by Eric Reuter

-by Eric Reuter

CAS celebrated its 60th birthday through a series of fun events during the last weekend of April, made possible by the hard work of committee chair Jan Mees and members Nancy Bedan, Lottie Bushmann, Lori Hagglund, Judy Lincoln, Doug Miller, Lori Turner, and Allison Vaughn.

Friday reception

Many CAS members convened at the Boone County Historical Society for an evening reception celebrating the group’s 60 years of advocacy and education. Among the flock were multiple generations of past and present board members and other folks who have been integral to CAS’s longevity and success, receiving a well-deserved ovation. Current president John Besser displayed a slide show of images from CAS’s history, and co-presented (with past president Kris Hagglund) congratulatory proclamations from the State of Missouri and the City of Columbia.

Test your birder ID! Can you find (1) a volunteer who mows at CANS, (2) the current president (in appropriate habitat at lectern), (3) current & past board members & officers, (4) three examples of Eric sp., and (5) two examples of Lori sp.? Many additional birders were sighted, and there was plenty of Chat-ter but not much singing or Tweeting. Photos by Kris Hagglund.


Committee chair Jan Mees gave a short summary of CAS’s activities over the years, highlighted by:

  • The group’s founding as a birthday present from one spouse to another.
  • Growth from an original membership of 25 to an all-time high of 336 in 1972.
  • Acquisition and management of land now totaling ~177 acres.
  • Past activities including Christmas tree farming and a Wildlife Film lecture series.
  • Involvement in environmental issues including low-phosphate laundry detergent and DDT.
  • Financial support toward nature education for both teachers and students.
  • Educational outreach through trailside displays, presentations, walks, and other events.
  • Recognitions of CAS contributions by the City and other entities.
  • Citizen science contributions through bird counts and land restoration.
  • Partnerships with at least 14 different agencies, organizations, and entities.

Many attendees gathered around a Barred Owl and Peregrine Falcon, enjoying the rare chance to see these beautiful birds up close. Overall, the evening was an enjoyable, laid-back chance to reflect on CAS’s mission and catch up with friends old and new while tasting good food and Missouri wine; it was a lovely way to celebrate CAS’s past, present, and future.

Saturday events

The next day featured three programs led by special guest Brian “Fox” Ellis, who personifies John James Audubon “to bring history, ecology, art and literature to life”.

“Bird Walk With Audubon”

Brian “Fox” Ellis leads Columbia Audubon members in search of birds and stories. Photos by John Besser and Eric Reuter.

First, he led ~20 people on a walk through the Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary on a comfortable and birdy morning. He emphasized the value of going beyond identification and listing to really study and appreciate the context of birds, noting that Audubon paintings are known for surrounding birds with elements of their natural habitat rather than presenting them in isolation. He recommended the 1975 book “Reading the Landscape of America” by May Theilgaard Watts, which the Daniel Boone Regional Library does not have but which is easily found through online shopping. Of the 32 species observed on this walk, such highlights included American Robins building nests using newly collected dry grass, Blue Jays occupying a nest, Cowbird courtship, and Red-Bellied Woodpecker territorial drumming near a nest site (possibly in response to an encroaching Downy Woodpecker).

“Audubon’s Birds” & “Birds’ Tales”

-by Dave Bedan

Brian “Fox” Ellis presenting in character as John James Audubon. Photo by Dave Bedan.

16 Audubon members attended a wonderful presentation at Fairview School, where Monsieur Audubon recounted his life story and how he came to the United States and launched his magnificent project of painting all the birds of America. He then used about a dozen full-sized prints of his paintings to discuss how he painted them to show not only the anatomy but also the lifestyle of the birds. After he concluded, CAS member Edge Wade presented him with several prints of paintings of Missouri birds by David Plank, sometimes called the modern day “Audubon of Missouri”.

Next, at the Columbia Public Library, approximately 10 family units were engaged by Monsieur Audubon as he related Native American folktales explaining various aspects of nature, such as the size of eagle’s wings.  His engaging presentations had the children (and adults!) responding to verbal prompts to encourage audience participation.