November 2016 Audubon Rockies Newsletter
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November 2016 Newsletter

Protecting birds and their habitat in Wyoming and Colorado.

What's In This Issue?


Lead Story:  A special thanks to our amazing Audubon Rockies supporters and our first Annual Report showcasing the accomplishments of our dedicated staff!

Colorado Gives Day Pre-schedule your donation today!  Your dollars support our work in both WY and CO!
Western Rivers Action Network
Colorado candidates' views on water, upcoming river trip and volunteers needed for restoration work.
Community Naturalists  Our educators receive national award for their work! ... bringing education about our western ecosystems to a national educators' conference.  Leonardo DiCaprio's new climate change documentary.
Habitat HeroCitizen Science project for all; learn about how we helped create a bird-friendly trail and a Wyoming town becoming a Bee City USA.
Climate - Workshops in Aurora and Colorado Springs sparks enthusiasm for individual ways to make a difference!  New documentary on climate change by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Upcoming Audubon EventsFind community events coming near you.
Bird Bits - Cool bird facts and news bits.

Bird Trivia - Fun games to test your bird skills!

Chapter Happenings - Local Chapters provide excellent birding, education, and conservation opportunities! We are also excited to let you know that National Audubon Society is offering funding to Chapters to support Chapter conservation projects in FY17.
National News National Audubon Society is featured in this spotlight with their newsletter and policy advisory.

A Time to Give Thanks!

Unveiling of our Annual Report and Giving Thanks to All our Wonderful Supporters, Donors, Sponsors, Members and Friends!


Audubon Rockies wouldn’t be as successful as we are without the unwavering support, enthusiasm, experience, passion and overwhelming generosity of our Board of Directors.  In particular, we want to say thank you to Gretchen Gaede and A-Train Marketing, without whom we would not have been able to publish our first ever 2016 Annual Report highlighting the successes and accomplishments of the Audubon Rockies team.  Gretchen and her crew took our idea and our dream and made it a reality.  From designing and formatting, they made it possible in a very short time period.  At the same time, giving us an absolutely stunning report that we are proud and excited to share with our donors, supporters and community partners.  We also have to say thank you to our Board for donating the funds needed to get the report printed and to Citizen Printing for giving us an exceptional price.  Audubon Rockies is very proud of our Board and community partners for supporting the good work we accomplish every day in Colorado and Wyoming.  

To see our wonderful sponsors - visit here! 
To see our devoted Board Members - visit here!

 Colorado Gives Day

These Support Audubon Rockies in our Third Colorado Gives Day, December 6 -

Preschedule your Donation TODAY!


It’s easy to do.  Just visit our Colorado Gives Day page and preschedule your donation to be automatically charged to your credit card on December 6, 2016 so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to support Audubon Rockies.  Simply click on the “Donate Now” button and then click on the “CO GIVES DAY” tab, fill out the required information and you’re all set!  Your donation is important in our efforts to protect birds and their habitat in our region, as well as ensuring our critical education, restoration and policy efforts continue in Colorado and Wyoming.  Help us reach our goal of $10,000 this year and preschedule your donation today for December 6 or donate on Tuesday, December 6, 2016.

Remember, all donations must be received on December 6 for us to qualify for the incentive fund.

 Bird Bits

These Vivid Bird Photographs Nearly Fly Off the Screen!



Holiday Card Collection

Announcing the new 2016 Audubon holiday cards.  Check them out and share the holiday spirit through the beauty of birds. View the Catalog HERE


The Misadventures of Canuck, the World's Most Infamous Crow

The Canadian corvid is a social media star, entertaining and educating people through his various mischievous deeds.  Read the full article HERE



Disappearing Ice Means New Ways of Life for Arctic Birds

Arctic seabirds are adapting as climate change brings warmer weather, shifting food sources.  Read the full article HERE


Leonardo DiCaprio Releases New Climate Change Documentary

The film, Before the Flood, is an environmental documentary that recently aired on the National Geographic Channel (and will also stream online for free). The Academy Award-winning actor plays a starring role—himself—as he tries to understand the extent of climate change and why so little is being done to stop it. Watch the trailer here.

