Newsletter of the Columbia Audubon Society | September 2018 | Volume 61, Number 1

Sat. Sep. 1, 2018

Letter from the new CAS President – September 2018

-by John Besser

Well, it’s time for me to take on the slightly prestigious but mostly thankless job of chapter president. Past President Laura Hillman was able to convince Bill Mees to take over as Vice President and program chair (a job I didn’t want), while I take over as president (a job Bill didn’t want).  Thanks to Laura for finding this solution, just as she has found solutions for many other problems during her two terms as CAS President. Other changes in the board of directors this year include the invaluable Nancy Bedan taking on the role of secretary and Greg Leonard starting a three year term as board member with valuable fresh blood and new ideas.

My first message to the membership of Columbia Audubon Society is this: CAS is an awesome organization that does great work on behalf of birds and bird lovers! Our value to the community was recognized last spring when we received the Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement Award in the area of Environmental Stewardship. This prize was a particular recognition of the success of the prairie restoration project at the Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary and Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary, but I think this is just one of many areas where CAS continues to outdo itself.

As we look forward to the coming year, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the many ways CAS meets the needs of our membership and our community:

  1. Birds and birding. This is always a core activity for Audubon members, and we continue to reach out to bird lovers of differing ages and expertise.  CAS supports a busy schedule of field trips to bird habitats near and far, and we reach out to support additional groups involved in birding including other Audubon chapters, the Audubon Society of Missouri, the Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative, and the Missouri River Birding Observatory. A lot of credit is due to our field trip chair, Eric Wood.
  2. Environmental education. Education is always been part of the Audubon mission, and we are proud of our slate of activities. Our premier education activity is the annual Band With Nature field trip for second-grade students in Columbia public schools, which is held each fall at CANS. This field trip is popular with teachers, students, and parents alike, and features up-close and hands-on interaction with wild birds netted and banded on-site as well as awesome hawks and owls supervised by MU’s Raptor Rehabilitation Project. Our education program also includes indoor and outdoor programs for grade-school kids along with scholarships to support older students and teachers taking educational trips to the Tetons in Wyoming, the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, and Hog Island Audubon camp on the coast of Maine. Special thanks for these efforts go to Lottie Bushman and Bill Mees.
  3. CAS programs. CAS produces entertaining and educational programs at our monthly general membership meetings, which are usually held on the third Wednesday of each month at the Unitarian-Universalist Church on Shepard Boulevard at 7:00 p.m. Already on the calendar for this year are programs on birding at state parks, hawk identification, urban wildlife, and Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area. A new and so-far popular addition to our programming has been a book discussion presented at the Daniel Boone Regional Library by Eric and Joanna Reuter. This series will continue in January with a discussion of “Welcome to Subirdia” by John Marzluff, which discusses the value of landscaping in human neighborhoods to benefit birds.
  4. Special events. In addition to our regular meetings, CAS organizes or participates in a variety of special events throughout the year. Some notable offerings for this year include:
    1. Fall picnic. We will hold our first monthly meeting as a potluck gathering at the Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary Shelter, on Sunday, September 16, starting at 4:00 p.m. We plan to socialize for a while before eating an early picnic dinner at 5:00 p.m., leaving time for a 6:00 p.m. bird walk through Bonnie View and CANS.
    2. ASM meeting. The fall meeting of our statewide birding/ornithological society will be hosted by CAS in Columbia on September 28-30 at the Stoney Creek Inn; we will also be leading many field trips around the area throughout the weekend. This will be a great opportunity to meet birders from around the state, attend presentations in a casual setting, eat great food, and of course see lots of good birds.
    3. CAS 60th anniversary celebration. CAS has been part of Columbia’s environmental community for six decades, and we think this legacy is worthy of a special celebration. Keep your eye on future issues of The Chat for information on this special event, which will be held next spring.

Happy birding!

John Besser, CAS President

Sat. Sep. 1, 2018

CAS News & Notes for September 2018

August board meeting unofficial summary

Official meeting minutes will be posted to the website after approval at each subsequent board meeting, meaning they are delayed from immediate publication. Below is an unofficial summary of business discussed on August 29, 2018. Please contact a board member with any questions.

