Come join us!

Aiken Audubon programs are free and open to the public. They are 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

Upcoming Aiken Meetings / Programs

December 15
Christmas Bird Count

No program this month.

January 16 / Michelle Caldwell
A Brood of Backyard Kestrels

IMG_2537 (2)Michelle and Roger erected a kestrel box in the fall of 2005 per a family member’s suggestion. For years, the box served as a perch for owls, hawks, and meadowlarks.  In the spring of 2014, coinciding with her retirement from teaching middle school students, a pair of American Kestrels chose the backyard box as their nest site. Here is where Michelle’s kestrel adventure began.

Michelle believes there is no place like home for watching birds. A resident of Colorado Springs since 1979, Michelle moved to eastern El Paso County in 2005. Space to wander, no matter the season, gave her a magical glimpse into the rhythm of prairie creatures.

February 20 / Gemara Gifford
Birds & Coffee

GemaraGiffordShade coffee growers in Central America may hold the secret to conserving migratory birds and alleviating poverty at the same time. The benefits of shade coffee farms to birds (and likewise, the benefits of birds to coffee farms) has been well documented. Shade coffee provides high-quality habitat for birds, especially in fragmented areas with little forest, and may even serve as matrix habitat for forest-dwelling species. Migratory birds reduce pest damage to coffee crops during an important time of their growth cycle.

Diverse coffee agroecosystems also improve farmer livelihoods and food security, because they are grown with a diversity of fruit, nut, and fiber trees, and are sometimes combined with local crops such as maize, beans, and squash.

Come and find out why “farmer-friendly coffee” is what bird-lovers should be drinking.

Gemara Gifford (pronounced gém-uh-ruh) is the International Program Director of Trees, Water & People, a grassroots nonprofit in Fort Collins, Colorado that empowers indigenous communities in North and Central America to conserve their natural resources and improve their livelihoods. Gemara graduated with her Master’s degree from Cornell University in 2016 where she collaborated with Cornell Lab of Ornithology scientists on a community-driven conservation research project in the Guatemalan Highlands, studying rare migratory, endemic, and resident cloud forest birds. Gemara is an expert in leading projects that include community leadership, and conservation in working landscapes. She also has a B.S. degree from Colorado State University and is a Bill and Melinda Gates Scholar. When Gemara isn’t hopping from country-to-country or leading private tours with her non-profit, Trees, Water & People, she enjoys painting, writing music, volunteering, and spending time with her husband and two kitties.

March 20


April 17 / Bill Eden
Birding Senegal and The Gambia


In November, 2016, Bill Eden traveled with five other participants and a guide to explore the bird life of the western Africa countries of Senegal and The Gambia. The field guide Birds of Senegal and The Gambia, by Borrow and Demey, lists 680 bird species found in these two countries. Although Senegal and The Gambia may not have the avian notoriety of Kenya, they are excellent places to see birds. Our trip took us along both sides of the Gambia River. We saw such birds as the African Pygmy Kingfisher, Northern Carmine Bee-eater, the Abyssinian Ground Roller, Giant Kingfisher, and the “must see” Egyptian Plover.

Bill grew up in New York State with parents who enjoyed nature. His early summers were spent at their camp in the Adirondack Mountains where there were plenty of birds.

In 1975 Bill moved to Colorado to pursue a Masters Degree at CSU.He then worked at the Colorado Department of Health and Environment directing their public health nutrition Programs. He continued to pursue his interests in birds and birding.

In early 2006, Bill participated in Hugh and Urling Kingery’s beginning birding class and then became a student in the ASGD’s year-long Master Birder Program. He then spent nine years on the Master Birding Program’s steering committee. Bill has also worked with Meredith McBurney at the Chatfield bird banding station for eight years.

Bill has enjoyed many birding trips throughout the United States as well as birding in over 20 countries such as Malaysian Borneo, Madagascar, Brazil, Honduras, Iceland, Uganda and Tanzania (some with his wife Joan). He incorporates an interest in wildlife photography by photographing birds, mammals and other animals. Bill also enjoys gardening and attracting birds to his yard. So far he has recorded 56 species.

Northern Carmine Bee-eater photo by Steve Garvie from Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland – Northern Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nubicus)Uploaded by Snowmanradio, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Other Programs

Saturday, January 26, 10 – 11:30 am
Behind the Scenes at Denver Museum of Nature & Science

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science has one of the richest ornithology collections in the country, with nearly 60,000 birds from around the world, dating from 1842 to today. Join Dr. Garth Spellman, Curator of Ornithology, on a tour through the museum’s state of the art labs and collection hall and discover the many ways this incredible biological resource supports research at the museum and around the world.

Cost: The tour is free, but a donation to the ornithology program at DMNS is always appreciated and strongly suggested by Aiken Audubon Society in thanks for the tour. If you would like to combine the tour with a museum visit to see the traveling and permanent exhibitions, then visitors can pay for museum admission.

Parking and Carpooling: Guests would enter through the employee and volunteer entrance which is just to the East of the main entrance. Dr. Spellman will let security know to expect you and they will just have you sign in. When you register for this trip, please include your interest in carpooling and whether you intend to visit the museum before or after the tour (museum hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Once our participant list is finalized the trip organizer will contact participants with similar plans to help arrange carpooling as desired.

To register: Contact trip organizer Diana Beatty at with names of interested participants and carpool/museum admission intentions. Trip is limited to 20 participants and new sign-ups will not be accepted after January 12 regardless of number of interested persons so that we can submit a final headcount to the museum for their preparations.

Saturday, January 26, 10 – 11 am
Live Birds of Prey!

Learn about hawks, owls, eagles, falcons, and vultures through a live birds of prey program with Nature & Wildlife Recovery Center. The presentation includes two different birds of prey, raptor adaptations, predator/prey relationships, natural history, personal stories of the birds presented, and our work to rehabilitate sick, injured, and orphaned birds of prey.

This program is sponsored by Fountain Creek Nature Center. Cost is $4 for nature center members, $5 for nonmembers. Donations appreciated for the birds. ONLINE REGISTRATION available at