• Duval Audubon Community Outreach

    Women Writing for a Change Art Installation 201910In addition to our ambitious field trips and monthly programs schedule, Duval Audubon Society volunteers are active in our community, fulfilling our mission of "connecting people with nature" wherever and whenever our busy schedule allows. Here are some of our recent community outreach activities:

    This fall we sponsored a bird-focused art installation and informational kiosk at Women Writing for (a) Change, Jacksonville, and led two urban bird walks for the group in the Riverside area in conjunction with their BIRDS art show and community conversation events. Their mission is "to nurture and celebrate the individual voice by facilitating supportive writing circles and by encouraging people to craft more conscious lives through the art of writing and the practices of community."

    CREST Groundwork Jax 20191123 4We also gave our "Birding for Beginners" presentation to Groundwork Jacksonville's CREST (Community Restoration Environmental Stewardship Training) program participants and led a wonderful bird walk for the group at McCoys Creek near Hollybrook Park. Seventeen program participants learned how to use binoculars and spotted twenty bird species during the bird walk, including an unexpected sighting of a Limpkin!

    According to Groundwork's Community Engagement Specialist Gloria McNair, the CREST program "works to build environmental stewardship and empower community leaders in our largely under-served urban core neighborhoods. During community engagement meetings, residents of the McCoys Creek area showed a strong interest in leadership, career, and educational opportunities for youth and adults. In response to this feedback, CREST was conceived and designed to help residents and other stakeholders of the community achieve some of their goals around personal and community growth."

    This fall, chapter volunteers also gave presentations at two local garden clubs about backyard birds in the winter months as well as the best plants (native, of course) to attract and support birds, and led a special bird walk at our Crosby Sanctuary in Orange Park in partnership with our friends at the Argyle Forest Wild Birds Unlimited location.

    We believe that those who appreciate the natural world around us will want to do what they can to preserve and protect it, and we are thankful for the opportunity to share our love of birds and nature with our community.

    --Carol Bailey-White, Vice President


     
  • Native Plants for Birds

    To help you create bird friendly habitat in your landscape, we are spotlighting a native plant every month that is beneficial to birds and pollinators.

    This month's plant is:

    Wild Poinsettia (Poinsettia cyathophora)

    Wild. Poinsettia at Reddie Point 20191005 CBWWild poinsettia is a native plant which grows in scattered locations from Florida to California, north to Virginia and across to Minnesota in the Midwest. It has many names, including painted leaf, fire on the mountain, painted spurge, and summer poinsettia among them. It is a relative of the showy Mexican poinsettia which everyone uses at Christmastime. The Mexican poinsettia was first brought to the United States by Joel Poinsett, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico from 1825-1829 as he admired the red and green plant. The rest is history.

    The wild poinsettia is an erect annual or short-lived perennial which grows 1-2 feet tall. It will grow in full sun to part shade with average moisture. Once established, it will tolerate considerable drought and maintains itself by self-sown seeds. Due to its ease of growth, long flowering season (autumn in North Florida and year round in South Florida), it is a welcome addition to native plant gardens. Please note that like the Mexican poinsettia, it is poisonous so be careful if you have small children or pets who might try to taste it.

    It attracts butterflies such as the White Peacock; bees will drink the nectar from its tiny flowers, and the seeds are a great favorite of Mourning Doves.

    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 SocietyThey 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


     
  • Wild Birds Need Your Help!

    201904 Sweetwater SNKI Shane CarrollA 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:

    1. Vote for candidates who place environmental issues front and center. Public policy has a huge impact on survival of the bird species we love.
    2. Stop using single use plastics, especially straws, plastic bags, and balloons. Plastic pollution 20180113 092540These 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.)
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Maintain a brush pile so birds have a place to hide from predators.
    8. 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.
    9. Keep fresh water readily available. In a drought, it’s easier for birds to find food than water.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. 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.


     
  • Upcoming Programs

    Lakewood PresbyterianHere are some of the great programs we have planned for our 2019/2020 season:

    - Gina Kent of ARCI (Avian Research and Conservation Institute) will speak about their work with Swallow-tailed Kites (January 20, 2020)

    - Expert Florida Birding Guide David Simpson will tell us all about birding in the Dry Tortugas (February 17, 2020)

    - Kelly Tesiero, owner of The Elegant Garden, will present "Ten Terrific Tips for Beginning a Beautiful Bird Garden" (March 16, 2020)

    These are just a few of the fascinating programs we have in store for you this year! Check out our Calendar of Events for a complete listing of all of our upcoming activities!

    Our next program, "The Biggest Week in American Birding," presented by photographer and Duval Audubon Society board member Deborah Kainauskas, will be held on Monday, December 16, 2019 at Lakewood Presbyterian Church, 2001 University Blvd W, Jacksonville, FL. Meetings start with refreshments and networking at 6:30 pm, with program presentations starting at 7 pm.

    Please join us - everyone is welcome!


     
  • Join our Team!

    AudubonAssembly 2017Love nature? Want to help share that love of nature with others? Consider applying to join Duval Audubon Society’s Board of Directors.

    Founded in 1939, Duval Audubon Society is a chapter of Audubon Florida and the National Audubon Society. We currently have approximately 1,100 members in Clay, Duval and Nassau counties and are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

    Our chapter is dedicated to the enjoyment of birds and other wildlife. We have a primary focus on the preservation of a diversity of species and habitats through education, conservation, environmental leadership and community involvement. We offer a variety of field trips, programs, and volunteer opportunities that are open for anyone to attend.

    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.”

    Currently there is one Board vacancy and we encourage anyone interested in serving as a Board member to apply. Board members are expected to attend monthly meetings and participate in chapter activities on a regular basis. Board Officers are appointed for a one-year term, and Directors serve for two years.

    • The Volunteer Chair (a Director position) helps with recruiting volunteers from the chapter membership and the community for chapter projects and activities such as leading field trips, representing the chapter at outreach events, helping with monthly cleanups, and other projects as determined by the Board. The Volunteer Chair serves a two-year term but may continue if willing and approved by the Board.

     

    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!

    Send your completed application to Duval Audubon Society President Jody Willis: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or PO Box 16304, Jacksonville, FL 32245.

    Questions? Please feel free to contact Jody or any current Board member.

    Thank you!