 Birds and Brews

New Online Resource Helps Bring Birding and your Favorite Brew Spots Together ... more fun for everyone!


A long day spent birding can leave you parched, which is why this month, we are sharing our new Birds and Brews map with you.

Audubon has history working with brewers in the West. In the past couple of years, Audubon held several well-attended events to bring attention and visibility to partnerships with breweries and other business leaders that are addressing drought and working toward solutions. In 2017, we hope to extend our outreach to breweries that rely on Colorado River water, with a particular focus on small- and medium-sized breweries in Arizona and Colorado. Brewers are a natural audience for water sustainability discussions, as water is the main ingredient in the beer-making process.

Enjoy exploring our map—which in Colorado includes coffee shops as well as breweries—and we hope you’ll toast all the people working to protect and restore birding hot spots with every sip!  We know there are great spots in Wyoming too ... we're working on expanding this resource!!!

 Bird Trivia

What Bird is Having a Bad Hair
(aka Feather) day?!

Photo by Peter G. Arnold  

Think you got it?  
Check out the answer below!

Support Audubon Rockies


The Roost - Chapter News


We are excited to let you know that National Audubon Society is offering funding to Chapters to support local and regional Chapter conservation projects in FY17.

Chapters are welcome to submit a proposal individually or join with other Chapters to submit a group proposal for FY17 Collaborative Funding.  Proposals should support conservation projects and ideally will provide an opportunity to engage our members and the public.

Stay tuned for this year’s Audubon Chapter Collaborative Funding application form and guidelines or feel free to email for more information!  

Chapter Websites & Newsletters

Colorado Chapters: Wyoming Chapters:

Can you figure out which chapter newsletter includes this great photo?

Each Chapter is an independent organization of Audubon members that is chartered and annually re-certified by National Audubon Society. 

They provide excellent birding, education, and conservation opportunities for members at the local level. They also often advocate on behalf of conservation at the local, state, and national level.


National News



Happy birding from all of us!


Alison Holloran, Executive Director
John Kloster-Prew, Deputy Director
Daly Edmunds, Director Policy & Outreach
Dusty Downey, Sr. Regional Community Naturalist
Jacelyn Downey, Sr. Regional Community Naturalist
Keith Bruno, SW Colorado Community Naturalist
Zach Hutchinson, Community Naturalist
Abby Burk, Western Rivers Program Lead
Jamie Weiss, Habitat Hero Coordinator

Support Audubon Rockies
 Bird Trivia Answer


Belted Kingfisher

Photo by Peter G. Arnold  

The Belted Kingfisher is often first noticed by its wild rattling call as it flies over rivers or lakes. It may be seen perched on a high snag, or hovering on rapidly beating wings, then plunging headfirst into the water to grab a fish. Found almost throughout North America at one season or another, it is the only member of its family to be seen in most areas north of Mexico.

This month we would like to acknowledge valued sponsors and partners:







Upcoming Community Events

Rally for Public Lands
November 5, 11am - 2pm
Izaak Walton League (Fort Caspar) - Casper, WY

Check out the Facebook Page of Keep it Public, Wyoming

Efforts by some political leaders to sell public lands is something that Audubon is strongly opposed to!  We've joined partner organizations to have a rally in support of keeping public lands in public hands and you're invited for food, music, and great speakers!


Backyard Birdfeeding: Can 50 Million People Be Wrong?
November 10, 7pm
Senior Rec. Center - Fort Collins, CO


Lauren DeRosa, Owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Fort Collins and Habitat Hero, will be speaking about some of the myths regarding feeding wild birds, as well as tips and advice on what to offer wild birds to the the most joy possible from the hobby.  More Info

Wyoming's First Citizen Science Conference 
December 1-2
Lander, WY


Agenda and registration is OPEN.  In addition, our Audubon Rockies Community Naturalists will be presenting about our banding program.


Trees Water People - Honduras Work Tour
January 5-14, 2017


Upcoming EcoTour to Honduras where we will be conducting baseline bird surveys in cloud forest agroecosystems, among other service projects such as clean cookstove construction, tree planting, cross-cultural exchanges, and more! 

More information about the itinerary

Western Rivers Action Network

     Beginning the low flow season for rivers. Eagle River near Camp Hale. Photo by Abby Burk

What do Colorado Candidates Think About Water?


