by Eric Reuter

President’s Notebook: Looking ahead, honoring the past

– By John Besser

This especially wintry January has kept us away from many of our favorite outdoor pursuits, but it gives us a good opportunity to reflect on our past successes and to plan for the future.

CoMoGives Rocks! The year 2018 ended on a very positive note for CAS with the remarkable success of our fundraising campaign. We easily surpassed our 2017 total, then a surge of donations in the final days of the campaign took us past our ambitious 2018 goal of $8,000, reaching a final 2019 total of $9,405! (This includes a few donations by mail, which are not technically part of CoMoGives.) A great deal of credit should go to our creative and hard-working committee, chaired by Nancy Bedan. The overwhelming support CAS receives from its members and the broader Columbia community says a lot about how much our members’ volunteer work on education, habitat improvement, and field trips is appreciated.

2018 was a Big Year for Brad! Shortly after the New Year, Brad Jacobs (CAS past-president and recently retired MDC ornithologist) posted the results of his 2018 Missouri Big Year. Brad surpassed Tim Barksdale’s 1991 record total of 314 species by September 26, and he ended up with a mind-boggling total of 323 species for the year. Congratulations, Brad! He has agreed to share the story of his big year for CHAT readers in an article for the March issue.

CAS to join Conservation Federation. At our January meeting, the CAS board agreed to become an Affiliate Member of the Conservation Federation of Missouri. CFM is probably the largest conservation organization in our state, and their affiliates represent diverse constituencies that includes Audubon chapters as well as sportsmans’ groups, land trusts, and outdoor recreation groups. We see this move as an avenue for our chapter to become better informed and more influential about conservation issues in Missouri.  For more information about CFM, see their website at

Your photos can make CAS history! We are planning special events for the weekend of April 26-27 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Columbia Audubon Society. We’re taking this opportunity to gather information from our archives and from our members to help us better appreciate the accomplishments of our organization, and to recognize the countless individuals who worked so hard to get us where we are today. One fun part of this process has been digging up photographs of CAS members at work and play.  If you have old photos of CAS members, activities, and nature areas, we’d love to include them in a slide show as part of this celebration. (The older the better!) We can scan your photos and return the originals to you. Please send prints — with dates, names, and descriptions —  by March 1 to:

John Besser – CAS photos

c/o Columbia Audubon Society

P.O. Box 1331, Columbia, MO 65205

If you have photos in digital formats, you can e-mail them to me directly at

January book discussion rescheduled for June

– by Eric & Joanna Reuter

We made the difficult decision to postpone January’s book discussion of John M. Marzluff’s “Welcome to Subirdia” at the Columbia Public Library due to the potential for freezing rain that night. Rescheduling in the near future proved to be difficult given the library’s extremely tight booking schedule and personal scheduling conflicts. After consultation with the library and CAS leadership, we decided to shift the event to the summer, given the recent success of other CAS summer programs.  The event will now take place on Wednesday, June 19th, at 6:30 p.m., allowing us to hold a neighborhood bird walk immediately afterward so that attendees can experience, observe, and discuss urban birds and their habitats.

This discussion would have provided a good lead-up to the February presentation by MU’s Dr. Charles Nilon, whose research focuses on the relationship between humans and wildlife in urban communities. We hope that all those who read the book will attend the February meeting to learn more about this interesting and highly relevant topic. In recent years, CAS has been increasing its efforts and attention toward habitat management and bird education within Columbia’s city limits, so discussions of urban wildlife and human communities is very relevant to members and other interested parties.

January 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 January 16, 2019. Please contact a board member with any questions.

Treasurer’s ReportApproved without dissent.

Christmas Bird Count: The tally has been completed, and a summary report was prepared for the January Chat newsletter.

CoMoGives Report:  (Editor’s note: see additional article this month for a full report). Board members discussed the timing of the annual membership renewal notices and the end-of-year CoMoGives appeals.