  • Budget:
    • Approved offering an annual donation to the Missouri River Bird Observatory.
    • Discussion of planning for long-term maintenance (i.e. mowing) at CAS properties.
  • CoMoGives update: 2018 goal is 85 member donors and $8,000 raised.
  • Events:
    •  Initial 2018-2019 program schedule presented (see listing below).
    • Discussion of holding a major event in the spring to mark CAS’s 60th anniversary.
    • Fall picnic planning (official notice now posted).
    • Band With Nature will occur October 8, 10, and 12 this year.
  • Field trips: Fall field trips are mostly planned and will be posted on the website.
  • Membership: Renewal notices will start going out soon. The PayPal system is being updated to improve the user experience.
  • Website/newsletter:
    • Discussion of adding a Google Calendar to the website as an alternate way of sharing program/event information.
    • Eric Reuter is happy to receive content submissions (or suggestions for content) for The Chat. He may also need someone to handle one newsletter this winter.
  • Outreach/Education:
    • Discussion of funding young birders to attend the fall ASM meeting and of following up with teachers previously funded to attend workshops.
    • Several bird walks and programs aimed at families are being developed.
    • A local teacher would like to host a night-science program at CANS, possibly in conjunction with Band With Nature.
  • Nature Areas:
    • A cleanup work day will be scheduled at Wild Haven.
    • The city has posted new and corrected signs at CANS including “Pick up after your dog”.
    • The city has offered to provide a free bike rack for CANS; CAS would have to install it.
    • Discussion of abundant pawpaws at CANS and whether they are of management concern.
  • Other topics:
    • CAS is being asked to partner with the city on a grant request for funds to enhance riparian areas at Hinkson Woods Conservation Area.
    • A member requested that CAS support a grant request for a major wetlands restoration project at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge (formerly Squaw Creek); more information is needed.
    • Columbia Public Schools are developing a new science trip to Great Smoky Mountain National Park for fifth graders, similar to the existing trip to Yellowstone for older students. CAS approved offering scholarships for two students to attend.
    • The new mural painted on the Elm St. MKT tunnel by local students has been completed; CAS was a primary partner in developing aspects of the artwork.
    • The new edition of the city’s “Citizen’s Handbook” features an article on CANS, and the city’s current “Leisure Times” booklet features the prairie at Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary.

Summer events recap

Although CAS normally takes a break over the summer, several events did take place. In early summer, Lottie Bushman held a kids’ program on bird song at the Daniel Boone Regional Library in Columbia that drew 15 attendees between the ages of 8 and 15; this culminated in a sound scavenger hunt within the library. Lisa Schenker did a program about basic bird ID with a similar attendance. On July 12th, Eric & Joanna Reuter held an hour-long Introduction to Bird Song program, drawing 47 people. On August 8th, an evening bird walk aimed at listening to bird vocalizations was held at the Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary, drawing 21 people on a steamy evening. On August 26th, a field trip to Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area drew 8 people in very dry conditions.

Book discussion scheduled for January

Last winter CAS hosted a well-attended book discussion of The Genius of Birds at the Daniel Boone Regional Library in Columbia; we’ll be repeating the event this winter on Wednesday, January 16th 2019. This time, we’ll focus on the 2014 book Welcome to Subirdia, in which Seattle-based author and researcher John M. Marzluff explores the surprising biological diversity supported by cities and towns and discusses how individual and collective decisions can help human landscapes become more tolerant of and integrated with the natural world. Read more at the official event listing and buy a copy, or check one out from the library.

Meet your 2018-2019 CAS board

This past spring, a new board was elected, featuring several new faces and several experienced folks changing their position. A full listing of all board members and committee chairs (including contact information) is available on the CAS website, but some board members submitted extra information about themselves to The Chat so that members could learn about more about their representatives:

President (and Wild Haven manager): John Besser

I grew up in western Wisconsin, where I developed an interest in birds and nature at an early age. I moved to Columbia in 1982 and eventually got a job at what is now the Columbia Environmental Research Center (CERC, now part of the US Geological Survey) and have worked there ever since. My research focuses on understanding the effect of pollutants – especially toxic metals — on aquatic organisms. My wife, Cathy Richter, also works at CERC. We recently became empty-nesters, as our daughter Valerie went off to college in fall 2018.

I have been a member of CAS since about 1996. For most of this time, my involvement has been focused on management of our nature areas, particularly Wild Haven and the Albert Area. More recently I was part of the team behind the prairie restoration project at the Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary.  Now that I am President, I look forward to getting more involved in CAS’s other initiatives and looking for ways we can use our talents and resources to make the Columbia and mid-Missouri a better place for birds and for people who enjoy nature.

