• Many Voices for Conservation and the Environment: MaVynee Betsch

    MaVynee BetschContinuing our series focusing on the contributions of historically under-recognized groups to conservation and environmental sciences, this month we are featuring MaVynee Betsch, known in Northeast Florida as “The Beach Lady” for her efforts to protect and preserve American Beach on Amelia Island in Nassau County.

    MaVynee Betsch was born in Jacksonville in 1935 to one of the preeminent Black families in the south. Her great grandparents were A.L. Lewis, a leading businessman, civic leader, and philanthropist, and Mary Kingsley Sammis, the great granddaughter of plantation owner Zephaniah Kingsley and his wife Anna Madgigine Jai, Kingsley’s former slave. A.L. Lewis was one of the co-founders of the Afro-American Life Insurance Company, the first insurance company in the state of Florida, and went on to become Jacksonville’s first Black millionaire. The town of American Beach was founded by the insurance company under the direction of Mr. Lewis in the 1930s as an oceanside retreat for Black notables as well as middle-class families, who were not free to visit just any beach in the Jim Crow south.

    (Read more...)

  • Lights Out Northeast Florida

    With spring migration right around the corner, here's a reminder about our Lights Out Northeast Florida initiative in partnership with the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, St. Johns County Audubon Society, and our newest partner, Downtown Vision, Inc.

    Flyways of NA Map by USFWSIt is widely known that many of our feathered friends fly south for the winter and north for the summer. But did you know that 3.5 billion birds make this twice-per-year journey, and that Northeast Florida is the second-largest migration path for birds on the Atlantic Flyway?

    We commonly see Canada Geese migrating overhead during the day, but many of our favorite songbirds travel at night under the cover of darkness using the moon and stars as their guiding lights. However, bright artificial lights on buildings draw birds toward these lights and off their natural migration paths. The birds will often aimlessly circle a brightly lit building until they collide with it or collapse from exhaustion. By turning out the lights, we can remove a major source of mortality from bird populations already threatened by predators, bad weather, food availability disruptions due to climate change, habitat loss, and more.

    (Read more...)

  • Volunteers Needed!

    LightsOut Northeast Logo Primary ColorCentral to this initiative is the need to know how many birds are being killed or injured in the downtown Jacksonville area during migration. And here is where our team of volunteers will play such an important role. There is a need for volunteers to walk downtown areas during spring and fall migration and count birds who have been either killed or injured by window strikes. Specific routes and buildings will be assigned in order to identify potential problem areas. With sufficient data about bird fatalities/injuries, we will be able to have informed discussions with building managers. The goal is to modify night lighting during peak migration months between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

    At this time, we are looking for volunteers to help. (Read more...)

  • Keeping Your Yard Safe for Birds and Bugs

    White Ibis watermark Carolyn AntmanSo much is happening at this time of year when it comes to birds: our wintering birds are still here eating as much as they can to prepare for spring migration, birds migrating through are looking for food, our local birds are filling up on food in preparation for breeding, and our first-year birds are filling up on food as they come into adulthood. While we have many beautiful birds at our feeders, other birds depend on finding something to eat on the ground. Very evident are the flocks of White Ibis (and their brownish young) scouring the neighborhoods looking for critters in the lawn, but Yellow-rumped Warblers, Palm Warblers, American Robins, Eastern Bluebirds, and Chipping Sparrows are also in the grass this time of year for the same reason.

    (Read more...)

  • Upcoming Activities

    Here's what's happening in February:


    We look forward to seeing you soon.