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September Speaker Event

Chimney Swifts: Why We Should Care

Chimney SwiftThis event is free and open to the general public.

Date: Thursday, September 8, 2016
Time: Social at 7:00 PM. Presentation begins at 7:30 PM.
Place: United Way Center, 50 Waugh


Naturalist and conservationist Anne Donovan has long had a special love for Chimney Swifts. As a middle-school science teacher, her emphasis was on Biological Sciences and Ecology, and her main goal was to instill in her young students a respect for and fascination with nature. Her volunteer work, both while teaching and during retirement, has exemplified these values. Anne has been an active volunteer and board member of Travis Audubon. She is also a Texas Master Naturalist and on the board of the Bamberger Ranch Preserve near Johnson City.

Chimney Swift image Greg Lavaty

The Adventures of a Chimney Swift Family After joining Travis Audubon in the 1980s, Anne got to know Paul and Georgean Kyle, who have spent much of their adult life researching Chimney Swifts. She eagerly absorbed all they had learned about these birds and helped them conduct workshops on building Chimney Swift towers. She learned how to clean out the towers during the winter and thus determine the number of eggs laid, young swifts fledged, and additional swifts roosting there. After retiring, Anne has volunteered to take bird programs to schools, garden clubs, and adult-education programs. She typically emphasizes Chimney Swifts and their dependence on humans for many of their habitat needs.

A few years ago, Anne, Georgean Kyle, and Kay Hart decided to write a children's book about Chimney Swifts. A middle-school colleague of Anne's, Kay taught English and creative writing and had long been an avid birder. Georgean and her husband, Paul Kyle, had written two books about Chimney Swifts, for which Georgean did all the illustrations. It was the perfect partnership.

Their book, The Adventures of a Chimney Swift Family, will be available for sale before and after the program. The Kyles' two books, Chimney Swifts: America's Mysterious Birds Above the Fireplace and Chimney Swift Towers: New Habitat for America's Mysterious Birds: A Construction Guide, will also be available. For more information on Chimney Swifts, go to www.chimneyswifts.org. To order additional books, contact Anne Donovan at ajdonovan@att.net.



Amazon River Cruise—A Special Departure for Houston Audubon

February 16–26, 2017

La Estrella AmazonicaThe Amazon region conjures many images, but it is, above all, a realm of superlatives. The centerpiece of this vast region is the Amazon River itself, the largest river in the world. In fact, many of its tributaries rival or exceed the size of other great rivers of the world. The Amazonian region also boasts the highest diversity of both birds and plants anywhere in the world. The very word Amazon brings to mind images of broad, sinuous rivers, tree-lined banks, strange animals, bright butterflies, torrential rains, and glorious sunsets. Along the rivers one may see macaws, parrots, and oropendolas flying overhead, ponderous Horned Screamers rising from stream banks, and exotic wildlife that includes Hoatzins, Umbrellabirds, sloths, fresh-water dolphins, and monkeys coexisting in this untamed area.

For this special VENT trip, arranged exclusively for members of Houston Audubon, we offer this excursion to the Amazon for those who want a full Amazonian rainforest and river experience without sacrificing comfort. We'll use the classically-styled, triple-deck riverboat, La Estrella Amazonica, which offers visitors the utmost in comfort, security, and safety while still permitting visitation to remote and relatively unspoiled regions in Amazonia.

Hosting this trip will be Dr. Richard Gibbons, Conservation Director for Houston Audubon. Richard worked in Peru for several years for his graduate work and looks forward to experiencing this biological bonanza with you. Richard will be joined by David Ascanio and Andrew Whittaker of Texas-based Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, one of the most trusted names in ecotourism. For more information, visit the Amazon River Cruise page on the VENT website


World Shorebirds Day 2016

World Shorebirds Day is September 6 with activities spanning the weekend before. The goals are to encourage citizen scientists to gather shorebird data and to raise awareness for these incredible birds. Houston Audubon, Help Gulf Birds, and many others are planning ways for you to discover and enjoy the amazing shorebirds that breed, migrate through, and winter in Texas. We'll have a big sit (birding tailgate party with spotting scopes) and nature walks at Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary, Saturday morning, September 3. Come learn why so many Piping Plovers wear jewelry and where all these birds have been and where they’re going. Shorebirds!

Watch for details on events at East Beach in Galveston.

Nominate your shorebird of the year on the World Shorebirds Day Website

Piping Plover by Greg Lavaty

Piping Plover by Greg Lavaty



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