Vice-President (and CANS manager): Bill Mees

Bill is now retired after 32 years as a pharmaceutical sales representative for Eli Lilly & Co, following a B.S. in Pharmacy from Purdue University and an MBA from the University of Colorado. He moved to Columbia in 1973; he and his wife Jan have two sons and five grandchildren. He’s been a CAS member for 10 years; after retiring, he enrolled in two Osher bird watching classes taught by Bill Clark and Edge Wade and has accompanied them on Wednesday CACHE  eBird trips ever since. He believes in the importance of CAS’s mission statement and the recent partnership with the Science Department of Columbia Public Schools. His most recent life bird was a Red-necked Phalarope seen at Eagle Bluffs CA on August 26, 2018.

Secretary: Nancy Bedan

Nancy has been a member of CAS since moving to Columbia in 1998. She has worked in the publications, communications, and strategic planning fields. She loves all things “nature” and outdoors, such as birds, plants, hiking, gardening, and biking.

Treasurer: Eric Seaman

One of the three Erics has been the Treasurer since 2007 and an active member in CAS since 2003. His day job is one of austere glamour in municipal sewage at Jefferson City. He and his wife, Denice Adkins, live in Columbia. This Eric has never seen the creature known as “bigfoot”, but has talked to several people who believe they have.

Past President (and bird counts): Laura Hillman
Third-year member: Lori Turner
Second-year member (and field trips): Eric Wood

I started birding with my mother in the summer of 2008 and started birding on my own quickly thereafter. I joined CAS in the fall of 2008 and have been a Board Member and Field Trip Coordinator for two years. Birds have always been my primary interest but I’ve recently expanded to other interests such as butterflies and have come to realize that these interests are really just an excuse to get out and walk in the woods and to enjoy and view nature.

First-year member: Greg Leonard

I have been birding since 2003 but got more serious about it once I started using eBird in 2012. My favorite birds are warblers. I serve on the Audubon Society of Missouri board and have just started service on the CAS board as well. I sometimes lead field trips for CAS and try to make it to most of the meetings. I hope to meet more members this year.

Communications chair (and bird counts): Allison Vaughn
Web Editor (and membership): Doug Miller

News Editor: Eric Reuter

The third Eric has a background in earth science and education, becoming interested in birding while wooing his future wife Joanna back in 2004. After working for the National Park Service, then running a diversified organic farm for many years with Joanna, he now works as a scientific editor for international researchers with a focus on geoinformatics, climate and environmental studies, and sustainability. Editing, publishing, and writing for The Chat are a natural outlet for his interests in education and communication. He and Joanna also enjoy leading CAS field trips and other educational programs aimed at encouraging interest in birding, ecology, and earth science.

Social Media: Kevin Wehner
Outreach/Education: Lottie Bushmann and Lisa Schenker

I (Lottie) am a 1st grade teacher and love being involved with Audubon because I feel passionate about reaching children and families about nature and particularly birds. I take every opportunity I can to educate my 1st graders about nature, in particular about animals and the balance of nature and how important it is. I feel it is never too young to reach them. I feel CAS shares this mission and passion.

Membership programs for 2018-2019

Below is a draft list of programs being planned by Vice President Bill Mees for the coming year. Some may be subject to change; all will be posted as official events on the CAS website once details have been confirmed. Contact Bill with any questions.

September 16 (Sunday):  Picnic at Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary shelter (4:00-8:00 p.m.:  4:00-5:00 socializing, 5:00 dinner, after-dinner bird/prairie walk).

October 17 (Wednesday):  Allison Vaughn—Birding Missouri State Parks (Unitarian Universalist Church, 7:00-8:00 p.m.)

November 14 (Wednesday):  Brad Jacobs—Hawks and Difficult IDs (Unitarian Universalist Church, 7:00-8:00 p.m.) Note: second Wednesday of month due to Thanksgiving.

December 15 (Saturday):  Christmas Bird Count and Chili Supper (Community of Christ Church, Fairview Rd)

January 16 (Wednesday):  Eric & Joanna Reuter—Book Discussion of Welcome to Subirdia  (Columbia Public Library,  7:00-8:00 p.m.)

February 20 (Wednesday):  Charles Nilon, Ph.D.—Impact of Urbanization on Wildlife (Unitarian Universalist Church, 7:00-8:00 p.m.)

March 20 (Wednesday):  Carl Gerhardt—History of Eagle Bluffs CA and Photos of Its Rarest Birds.  (Unitarian Universalist Church, 7:00-8:00 p.m.)

Later programs TBD.

