Audubon Florida News

Topic: Birding,Chapters,Wildlife

Common Loons at the Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay

posted on February 6, 2014 in Birding,Chapters,Wildlife

Common Loon by Lauren DeanerLauren Deaner and Cameron Cox followed up on reports of large numbers of Common Loons at the Skyway Bridge and found even more than they were expecting.They counted 231 in the Manatee section of the south causeway, then 73 more in the Hillsborough section for a total of 304, a very impressive number.

The Lower Tampa Bay IBA is a BirdLife International/National Audubon site recognized for its global significance for birds and Tampa Audubon Society, @St. St. Petersburg Audubon Society, and Manatee County Audubon Society members are working with the Skyway Pier State Park staff and the fishermen customers to help protect birds from death and injury caused by fishing line and hooks.

2014 Audubon Academy – Join Fellow Auduboners to Network, Learn and Have Fun

posted on January 28, 2014 in Academy,Chapters

acad_floridaAudubon Academy 2014 is being held April 11–13 at the DaySpring Episcopal Conference Center located on 92 wooded acres on the north bank of the Manatee River in Parrish, near Bradenton.  Come join us on the Gulf Coast for camaraderie, inspiration and learning opportunities on how to be more effective advocates for conservation.

This year’s Academy theme is “Walking the Walk—Making Conservation Real”.  There will be numerous outdoor and indoor workshops and information sharing sessions to enhance the abilities of both current and future Audubon chapter leaders.

Regardless of your chapter size or location, the fun activities—music, campfire, chapter displays, poster sessions, workshops, hospitality and more—can invigorate attendees and help them enjoy and be more informed conservation ambassadors.

For more information, including the schedule, descriptions of the workshops and registration information go to or contact your chapter leaders.  Registration is by mail only.  Please note that the early reservation deadline is March 10 and Academy registrations should be done by March 31.

Do not miss this once-a-year opportunity to network at this “for the chapters, by the chapters”-event, dedicated to protecting and conserving Florida’s natural resources.

Everglades Coalition Recognizes Audubon Chapter Leader Cynthia Plockelman’s Grassroots Activism

posted on January 14, 2014 in Chapters,Everglades

Pauline Stacey & Cynthia Plockelman with the awardThis past weekend, Audubon Florida and our chapters and allies celebrated Everglades restoration progress and discussed next steps at the 29th Annual Everglades Coalition Conference at the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club.

Congratulations to Audubon Society of the Everglades President Cynthia Plockelman, for receiving the Everglades Coalition’s 2014 John Kabler Grassroots Activism Award. The Kabler Award is awarded to someone who has worked to organize and educate the public and generate grassroots support for Everglades restoration.

After retiring from a 40 year career at the South Florida Water Management District where she managed their reference center and archives, Cynthia became a full-time grassroots environmental advocate. She is a tireless voice for Everglades restoration, wildlife conservation and protecting our water, attending numerous meetings at local, regional, and state levels, and speaking with decision makers. In addition to being the president of Audubon Society of the Everglades and a former Audubon Florida board member, Cynthia is active with the Everglades Coalition, Friends of Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida Native Plant Society, Society of the Everglades, and several other environmental organizations.

The Coalition saluted Cynthia’s lifetime of unwavering support for the Everglades and Florida’s native plants and wildlife, and recognized her at the Saturday banquet with a Clyde Butcher photograph.

Congrats Cynthia!

Audubon Florida’s 2014 Conservation Action Agenda Approved

posted on October 28, 2013 in Assembly,Chapters

Audubon_ConservationActionAgenda_2014_CoverAudubon Florida’s 2014 Conservation Action Agenda was approved at the Audubon Assembly in Innisbrook, Florida.

Thank you to all the RCC leaders for helping to put together this important document.

Please note, the Everglades Regional priority is still currently under review.

Click here to download Audubon Florida’s 2014 Conservation Action Agenda.

Clearing the Way for a Black Skimmer Colony in 2014

posted on September 19, 2013 in Chapters,Coastal Conservation,Volunteering,Wildlife

St. Petersburg Audubon volunteers and FWC biologists clearing exotic crowsfoot grass where Black Skimmers nested successfully this summer at Indian Shores, Pinellas County.

Phone call received:

“All of the Black Skimmer chicks have fledged from the colony site behind Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary so I removed the signs and posts. Not much vegetation grew inside the posted area this year but the private condo owners will want it cleared back to the white, sandy beach it was at the beginning of the nesting season. The roots of this exotic crowsfoot grass gets stuck in the beach groomer’s raking blades so he won’t clear it for us. I don’t think it will take more than an hour for 4-5 people to clear the vegetation by hand.”

