project a success, please call (573) 445-7781 or e-mail us at support@columbia-audubon.org.

— Bill Mees


Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014

SB 506 & HB 1326

You may have heard about Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) a degenerative disease that flared up in 2010 which produces approximately 2 months of suffering and 100% mortaility for deer. The Missouri Department of Conservation intended to prevent CWD by banning the importation of captive white-tailed deer (20 states already do this), improving fencing standards for private deer shooting farms, and mortality testing for captive deer.

In reponse, the private deer farm shooting businesses were able to attach provisions to omnibus agricultural bills (intended to allow higher livestock hauling and insurance limits) passing Senate Bill (SB) 506 and House Bill (HB) 1386 that would also move captive deer regulations to the Missouri Department of Agriculture. The Department of Agriculture has publicly said they do not want this obligation and given it, would not have the interest and mission to implement the Department of Conservation’s inititiative to protect native and wild species.

Thankfully, Governor Nixon vetoed these bills. All the hunting organizations (Conservation Federation of Missouri, Whitetails Unlimited, etc.), the Missouri State Parks Association, and the National Wildlife Federation all support the veto of these bills. However, the General Assembly has expressed interest in overriding all of the Governor’s vetoes.

As CWD is 100% fatal when deer contract it and private deer shooting farms already have a history of negligence and apathy (it has been detected in captive deer in northern Missouri), outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to contact your representatives in the state legislature and encourage sustaining the Governor’s veto of SB 506 & HB 1326.

The Conservation Federation of Missouri has set up useful information and methods to contact our House and Senate Representatives at this website: http://confedmo.org/cwd.

— Eric Seaman


Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014

In Memorium: Jean Graebner and Jerry Wade

Columbia Audubon Society lost two members this summer who were major reasons the Society has benn a leader in the world of natural history in general and bird conservation in particular.

Jean Graebner, 88, died after a three-year battle with cancer on June 30; Jerry Wade, 73, lost his duel with cancer on July 26.

Jean’s interest in the natural history world led her to very active membership in Columbia Audubon, the Audubon Society of Missouri (ASM), the Hawthorn Native Plant Society, the Missouri Native Plant Society, The Prairie Foundation, Friends of Rock Bridge State Park, the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservancy, among others.

She served both ASM and the Hawthorn Society as secretary for years.

A native of Granite City, Illinois, Jean had both English and journalism degrees from the University of Missouri and spent 26 years as an English and Social Studies teacher at West Junior Hight School. She also operated a Scotch Pine Christmas Tree Farm with her husband Larry for almost 20 years near Rocheport before turning it into her personal wildlife refuge the final 15 years of her life.

She was a regular on a wide variety of bird counts and wildflower walks for 40 years.

Jerry Wade enjoyed his role as “SOB,” that’s “Spouse of Birder,” being married to Edge Wade for half a century.

Jerry was no slouch as a field birder, but made huge contributions elsewhere in the avian world as a former president of the Audubon Society of Missouri and as the ASM membership director, and with his wife, the producers of “The Bluebird,” the ASM quarterly publication.

He was also one of the leaders of MoBCI — the Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative, an organization devoted to the future of avian habitat in the Western Hemisphere.

Jerry, a rural sociologist whose career took him to places as far away as South Africa, was skilled in community organization and he used those skills in many areas of life — like Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission and the Columbia City Council.

Prior to his death, he had been the leader in the organization of “It’s Our Wild Nature,” a community watch group.

Both left huge foot prints.

— Bill Clark


Monday, Apr 14, 2014

Gans Creek Recreation Area Bird Count

The city of Columbia is working on a new city park in south Columbia called Gans Creek Recreation Area. If you are not yet familiar with the plans for this park, you may want to visit the city's website at www.gocolumbiamo.com or google Gans Creek Recreation Area for a quick link. The site is located at 3350 E. Gans Rd. across the street from Fr. Tolton Catholic High School. Bulldozing has already begun to create soccer fields. There is a large section of this park that is designated a natural area and within this natural area is an established heron rookery. There are also plans for glade restoration. Some members of Columbia Audubon Society (CAS), Wild Ones and Master Naturalists met with city Parks and Rec personnel, Brett O'Brien and Dave Dittmer and Chris Woodson from Mo. Fish and Wildlife. They are very interested in preserving as much of the wild area as possible and are also concerned about the impact of crowds, lights, and ball fields on the natural ecology that also includes Elbow Cave.


One of the suggested projects that came out of this meeting was to gather data to establish a baseline count of birds that now frequent the area. To this end CAS member Louise Flenner has been visiting the site over the past few weeks. There are now 20 herons gathered at the nests in 10 nesting pairs. She has also identified Wild Turkeys, American Robins, Red-tailed Hawks, American Crows, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Dark-eyed Juncos, and the sounds of many other unseen songbirds. Louise lives near the park and would be glad to be the person who collects the data. She suggests two ways to send it.  One way is to post it on ebird with the subject line of GCRA from which she will take the counts.  Or you can e-mail lflenner@hotmail.com with the same subject line of GCRA. If you don't want to use the Internet, just call or text her cell phone and leave a message of your count. Cell phone number is 573-268-7468. Please include the date, time, and air temperature of your count. The best way to get to the natural area is from the parking lot on Gans Creek Rd. If anyone would like Louise to take them there, please get in touch. We hope that we can have a positive impact on this park as it can be a beautiful site for nature lovers.


→ News Archives

Current CAS Newsletter

The Chat - December 2014 (742KB PDF)

Next Program/Meeting

Wednesday, Jan 21, 2015 • 7pm
Unitarian-Universalist Church
2615 Shepard Blvd

Free & Open to the Public

Frank Thompson
USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station
“The Ecology of Songbirds during the Post-Fledging Period”

The period of time directly after young birds leave the nest and before they disperse or migrate is an understudied life stage for songbirds. Dr. Frank Thompson and colleagues recently published a review on survival of birds during the post-fledging period to synthesize current knowledge on factors affecting survival.

More Info...

Upcoming Field Trips

Thursday, Jan 1, 2015
Start: 9am
New Year's Day Bird Walk at Rock Bridge S.P.

Saturday, Jan 24, 2015
Depart: 8am
Whetstone Creek CA

Saturday, Feb 14, 2015
Depart: 8am
2nd Annual GBBC Backyard Bird Feeder Crawl

Saturday, Feb 28, 2015
Depart: 6:45am • Start: 8:30am
Burroughs Audubon Nature Center

Saturday, Mar 14, 2015
Depart: 7pm
Return of the Twilight Timberdoodle Trek

Saturday, Apr 18, 2015
Depart: 7am • Start: 8am
Joint Field Trip With River Bluffs Audubon Society to Prairie Garden Trust

Mid-Missouri Friends of Audubon

The following businesses have provided significant financial support to the Columbia Audubon Society. Please remember to support them when you need feeders, bird seed, etc., and remember to thank them for their assistance in funding our projects.

  • Songbird Station, 2010 Chapel Plaza Court, Columbia, MO
  • © 2008-2014 Columbia Audubon Society