Supporting CAS

Carrying out our mission through education, conservation, and outreach takes a wide variety of resources, from the valued time of dedicated volunteers to the financial support of members and donors. We welcome and appreciate all participants and supporters of our work through their generous donations of time, money, or other resources.

Submitting material to The Chat

The Chat is published online on the first of every month from September through May. Submissions are welcome, including photographs, stories, and suggestions for content; please contact News Editor Eric Reuter. The submission deadline is the evening of the 25th of each month.

Sat. Sep. 1, 2018

How I Became a Young Birder

– by Shelby Thomas


I am sixteen years old, a junior at Hickman High School, and have been birding since 2015. After watching the movie The Big Year, about a year-long birding competition, I decided to look in our backyard to see what birds were outside. I saw a bird that wasn’t like our usual backyard birds fly to the top of a tree. I Googled its characteristics and discovered that it was a Great-crested Flycatcher! I was amazed that such unique birds could be in Missouri. Since then, I have been looking for new birds to add to my life list. I enjoy birding because it gets me out in nature and has taken me to places I would not have gone to otherwise, such as Wakulla Springs, Florida; Boulder, Colorado; and Port Aransas, Texas.

Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy Turnstone at Charlie’s Pasture in Port Aransas, TX. Photo by Shelby Thomas.

Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird at Bosche del Apache in Socorro, NM. Photo by Shelby Thomas.

I enjoyed the Wakulla Springs Boat Tour where I saw neat wildlife, including alligators, manatees, and birds including the White Ibis and lots of herons and egrets. Nearby, we saw Seaside Sparrows, Clapper Rails and a Black Skimmer! In Boulder, we had fun hiking in the mountains, which brought a variety of birds including Virginia’s Warblers, American Dippers, and Broad-Tailed Hummingbirds. There were a lot of birding opportunities in Port Aransas; we even watched Roseate Spoonbills feeding in a little wetlands area in front of our hotel!  I also enjoy keeping track of the birds I’ve seen through eBird and challenging myself to see more birds each year. Currently, my favorite birds are the Ruddy Turnstone and the Rufous Hummingbird. My favorite places to bird in Boone County are Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area and the Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary because both offer a variety of birds throughout most of the year.

– Editor’s note: this essay is based on a presentation given by Shelby at the spring 2018 Audubon Society of Missouri meeting, which focused on young birders.

Sat. Sep. 1, 2018

Fall Audubon Society of Missouri meeting in Columbia

The statewide Audubon Society of Missouri will be hosting its annual fall meeting in Columbia this year, a rare change from its usual location at Lake of the Ozarks. This is a great chance for Columbia-area birders to take part in this major event so close to home. The meeting features field trips, speakers, a banquet, and many opportunities to meet and interact with bird enthusiasts from around the state while learning more about birding. Learn more and register at the ASM website; basic details are listed below:

Dates: September 28–30 (Friday through Sunday), 2018

Base location: Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center, Columbia, MO. Events include:

  • Graduate student presentations
  • Showing of Dr. Carl Gerhardt’s documentary, “Eagle Bluffs: An Environmental Success Story”
  • Banquet featuring keynote speaker Al Batt of Hartland, Minnesota, a birding-oriented writer, speaker, storyteller, and humorist.

Field trip destinations:

  • The Pinnacles
  • Eagle Bluffs
  • Little Dixie Lake/Whetstone Creek Conservation Area
  • Rockbridge State Park
  • Prairie Garden Trust
  • 3M Wetlands/Forum Nature Area
  • Ashland Wildlife Area
  • Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary
  • Bradford Farms

Columbia Audubon Society is supported in part by a generous contribution from

2010 Chapel Plaza Court, Suite C • Columbia, MO 65203 • 573-446-5941

Upcoming Events

Field Trip to Columbia Wilderness Sanctuary

Tuesday, October 2nd | 8:00 a.m.

The Big Sit

Sunday, October 14th | 5:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

October Meeting: Birding Missouri State Parks

Wednesday, October 17th | 7:00 p.m.

Field Trip to Rocky Fork Lakes CA

Saturday, October 20th

Carpool departs from Moser's (4840 Rangeline St.) at 7:50 a.m.

Field Trip to Binder Lake

Saturday, November 10th | 9 a.m. until noon

We’ll carpool from the AC Commuter Parking Lot at 8:20 a.m.  The lot is on the southeast corner of the AC exit off Hwy 63 on Lenoir St. 

Book discussion: Welcome to Subirdia, by John M. Marzluff

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019 | 7:00-8:00 p.m.