Newsletter of the Columbia Audubon Society | April 2018 | Volume 60, Number 8
– by Laura Hillman, CAS President
It’s April and time to get out and bird, plant the garden, and kill the exotics. But it’s also time to get new officers for Columbia Audubon. The bylaws (PDF link) say that the nominating committee will work to create a slate of officers, to be published in the April issue of The Chat. At the April general meeting, other nominations can be taken from the floor although this rarely happens if a full slate has been put forth. The membership present at that meeting then votes on the slate.
I have been the chairman of the nominating committee for at least the last 10 years. I volunteered after my last stint as vice president, then president, then vice president to assure that I would not be president again. Two years ago the committee couldn’t find anyone to accept the job so you got me. The hope is always that the vice president can move up to president but it doesn’t always work out that way. This year we are pleased that vice president John Besser is willing to move up to president and that first- and second-year board members Lori Turner and Eric Wood will remain along with treasurer Eric Seaman. Thus we need to find a new secretary, vice president, and first-year board member. Fortunately we have succeeded, as shown in the proposed election slate below. Now we just need to find a new chairman for the nominating committee. Editor’s note: Click the following link for a full list of the current CAS board and other committee chairs.
Proposed Slate of Board Officers for 2018-2019:
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 March 21, 2018. Please contact a board member with any questions.
The ASM spring meeting will be held in Arrow Rock, MO from May 4–6. The meeting will feature presentations, field trips, and a focus on encouraging and hearing from young birders:
Birding in and around Arrow Rock, particularly during spring migration, is excellent and, to date, underrepresented in the itineraries of most Missouri birders. The central location of Arrow Rock also gives us the ability to provide field trip options to a variety of habitat types, from prairies to forests to wetlands. The overarching theme of the 2018 Spring Meeting is bird conservation, with particular emphasis on engaging the next generation in birding and conserving Missouri’s birds and the habitats they depend on.
The meeting’s theme is reflected in the line-up of presentations. On Friday night, young Missourians will provide presentations on their birding experiences. Our keynote presentation on Saturday night features Ken Keffer, educator and former director of the Ohio Young Birders’ Club, who will discuss how to engage more young people in outdoor pursuits. We will also offer a workshop on Saturday afternoon for those interested in helping to launch the Missouri Young Birders’ Club – a statewide program being developed by MRBO in partnership with local Audubon Chapters.
The CAS-led book discussion of The Genius of Birds drew 36 people to the Friends Room at the Daniel Boone Regional Library on March 21st. The group covered a wide variety of subjects and questions raised by the book, including the nature of avian cognition, human effects on bird behavior and evolution, personal experiences of creative or interesting bird behavior, and more. The library was very pleased with the event’s turnout and would like to host a similar program next year.
Jeanne Barr, a long-time member of CAS who served as president, secretary, and newsletter editor, passed away in January at the age of 95. In a message to CAS, one of her daughters noted that: “Few things made Mom happier then the bird’s songs. She loved sharing her bird adventures with so many of her Audubon friends”. Several donations were made to CAS in Jeanne’s memory; we appreciate these donors and all that Jeanne did for the group over the years. A full obituary was published in the Columbia Daily Tribune.
A long story in the March 4 edition recounts how area citizens worked for the creation of Eagle Bluffs, specifically its link to the Columbia water-treatment system, with reference to a new documentary on the subject. A worthwhile read for anyone unfamiliar with the story.
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.
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.
Not too far from Marshall, in a town called Arrow Rock, a summer day camp for kids is starting up again! The Young Explorers’ Club is run through the Missouri River Bird Observatory, an organization dedicated to the conservation of Missouri’s birds and their habitats; the camp’s main goal is to spark curiosity about the natural world. During camp kids will participate in a wide variety of activities that aim to enrich their experiences with nature.
Last year, the campers went on birding hikes, practiced nature yoga, examined animal pelts and skulls, hiked the Missouri River Landing Trail examining the river ecosystem along the way, banded birds, looked for amphibians in the Big Spring, experienced primitive hunting techniques, and even held live turtles and snakes! The club plays games, leads fun and enriching activities, and engages in a craft almost every day. In 2017, the campers created bird houses, bird feeders, nature stories, paper plate snakes, paper bag foxes, and painted watercolor landscapes of the Missouri River. This year we will do all that and more, including getting the campers involved in citizen science through an Eastern Bluebird nest box program and hosting a family camping trip.
The Young Explorers’ Club not only gets kids moving outside, but provides an opportunity for children to learn, explore, be creative, have fun, and meet some new friends. The camp takes place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 8:30 A.M. until 11:30 A.M. and runs from May 29th through July 26th. MRBO is looking for enthusiastic volunteers to come out to camp and give a program or lead an activity of the presenter’s choosing. The program/activity could take a couple hours or 20 minutes. The only requirements are that the topic is related to the natural world and that the campers have fun! If you are interested, but aren’t quite sure how to put together a quality program, fear not! An MRBO Educator, Paige Witek, is willing to help any volunteer put together programming.
