Newsletter of the Columbia Audubon Society | January 2022 | Volume 64, Number 5

Sat. Jan. 1, 2022

Note from the President

by Jim Gast

Happy New Year and here’s to a wonderful 2022.


CoMoGives Campaign

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we raised $10,507 for the 2021 CoMoGives campaign.

January Program

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: 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

Field Trips

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  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

Sat. Jan. 1, 2022

Nature Area Notes

by John Besser and Bill Mees, Nature Areas Committee

The prescribed fire was a great success at Wild Haven

 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!

CARES Volunteers from the Mizzou Fire joined CAS for the fire.

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.

Sat. Jan. 1, 2022

2021 Christmas Bird Count Results-Not many birds, warm weather

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!


Sat. Jan. 1, 2022

CAS Board Meeting Highlights for December 15, 2021

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:

Committee Reports


  • Dee Dokken presented a position paper circulating to various civic groups that CAS may sign urging the Columbia City Council to “develop a plan for 100% of electricity from Columbia Water & Light to be obtained from clean, renewable energy sources by 2030.” Bill Mees was in opposition, citing the likely increase in power rates as well as the increased bird and bat mortality caused by wind energy. Dee cited a recent statement from National Audubon that “Audubon strongly supports wind energy that is sited and operated properly to avoid, minimize, and mitigate effectively for the impacts on birds, other wildlife, and the places they need now and in the future. To that end, we support the development of wind energy to achieve 100% clean electricity.”
  • 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.

  • A recent meeting between the Columbia City Council and the Boone County Commissioners did not result in new zoning policies that would protect habitat-sensitive areas from development.

Field Trips

  • Lottie Bushmann led a First Friday field trip for 12 people.

Outreach and Education

  • Lottie Bushmann reports that Hog Island has still not released information about their summer programs, which is impacting the time available for the Outreach and Education Committee to conduct the application process for CAS teacher scholarships. Given the uncertainty surrounding Hog Island’s scheduling, Lisa Schenker suggests CAS forego the scholarship application process this year, and instead send two previously vetted teachers: a scholarship recipient already approved for 2020 whose visit had to be delayed; plus an alternate candidate from the 2021 season.
  • 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.

Nature Areas

Wild Haven
  • Bill Mees reports that a prescribed fire was successfully conducted at Wild Haven Nature Sanctuary. CAS members were joined by 5 Mizzou students. Roxie Campbell was lauded for her work overseeing the burn.
  • Bill Mees reports that David Neely convened a work party to continue the removal of invasive Autumn Olive shrubs. There are a number of debris piles that will burned off sometime this winter. David removed a hanging oak tree limb.
  • Bill Mees and David Neely discovered that vandals had taken the hinges off the back door of Jenkins Hall.
  • Bill reports that the remaining Wild Haven pit latrine needs to be replaced. Allison Vaughn suggests installing a composting toilet to better protect the Hinkson watershed. David Neely, John Besser, Bill and Allison are forming a Toilet Committee to investigate options and present a proposal to the board.
Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary
  • Bill Mees reports that his family has purchased a bench in honor of his birthday, and is requesting permission to place it at Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary (CANS).
  • Nancy Bedan moves that Bill find a suitable location for the bench at CANS. Lottie Bushmann seconds the motion. The motion carries.

New Business

Council House

  • Jim Gast reports that our November 5 letter to the Columbia Public School superintendent remains unanswered. The board will discuss possible next steps.

Conservation Federation of Missouri affiliate program

  • Jim Gast reports that our concerns regarding CFM’s proposed Affiliate program were sent to CFM’s membership chair. We have not yet received a response.

Gift cards for mowers

    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.

Sharing other events with CAS members

    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.

Zoom Suit

  • Columbia Audubon Society is eligible to take part as plaintiffs in a class action suit against Zoom for privacy violations that took place within their virtual meeting platform. Given that CAS did not actually suffer any harm, and that the damages awarded would be nominal, and that the Zoom account that CAS used was actually in Jim Gast’s name, we will not take part in the lawsuit.


  • Jim Gast. A nominating committee will be convened to identify candidates for the next CAS officer and director election. Current officers/directors not continuing in their positions next term include: Jim Gast (president), Nancy Bedan (vice-president), Doug Miller (secretary) and Jean Neely (director). Elections will be held at the April meeting.
  • Bill Mees notes that Fairview Elementary School students collected 250lbs of plastic caps/lids. They then drove this plastic to Evansville, Indiana where the materials were made into a bench that will be placed next to their school prairie. A news article covering this story mentioned CAS and the Missouri Department of Conservation as consultants on the prairie project.
  • Nancy Bedan asks whether Bill Mees has received a response yet regarding our letter to the city requesting they conduct a managed deer hunt on their Bonnie View park. There has been no response yet. Bill will follow up with Mike Snyder after the holidays.

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

Field Trip to Binder Lake

Saturday, January 29, 2022 | 9:00AM

Meet at AC lot at 8:50am

First Friday Bird Walk

Friday, Feb. 4, 2022 | 8 a.m.

Meet at Songbird Station parking lot, 2010 Chapel Plaza Ct., Columbia, MO

Field Trip to Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area

Saturday, February 19, 2022 | 8am

Meet and/or carpool at the McBaine parking lot of Katy Trail State Park

First Friday Bird Walk

Friday, March 4, 2022 | 8 a.m.

Meet at Songbird Station, 2010 Chapel Plaza Ct., Columbia, MO