by Eric Reuter

Spring really is coming

– By Eric Reuter

Although central Missouri will experience temperatures ~30° below normal in the first week of March, watching birds reminds us that winter is on its way out. In just the past week here in northern Boone County, Joanna and I have observed tens of thousands of Snow Geese streaming northwest overhead; an eBird report from Grand Pass Conservation Area estimated numbers exceeding 100,000 on February 24. We’ve also seen more Greater White-Fronted Geese than we can recall in previous years. Multiple Killdeer have been vocalizing as they fly overhead; although these reside in Missouri during winter, we never experience them from our property until spring. Similarly, on the last day of February we saw our first Turkey Vulture from home. At one time these stayed south of Boone County in winter but in recent years eBird has recorded numerous winter sightings in and near Columbia; however, in our experience their reappearance above our northern Boone County home is still an early sign of spring. On a rare sunny day recently, a kettle of ~25 migrating gulls (possibly Ring-Billed?) shone white against the blue sky as they rode a thermal slowly north.  American Woodcock mating displays have been reported elsewhere in Missouri, though they have yet to start on our property. Join CAS on March 16th to look for these fun birds at Rocky Fork Lakes CA.

March is a good month to start paying attention to bird behavior and its meaning. Are your familiar local birds acting differently? Are winter residents getting restless? When do you first notice new birds returning? Do daily weather conditions play any role in these patterns? For us, much of the joy of bird-watching is the window it provides into the broader ecology and climate surrounding us. For example, not all Snow Goose migration is the same. On an especially windy recent day, the rivers of geese were flying unusually low, likely trying to avoid even stronger upper-level headwinds. Their vees were unusually chaotic, skidding back and forth in the wind as they struggled to maintain formation and momentum; they reminded me of fish struggling upstream against a strong current. On calmer days, the flocks were far higher where it’s generally more efficient to fly. That one windy day gave us a chance to observe details of flock behavior that are harder to spot at higher altitudes, and gave us a greater appreciation for how weather conditions interact with migratory instincts.

Spring is a great season to study birds. Can you identify courtship, mating, and/or nest-building behavior? Can you notice when winter migrants leave? Do changes in plants influence where birds are feeding or perching? Whether on your own or as part of the many field trips CAS will host throughout this exciting season, have fun studying birds, their behavior, and their context as the season begins to change.

CAS  Celebrations in April

– by Jan Mees

What do April 26, 1785 and April 26, 2019 have in common? The former is the birth date of John James Aubudon.  The latter is the date Columbia Audubon Society is celebrating its 60 year anniversary! CAS members Nancy Bedan, Lottie Bushmann, Lori Hagglund, Judy Lincoln, Jan Mees, Doug Miller, Lori Turner, and Allison Vaughn have been working since October on special events to commemorate these important dates. Mark your calendars for any or all of the following events:

CAS members only:

Friday, April 26: 5:30–7:30 p.m. Boone County History and Culture Center, 3801 Ponderosa Street in Columbia. CAS members and spouses and special guests are invited to a gala open house for food, drinks, birds, and a short program to honor the CAS’s past and to enjoy ongoing friendships and future work of our amazing organization

Saturday, April 27: 8–9:30 a.m. Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary, 3607 Bray Avenue. Special guest Audubon performer and storyteller, Mr. Brian “Fox” Ellis, will lead a “Bird Walk with Audubon”

Two community events (in cooperation with Columbia Public Schools and Columbia Public Library) are also planned featuring Mr. Ellis:

Saturday, April 27:  10:30–11:30 a.m. Fairview Elementary School Media Center, 909 Fairview Road. “Audubon’s Birds”

Saturday, April 27: 2–2:45 p.m. Columbia Public Library, Children’s Program Room “Birds’ Tales”

Prior to the weekend’s events several CAS members will be guests on David Lile’s Columbia Morning talk show on KFRU AM 1400 on Friday, April 19 at 8:30 a.m. to look back at the history of CAS and to discuss the current and future accomplishments of CAS.

February 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 February 20, 2019. Please contact a board member with any questions.

Treasurer’s ReportApproved without dissent. It was noted that about 30 members have not yet renewed their membership; reminders will be sent out. CAS received a second-place Challenge Grant of $500 for finishing the 2018 CoMoGives community fund drive with the “second highest amount raised by an organization with a budget of $25,000 or less.” The final CAS numbers for the 2018 CoMoGives total to 81 donors and $9,975 raised.

CAS 60th Anniversary Celebration:  Plans are coming together for the April 26 event.  Committee/board members are working on a photo presentation, press coverage, additional sponsors, favors for guests, additional beverage donations, table decorations, name tags, etc.

Update on Conservation Federation Membership: The Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) asks organizations that join CFM to provide their membership lists, which are used to distribute three CFM electronic publications (newsletter, magazine, legislative action bulletin). However, CAS policy prohibits sharing its membership list. Alternatives are being considered, including linking to CFM publications through the CAS website and in the Chat or giving CAS members the option to opt-in. The CFM board will be considering the CAS membership application at an upcoming meeting.

Youth Volunteer Corps: Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) participants will be available again this summer to help with CAS projects. The goal of the program is to give youth, ages 11-18, an opportunity to address community needs and develop leadership skills and a commitment to service. Corps volunteers have helped with cleanup projects at CANS in the past.

Possible Land Donation: An individual has contacted CAS about possible donation of a tract of land north of Columbia to ensure that the land is protected in the future.

Web Page: There is a new page on the CAS website with information for potential donors. CAS has received its first funds from AmazonSmile.

Communications: Field trip notifications of field trips and meetings are now being posted to Vox magazine and the Missourian.

Nature Areas: Heavy snowfall caused tree damage at the Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary. Some work has been done but more large, hanging, dead limbs need to be removed. The area west of the creek will be brush-hogged to prepare for prairie restoration work.

Educational opportunity: The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is offering a Master Pollinator Steward Program this spring. The series of eight classes will meet from 10 a.m.-noon on Tuesdays, beginning March 12, at the Moss Building at the Waters-Moss Memorial Wildlife Area, 1905 Hillcrest Drive. A five-part series of MU publications was prepared for the course.

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.