Newsletter of the Columbia Audubon Society | December 2018 | Volume 61, Number 4

Sat. Dec. 1, 2018

CAS News & Notes for December 2018

President’s notebook:
Even December is Birding Season!

— by John Besser

As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, many birds have moved on to warmer climes to spend winters with their tropical relatives and many Missouri birders have moved back inside to get re-acquainted with their families. But even in this ‘SAD’ time of the year, there are plenty of opportunities to spend quality time with the birds, and with the Audubon family:

On Saturday, December 15th, CAS holds our biggest birding event of the year, the Christmas Bird Count. The CBC has been an Audubon tradition for more than a century and a CAS tradition for about half of that time. Columbia usually produces the largest pool of CBC volunteers in Missouri, as well as one of the highest species tallies. This event goes forward rain (or freezing rain, or snow, or sleet, or bitter cold, or howling winds…) or shine. Results of decades of Christmas counts from hundreds of count circles has proven to be a treasure trove of ‘citizen-science’ data for scientists tracking changes in abundance and distribution of North American birds.

But it is really the camaraderie of birding with old friends in a familiar piece of the count circle that makes it so popular. To top off a day of bird-counting, we will gather for a pot-luck chili dinner (6 PM, at the Community of Christ Church on Fairview Road) to share stories of the day’s sightings and to merge counts into the official totals for the Columbia CBC circle.

Birders of all levels of ability are welcome to join the Christmas count — in the field, in your car, or at home watching the backyard feeders with hot cocoa in hand! If you haven’t already signed up for this year’s count, contact CBC organizer Laura Hillman (

After the CBC, most of us will really head indoors for the holidays, but come New Year’s Day, the urge to start the 2019 year-list will be strong, and Rock Bridge State Park is organizing four ‘First Day’ hikes for January 1. For more details visit

CAS will be leading the First Day bird walk on the Karst Trail. I hope I see you there — and at the Christmas Count!

John Besser
CAS President

Christmas Bird Count

The Christmas Bird Count will be held on Saturday, December 15 this year. The 13 areas that make up a circle surrounding Columbia will be surveyed by members of CAS and other interested birders. The teams will spend most of the day out in the field, some starting before day break. In the evening everyone will converge upon the annual Chili Supper where — one by one — each team will call off the number of each species they found and the computer will tally the number of robins, the number of blue birds, etc. — leading to a final total of all birds found. The data is then sent to the National Audubon Society where it’s compared with nearly 60 years of data previously collected by CAS. The data can also be compared to other areas of the US. However, the competition between the 13 areas the night of the Chili Supper may be the most exciting. The count is open to all interested birders. To potentially get a spot on a team email your name and phone number to Laura Hillan at so she can match you up with a team needing more members. The Chili Supper — open to everybody — begins at 6 p.m. at Fairview Road Community of Christ Church, 1111 S. Fairview Road in Columbia. Table service and hot and cold drinks will be provided.

November 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 November 14, 2018.  Please contact a board member with any questions.

November 2018 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 Nov. 14, 2018. Please contact a board member if you have questions.

Treasurer’s Report

Board members discussed management of existing funds.

CoMoGives Report

The annual CoMoGives fund drive for area nonprofits will begin on Giving Tuesday, Nov. 27, and continue through Dec. 31. The CAS goal this year is $8,000. Copies of the “Giving Guide” booklet and are available to distribute to friends and neighbors. A postcard appeal will be mailed to Audubon members and past supporters in early December.

CAS 60th Anniversary Celebration

The celebration committee has reserved space at the Boone County Historical Society for a gathering on Friday, April 26, John James Audubon’s birthday, and confirmed the appearance of Audubon “enactor” Brian Fox at educational events on Saturday. Fox will present a program for children at the Columbia Public Library on Saturday afternoon, April 27; the program is co-sponsored by CAS and the library. He will also provide a program at Fairview School that morning, and perhaps lead a nature walk at Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary (CANS) for Audubon members. CAS and the library will each pay half of his $1,000 fee. The celebration committee is working to find additional sponsors for the events. John Besser and Bill Mees are reviewing files of CAS historical information.

Christmas Bird Count (CBC)

Laura Hillman reported that she has contacted area coordinators for the Dec. 15 Christmas Bird Count but hasn’t had much response. She believes most coordinators are continuing. Board members discussed potential count coordinator vacancies and replacements. Board members discussed the possibility of using E-Bird lists to input the count data, but Laura said the data needs to remain in the standard CBC format. John Besser has discussed arrangements for the CBC chili dinner with Lori Hagglund, who coordinated the event in the past. He will circulate the food signup sheet.

