Newsletter of the Columbia Audubon Society | January 2022 | Volume 64, Number 5
by Jim Gast
Happy New Year and here’s to a wonderful 2022.
Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we raised $10,507 for the 2021 CoMoGives campaign.
Join us—via Zoom—for Columbia Audubon’s January program, Bird Nests–The Wonder of Avian Engineering on Wednesday, January 19th at 7:00 PM. Paige Witek, education coordinator for the Missouri River Bird Observatory, will talk about the main types of bird nests and the species that build them. Paige, who is also the state coordinator for the Missouri Young Birders Club, is an engaging and energetic presenter, so I hope you can attend the Zoom session: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86965965934?pwd=TzNkNEltMnlhNXp5UlRMU0UxcTBsdz09. There will also be a short membership meeting.
We’ll be holding an election in April for president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and one of the three director positions. In order to come up with a slate of candidates, I need to appoint a nominating committee. If you are interested, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are planning on starting field trips again this year and are looking for Field Trip Leaders. Anyone who would like to lead any trips this coming year please get in touch with Eric Wood at email@example.com. You don’t need experience leading trips. Just a desire to show others your favorite place to bird.
For now Eric is asking for a commitment of just one field trip per leader. If you would like to do a trip in January, he will need a destination, date, and a short description as soon as possible. If you want to choose another month, it would be helpful to know if you want to do it early or late in the month. The leader and Eric can choose a date and make a description closer to the time of the trip.
We receive several requests a year from other organizations to publicize their events to our members. In order to cut down on the number of emails you receive, we will be adding these events to our events calendar on our website. Examples are the First Friday bird walks sponsored by Songbird Station and led by Lottie Bushmann. and the Women’s Winter Birding webinar and field trip.
Motus Wildlife Tracking System Update
The Motus Wildlife tracking System (or Motus Tower) that was donated by Columbia Audubon in memory of Brad Jacobs is up and running as of December 30th. The tracker is located on a tower at the Waters-Moss Memorial Wildlife Area off S Old Highway 63 (see photo). I wonder what the first bird tracked will be.
Amanda Heltzel and Sarah Kendrick have compiled a report detailing Motus tracking results. If you would like a copy, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by John Besser and Bill Mees, Nature Areas Committee
Wild Haven prescribed fire
On December 2, a crew of 15 volunteers conducted a 20-acre prescribed burn in the creek valley west of the Wild Haven picnic area. Volunteers came from CAS, Boy Scout troop 242, and from ‘SAFE’, the MU student forestry club. Because many of our crew had limited experience, burn boss Roxie Campbell spent a considerable amount of time explaining the burn plan and use of fire management tools.
Conditions were very favorable (warm, dry, light wind) for a steady, safe burn of the ground layer, and nearly 100% of the unit was burned over a 2-hr period. Because we had a large crew and the fire was well behaved, the only problems faced by the volunteers were boredom and occasional smoke . After the ground fire burned out, there were a few burning dead snags, standing or fallen, that were either extinguished with water from a backpack sprayer or left to burn themselves out over the next several days. We look forward to seeing the response of the wildflowers next spring!
Members of the fire crew included: Roxie Campbell, John Besser, Bill Mees, Dee Dokken, Debbie Christensen, Cole Palumbo, Dave Meusch, David Webber, Kent Ford, Gina Beebe, Mark Reibe, Haley Steinke, Dylan Evins, and Helena Fairchild. I apologize if I’ve missed anyone. Columbia Audubon thanks all the volunteers!
Wild Haven Autumn Olive removal
In the weeks before Christmas, David Neely and a couple helpers continued our effort to remove Autumn Olive at Wild Haven. We expanded the previously cleared area behind the picnic shelter by removing some of the largest and densest olive stands. Much remains to be done but we appreciate David’s initiative, and we plan to keep this work moving forward by hiring a contractor again in 2022 to continue the work on areas near the picnic area and the West pond.
Habitat restoration continues at CANS
We continue to make progress in our project to restore native vegetation communities at the Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary off Bray Rd in west Columbia. A six-acre area on the west side of Scotts Branch Creek has been treated with herbicide over the past two growing seasons, and we are ready to start adding native shrubs, grasses and wildflowers.