The importance of water quantity and quality are growing across Colorado. Elected officials who are knowledgeable about water policy, healthy rivers, and needed flexibility in Colorado’s water right system are key to providing a water secure future for both people, economies and the environment. As we plan for the future, our water resources are on the minds of many candidates. Annually, Audubon’s partners at the Roaring Fork Conservancy ask candidates in local, state, and federal races for their responses to two water related questions. This pamphlet presents a non-biased forum for candidates to express their qualifications and platforms on water issues affecting the Roaring Fork Watershed and the state of Colorado. Even if your candidate is not listed in the forum we encourage you to read through the responses and inquire with your candidate about their plans for Colorado’s water future.

Audubon Rockies encourages you to vote on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. Your voice is an important part of helping us to protect our rivers. Together we can work towards water security for birds, people, and the habitats we all depend on.

Save the Date! June 12-15th Audubon Rockies Green River Gates of Lodore Trip


Details and registration coming in November! If you just can’t wait, email Abby Burk for more information.

We Need Your Help for 2017 River Restoration Work


As we gear up for 2017 project fund raising, please consider a donation to Audubon Rockies river and wetland restoration work.  Together we are making a difference for rivers in water policy, on-the-ground restoration work, and helping to preserve habitats for birds and people.

Join Western Rivers Action Network Now

Community Naturalist Program


Community Naturalists on the Road!


October marked a busy travel month for our Wyoming Community Naturalists!

A big highlight of the month was the recognition that Audubon Rockies Community Naturalist program received from the
North American Association for Environmental Education.

“For more than four decades, NAAEE has promoted excellence and impact in environmental education thanks to the tireless efforts of our members, supporters, and affiliate organizations,” said Judy Braus, Executive Director. “Our award winners represent bright spots across North America that show progress in our field across multiple disciplines and approaches, from teaching and community engagement to research and environmental justice.”

Our Community Naturalists, Jacelyn and Dusty Downey traveled to Madison Wisconsin to accept the
“Outstanding Service to Environmental Education by an Organization” award at NAAEE’s 45th annual conference. They also had an opportunity to present about several of our programs including bird education, conservation ranching, and sagebrush education. We are so honored to be recognized by this organization whose mission is to bring the brightest minds together to accelerate environmental literacy and civic engagement through the power of education.


Our educators also presented our Sagebrush Trunk and Curriculum guide to over 20 educators at the 2016 Math and Science Conference at Casper College. Educators from grades 2-11 attended the session, with hopes to integrate the trunk and curriculum into their daily classroom activities. Learn more about our trunks and other educational resources here.

Casper naturalist, Zach Hutchinson, was fortunate to be literally up to his elbows this past month in raptors! He kicked off his professional development tour at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Minnesota banding Saw-whet Owls, then headed to Yellowstone to become a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association for Interpretation, and then finished up with a raptor course in Wisconsin. Audubon feels that investing in professional development helps our educators reach their fullest potential. Armed with current and relevant skills, they can be of best service to the community.

Keep up with the Community Naturalists on
Facebook or our website!

Community Naturalist Updates from the Four Corners 

October found Four Mile Ranch under beautiful colors.  Between the slow yellowing of Cottonwoods and Aspens and the fiery flash of Gambell Oaks, fall was well represented.  To welcome the 220 students who visited Four Mile Ranch over two weeks in mid-October.  2nd graders focused on metamorphism, investigating the many shapes and forms of insects.  We stumbled upon a wild turkey that had fallen prey to a coyote, complete with maggot larvae!  Oh, the wonders of decomposition!  3rd graders focused on the water cycle and why water is such a valuable resource, and the many organisms that depend on it.  We found stoneflies and caddisflies in great numbers, a good sign of water quality for Four Mile Creek.   Also, a student dredged up a dead Mottled Sculpin fish – the kids thought it was totally cool!  Complete with boat races in the irrigation ditch, constructed from natural and found objects, great times were had.

