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June 11: Red-vented Bulbul Census

In conjunction with the Houston Audubon Society's Citizen Science Committee, Kendra Kocab and Mary Anne Weber are organizing a Red-vented Bulbul census, and we would like your help. The census will take place on Saturday, June 11, 8-10 AM, in the Heights. We think the birds will be nesting and feeding young or fledglings at this time of year and will hopefully be active for easier detection. We will cover the area via transects, and each person/pair will cover approximately 2 miles on foot. We would like to have people bird in pairs (particularly, a man and a woman when possible) so as not to cause distress among people living in the Heights when strangers start peering into their yards with binoculars on a Saturday morning.

One goal is to get an idea of the size of the population by recording as many bulbuls as possible at one time. We would also like to check some gaps in the area where no bulbuls have been reported on eBird. If this census is successful we hope to expand it to other areas of the city in the coming years to determine other populations beyond the Heights.

If you are interested in participating in the census, please let us know as soon as possible so we can begin determining how many transects we can cover. Also tell us if you already have someone to pair up with. We are looking for people who can identify bulbuls by sight and/or sound and who can be cautious and respectful while birding in a neighborhood. If there are other people who meet these requirements, please let us know so we may contact them as well.

After 10:00 AM, we will meet at a location TBD to do a countdown. We will contact all of those interested in participating soon with information on which transects they will be birding, how to conduct the survey, and where we will meet after.

Please let Fred Collins know if you can help - Collins, Fred (Commissioner Pct. 3): FCollins@pct3.com

We hope to see you there!


May Membership Meeting

Migratory Shorebirds: Where do they come from and what do they want?
Speaker: David Newstead

This event is free and open to the general public.

Date: Thursday, May 12, 2016
Time: Social at 7:00 PM. Presentation begins at 7:30 PM.
Place: United Way Center, 50 Waugh


David NewsteadOver the last decade, the Coastal Bird Program of Coastl Bend Bays & Estuaries Program (CBBEP) has been involved in a number of projects to answer questions about the connectivity between the Texas coast and the breeding grounds of many species of shorebirds, as well as how specifically the birds are using this area. This has major implications for how we manage coastal habitats. We have collaborated with a range of international researchers to study these questions, using everything from traditional banding methods, VHF telemetry, and satellite technology to track major migratory movements.

  • Where do all the Piping Plovers go in the middle of the winter?
  • Where do our Long-billed Curlews breed, and why are some populations declining?
  • How fast does a Red Knot fly between here and Saskatchewan?
  • How does the price of beef in Uruguay, or your decisions about lawn care, affect Buff-breasted Sandpipers?
While state-of-the-art technologies are providing amazing new insight, keen observation and participation by birders and other volunteers remain a critically important component of bird study and conservation.

Our speaker is David Newstead, Director of the Coastal Bird Program, Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program David is the Director of the Coastal Bird Program at Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program, which focuses on conservation and management of coastal bird populations including the waterbirds that breed here and the shorebirds that depend on the area in migration. His Master of Science at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi focused on marine science and the early life history stages of fishes, and he is currently working on his PhD through Texas A&M University-Kingsville on a project to determine subspecific status and migratory connectivity with Red Knots. He has worked on many tracking projects with a wide range of migratory shorebirds, employing a variety of tracking methods and technologies. He has been with CBBEP for fifteen years..

The Houston Audubon Board Election will precede the program.



Nominations to the Houston Audubon Board of Directors

The nominating committee of the Houston Audubon Board of Directors recommends the following slate for election to the Board of Directors. Elections will be conducted at the membership meeting on May 12, 2016. Also, according to the By-Laws, nominations will be accepted from the floor.

Stanley (Skip) Almoney, Director. Skip was born and raised in York, Pennsylvania and educated at Lowell Technological Institute and Lehigh University. In 1970 upon receiving his PhD in Nuclear Physics he came to Houston to work as a geophysicist for Texaco in Bellaire. During the next 31 years he worked in a variety of petroleum exploration positions for Texaco including over ten years in international exploration. He took early retirement after the merger between Chevron and Texaco and has spent his retirement time with various volunteer endeavors. He began bird watching in the summer of 1993 before being transferred to Indonesia for a year. When he returned to Houston he joined the Ornithology Group of the Outdoor Nature Club and has served that organization as Vice-Chairman and Chairman. He is a certified Texas Master Naturalist and as a member of the Houston Audubon Society has served on the Board of Directors and worked as a volunteer on workdays at High Island and Bolivar Flats, as a mentor at the Boy Scout Woods rookery, and as a goods salesman at High Island. He has lead birding trips throughout Texas for both Houston Audubon and The Ornithology Group. He has birded on all continents. In 2004, he cofounded Friends of Mandell Park and over ten years raised over $1 million to rebuild Mandell Park into a beautiful city park that includes Meredith Gardens.