It took almost 4 hours for 7 of us to clear the area by hand! Hard work – but so it goes – whatever is needed to ensure the private homeowners are willing to allow posting, signage and bird stewards on duty again next year, we were willing! Thank you to St. Pete Audubon President Judi Hopkins for quickly organizing four hard-working volunteers to help Audubon staff and FWC biologists clear the way for the birds to nest again in 2014!Black Skimmers and chicks at the successful Indian Shores colony. Photo by Kevin  Christman.

Black Skimmers have nested at this Pinellas County location for a number of years and the colony is almost always successful, except last year when Tropical Storm Debby washed out the nests and chicks too late for nesting to restart. In 2013 Tropical Storm Andrea came by and sent waves crashing over part of the colony for a few hours before she was on her way. Nesting resumed and 99 chicks fledged this year.

Early in the season Black Skimmers incubate eggs in the shadow of privately-owned condos. Photo by Kevin  Christman.St. Pete and Clearwater Audubon chapters posted bird stewards on weekends at this and several other colony sites in the county this summer and did triple-duty on Memorial Day and Independence Day holidays. They spoke with hundreds of beach visitors about beach-nesting birds and helped minimize all kinds of disturbances to the adults and chicks. And then, at the end of the season there was still more work to do, long after the birds were gone, clearing the way for next year.

Dedication to conserving and protecting birds isn’t a passing moment for Audubon, it’s a commitment – whether a couple hours a week or a couple hours per month, or more, for more than a hundred years running.


Audubon Works to Protect the Gulf at Panama City RESTORE Hearings

posted on March 1, 2013 in Chapters,Gulf Oil Spill

Audubon's Eric DraperRepresentatives from across the Audubon family helped make the case for conservation in Panama City on February 28, 2013. At two hearings, Audubon supporters spoke passionately for the birds and habitats that make up Florida’s remarkable Gulf Coast.

For a comprehensive review of Audubon’s Florida priorities, please click here to download Florida Gulf Ecosystem Priorities for the RESTORE Act

Bay County Audubon's Neil LambAudubon Florida Executive Director Eric Draper, Audubon Florida board member George Willson, Bay County Audubon President Ron Houser, Bay County Audubon Conservation Chair Neil Lamb, Francis M. Weston Audubon Society Conservation Chair Barbara Albrecht and many others all gave public testimony in support of critical conservation projects that would have an immediate and positive affect on our coast. National Audubon Society’s Chris Canfield also made the trip over to Panama City.

Thanks to everyone who spoke up for conservation last night – together we will make a difference for the Gulf Coast ecosystem!

From the Panama City News Herald:

Representatives from Audubon Florida pushed for funding for an 11,000 acre land acquisition in West Bay to add to 41,000 acres designated by the St. Joe Co. as a conservation area.

Neil Lamb, conservation chair for the Bay County Audubon Society, said St. Joe designated the land as environmental mitigation for the development of the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport and other developments in the area.

“To preserve that for the future, we feel like those lands need to be purchased with some of this money,” Lamb said. “We feel that is the single most important project that could be funded in this area.”

Your voice is needed! County and state meetings regarding the RESTORE Act funds are being scheduled – do not miss your opportunity to stand up to protect our Gulf! Be sure to visit and bookmark Audubon’s website for the latest information on how you can participate.

 For additional video news coverage, please click here.


Audubon Thanks the Great Backyard Bird Count Citizen Scientists!

During the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), people all over the country – and all over the world now that the GBBC has teamed up with eBird – become citizen scientists and count birds, in their yard, their neighborhood or their favorite park.

GBBC. Vilano Beach. Black Skimmers and Forster's Tern. Feb. 2013. Photo Monique BorboenA partnership between Audubon, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada, the GBBC is held annually in February. People are asked to count birds for at least 15 minutes, record their effort and enter their data into a centralized database. The data can be used to track year-to-year changes in the abundance and distribution of birds, to learn about the complex patterns of winter bird movements, and to look for trends that indicate how well birds are faring in the face of environmental changes such as urbanization, global climate change, and disease.

In St. Johns County, thanks to the Anastasia Island library, the GBBC reached far and wide into the community.  People fabricated and decorated bird houses; kids and adults wrote bird-themed haiku poems. Library visitors judged bird houses and poems that were entered into a contest. Library volunteers provided an afternoon of kids’ crafts focused on birds. Audubon staff gave a lecture for people interested in becoming citizen scientists. The St. Augustine Record provided welcome press coverage on the weekend’s events.One of the Haiku poems entered in the competition at the Anastasia Island Library. Feb 2013.