CHAT & Membership

Doug Miller will compile the December Chat for Eric Reuter. Submit articles to Doug by Nov. 25. Doug provided CAS information cards and encouraged board members to continue distributing them.


John Besser suggested deferring this topic until there is adequate time for discussion.

  • Board members discussed whether or not CAS should have a formal process for awarding grants to young birders to attend educational programs and how to make it known that CAS is interested in supporting young birders, noting that it is difficult for CAS to identify students with need. It was suggested that CAS try to connect students with bird and nature programs and consider listing summer education opportunities on the CAS website. Doug Miller suggested spending most of CAS’ education funds to support students with need, but also setting aside an amount for students who approach the organization for a grant to attend a program.
  • Lottie Bushmann reported that no teachers have applied for the Hog Island Audubon Camp scholarship. She recommended extending the application period through January. She has sent information about the scholarship to all schools in the CAS membership area.
  • Bill Mees reported attending a meeting where Mike Szydlowski, Columbia Public Schools science coordinator, and teachers, including all Fairview School teachers, discussed “place-based education” and the “nature school” concept. Fairview teachers and teachers involved in the Teton Science School program have taken a field trip together at CANS and discussed the educational opportunities it offers. The place-based focus will start with fourth and fifth graders this spring and then expand to other grades in the next school year.
  • Bill Mees provided a summary of expenses for the 2018 Band with Nature program and reported the program cost $1.72 per student. Missouri River Bird Observatory waived most of their usual fee.
Nature Areas-CANS:
  • John Besser and Bill Mees reported that the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is working with local police and fire departments to establish common understanding and practices for prescribed burns. MDC is asked to do prescribed burns, but because timing and conditions are critical, the agency isn’t able to manage all needed burns. MDC is trying to train more people, so more fires are done.
  • John and Bill have conducted a site inspection at CANS with MDC staff Ann Koenig (forester) and Ryan Leuchenhoff (private land specialist) and prepared a written report. The MDC staff provided good advice about managing the nature area and were complimentary about what CAS has done on the site. They emphasized the need for prescribed fire on the prairie acreage but acknowledged that fire management will be difficult. Because smoke and public health would be concerns with fire management, they suggested that periodic mowing be considered as an alternative, or supplement, to burning. John said that MDC’s current efforts to facilitate managed burns and work with local police and fire departments might make fire management easier for CAS.
  • Bill will work with John and Allison Vaughn to prepare a Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative grant to start preparing additional ground for prairie seeding. CAS will partner with Columbia Public Schools on this project. Plans are to have students collect seed on the existing prairie and spread it on the new ground. Bill said the effort would require about $3,000 of the $5,000 remaining in the original prairie restoration donation; he will have more specific budget information at the next meeting.
  • Field Trips: Eric W reviewed the upcoming field trip locations and leaders.
  • National Audubon Conservation Ranching Program: John Besser has met with National Audubon representative Roger Still to discuss the organization’s efforts to promote bird-friendly beef production on grasslands in the Great Plains. Beef raised on ranches that participate in program has an Audubon certification label. Missouri has one participating ranch, and certified beef is available locally at the Root Cellar. John said at present CAS doesn’t have an event that could feature the program or the product.

Get ready for the January book discussion

In January, CAS will be leading a public book discussion about Seattle-based author and researcher John M. Marzluff’s 2014 book Welcome to Subirdia. Now is a great time to buy or borrow a copy (the library has two) and get started on this interesting book about biodiversity in urban areas. We hope you’ll join us in January prepared with questions, comments, and ideas inspired by the book.

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. Dec. 1, 2018

CoMoGives Fund Drive is Under Way

– by Nancy Bedan, CAS CoMoGives Committee

Please Consider Making a Gift to Columbia Audubon
CoMoGives logo

CoMoGives 2018 campaign

Mid-Missouri residents can make donations to any of 122 nonprofit organizations through the 2018 CoMoGives fundraiser during the month of December. These organizations, Columbia Audubon Society included, offer exceptional programs and services to our community. The Community Foundation of Central Missouri coordinates the fund drive and provides a single website — — where gifts can be made to any of the participating groups.

2018 CoMoGives Drive Offers New Option for IRA Holders

If you are 70½ or older and have an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), it is now possible for you to make a large gift ($500 minimum) from your annual “required minimum distribution” (RMD) to a participating CoMoGives organization such as Columbia Audubon. This option is available through CoMoGives for the first time this year. There are specific rules for making these gifts during CoMoGives. For more information, contact the Community Foundation of Central Missouri at 573-817-5027 and your financial advisor.