This fall, Bill Mees planted 32 shrub seedlings purchased from Missouri Wildflowers Nursery, as well as some sassafras plants donated by frequent volunteer Charlie Alexander. Shrubs were mostly planted in the riparian zone along the creek. We have ordered several different seed mixes for the different habitats in the restoration area, including moist prairie mix for the low-lying area near the footbridge, deep soil mix for prairie on the open slopes, and savannah mix for open areas interspersed with large trees. We expect to receive the seed mixes in early January, and to plant the seed using a combination of a mechanical seeder in open areas and by hand-spreading of seed in areas with too many trees. Look for announcements on the CAS website if you’d like to help spread the seed.
by John Besser and Lottie Bushmann
This fall’s unseasonably warm weather continued on December 18, the day of the Columbia Christmas Bird Count. Temperatures were mostly in the 40s, above normal for the date, although the risk wind made it feel a bit colder and may have kept some birds in heavy cover. The turnout of count volunteers was high as usual, with over 100 eBird checklists submitted for the day. Unfortunately, counters did not have as many birds to count as usual. We saw a total of 87 species and over 65,000 individuals in our count circle. Individual groups had species totals from 32 species (Area 8, north of I-70) to 64 (Eagle Bluffs). This is about 10 fewer species than we see in an average year. Total counts for each count area are summarized in Table 1
The most common species reported in the count was Mallard with over 23,000 individuals seen, mostly at Eagle Bluffs. However, waterfowl as a group showed the biggest drop off compared to typical counts, with only 12 species seen and about 10 expected species (mostly diving ducks) not reported. Notable water birds included one American Black Duck (Eagle Bluffs), one Least Sandpiper (More’s Lake in north Columbia), and 2 Virginia Rails (Columbia wetland unit 2).
Abundant land birds included Red-winged Blackbird, with over 13,000 individuals (not including >5000 ‘blackbird sp’) and American Robin and European Starling, which each had counts over 3000. Black Vulture, a recent colonist in the Columbia area, was seen at two different locations — possibly the same 3 birds. Land birds found at low numbers and single locations included Eastern Screech-owl, Merlin, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Pine Siskin and Lincoln’s Sparrow
For the second straight year, we did not have a chili dinner after the count to tally our sightings in person. Instead, participants submitted their checklists into eBird, making compilation of our results relatively quick and easy. Thanks to everyone who participated!
See the results of the annual Christmas Bird Count!
by Douglas Miller
Upon review and board approval, final meeting minutes are posted to the Minutes page. Following are highlights of the unapproved minutes from the December 15, 2021 CAS board meeting:
Nancy Bedan moves we endorse the position paper with the addition of the National Audubon statement stressing the importance of avoiding, minizing and mitigating impacts on wildlife. Dee Dokken seconds the motion. With one vote in opposition the motion carries.
Bill Mees moves that we proceed with Lisa’s plan to forego an application process this year for Hog Island teacher scholarships, and instead send a previously-approved teacher plus an alternate nominee from last year. Nancy Bedan seconds the motion. The motion carries.
Nancy Bedan moves that Bill find a suitable location for the bench at CANS. Lottie Bushmann seconds the motion. The motion carries.
Eric Seaman moves we present gift cards to Dean Ravenscraft and Riley Nichols in appreciation the time they volunteer to mow Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary and Wild Haven Nature Sanctuary. Jean Neely seconds the motion. The motion carries.
Jim Gast moves that events produced by other groups which might be of interest to CAS members may be posted on the CAS website, but separate e-mail alerts will not be sent to the membership. Exceptions can be made at the board’s discretion and/or if CAS is a sponsor of the event. Lottie Bushmann seconds the motion. The motion carries.
Saturday, January 29, 2022 | 9:00AM
Meet at AC lot at 8:50am
Friday, Feb. 4, 2022 | 8 a.m.
Meet at Songbird Station parking lot, 2010 Chapel Plaza Ct., Columbia, MO
Saturday, February 19, 2022 | 8am
Meet and/or carpool at the McBaine parking lot of Katy Trail State Park
Friday, March 4, 2022 | 8 a.m.
Meet at Songbird Station, 2010 Chapel Plaza Ct., Columbia, MO