by Dottie Head, Director of Membership & Communications
Atlanta Audubon is hosting a variety of free virtual events on birds and bird-related topics during the COVID-19 outbreak. Atlanta Audubon is seeing a huge uptick in interest in bird watching as people shelter in place. In response, we have developed a number of free webinars, Facebook Live events, and other resources to bring the joy of birding into people's homes. Visit our website at www.atlantaaudubon.org/digital-resources for a complete listing and additional resources.
Atlanta Audubon Digital Birds and Beers II
Friday, April 24, at 7:00 PM
Join Atlanta Audubon Director of Conservation Adam Betuel for a fun, interactive, and relaxed conversation with an exciting diversity of bird professionals via webinar. Adam will virtually “sit down” with the following speakers for a laid back dive into the world of birds.
Guest speakers will include:
The webinar is free to attend. Register at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_avx-7_EjRWGOpX6IdKOXzw
Early Bird Book Club Online –Owl Fest
Sunday, April 26, 2:00 to 3:15 PM
Since the Early Birds Book Club can't meet in person, we'll meet online instead. Our March meeting was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. We're rescheduling this meeting as a webinar on Sunday, April 26, at 2:00 PM.
This meeting will be an Owl Fest, in honor of Scott Weidensaul, author of the 2015 Peterson Reference Guide to Owls of North America and the Caribbean. Scott was originally slated to give the keynote address at our Atlanta Bird Fest Opening Celebration, but that has now been pushed back to October. Please read a book about owls—fiction, nonfiction, memoir, children’s—and come ready to share with the group.
The Early Birds welcome all who enjoy reading about birds, birding, and birders. We are a “no commitment” book club—some folks come every time and other occasionally. Register for this free virtual event at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Qxg9B1ziSWKA6PkXxCgW-w.
Feathers and Flames: Relationships Between Birds and Fire in Georgia with Malcolm Hodges
Sunday, April 26, 2020
3:30 to 4:45 PM
Many habitats in the southeast depend on fire, so many of our native birds have adapted to it. We look at some of the ways our birds cope with and even rely on fire to survive.
About the presenter: Malcolm Hodges grew up in coastal Mississippi, and has a BA in Biology from Rice University and a Masters in Zoology from Mississippi State. He has worked for The Nature Conservancy in Georgia as an ecologist and land manager since 1992. His current interests are conservation management of threatened biota in the Southeast US; lichen systematics, distribution and conservation in the Southeast; and just about anything to do with birds. He lives on a small farm in Riverdale, Georgia,
Facebook Live Events
Virtual Ask Chippy on Facebook Live
When: Tuesday, May 5, from 12:00 to 1:00 PM
Where: Atlanta Audubon Facebook page
Do you have questions about birds, bird feeding, birding, plants for birds, what to do if you find a baby bird, or other bird-related questions? If so, join us for this Facebook Live event where you can Ask Chippy (our Atlanta Audubon bird-help email) your bird-related questions. Panelists will include Dottie Head (aka Chippy) and director of membership and communications; Adam Betuel, director of conservation; Melanie Furr, director of education and a licensed wildlife rehabilitator; and Gabe Andrle, habitat conservation coordinator. Join us on the Atlanta Audubon Facebook page for this live event.
Virtual Bird Walks on Facebook Live
When: Fridays, April 24, May 1, May 8, and May 15
Where: Atlanta Audubon Facebook page
Since social distancing is throwing a kink in our Atlanta Audubon spring bird walks, we're bringing a walk to you via Facebook Live. Join us on the Atlanta Audubon Facebook page each Friday at 9:00 AM, for a virtual birdwalk with Atlanta Audubon staff and volunteer trip leaders as they explore their yards or nearby birdy patches and talk about what they're seeing. We will conduct these "Virtual Bird Walks" weekly on Fridays until we can resume in-person bird walks.
Atlanta Audubon is building places where birds and people thrive. We create bird-friendly communities through conservation, education, and community engagement.
By Steve Phenicie
The first time I ever went birding was long ago – before gluten-free, before food trucks, before Greek yogurt, before kale, and maybe even before kiwi fruit. It was the spring of 1971, and I was a reporter for a weekly newspaper in northern Michigan.
As I look back many years later, I can relate that experience to the report last year that the population of birds in the United States and Canada has declined by nearly 3 billion since 1970. The birds I went to see that brisk, sunny morning nearly 50 years ago aren’t there anymore.
I was just a year out of college and belonged to a local Jaycee chapter. One of the members was a gung-ho environmentalist as well as a biologist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. He asked whether we would like to see a local population of Greater Prairie Chickens “dance” on their booming grounds about 40 miles away. There wasn’t a birder in the group, and it sounded like a hokey thing to do, but about a half a dozen of us were willing to be hokey. I doubt if any of us – even the gung-ho environmentalist – had a pair of binoculars. We saw the birds, but unfortunately they weren’t in the mood to do what we went to see – sashay around. We got a laugh anyway, I guess, and went on our way. I wrote a story for my newspaper about the experience.
Michigan’s efforts to save this Prairie Chicken population was never popular with some of the locals, who didn’t see why tax dollars should be spent on something that “wasn’t good for anything.” I told one critic, a Chamber of Commerce type who was also a friend of mine, that perhaps people would come to see them and spend money in his grocery store, just as deer hunters brought money into the area. He wasn’t convinced. Anyway, despite the efforts to save them, the Prairie Chickens disappeared from Michigan by the early 1980s.
Today the Greater Prairie Chicken is found only in localized populations from Texas to North Dakota and is uncommon practically everywhere. Its historic range stretched from Massachusetts to south of the Rio Grande and up into Alberta and Saskatchewan. According to National Audubon, loss of the Greater Prairie Chicken’s grassy habitat is the single greatest threat to its survival.
The findings about the bird decline were reported in the world's leading scientific journal, Science, by researchers at seven institutions. Some of the data used was drawn from Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count.