Welcome to Duval Audubon Society
Connecting people with nature, conserving and restoring natural ecosystems, focusing on birds and other wildlife.
We are a chapter of the National Audubon Society. We have a membership of about 1,100 and hold monthly meetings in Jacksonville from September to May. We offer field trips, programs, workshops and other activities throughout the year. Under the drop down menu, you will find our calendar of events. We hope you'll join us!
Please Donate to Duval Audubon!
As a volunteer-run non-profit, we are grateful for your support. Every contribution helps to continue our work in Northeast Florida!
A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION (#CH4724) AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION FOR DUVAL AUDUBON SOCIETY, A FLORIDA-BASED NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION, MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) WITHIN THE STATE OR VISITING WWW.FLORIDACONSUMERHELP.COM. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.
Due to the current worldwide health crisis and following the recommendations of National Audubon and Audubon Florida, all of our field trips and programs scheduled through the rest of the current 2019/2020 season (the end of May 2020) have been canceled. We truly miss sharing the excitement of birding with our fellow nature lovers, but we take the health and safety of our members and volunteers very seriously, and want to err on the side of caution in these frightening times.
But even though we can't go birding with you right now, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy birding on your own in your neighborhood, at a nearby park, or even in your own backyard!
If you want to use this time to brush up on your birding skills, there are many online resources available to help. Here are a few of our favorite ways to learn more about the birds we love so much:
National Audubon Society's website has a wide array of wonderful, free resources to help you develop your birding skills. Check out How to Identify Birds, Backyard Birding, and Birding By Ear, to name just a few.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology also has many free learning resources available, including The Four Keys to Bird Identification, Bird ID Skills: Field Marks, Bird ID Skills: How to Learn Bird Songs and Calls, and their excellent Inside Birding video series. And if you use eBird to keep track of your bird sightings, Cornell Lab's Bird Academy also offers a free eBird Essentials online course that will help you get the most out of what eBird has to offer.
Don't miss our Virtual Bird Walk video, which introduces a few of the most common birds that can be found in northeast Florida at this time of year. And you might also enjoy our Virtual Visit to Crosby Sanctuary (Spring 2020 edition), since we can't host any group outings right now.
Spring migration has been incredible in our area over the last few weeks, with many sightings of beautiful warblers such as American Redstart, Black-throated Blue, Prairie Warbler, Northern Parula, Prothonotary Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, and more. Hope you can get out and go birding soon!
--Carol Bailey-White, Vice President
Since we can't hold our annual "Best of Us: Photo Sharing and Potluck" get-together this month, we invite you to help us offer the next best thing: a virtual photo sharing experience! Have you photographed any cool birds this year? We'd love to incorporate them into a slide show of our members' best bird photos captured since May of 2019.
Here's how to participate:
Pick your ten best bird photos from the past year, and send them to us along with the ID of each bird species, the date and location where the photo was captured, and any additional information you want viewers to know about your photo. We'll compile them all into a video slide show that will showcase our members' photographic talents!
The deadline for submitting your photos for inclusion in our Virtual Photo Sharing project will be Saturday, May 23, 2020, and we'll have the video slide show ready for your viewing pleasure by May 31st. If you haven't already included your personal watermark on your photos, we'll add your name to each photo to make sure all photos are properly credited to the photographer.
--Carol Bailey-White, Vice President
This is my last native plant article for our newsletter this season and I thought that it would be fitting to salute Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides), which we see everywhere but don’t even consider the wonder of its existence and the benefits it bestows to wildlife, especially birds.
With much gratitude, this piece is excerpted from an article written by Ginny Stibolt for her wonderful website, Green Gardening Matters. I encourage you to explore it and all the helpful information it provides.
I will be back in the fall with more native plant articles – have a peaceful, SAFE summer. ~Jody
Spanish Moss is a flowering plant in the pineapple family, so it’s not a moss at all. It is an epiphyte or air plant found in damp areas near waterways or swamps because it absorbs its moisture and nutrients from the air. It is not a parasite like mistletoe and does not rob the host tree of water or nutrients. It is covered with scales or flaps on its surface which allows it to absorb moisture from the air and catch the dust particles which are needed for nutrients. These scales or flaps (also called trichomes) slow down transpiration so that the plant doesn’t dry out too quickly.
