Come join us!
Aiken Audubon programs are free and open to the public. They are currently held at Bear Creek Nature Center, located at 245 Bear Creek Road, Colorado Springs, 80906. Coffee, snacks, and socializing begins at 6:30 pm and programs begin at 7 pm.
Aiken’s weather cancellation policy: Sometimes inclement weather may cause us to cancel an Aiken meeting. If this happens, a decision will be made by 1 pm on the meeting date. Notification will be placed here our website, on our Facebook page, and sent out through our email notification list. In addition, a message will be posted on the CoBirds Listserv, which many Aiken birders subscribe to. If there is any doubt, please do not hesitate to contact any Aiken board members via telephone. Always, your safety is first so use your own judgement when coming to a meeting.
Finally, if you have ideas or would like to present a program at one of our meetings, please contact program chair Diane Luck at email@example.com.
February 21 / Stephen Getty
Beyond the Amazon—
The Pantanal & Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil
Perhaps best known for the vast Andean mountain chain and the vast Amazon Basin, South America hosts many other spectacles and natural treasures. Two of those are found south of and beyond the Amazon Basin and largely in Brazil—the Pantanal wetlands and the Atlantic Moist Forest of Brazil.
The Pantanal is the largest freshwater wetland on Earth, about 75% the size of Colorado and larger than Pennsylvania or New York. Two distinguishing features of this vast wetland are the remarkable biodiversity and then scale of changing water depths during year. During the rainy season, at least 80% of the Pantanal is submerged under water. Then over a period of several months with the ensuing dry season, the flooded wetland is reduced to isolated ponds and the numerous rivers that drain the wetland. Within the limited gallery forest along those rivers, wooded islands, or drying ponds, wildlife of all types is highly concentrated, making for very exciting viewing. From jaguars and ocelots, to the local, endangered Hyacinth Macaw, traveling in the Pantanal is incredible.
Moving from the Pantanal southeast across Brazil, one progressively enters the more mountainous, densely forested region of the Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil. It is compromised by agriculture in many areas, yet remaining tracts harbor hotbeds of endemism and biodiversity.
For example, a striking number of bird species are found only in the narrow strip of rainforest extending from the region around Rio de Janeiro to mountains surrounding São Paolo. Charles Darwin provided early descriptions of this incredible rainforest in the early 1800’s en route to explorations in Patagonia, the Galápagos, and beyond. While more difficult to observe mammals in this dense forest, the attentive observer will get lucky. And not surprisingly, the astounding avifauna are considerably more accommodating.
Join us as Steve Getty shares with us his travels to several parts of these two unique hotbeds of avian diversity.
Death by Chocolate: Once again our February meeting will also be a chocolate dessert potluck. Do you have a luscious chocolatey confection we won’t be able to resist? Please bring it to share so we can all indulge!
March 21 / Luke George
Color banding of Brown-capped Rosy Finches
Brown-capped Rosy Finches (Leucosticte australis) nest at higher elevations than any other bird species in the United States, and their breeding distribution is almost entirely limited to Colorado. They spend most of the year well above tree line, feeding on seeds and insects on snow fields and in short tundra vegetation moving to lower elevations for short periods during winter storms.
Despite residing in an almost pristine environment for most of the year, Brown-capped Rosy Finches have declined by as much as 95% over the past 50 years and, unfortunately, we don’t know why. The Bird Conservancy of the Rockies in collaboration the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of California at Santa Cruz, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the US Forest Service is initiating a research program to better understand the causes of their decline. Luke will summarize the little information we currently know about rosy finches and the plans for future research.
Luke has spent a lifetime studying birds across North America. His interest in birds started when he was an undergraduate at Reed College under the mentorship of David DeSante (Founder of the Institute for Bird Populations). From there he went to the University of New Mexico where he earned his Master’s and PhD followed by post-doctoral research on grassland birds at Colorado State University. He became a faculty member in the Wildlife Department at Humboldt State University in 1991 and taught there for 21 years before moving into the Science Director position at the Bird Conservancy.
His research has focused on songbird ecology, demography, habitat selection, and conservation but he has worked on a variety of species including Greater Sage-grouse, Golden Eagles, Northern Spotted Owls, and small mammals. He has authored more than 75 scientific papers and technical reports on wildlife research and natural resource conservation and management. He became Science Director at the Bird Conservancy in July 2016.
April 18 / Eric Eaton
The Magic of Moths
Most people think of moths as the drab nocturnal counterpart to butterflies, if not pests that eat our crops, gardens, even what we have in the pantry or clothes closet. Prepare to have those myths shattered and replaced with astonishing revelations about what moths are really like. We have a stunning diversity of moths in Colorado, and we are discovering new county records all the time. You will be rushing home from our presentation to turn on your porch lights in hopes of seeing live moths for yourselves.
Eric R. Eaton is chairman of the board of directors for Mile High Bug Club, an organization that holds local events for National Moth Week. July’s festivities can’t come soon enough! He is also the principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. He has also been published in Birds & Blooms, Ranger Rick, Missouri Conservationist, Orion, and other popular journals.
May 16 / Clark Jones
One Finch, Two Finch: A short history of counting birds in the United States
Counting birds is an important part of tracking bird populations, but it is more complicated than one might think. Changes in bird populations have often been the first indicators that potentially irreversible damage is being suffered by an ecosystem.This presentation will give an overview of several of the bird-census programs used in North America and what they tell us about how bird populations are changing.
While the Breeding Bird Survey and Christmas Bird Count give us an overview of how some populations of birds may be fluctuating, several other lesser-known monitoring programs provide valuable information on the state of bird populations. We’ll explore what some of the data reveal about bird population trends in Colorado and other regions of United States, and what some of the limitations of our knowledge are.
Bird census techniques and data analysis have undergone dramatic improvements thanks to new analytical methods and better data. Sometimes they lead to controversy. The implications of a population estimate for an endangered species may have large policy consequences. Counting birds is important and having a better understanding of what the numbers mean can help you make important decisions regarding where you align your support for conservation policy.