Also, if you know any young explorers between the ages of 7-11 you can contact MRBO to get them registered for the camp. Parents are welcome to stay for the activities. To make sure every child has a quality experience, we are limiting the number of participants to 12 each day, so sign up soon!
Interested? If you have any questions, or would like to register or offer a program, you can email Paige Witek or call the office at (660) 837- 3888.
– by Becky Erickson, Missouri Native Plant Society (Hawthorn Chapter)
The environment we now live in developed over the last 20,000 years, evolving a fabulous crazy-quilt of massive ecosystems and small microhabitats. The diverse fauna and flora that stimulate our eyes, ears, and heart found their niches and flourished in their own spaces as part of a fairly balanced system. However, in the last 400 years, much of North America has been plowed, logged, paved, or otherwise altered at a faster rate and more intensive scale than achieved by the original Native American managers of the landscape. In addition, the pre-existing hydrology of the landscape has been highly altered by the tiling and draining of wetlands and the damming and channelizing of waterways. These rapid changes can outpace the ability of many native species to adapt and thrive.
Many thoughtful authors have written about this topic, including Doug Tallamy, E.O. Wilson, E.C. Pielou, Rachel Carson, and Wes Jackson. But beyond learning, you can directly work to mitigate these concerns by incorporating native plants into your garden and landscape. In addition to reducing the need for chemical or physical lawn maintenance, adding native vegetation provides an important habitat and food source for wildlife in your area.
A wide diversity of insects and pollinators will find and feed on your newly incorporated native plants, directly and indirectly providing food for birds and other species. Many of these insects produce caterpillars, which birds feed to chicks, or become moths and butterflies if they escape predation. Aren’t we as mesmerized by butterflies as by birds? Consider the endangered Monarch butterfly, for which the common advice is to plant the lovely orange milkweed Asclepias tuberosa, although this is only 4th on the list of palatability for monarch larvae. Adult female monarchs look for patches of native wildflowers on which their newly matured offspring can feed for the trip south; they then look for milkweeds on which to lay eggs. Occasionally we see the orange beauties going north in April or May, but the most concentrated migration here in Missouri occurs in September, going south. Therefore, the most important nectar sources in your garden are a diversity of asters and goldenrods and the later-blooming rough blazingstar. If you have damp/wet/muddy spots, plants like rose turtlehead, garden phlox, culver’s root, New England aster, and helen’s hat (local name for Helenium autumnale) could compliment the delectable swamp milkweed, Asclepias incarnata. These fall-blooming natives also feed larvae of some second-generation moths and butterflies like the lovely painted lady, providing food for goldfinch chicks and migrating warblers.
Along with adding the right plants, removing or avoiding the wrong plants can also be beneficial because they do nothing to feed native wildlife. Remove problematic non-native plants from your yard, such as bush honeysuckle, hall’s (also oriental, vining, or Japanese) honeysuckle, Bradford pear, burning bush, winter creeper, garlic mustard, and many more. Replacing them with plants native to this area will actually foster the wellbeing of our local natural ecosystem and provide more natural diversity for you to enjoy.
If you want short plants and are attracted to the short compact ‘nativars’ coming onto market, please reconsider. According to a cooperative study (PDF link) by the Mt. Cuba Botanical Center and the University of Missouri, more pollinators visited true native plants than nativars. When the nectar and pollen of those plants were analyzed, the nativars were found to be deficient in many necessary nutrients, the plant equivalent of junk food. In addition, please don’t buy any plants that could have been treated with a family of insecticides generally known as neonicotinoids (or neonics), which are systemic throughout the plant and leave residuals in the soil that affect other plants in that area (learn more from the Xerces Society or Wild Ones websites). Sometimes such plants are accurately tagged, but usually not. Buy plants that are truly pollinator/bird friendly through a reputable independent local vendor.
The City of Columbia now has a Community Conservationist on staff, Danielle Fox, who can help get you started with advice and information, including through the CoMo Wild Yards program. The city is also considering modifying its weed ordinance to allow some defined patches of taller vegetation if they can be identified as native flowers and don’t droop over the sidewalk or block a driver’s view. These are encouraging steps toward a more diverse native ecosystem in our area that can better support the wildlife we enjoy and value.
Several native plant sales occur in mid-Missouri each spring, where you can talk to reputable vendors and be inspired to do some planting. Please bring cash and/or checkbook because not all vendors take plastic. In 2018 these will include:
Other sources of online information include:
Saturday April 28, 2018 | 9:00 a.m.
Sunday, April 29 | Any time between 1:00–4:00 p.m.