At the Riverhouse Children’s Center in Durango (pre-K), 30 students and I talked about what makes a bird a bird.  We discussed the distinct characteristics that allow birds to live where they live, yet how their habitats differ.  We talked about different bill and beak shapes and what kind of food that allows specific birds to eat.  Additionally, we learned about the varied vocalizations of birds by conducting an activity to hone our listening skills so that we could hear others calling out with the same calls.    Students were able to identify 5 local birds by sight and sound by the end of the session!
Once the snow flies, I’ll be joining 2nd-4th graders for snow sports (snowshoeing and XC skiing), where not only will we have fun outside, but also where we’ll discuss the world of snow science and winter ecology.  Lastly, more stimulating hands-on experiences are in the works for 5th graders -- to study the impact of weather on the snowpack by measuring Snow Water Equivalency.
Thanks again for welcoming me to the Audubon Rockies family.  It’s good to be back in the Four Corners. 
Keith Bruno
Southwest Colorado Community Naturalist

Habitat Hero Program


What Do Birds Eat?  Help Us Find Out!

Ashley Kennedy PhD student, Tallamy Lab, Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology, U. of Delaware

Every good birder knows that birds eat fruits, nuts, and insects, but many people underestimate the importance of the latter. Even birds that are described as primarily frugivorous granivorous, or nectarivorous rely on insects during the breeding season and will dramatically change their foraging patterns during that time to take advantage of the varied proteins, fats, and nutrients insects provide. Field guides and other references, however, rarely provide details as to which kinds of insects are the most important in birds’ diets. Most studies to date only provide order-level identification of prey (e.g., “beetles”, “caterpillars”), but this broad categorization implies that all beetles or all caterpillars are equally important to birds. Would a chickadee rather eat a smooth, green inchworm, or a toxic monarch caterpillar— or a densely hairy “woolly bear”? Intuitively, we might guess the inchworm would be the preferred choice, but until we have the data to back it up, this is just speculation.

To answer these kinds of questions about birds’ feeding preferences, and ultimately to help us make better-informed decisions about bird habitat management, Doug Tallamy’s lab at the University of Delaware is undertaking a long-term research project— but we need help from citizen scientists to make it work!We are compiling a database of bird-insect interactions based on photos contributed from all over North America. Anytime you see a bird with an insect (or other arthropod: spider, millipede, centipede, etc.) in its bill, snap a photo and submit it on our website at or on our Facebook page at along with some general details about when and where it was taken (date, city & state). Our team will then identify the arthropod prey and add it to our growing database.

Past studies that investigated birds’ diets typically relied on more invasive methods, such as gut dissection or neck ligatures, which carried risk of injury and even death to the study subjects. Although such studies contributed useful information, photography is a much safer alternative method. Citizen scientists can provide unambiguous evidence of what birds eat simply by taking a picture. Many of the photos submitted so far were taken with a smart phone or digital camera—no high-tech equipment needed. Anyone can be a part of this project!

Ultimately, we hope to be able to answer questions like “Do house wrens in Montana prefer the same types of insects as house wrens in Pennsylvania?” or “Do eastern bluebirds feed their second brood the same insects as the first?” Currently we have about 3,000 photos of a desired 10,000-plus. Although we already have photos from 43 states, the majority have been submitted from the East Coast, leaving us especially in need of more citizen scientist involvement in other regions.

Eventually, with enough photo contributions, we will be able to make recommendations to land managers about what types of plants they should grow to help specific bird species. Many insects are host specialists, depending on a particular plant for survival and reproduction; once we know which insects the birds prefer in their diets, we will be able to encourage the planting of those insects’ host plants to promote avian conservation from the bottom of the food chain up. For example, we have seen numerous photos of white-eyed vireos in the Mid-Atlantic region feeding their nestlings spicebush swallowtail caterpillars, which rely on spicebush as their host plant. Now that we know this interaction occurs, it is safe to suggest that land managers in this region could plant spicebush if they want to help conserve white-eyed vireos.

Until we have a better understanding of what birds eat, we can’t create or maintain ideal bird habitat—something that birds desperately need, as habitat loss and fragmentation continue to be the largest driver of bird declines. Please consider helping us out by sending us your photos!  