On the GBBC weekend of February 15-18, courageous participants braved an Arctic front to count birds on their own or with teams led by birding guides from St. Johns County Audubon Society. For some people, it was their first experience surveying birds!

Nine year old John Brice, who was recognized as Junior Volunteer of the Year at the Audubon Assembly, led a beach walk at Fort Matanzas with his grandma, a beach where they volunteer as bird stewards. At Vilano Beach, a Peregrine Falcon was seen causing quite a stir in a flock of over 100 Black Skimmers.

Fort Matanzas beach walk led by Audubon volunteers John and Peggy - orange caps. GBBC Feb 16 2013. Photo Monique Borboen .The GBBC events sponsored by the Anastasia Island Library introduced many new people to bird surveys. And surveys are an important first step in bird conservation. Audubon wishes to thank the library for its leadership and to thank all of you new citizen scientists for your collaboration: the birds we are protecting need you!

We encourage all first-time and returning participants to keep up the good work by entering bird sightings into eBird and by helping us with other bird surveys throughout the year. To find out if regular bird surveys are being held in your region, contact:

Blackwater River State Forest Drilling Proposal Withdrawn

posted on February 21, 2013 in Chapters,State Government

One of many beautiful forest-road crossings of the sand-bottomed Blackwater River.Congratulations to Francis M. Weston Audubon Society and all the other grassroots advocates in northwest Florida who spoke out in support of Blackwater River State Forest. The bill to permit oil drilling in this special place has been withdrawn by the sponsor. While some Floridians may feel disconnected from their legislators,Representative Doug Broxson’s (R-Milton) constituents should have no doubt he listened to them in making his decision to withdraw HB 431.

Rep. Broxson told the Pensacola News Journal:

“We think the public needs to know much more about what would happen. The timing is not perfect for pursuing this.”

Please not that there will still be a public meeting on this proposal, scheduled for Monday, February 25 in Jay. Bills have a way of returning in subsequent years, do not miss this opportunity to make your voice heard on this important Florida’s Special Places issue.

Meeting Time and Location:

February 25 – 5:30 until 7:30 p.m
Jay Community Center
5259 Booker Street, Jay, FL, 32565

2013 Audubon Academy – Opportunity to Learn, Network, and Invigorate

posted on February 12, 2013 in Academy,Chapters

porch_lakesideinnThe 2013 Audubon Academy is being held in the centrally located city of Mount Dora (elevation 144 ft) at the newly renovated historic Lakeside Inn (established 1883).  Mount Dora, known for its variety of antique and specialty shops, is near some of the best birding destinations in Florida.

boardwalk_acadThis year’s Academy is being held April 12–14 and the theme is “Connecting with Your Community”.  Academy will offer numerous outdoor and indoor workshops and information sharing sessions to enhance the abilities of both current and future Audubon chapter leaders.  Regardless of your chapter size or location, the fun activities—pizza party, chapter displays, poster sessions, citizen science training, chapter leader skills events, hospitality and more—can help enable chapters to expand and invigorate their outreach and conservation activities.

bird_acadFor more information, including the schedule, descriptions of the workshops and registration information go to or contact your chapter leaders.  Registration can be done online by clicking here or by mail. Note that room reservations at the group rate must be made by March 1 and Academy registrations should be done by March 31.

Do not miss this once a year opportunity to network at this “for the chapters, by the chapters”-event, dedicated to protecting and conserving Florida’s natural resources.

Audubon’s Eric Draper Inspires Supporters to Take Five at Mural Dedication in Belleview

posted on in Chapters

Marion Audubon art event 019Audubon Florida’s Eric Draper joined Marion County Audubon Society at a ribbon cutting ceremony and dedication on February 10. Five muralists completed 4 murals (covering 4 sides of a building!) at the Gallery East Art Center in Belleview, FL.

The murals were dedicated to Marion County Audubon Society and the  Pioneer Garden Club. Special thanks to Judy Greenberg for helping to organize this wonderful event.

Marion Audubon art event 008Also at the event were representatives from the Florida Water and Land Legacy Campaign – collecting signatures to get their important issue on the ballot! How many petitions have you collected? For more information, please visit their website by clicking here.

And if you are ever visiting Belleview, be sure to stop a moment to enjoy this wonderful example of Florida art.

Don’t forget to TAKE 5 to Share Florida’s Special Places:

  •  Take a walk
  • Take a friend
  • Take picture, notes
  • Take time to share your story
  • Take ACTION!

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