The Audubon Observer, October 2019
ALARMING NEWS ABOUT NORTH AMERICA'S BIRDS
According 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: POKEWEED
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)
Pokeweed (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 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.
BOARD MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: DEB KAINAUSKAS
Hello fellow birders. I currently serve on the board as the Field Trip and Program Coordinator, a job I have been doing for the past three years.
I started birding when I was a preteen. My father gave me a copy of the “Birds of North America" A Guide to Field Identification (Golden Press) in 1966. I think he hoped it would keep me from becoming interested in boys. (It didn’t work!) I did some backyard birding for a while, but didn’t stay with it.
In 2010 my husband Tony and I took a trip to the Grand Canyon. They had just reintroduced California Condors there and I saw one up close. Later that day I found a brand new pair of binoculars sitting on a rock. When I went to turn them in, the ranger told me no one ever comes back for the things they leave behind, keep them. When I returned home, I decided to join Duval Audubon. This time I got hooked.
Tony and I love to travel, so we recently purchased a travel trailer. We always include birding time in our trips. Some of the interesting places I have been birding include Arizona, Yellowstone, Rocky Mountains, Grand Tetons, Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. Our next trip is to St. Thomas to visit our daughter, with an excursion to the Virgin Islands National Park on St. John. I know I will see some new birds there.
My favorite trip is to The Biggest Week in American Birding held in May at Magee Marsh in Ohio. We go every year. I will be giving a presentation on the festival at our meeting in December. There will be lots of warbler pictures!
Come and join me on our field trips this year. I promise you will meet birders of all levels and have a great time. Birders are awesome people!
AUDUBON ASSEMBLY 2019
Audubon 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
On 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.
Forty-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.
CROSBY SANCTUARY NATIVE PLANTING PROJECT
Last spring, Duval Audubon Society received a $500 grant from the Ixia Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society to do a native planting project at our Crosby Sanctuary conservation property in Orange Park. The planting took place last March (planting day, left), and all of the native plants have developed nicely since then.
Board member Carolyn Antman will give a presentation about the project at the upcoming meeting of the Ixia Chapter of the FNPS on Tuesday, October 1, 2019 @ the Willowbranch Branch of the Jacksonville Public Library, 2875 Park Street, Jacksonville. The meeting will begin at 6 pm with refreshments and networking, followed by a brief business meeting. The presentation should start around 6:30 or 6:45 pm.
Please join us to hear how we are helping birds by planting natives at Crosby!
Our 2019/2020 season continues this month with more exciting activities. Please join us for one (or more) of our upcoming field trips or programs. All are welcome!
You can find more great outings and activities on our website. See you soon!
Duval Audubon Society, Inc.