Believe it or not, Spanish Moss is a flowering plant; the yellow-green to red flowers are so small that they are nearly imperceptible. The flowers bloom in the summer, last only a few days, and emit a subtle fragrance which attracts a variety of insect pollinators. Fruit, in the form of tiny capsules, release the seeds the following winter and this dispersal is aided by delicate hairs, almost an inch long, which act as kites. These hairs are covered with tiny barbs which can anchor in the cracks of rough tree bark. The seedlings have root-like holdfasts but they never penetrate the host tree and don’t last long because the mature plant has no roots at all. Spanish Moss reproduces more commonly by vegetative reproduction than by seed dispersal. Small broken fragments are scattered by wind, birds, and other animals and they can float on water as well. If the site is appropriate where a fragment lands, then a new plant will grow. Spanish Moss has the largest native range of any member of the pineapple family. This is due, perhaps, to strong hurricane winds which transport it great distances coupled with its ability to grow to full size from a small piece.
Its value for birds is incalculable. Insects, spiders, mites, and other delicious insects live in Spanish Moss. That is why it is a great place to watch for migrating warblers in the spring and fall as they are primarily insect eaters. Warblers will also build their nests in Spanish Moss and larger bird species will line their nests with it.
The Native Americans wove it into their clothing and used it to make torches. Early European settlers used it as a binding material in the mortar mix to build log cabins; also, used it for fabric by drying it out and spinning it into coarse yarns. It was also commercially ginned staring in the late 1800s until the 1930s. The outer skin was removed by ginning and used for stuffing material for mattresses and furniture. The upholstery in the Model T Fords and other cars were stuffed with Spanish Moss.
How did it get its name? The Native Americans called it itla-okla (tree hair). They communicated this to the early French explorers who were in competition with the Spanish explorers. The French explorers named it barbe Espagnol (Spaniard’s beard). The Spanish explorers called it cabello Frances (French hair). The French name, barbe Espagnol, was modified to Spanish Moss and that is the name stuck in our lexicon.
For additional information on native plants for birds, check out Audubon's excellent Plants for Birds website: Audubon.org/plantsforbirds.
For local sources of native plants, check with the Ixia Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society. They often have native plants as well as cuttings available at their monthly meetings on the first Tuesday of each month. Check out their Events Calendar for all of their upcoming activities.
--Jody Willis, President, Duval Audubon Society
Duval Audubon Society is an all-volunteer organization operated by a Board of Directors who manage the day-do-day business of running a chapter of the National Audubon Society.
We are happy to announce Duval Audubon's 2020/2021 Board of Directors, with a special welcome to new board members Helen Kehrt and Christopher Conner. Thank you all for your willingness to serve!
- President, Social Media Director, Webmaster: Carol Bailey-White
- Vice President, Community Outreach Director: Jody Willis
- Recording Secretary: Bess Ebbinghouse
- Treasurer: Helen Kehrt
- Conservation Director for Clay County, Crosby Sanctuary Director: Pete Johnson
- Conservation Director for Duval County, NE FL Regional Conservation Committe Chair: Carolyn Antman
- Conservation Director for Nassau County: Andrew Schumann
- Education Director: Cristina Tuckness
- Membership Director: Christine Lucas
- Volunteer Director: Christopher Conner
- Hospitality Committee: Nancy Crowley and Millie Abercrombie
We are an all-volunteer chapter governed by a Board of Directors who work together to determine the activities offered by the organization to further our mission, “Connecting people with nature, conserving and restoring natural ecosystems, focusing on birds and other wildlife.”
If you are committed to helping to connect people with nature, please consider applying to join us in managing our chapter. You don’t have to be a great birder but having a love for nature and a passion for protecting and conserving birds and other wildlife would make you a wonderful addition to our team!
