Newsletter of the Columbia Audubon Society | November 2017 | Volume 60, Number 3
The new CAS website that we’ve been discussing since last winter is finally live. The website will continue to provide the same basic content (including essential information about the organization, such as board members and natural areas), but some helpful new features have been added. We encourage you to explore the site and its features, but here’s a quick rundown:
Three new CAS members and most of the board had a great time at the Rock Bridge State Park picnic shelter last Saturday playing with binoculars and spotting scopes and thumbing through different bird books. Then, as promised, they all went bird watching in the park. As a good president, I volunteered to babysit the equipment and cookies. I picked up John’s list of phone and computer apps and remembered seeing him using an iPad while birding. As many of you know, I don’t have a smart phone and don’t know how to use eBird. Well, I came home and got two free apps for my new iPad and spent the night looking at pictures of birds and playing their songs. So maybe the October CAS meeting will do the impossible and teach me to recognize bird calls. Keep letting us know what we can do to expand birding and nature for you. In November, you get to entertain by sharing your birding stories and photos with the membership at the traditional place and time (third Wednesday of the month, 7:00 at the UU Church). – by Laura Hillman
Official meeting minutes will be posted to the website after approval at each subsequent board meeting, and linked to here in the News & Notes post. Below is an unofficial summary of business discussed and conducted on October 18, 2017. Please note that the complete minutes archive page is not yet ready for the new website; please bear with us while we continue to move content over from the old website.
Summarized from the official announcement; read full event details online here.
11/4/2017: Celebrate the park’s 50th anniversary by enjoying music, learning about the park’s history and natural resources, meeting park founders and their family members, eating free food and participating in the 50th anniversary scavenger hunt. Tour Connor’s Cave, hike to Coyote Bluff for scenic views (0.5 mile) and go inside the Hickam Log Cabin. Two PowerPoint presentations will alternate: one on influential people in the park’s history and another on the special natural resources of the park and how they are doing. Reservations are not required for attending the event, but are required for the PowerPoint presentations and Coyote Bluff hikes due to limited space. Event times: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
For the February meeting, Eric Reuter will be leading a book discussion for anyone who wants to attend. The goal is to select a book that informs and challenges our thinking about birds, bird-watching, and/or broader issues in conservation. The event will curate a discussion that brings out several viewpoints so that we can learn from each other, with a shared book as a common starting point. If you’d like to suggest a book for us all to read (or reread), please contact Eric by the end of November. I hope to announce the book choice in the December newsletter so we all have several months to find and read it.
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.
Even casual birdwatchers are familiar with traditional 24-hour birding events like the Christmas Bird Count and the May Big Day, but some may not be familiar with the birding event known as a “Big Sit”. Basically, a Big Sit is a bird count that is anchored in a single location, from which one or many birders seek to see as many birds and bird species as possible in a 24-hour period. The idea originated with the New Haven (Connecticut) Audubon Society, and has recently been promoted by the magazine Bird Watchers Digest. The most familiar example for Missouri birders is the event held each fall at Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge, where members and friends of the Grand River Audubon Society bird from the observation deck near the refuge headquarters.
This fall, Eric Wood and Brad Jacobs decided to start a Big Sit in Boone County, choosing the cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area as their location. This spot overlooks the wetland habitats of pool 14, with the background of riparian forest along the Missouri River and the Bluffs along Perche Creek. On October 7 several eager birders, including Eric, Brad, and Paul Mackenzie (photo) arrived well before sunrise to listen for owls. They were joined for the morning by Lottie Bushman and Laura Pintel, and the group’s bird list was over 50 species by the time I arrived at 10 AM, just in time for an hour-long downpour associated with a passing cold front. Afterward, the winds shifted to the west and the event turned into a raptor watch, as raptors of all sizes started moving south along the Perche bluffs. These bluffs don’t have official names, so we resorted to calling them Bluff 1 (near McBaine) through Bluff 7 (near Providence access) to keep track of the parade of raptors. Edge Wade and Laura Hillman joined us for part of the show.
The most spectacular part of the day was the sighting of large numbers of Peregrine Falcons. By 1 PM, the group had counted 16 Peregrines, and by the end of the day, the total had reached 18. Most of these birds moved steadily south along the bluffs, but several took a break from their journey south to buzz the hundreds of ducks and shorebirds in pool 14. It was thrilling to watch in these powerful birds pump their powerful wings to gain altitude, then stoop toward their prey at breathtaking speed! Our count of 18 Peregrines for the day easily surpassed the largest daily count for Missouri listed in eBird (6 birds, observed last April).
We also saw large numbers of other migrating raptors, including Merlins, Northern Harriers, Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks, Broad-winged Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, Ospreys, and Bald Eagles. As the hawk flight slowed later in the afternoon, we turned our attention to the water birds in sun-drenched Pool 14 and to the flights of pelicans and geese passing overhead.
Even before the start of the raptor show, Big Sit participants were talking about repeating this event next fall and making it one of our monthly CAS meetings. Although the birds and the weather may not cooperate quite like this year, we are confident that many Audubon members and friends would enjoy spending part of an October Saturday relaxing, watching birds, and enjoying good food and good company. -by John Besser
As every Missouri resident knows, our weather is unpredictable. As a way of coping with the uncertainty, the 2017 Band With Nature 2nd grade field trip was scheduled for Monday, Wednesday and Friday (October 9, 11, & 13) with the interim days reserved for weather cancellations. Not only were there NO weather cancellations, but when it did rain, it was on Tuesday!
