COLUMBIA — About 100 birding enthusiasts from around Missouri will be converging on Columbia next weekend for the spring meeting of the Audubon Society of Missouri.
The statewide event will feature 15 field trips to observe birds in the wild.
AUDUBON SPRING MEETING
What: The Audubon Society of Missouri 2009 spring meeting from May 1-3 includes field trips, lectures and an auction.
Where: Quality Inn, 1612 N. Providence Road
To register: Fill out the online form at mobirds.org or contact Eric Seaman at 442-2301. A $45 registration fee includes access to field trips.
AUDUBON FIELD TRIPS
All the field trips depart from the Quality Inn, 1612 N. Providence Road. It's possible to sign up for a field trip without previous registration, but preference will be given to registered meeting participants. For more information about the field trips, go to mobirds.org.
Bradford and South farms, 3:30 p.m.
- These areas include pasture, crop plots and ponds. Raptors and grassland species are among those expected to be seen.
Prairie Garden Trust, private land in southern Callaway County, 6:15 a.m.
- A full-day trip that offers native plants, wildflowers, prairie, small lakes and woodlands.
Whetstone Creek Conservation Area, 6:30 a.m.
- A 5,000-acre area with forest, savanna and grassland with a variety of species. Much of the birding will be from the car, with short walks to reach some features.
Bear Creek Trail, 7 a.m.
- An edge habitat and a productive riparian corridor. Contains dense stands of cattails where green heron, marsh wren and sora have been found.
Bird Banding, 7 a.m.
- A mist net and banding operation in an up-close, personal experience with birds in the hand.
Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, Katy Trail State Park, Columbia wastewater wetlands units, 7 a.m.
- An all-day trip, Eagle Bluffs feature waterfowl, shorebirds and raptors. The Katy Trail is attractive to neotropical migrants. The wastewater cells are marsh-like habitat.
Three Creeks Conservation Area, 7 a.m.
- Three permanent streams, wet woods, large forb fields and some stands of pine on karst topography. Moderate hiking effort can be expected.
Raptor Rehabilitation Center, 1 p.m.
- Learn about the rehabilitation of injured raptors and visit resident birds unable to return to the wild.
Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building, 1 p.m.
- Viewing of bird skins, wildlife exhibits and the waterfowl collection.
North Boone County sites, 1 p.m.
- Various sites with lakes, ponds, woods, grasslands and reclaimed strip mine land.
Wildhaven Nature Area and Albert Children’s Area, 1 p.m.
- A reclaimed strip mine, woodlands, grasslands, native plantings and a butterfly garden.
Thomas S. Baskett Wildlife Research Area, 7 a.m.
- Mostly upland forest with ridge tops attractive to neotropical migrants.
Little Dixie Lake Conservation Area, 7 a.m.
- Opportunities to look for waterfowl, neotropic migrants and sparrows.
Eagle Buffs Conservation Area, 7 a.m.
- Another chance to see waterfowl, shorebirds and raptors.
Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, 7 a.m.
- Riparian corridors, limestone bluffs, forested hillsides, karst topography and grasslands offer a broad variety of species.
Edge Wade, a volunteer with the Columbia Audubon Society who organized the field trips, expects the birders to see a variety of birds during the field trips with groups no larger than a dozen. After 15 years of bird-watching, Wade has 350 species on her "life list."
More species are showing up lately in the Columbia area, Wade said. The changes in bird populations include species such as the noisy, great-tailed grackle. “We are seeing more of them,” she said.
Wade believes factors such as global warming and habitat changes in other regions are contributing to the increase in area bird populations.
Fred Seaman, the Columbia Audubon Society's publicity chairman, said the local environment offers woods, forest, trails and streams – all good bird habitats.
“Anything that reduces the amount of such areas, like the presence of gigantic food farms or the cities getting bigger, is a danger for birds,” he said. “Columbia has done a good job in preserving bird habitats.”
The field trips are scheduled throughout the weekend in a variety of locations near Columbia. Some begin at 7 a.m. and take all day. All field trips depart from the Quality Inn on Providence Road. It's possible to sign up for a field trip without previous registration, but preference will be given to registered meeting participants.
The three-day meeting will also feature the opportunity for bird enthusiasts to meet and talk about their passion, Seaman said.
James Rising, a zoology professor from University of Toronto, will be the keynote speaker at Saturday's banquet. Rising has published two sparrow field guides as well as articles about sparrows.
On Sunday, after the field trips, there will be a compilation of species found by Audubon members along with an opportunity for birders to compare their life lists.