Alabama Audubon Chapter Leaders Meeting
September 29, 2015
Faulkner State Community College
Birmingham Audubon: Hans Paul, board member; and, Suzanne Langley, Executive Director; Mobile Bay Audubon: John Borom, president; Eleanor Livaudais, Secretary, Diana Gardiner , Lynne Fitzgerald, and Ann McLaurin, board members; Tennessee Valley Audubon: Julie McLean, Communications Chair;
Shoals Audubon: report provided in advance by Angela Zwissler, president;
National Audubon Society (NAS): Lynn Tennefoss, VP for Chapter Services; and, Melanie Driscoll, Director of Bird Conservation for the Gulf Coast and Mississippi Flyway.
The 2015 Alabama Audubon Chapter Leaders Meeting was funded through a NAS Collaborative Grant submitted by Birmingham Audubon & Mobile Bay Audubon. Agenda development, chapter coordination, grant management and reporting was supported by Birmingham Audubon; and, Mobile Bay coordinated meeting location, on-site support and catering.
Mobile Bay Audubon: John Borom, president, provided details on the Alabama Coastal Birdfest with more than 400+ registered. The festival is now part of Weeks Bay Foundation and has collectively contributed $110,000 toward land acquisition. Mobile Bay has monthly meetings and field trips, has contributed the Purple Martin Riviera to the Fairhope Public Beach. The chapter offers a modified bird walk for participants with mobility challenges. The chapter has also provided a Mobile Bay bird checklist for the Alabama Coastal Birdfest.
Tennessee Valley Audubon: Julie McLean, Communications Chair, reported the chapter is working toward recruiting a slate of new officers and reorganizing the chapter for regular activities. The chapter has contributed a backyard habitat at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge.
Shoals Chapter: Angela Zwissler, president, reported in advance of the meeting that the chapter meets monthly with programs featuring nature/birding related speakers. Members participate in monthly field trips frequenting Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Walls of Jericho and Waterloo. Members participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count and host birdathons.
Birmingham Audubon: Suzanne Langley, executive director, shared highlights from the staffed chapter’s annual report. Hans Paul shared information on Birds and Brews, an activity welcoming all to visit one of Birmingham’s breweries and bird in a nearby location like Avondale Park, Railroad Park, or taking in the Chimney Swift migration on top of a downtown Birmingham parking lot. Birmingham Audubon has a communications committee that contributes to Facebook and Twitter, works with the executive director to prioritize news, and contributes to the chapter website. The chapter added a Junior Board representative of the urban area with the goal of interpreting the chapter’s mission for a younger demographic. Finally, the chapter offered to provide Urban Bird Habitat Initiative field trip and training for the 2016 council meeting.
Lynn Tennefoss, National Audubon Society VP for Chapter Services, reviewed programs and incentives available to the 462 Audubon chapters and shared location and dates for the next Audubon chapters convention scheduled for Park City, Utah July 14-17, 2017.
Melanie Driscoll, National Audubon Society Director of Bird Conservation for the Gulf Coast and Mississippi Flyway, presented an overview of NAS five strategic initiatives including Sharing Seas and Shores, Saving Important Bird Areas, Creating Bird Friendly Communities, Grassland Prairie Restoration and Putting Working Lands to Work for Birds. Melanie reviewed each strategy providing examples of how strategies are being implemented throughout the flyway. Birmingham Audubon’s Urban Bird Habitat Initiative was used as an illustration of Bird Friendly Communities. She focused on the Prothonotary Warbler as a priority species for conservation throughout the flyway led by Dr. Erik Johnson, Audubon Louisiana, who leads a working group for the species.
Information was shared about Alabama Birding Trails and how sites along trails can serve as field trip locations for chapters.
The chapters, also known as the Alabama Audubon Council, established shared goals and agreed to schedule a 2016 meeting.
Participants took a brief field trip to Dauphin Island the following day for installation of signage recognizing Alabama’s barrier island as a Globally Significant Important Bird Area. On hand for the sign dedication were: Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier, DIBS president Ralph Havard, DCNR biologist Roger Clay, Andrew Haffenden (DIBs and Mobile Bay Audubon), John Borom, Ann McLaurin, Lynne Fitzgerald, Hans Paul, Lynn Tennefoss, Melanie Driscoll and Suzanne Langley.
Suzanne Langley, Birmingham Audubon