--Jody Willis, President
A recent study of bird populations in North America published in the journal Science revealed that nearly 3 billion fewer wild birds are alive today compared to avian abundance in 1970, a loss of 29%! In addition, Audubon's new report, Survival by Degrees, estimates that two-thirds of North American birds (389 species) are at increasing risk of extinction from global temperature rise.
In the face of these threats it's easy to lose hope, but we want to focus on what we as individuals, families, and communities can do to turn these trends around. In the past, some species have been nearly eliminated by hunting or pesticides, yet conservation measures (like eliminating DDT) helped these populations to recover, so we still have a chance to bring birds back from the brink!
Here are twelve things YOU can do to give birds a better chance of survival:
- Vote for candidates who place environmental issues front and center. Public policy has a huge impact on survival of the bird species we love.
- Stop using single use plastics, especially straws, plastic bags, and balloons. These items can end up in our waterways where they can be mistaken for food by birds, fish, and sea turtles, often killing them. Bring reusable bags to the grocery store. Refuse straws and bring your own take-out containers when dining out. Dispose of cigarette butts properly - butts are the most common trash found on the beaches during cleanups, and the filters contain plastic. (Another reason to quit smoking.)
- Keep cats indoors - they will live longer and healthier lives. Support measures to eliminate feral cat colonies over time. There are 60-100 million free-ranging cats in the US, and they are non-native predators against which our wild birds have no natural defenses. It is estimated that cats kill 1 billion birds and 6 billion mammals each year in the US alone. Outdoor cats typically have a very short life span and can transmit diseases to humans and wildlife. Audubon supports the American Bird Conservancy's Cats Indoors program.
- Use traps for a rodent problem instead of rat poison, many forms of which move up the food chain to also kill eagles, hawks, and owls, which eat rodents.
- Swear off herbicides and pesticides and reduce or eliminate fertilizer use in your yard. A chemical-free yard provides safe food sources for birds and other pollinators. Organic farms provide the same benefits on an agricultural scale. Pesticides containing neonicotinoids are directly responsible for the disastrous decline of bees, monarch butterflies, and other beneficial insects. We are joined by other organizations including the Garden Club of America, St. Johns Riverkeeper, and the Florida Wildflower Foundation in opposing the use of them.
- Plant native plants in your yard, especially fruit and nut bearing trees and berry producing shrubs, which are an excellent food source for birds and pollinators. An easy way to learn what will work in our yards here in northeast Florida is to use Audubon's Plants for Birds website. Go to the native plants database and type in your zip code, and you will get a list of plants for our area, including pictures for easy identification.
- Maintain a brush pile so birds have a place to hide from predators.
- If you can do it safely, let dead trees stand in your landscape as nesting sites for cavity nesting birds such as woodpeckers. They are also a source of insects which provide protein for birds.
- Keep fresh water readily available. In a drought, it’s easier for birds to find food than water.
- Reduce deadly bird collisions with glass by keeping screens up year-round. Or, install feather guards which interrupt reflections. Window decals to reduce bird strikes are also available from several vendors, including Wild Birds Unlimited.
- Enroll your company in Audubon’s Lights Out Program, which promotes safe migration for birds through urban areas by taking actions such as turning off outside lights on buildings and using window shades during nighttime work. There are currently 30 cities participating in this program throughout the US already and we hope to add Jacksonville to that list soon. At this time there are no cities in Florida that participate in this program and we would like to be the first.
- Buy shade grown, bird-friendly coffee. Not only will you be helping small farmers in South and Central America use good growing practices but you will also help our bird species that migrate there in the winter. It is easily obtainable online and several local retailers carry it as well. Ask your local coffee shop to stock it.
If everyone would do at least one of these things now, such as bringing your own reusable bags when shopping, keeping your cat indoors, stop using chemicals on your lawn, or stop using plastic straws, we can have a positive impact on the survival of the birds we love. Doing nothing guarantees that nothing will change.
Chapter president Jody Willis and Duval County conservation chair Carolyn Antman appeared on WJCT's First Coast Connect radio show on October 30, 2019 - read the story and listen to the program here.