Newsletter of the Columbia Audubon Society | January 2021 | Volume 63, Number 5
by Jim Gast
Happy New Year and welcome to 2021. One of the things my wife and I have been doing on New Year’s Day is recording the first bird we see of the year. Sometimes it’s a challenge. In 2018, the temperature was -7° F when we started our feeder count. The first bird we saw was a Mourning Dove. I wonder what our first bird will be this year.
Speaking of Mourning Doves, I saw a street sign for “Morning Dove Dr.” off South Rolling Hills Road and had to chuckle.
January Meeting Focuses on Grassland Birds
Join us for the regular CAS monthly meeting—via ZOOM, of course—on Wednesday, January 20th, at 7:00 p.m. Paige Witek, education coordinator with the Missouri River Bird Observatory, will present a program on grassland birds, some of our most vulnerable species. She will talk about MRBO’s Grassland Birds Monitoring Project and why the work is so important, as well as focus on a few species of grassland birds. We’ll send the Zoom meeting link by email to Columbia Audubon members about a week in advance.This is just the first several great “virtual” programs we have planned for 2021—stay tuned and ZOOM in.
We surpassed our goal of raising $10,000 through the annual CoMoGives campaign. A BIG thank you to the 109 people who donated $12,350. A special thank you to our CoMoGives committee led by Jan Mees and including Bill Mees, Doug Miller, Nancy Bedan and Lori Hagglund. Another thank you to Lottie Bushmann and Allison Vaughn, who in addition to the committee members, wrote information sent in the emails during the campaign. I’d also like to thank Betsy Garrett for providing the bluebird photo that was on the postcard. We need a new chair for the 2021 campaign. If you are interested, please contact me at email@example.com.
Christmas Bird Count
Columbia Audubon held its Christmas Bird Count on Saturday, December 19th. Two of the highlights included over 100 Turkey Vultures at Capen Park and 6 Short-eared Owls at Bradford Farm. Thanks to Laura Hillman, John Besser and Allison Vaughn for organizing and compiling and to all who participated. The full results are included in this month’s The Chat.
Where the Birds Are
There are two easy ways to track where people are seeing birds in Missouri. Sign up on the Missouri Birding Society’s (MBS) MoBirds listserv at https://po.missouri.edu/cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=MOBIRDS-L&A=1 and sign up for eBird Alerts.
Members of the listserv also provide identification help and give locations where to bird. The listserv serves as an important avenue to receive information from MBS including upcoming events, CACHE and SPARKS updates and webinars.
To sign up for eBird alerts, log into your account and click on the MANAGE MY Alerts on the left-hand side of the page. You can choose ABA Rarities, Rare Bird Alerts and Needs Alerts. The ABA Rarities choice is for the whole ABA area (generally the United and States and Canada with some other places); whereas the other two allow you to specify a particular region. You can also decide whether you want to receive the alerts daily or hourly and if you only want an alert for the current year. I am subscribed to three alerts: Year Needs Missouri (daily), Year Needs Boone County (daily) and Needs Boone County (hourly).
by John Besser
Saturday, December 19 dawned clear and sunny, providing a lift for the dozens of birders who rose early to participate in the CAS Christmas Bird Count. Unfortunately, the day soon turned overcast, humid, and cold, making the day difficult for both birds and birders. Despite the unpleasant weather, eBird checklists rolled in steadily throughout the day and by Sunday evening we had received 122 checklists from our 15-mile count circle (Figure 1).
Our final species list reached 96, with a total of 52,413 birds counted (Table 1). Neither total was exceptionally high for this count. Few rarities were found, a few expected species were missed, and we did not find the enormous flocks of blackbirds that have swollen some previous CBC tallies. Half of our count consisted of over 25,000 Mallards! Numbers of other waterfowl were relatively low, but counts of Snow Geese, Canada Geese, Gadwalls, and Green-winged Teal all exceeded 1,000. Songbirds that exceeded the 1,000 mark were European Starlings, Red-winged Blackbirds, Dark-eyed Juncos, and the reliable Northern Cardinals. This year’s irruption of winter finches was represented by almost 500 Pine Siskins and greater than usual numbers of Purple Finches.
The Columbia CBC benefits from our large pool of skilled birders wiling to bird under unfavorable conditions. The 12 count areas in our count averaged 10 checklists representing over 12 party-hours for each area (Figure 2). All these totals are presumably lower than normal because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The result of all this birder effort is that we got remarkably good coverage of our count circle. Seven of our 12 count areas had between 47-50 species (Figure 3). Of course, not all birding areas are created equal, and no other area came close to the 73 species and over 25,000 birds reported for Area 5 (Eagle Bluffs and environs).
As expected, Area 5 also had the longest list of species that were not found in any other area — 13 species, consisting mainly of waterfowl (Table 2). But several other areas also had unique species, including special finds like six (!) Short-eared Owls at Bradford Farm (1S); less-glamorous finds like Black Vultures (2N) and Brown-headed Cowbirds (1N); and species that are usually present during relatively warm weather, like Eastern Towhee (1S; a ‘count-week’ bird), Brown Thrasher(8), and Marsh Wren (6).
We think the CBC was a big success, despite the limitations posed by the pandemic. Many thanks are due to the legion of CAS volunteers! We wish everyone a Happy New Year with good health and good birding!
by Douglas Miller
Upon review and board approval, final meeting minutes are posted to the Minutes page. Following are highlights of the unapproved minutes from the last meeting:
by Brooke Widmar, Conservation Chair
Start off the new year speaking up for birds, and take actions to stay informed on state, national, and global issues!
According to the National Audubon Society, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is home to over 200 bird species. While this refuge is almost 3,000 miles away from us here in Missouri, it’s critical land for a number of birds we get to enjoy during migration. One of my earliest and most favorite field trips with my old chapter was a visit to the prairies of Dade County in southwest Missouri to see American golden-plovers one spring. These small birds have the longest migration of any other species, and fly through the central U.S. on their way to the arctic from South America.
What can you do to protect important habitat for these birds, and many others?
– Through the National Audubon Society Action Center, citizens are being asked to support permanent protection for the wildlife refuge by contacting their senators through their website here.
– Add your name to the growing list of concerned citizens who are against the current administrations rushed attempt at leasing the land for drilling: https://www.arcticrefugedefense.org/act/take-action
Learn more about this here
– Sign up for Audubon’s Action Network to receive alerts for bird-related advocacy opportunities: https://www.audubon.org/takeaction
January 20, 2021 | 7:00pm