Nigel Curlet, Director. Nigel has lived in Houston for over 35 years. A Chemical Engineer, he worked for Shell Oil in a number of roles in the downstream businesses and retired in 2006. After joining the board of the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center in 2006, he became interested in birding and more specifically bird photography and spent hours photographing a pair of nesting Cooper's Hawks at the Arboretum. Over the past six years, Nigel and his wife Cherry have enjoyed their many visits to the Houston Audubon sanctuaries on the Gulf Coast. Nigel continues to serve on the Executive Committee of the Houston Arboretum. He looks forward to contributing to the Houston Audubon Society.

Edie Dillon, Director. Edie was raised on the beaches of South Florida and graduated summa cum laude from Rice with a degree in biology and psychology. Thanks to her good friend, Skip Almoney, Edie and her family are birders-in-training. Edie brings a unique perspective to the Board with 27 years of experience in technology – first as a partner at Accenture and currently as the Global Chief Information Officer for Norton Rose Fulbright. She is hoping to help Houston Audubon advance its mission through the use of technology – to conserve birds and their environments, to educate the community and to grow membership.

Mary Fitzgerald, Director. Mary is a Career Counselor/Assistant Professor at Lone Star College-CyFair. She has been birding for about 10 years and is a long-time Houston Audubon member. She has just completed a two year term as Houston Audubon Secretary.

Joseph V. "Joe" Smith, Director. Retired from a business career, which included Executive Director of Magellan Behavioral Health and Acquired Companies and General Manager of Direct Marketing and Planning with Gulf Oil Corporation, Joe is an advanced amateur photographer whose current focus is 35 mm nature and landscape color photography. He is a member of the Houston Photochrome Club, The Houston Center for Photography, and the Photo Forum at the Museum of Fine Arts. Joe is also a member of Houston Audubon Nature Photography Association (HANPA) and has worked closely with Houston Audubon to develop policies regarding photographers' access to HA sanctuaries. Joe is married to Jane R. Smith and has three adult children. They have lived in Houston since 1978.

Sam Smith, Director. Sam is a professional engineer working at Wood Group Mustang. He became a birder because when he would go on hikes with his wife, Becky would stop to look at the birds, so why not join the party and is now frustrated with identification of little brown things like most everyone else. He has been a former city council member for the city of Spring Valley, and a Texas Native Plant society member. As a member of the Houston Audubon Society, he has been seen working at High Island during post Hurricane clean ups as well as he and Becky working either the Kiosk at Boy Scout Woods or Smith Oaks during spring migration. He has served on several different community committees and supports the Texas Land Conservancy.

Martha Wright, Secretary: Martha became a docent with Houston Audubon's Docent Guild over 25 years ago. She has held many board positions with ADG and currently serves as Past President. Martha graduated from Rice University in architecture, worked for an interior design firm and as a computer programmer for the California firm, FMC Corporation. The rest of her "career" has been volunteering and serving on boards for various organizations. She "has loved the opportunity to instill in others, both young and adult, a love of nature and a desire to protect it."



Together We Made a Difference for Texas Parks
by Helen Drummond, Executive Director

The closing of the 84th Legislative Session marked a major milestone for Texas parks, Texans and the birds and other wildlife that mean so much to our quality of life. Because of the hard, persistent work of so many across the state, including Houston Audubon members who heeded the call to contact their legislative representatives in support of House Bill 158, 100% of future proceeds derived from the Sporting Goods Sales Tax (SGST) are now statutorily dedicated for use to address the needs of local and state parks.

This spring, HB 158 passed the House and Senate and was signed by the Governor. It goes into effect September 1, 2015. Prior to the passing of HB 158, only a portion of of the SGST had been used for parks as originally intended; the other part was kept in general revenue and spent on activities unrelated to parks.

Houston Audubon extends a HUGE thank you to our partners, members, and State Representatives involved in the passing of this legislation. Now, our parks have a greater chance of remaining healthy, vibrant places for generations to come!


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