• Alarming News about North America's Birds

    YRWA 201801 CBW 7DC 3938According to a recent study published in the journal Science, North America has nearly 3 billion fewer birds today compared to 1970 - that's a loss of more than 1/4 of North American birds in the last 50 years! According to Audubon, possible causes include habitat loss due to development, insect declines due to widespread pesticide use, changes in climate cycles that affect food availability, and direct threats such as window strikes and predation by outdoor cats.

    What can YOU do to help birds? Cornell Lab of Ornithology recently shared some steps that you can take to help prevent further decline of our avian friends. Read Seven Simple Actions to Help Birds to find out more.

    And, as you make your decisions about candidates for public office, please consider choosing candidates who place environmental considerations front and center. Public policy has a huge impact on the survival of the birds we love.

  • Native Plants for Birds

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

    This month's plant is:

    Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)

    Pokeberry IMG 20190903 141958 CBWPokeweed (also knowns as Pokeberry) is a weed well worth cultivating. This plant is native to the United States and Canada. It can be found from the Maritimes in Ontario and Minnesota south to the Gulf States and out to eastern Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. It also has several other descriptive names: the red ink plant, as its berries were used for dye by Native Americans ; pigeonberry, as it was the favorite food of the extinct passenger pigeon; and crowberry, as it is a favorite food of crows.

    Pokeweed grows from 4 to 10 feet tall in moist soil with partial shade exposure, and spreads by seed. This plant has very small greenish flowers on reddish stems which are not much to look at but they are very attractive to bees and other pollinators. The flowers appear in the summer and by late August/September, the berries are ripening, just in time for the many songbirds migrating south in the fall. Birds that eat the berries include: bluebirds, cardinals, thrashers, thrushes, waxwings, woodpeckers, orioles, titmice, crows, jays, finches, and sparrows.

    Harlan, KY has had an annual Poke Sallet Festival for 64 years every June celebrating this plant! The young pokeweed leaves were widely used as a vegetable in earlier times and especially in the South; however, the roots and berries are toxic to consume. If any of you are old enough, you might remember the song “Poke Salad Annie,” which celebrates this plant.

    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

  • Audubon Assembly 2019

    WhitePelicans 201602 CBW 7DC 7104Audubon Florida's annual Audubon Assembly conference is coming up this month in Gainesville! The Assembly is Florida's premier conservation gathering, where grassroots leaders from around the state connect with Audubon’s professional staff and partners to grow their knowledge and skills to protect Florida’s precious natural resources.

    This year's theme is "Water and Land For Florida's Future: Science-Based Strategies for Clean Water and Healthy Watersheds," and will feature a panel of leaders, experts, and decision-makers from state agencies and the legislature, who will discuss current challenges like nutrient pollution from urban and agricultural landscapes, wastewater and septic tanks, wastewater sludge (biosolids), aging infrastructure, wetland loss, and climate change. Listen, learn, and engage with them as they identify both our biggest obstacles but also our biggest opportunities. Together we will discuss programs that offer short and long-term solutions to improve the quality and quantity of Florida’s water resources.

    The Assembly also features expert-led field trips at some of Gainesville's most exciting birding hotspots, and of course you will find lots of networking opportunities with Audubon chapter leaders and members around the state.

    Please join us at this year's event!

    When: October 25-26, 2019

    Where: Hilton University of Florida Conference Center Gainesville, 1714 SW 34th St., Gainesville, FL 32607


  • International Coastal Cleanup Day

    SARFMA Cleanup 20190921 6On September 21, 2019, Duval Audubon Society hosted a cleanup for International Coastal Cleanup Day at one of our very favorite local birding spots, St. Augustine Road Fish Management Area. St. Augustine Road Fish Management Area contains two fishing lakes that are operated jointly by the City of Jacksonville and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The larger lake drains into New Rose Creek, which connects directly to the St. Johns River. A hidden gem for nature lovers, it is usually empty of everyone except birds and fishermen. Migrating birds and year-round resident species love the lake and surrounding woodlands, and the park is an eBird Hotspot where 90 species have been reported.

    SARFMA Cleanup 20190921 10Forty-five dedicated volunteers came out to help with the cleanup, including several middle school and high school students, a large crew from the Home Depot, and a kayaker who cleared trash on the water. The crew collected 37 bags of trash, 5 car tires, 8 bicycle tires, several soccer balls, and some large pieces of wood - quite a haul!

    Many thanks to everyone who came out to help - your hard work is greatly appreciated!

    We plan to do another cleanup at this location next year on March 14, 2020, so we'll have another opportunity to help keep trash out of our waterways and away from the wildlife we love.

  • Upcoming Programs

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

    - Dr. Caroline Efstathion of APEC (Avian Preservation and Education Conservancy) will give a presentation about their work with endangered tropical parrots (November 18, 2019)

    - 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)

    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 meeting (Why are Plastics Dangerous?, presented by Deidre Omahen, Chair of First Coast Surfrider Foundation), will be held on Monday, October 21, 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!