CAS 60th Anniversary Celebration:  Jan Mees provided an update on plans for Columbia Audubon’s 60th Anniversary celebration, which will begin with a reception on Friday, April 26, followed by additional events on Saturday, April 27. The Friday reception will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Boone County History and Culture Center. The committee is now planning for 100, instead of 75, guests at that event. Committee representatives have visited the center and discussed event plans with Executive Director Chris Campbell. Committee member Judy Lincoln is arranging for falconers to bring their birds and visit with guests during the reception; CAS will need to rent an additional outside, covered area for this, which ups the facility cost to $400. Jan is working with Bleu Catering to arrange food for the event. Committee members also are checking into the cost of liquor liability insurance for the reception.

Jan is working with the Columbia Public Library to coordinate a presentation by Brian Fox Ellis, a John James Audubon storyteller and enactor, on Saturday afternoon; the library is sharing the cost of his presentation and paying for his lodging. On Saturday morning, Fox will lead a bird walk at the Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary and give a presentation on “Audubon’s Birds” at the Fairview School media center.

The committee has secured several event and food sponsors in addition to the library—including Goldcrest Distributing-Songbird Station, Orscheln Foundation, and Logboat Brewing—and is looking for more. There will be printing and postage costs for “save-the-date” cards, invitations and programs. Jan noted that several Audubon members are sifting through old chapter records to develop a brief program on highlights from CAS’ 60-year history for presentation during the Friday reception.

Contribution to Loess Bluffs Project: Board members reviewed a request for Columbia Audubon to become a supporting partner in a major wetland improvement project at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge in northwest Missouri. Members had indicated their interest in supporting the project with a $250 contribution, made through the Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative (MoBCI), to help the refuge meet requirements for matching funds for a federal grant.  Motion to make the $250 donation immediately approved without dissent.

Conservation Federation Membership:  Most non-governmental organizations on the MoBCI steering committee also belong to the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM). The CFM membership fee is a $50 flat rate for the organization and an additional $1 per dues-paying members;  it would cost $170 for CAS to join CFM. CAS currently doesn’t have a conservation chair and joining CFM would give the chapter some representation in the state legislative process. It was also noted that CFM supports bird conservation and offers grants to member organizations. Motion to join the Conservation Federation of Missouri approved without dissent.

Web Page, Membership, E-mail:  Columbia Audubon has been registered with the AmazonSmile Foundation, which donates 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to a charitable organization designated by the buyer. CAS will also set up a donations page on the CAS website, so that people can donate to CAS without joining the organization. Donors will be able to make gifts in honor or memory of someone.

CHAT:  Brad Jacobs will be invited to write an article about his “big year” of birding for the Chat.

Communications/Outreach:  Board members discussed opportunities for communicating with CAS members about board actions and organization programs and events. A list of items will be prepared to be shared with members at monthly meetings, including plans for the 60th anniversary celebration and upcoming field trips.

Education:  The best way to formalize the process of awarding grants to young birders who want to attend bird and nature-education programs needs further discussion. A fifth-grade teacher has applied for the CAS grant to attend the weeklong educator’s program at the Hog Island Audubon Camp in Maine. Information about the grant currently is sent only to elementary teachers, but high school biology teachers may also be interested in the Hog Island program. The “Feathers” program for children,  scheduled to be presented on Jan. 13 at the Columbia Public Library, was cancelled because of weather but has been rescheduled for Feb. 10. A second children’s program on migration will happen on March 10.

Field Trips: There will be a field trip Feb. 9 to the Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge, in conjunction with St. Louis Audubon. CAS’ Feeder Crawl, part of the Great Backyard Bird Count, is scheduled for Feb. 16-18 but needs a coordinator. Another field trip will occur later in February.

Nature Areas: CANS is in good shape for beginning the next phase of the prairie restoration. Another MoBCI grant application is being prepared, but funds may not be available; hopefully CAS will proceed with the restoration with or without the grant. For this phase of the project, CAS is partnering with Columbia Public Schools and will have students collect and spread seed.  Native Plant Society members  are also being asked to work with students to collect seeds. The spraying schedule to kill the existing fescue was also discussed.

A number of trees are down at CANS as a result of the recent heavy snow; help is needed clearing them. Motion to send a donation of $150 to Dean Ravenscraft for gas purchases (Dean mows the paths at CANS as a volunteer) approved without dissent.

A Wild Haven Nature Sanctuary neighbor is doing a good job of mowing parts of the property. The maintenance building still needs a lock, but that the gates are more secure now.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:45 p.m.

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.