With that promising start, the field trip only got better. This year, 48 classrooms registered to attend the field trip. Those classes represented 18 of the 21 elementary schools in the Columbia Public School district, around 1,100 students! Other participants included parents and grandparents, bird banding and Raptor Rehab staff, high school students who coordinated the Owl Pellet dissection and bird adaptation activity stations, and of course CAS volunteers. In all, over 200 adults also participated in and learned from the event.
One teacher forwarded an email stating: “I’ve taught second grade in the past, but this was my first Band With Nature trip. It was amazing – I think I had just as much fun as the kids! Thank you for all that you do for our CPS kids.”
Although CAS provides the property, signage, volunteers, toilets, and lunches, that is just the tip of the iceberg for this event. Mike Szydlowski, the CPS science department director, organizes two of the activities, secures the needed volunteers and supplies for those, schedules the bus transportation, and assigns times and dates to each participating school trying to match schedules with each school’s preferences. I have a headache just thinking about that, but Mike makes it all work. Thank you Mike Szydlowski! The CAS members and friends who volunteer to assist teachers, staff, and students wherever they are needed also deserve their share of credit for making this year’s event such a success. – by Bill Mees
In 2001, Columbia Audubon Society (CAS) received a donation of 22 acres now known as the Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary (CANS). Originally donated as an inducement for the National Audubon Society to select Columbia as the location for a nature center, the future CANS property sat idle while National deliberated.
Eventually National Audubon selected Joplin, not Columbia, for the site of the nature center. At that point, CAS began to make its own plans for the property. Its development began in earnest during fall 2012, when a small parking lot was constructed. The property’s initial trail was designed as a half mile loop, beginning and ending at the parking lot. Over time, trail spurs were added to improve access to the adjoining city-owned Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary. A “short cut” was added up the west side hill, then another spur was added to access Scott’s Branch Trail’s board walk.
Trails invite hikers, and hikers appreciate well-maintained trails. That brings us to Dean Ravenscraft. A number of years ago, Dean was employed by Columbia’s Parks and Recreation department. At that time he met CAS member and volunteer Cleo Kottwitz, who was looking for someone to mow the less-than-half -mile trail at CANS. Dean volunteered; it was his way to give back to the community. Since he worked in Columbia, he could bring his mower (affectionately named Big Red) with him when he came to work so he could do the mowing after quitting time. Keep in mind, at that point, there was only the half-mile loop.
Fast forward to 2017. Not only have more trail spurs have been developed, in 2013 six acres were added to CANS and a figure eight trail loop was created on the west side of Scott’s Branch Creek. All of these trails, short cuts, spurs, and figure eights need to be mowed to maintain public access. What began as less than a half-mile is now approaching 2 miles. Oh, did I mention there are plans to create yet another loop? This will begin at the CANS trail head and extend east through the Bonnie View prairie. Dean, who lives near Fulton, is now retired. Throughout all these changes, Dean willingly and cheerfully mows wherever the trails lead him.
I can’t begin to count the number of visitors who have made unsolicited comments to me regarding how much they appreciate the care that is given to the trail system at CANS. This is all thanks to Dean Ravenscraft and Big Red who say, “Happy trails to you…” – by Bill Mees
CAS is participating in the annual CoMoGives fund drive for area nonprofit organizations again this year. The online giving campaign, which runs the month of December, is coordinated by the Community Foundation of Central Missouri with support from several local businesses.
We received $3,955 in donations through CoMoGives in 2015 and $5,263 in 2016. These funds have helped CAS maintain, and even expand, our education and conservation programs. The donated funds have supported our efforts to create a demonstration prairie and outdoor classroom in the 28-acre Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary, helped provide the Band with Nature field trip for Columbia second-graders, and funded need-based scholarships for science and nature-education programs available to local students and teachers.
A total of 114 local nonprofit organizations are participating in the 2017 CoMoGives fund drive. The mission and needs of the organizations will be summarized on the CoMoGives website and in the 2017 “Giving Guide,” a booklet that will be distributed to Columbia Daily Tribune subscribers and to members of the participating organizations at their meetings and events.
Columbia Audubon local members, National Audubon members, and our previous contributors will receive e-mail reminders from us during the CoMoGives campaign in December. You will also find information about the campaign on the CAS website and Facebook page. Our dollar goal for the 2017 drive is $7,500. Just as important are our goals of increasing the number of individuals who donate to CAS from 66 in 2016 to 75 this year, and increasing the number of CAS members who contribute from 28 to 40.
YOU can help Columbia Audubon reach its CoMoGives dollar and donor goals!
Not comfortable with online giving? If you want to support Columbia Audubon’s programs but prefer to write a check, that’s fine with us. Your donation won’t count in our CoMoGives drive numbers, but contribution checks are welcome anytime. Make checks payable to Columbia Audubon Society and mail them to: Columbia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 1331, Columbia, MO 65205.
Columbia Audubon is grateful for its members and donors. We have accomplished so much with your help. Thank you! -by Nancy Bedan, CAS CoMoGives Committee
Wednesday, November 15, 2017 | 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 18th, 2017
Carpool departs 7:00 am from Moser’s - 4840 Range Line St, Columbia, MO 65202
Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017 | 2pm
Saturday, December 16, 2017 | 6:00 p.m.