Columbia Audubon uses funds received through the CoMoGives drive to create and maintain a 13-acre native prairie on the 28-acre Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary and the city‘s adjacent Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary; provide the Band with Nature field trip for 1,100 second graders in Columbia Public Schools; and provide scholarships for older students and teachers to attend science and nature-education programs. Columbia Audubon is an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff and big goals. Donations received through the CoMoGives fund drive supplement membership dues and give the CAS annual budget a much-needed boost.

The CoMoGives fund drive began on Nov. 27 (“Giving Tuesday”) this year and ends at midnight Dec. 31. The drive is conducted entirely online, and gifts are made using credit or debit cards. Donors have the opportunity to make their gifts in honor or in memory of friends or family members. The minimum gift is $10. Donations will be acknowledged by both Columbia Audubon Society and CoMoGives. For more information about the 2017 CoMoGives drive and, of course, to donate, visit

And remember, if you want to support Columbia Audubon‘s programs but aren’t comfortable with online giving, you can always write a check. Make donation checks payable to Columbia Audubon Society and mail them to: Columbia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 1331, Columbia, MO 65205.

Columbia Audubon Society would appreciate your support during this season of giving.

Sat. Dec. 1, 2018

Recap: November 3 Field Trip to Lake of the Ozarks State Park

– by Allison Vaughn

CAS members hike the Rocky Top Trail at Lake of Ozarks State Park.

CAS members hike the Rocky Top Trail at Lake of Ozarks State Park.

On a freezing Saturday morning, five members of CAS met at the AC parking lot to carpool to Lake of the Ozarks State Park. The original plan to hike Bluestem Knoll morphed into a hike on Rocky Top Trail as it provided more cover from the wind than the savanna of Bluestem Knoll. It was a gloomy morning, and even though we arrived at the trailhead around 9:30 am, the birds remained pretty quiet.

Fall color was in peak on the hike across the large dolomite glade and through the dry white oak-dominated woodlands. Despite the cold, wind, and cloud cover, we tallied 27 species of birds with Eric Wood keeping track. The windy conditions likely impacted the chances to see the wide diversity of sparrows that normally inhabit the glade.

CAS member John Besser scans the horizon at Lake of the Ozarks State Park.

CAS member John Besser scans the horizon at Lake of the Ozarks State Park.

Nevertheless, we were greeted with the rambling chirps of two Carolina wrens in the creek as we left the glade and hiked into the woodlands. Managed with fire for over 25 years and slated to burn in this fire season, the Rocky Top Management Unit is a hotspot for open woodland-loving birds. Summer brings many pairs of breeding summer tanagers and red-headed woodpeckers, and on our fall field trip, we picked up a lot of Carolina chickadees and tufted titmice in the woods. Along the shoreline of Lake of the Ozarks, 17 white pelicans glided in for a landing in the protected cove. In the concrete riprap of the shore, our group had a great view of a winter wren who hopped energetically from shrub to rocky hole, and then back up again.

After the field trip, we caravanned to Shawnee Bluff Winery for a leisurely lunch at the wine tasting bar and arrived back in Columbia by mid-afternoon.

Sat. Dec. 1, 2018


– by Bill Mees

Several years ago, the city of Columbia instituted the Adopt-A-Trail program through its Parks and Recreation department. Beginning in 2017, Columbia Audubon Society assumed responsibility for a quarter mile segment of Scott‘s Branch Trail. The adopted segment runs along the south side of Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary and Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary.

In 2017, Columbia Audubon Society removed all the bush honeysuckle and trash from along the adopted trail segment. In April 2018, CAS members and friends planted nearly 200 native Missouri seedlings. In time, these seedlings will grow to replace the honeysuckle. Unfortunately, the spring planting was followed by a very dry summer and fall. Not to be deterred, CAS members watered each of the new seedlings throughout the drought.

Since this project is sponsored by the city, time donated by volunteers is tracked and recognized. Since April 2018, Columbia Audubon Society members and volunteers have donated a total of 78 hours. The private sector values each hour donated by a volunteer at a rate of $24.14 per hour. The value of the hours donated to the city of Columbia by CAS volunteers is $1883.00.

Thank you Columbia Audubon Society for helping to restore and beautify our city.

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

2018 Christmas Bird Count

Saturday, December 15, 2018 | All Day

Annual Chili Supper Potluck

Saturday, December 15, 2018 | 6:00pm

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

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