To view online article with additional photos - view here


Creating a Bird-Friendly Trail

Audubon Rockies partners with Springs at Mariana HOA to install bird houses 

A small neighborhood with a big heart!  The Springs at Mariana is a community consisting of 41 single family houses at the far west part of Loveland city limits, past Boedecker Reservoir, off 1st Street.  Their Homeowners Association (HOA) sees its purpose as actively encouraging a positive community spirit and promoting the use of sustainable, affordable, and attractive outdoor common areas.  They were one of the recipients 2015 Larimer County Small Grants for Community Partnering and have been able to enhance their common area by:  
·        planting drought resistant native plants next to a pond area, that will attract song birds, and provide education and enjoyment for neighborhood children and adults,
·        installing native boulders and plants in our large grassy common area which will reduce the need for substantial watering, especially in dry years
·        coordinating volunteer community labor to eradicate invasive weed species in common areas; removing a 75-foot row of dead native coyote willows.

One of the last pieces of the puzzle was installing birdhouses around their one-third mile walking path that circles their neighborhood.  They solicited help from Audubon Rockies to help determine which bird species are present, how to attract various species of birds and help with installation of bird houses.
In mid-September, Jamie Weiss, Habitat Hero Coordinator of Audubon Rockies joined 9 volunteer homeowners at Springs of Mariana neighborhood to set out on the mission of installing 9 bird houses.  Once our site selection was determined based off the lifestyle habits of birds, we got to digging poles and setting them in Quickrete©.    
Seven bird houses were designed in attracting
House Wrens, a small gregarious bird that likes shrubby areas and forages on insects.  These birds are great attracting in nest boxes as they will build anywhere, and will even compete with other birds for houses by destroying their eggs.  These bird houses were mounted on 6ft poles and their small size of 1 ¼ inch diameter hole opening makes them a perfect fit for wrens and excludes predators.  These nest boxes might also attract different species, like Black-capped Chickadees or even Tree Swallows.
Two bird houses were designed in attracting
Mountain Bluebirds, a striking blue bird that likes open areas and forages on insects.  These bird houses need to be placed no less than 300ft apart to lessen competition.  These bird houses were constructed from old donated barn wood and assemble and mounted on 6ft poles with a hole size of 1 ½ inch in diameter.
The main objectives from these various projects at the Springs at Mariana neighborhood were: 1) reduce water use; 2) provide habitat for wild birds; 3) make their common areas more attractive and interesting thus promoting more outdoor recreation and 4) create more opportunities for people to connect with the land and learn about sustainability. 
Thanks to this amazing neighborhood’s vision and their hard-working volunteers for setting out to make a better difference in their community!

To see online article with additional photos - view here


Bee City USA

This year Gillette City Council voted unanimously to become a Bee City USA®

Bee City USA is a nonprofit national organization which encourages city leaders to celebrate and raise awareness of the contribution thousands of bees species and other pollinators make to our world by making a set of commitments, defined in a resolution, for creating sustainable habitats for pollinators.

Bee City USA founder and director, Phyllis Stiles, said, “The program aspires to make people more PC (“pollinator conscious,” that is). If lots of individuals and communities begin planting native, pesticide-free flowering trees, shrubs and perennials, it will create large-scale change for thousands of species of pollinators at risk. How each city celebrates pollinators is up to them, but we especially encourage educational programs for children, like school gardens. When a child falls in love with pollinators, they are friends for life.”

Campbell County and the City of Gillette have already accomplished a lot to encourage bee health in the community, which was a big part in accomplishing certification.

Along with making sure pollinator-safe pesticides and herbicides are used during sprays, the spraying times are coordinated around the most active bee times, according to Hannah Johnson, Campbell County’s Master Gardener Coordinator.

Native plants and flowers that create sustainable habitats are included in City garden plots, but this year the Master Gardeners will work to ensure even more pollinator-friendly shrubs and perennials are included for next year's planting season.

"Our hope is we'll do more education on pollinators and pollinator-friendly plants," Johnson added. "We're the first city in the state of Wyoming and the seventeenth city in the entire U.S. to be declared a Bee City, so that's exciting.”

A designated Bee City USA is expected to annually celebrate being a Bee City USA community with a proclamation and public awareness activities; publicly acknowledge commitment to the program through signage and web links; and annually report activities to Bee City USA to renew the certification.


Climate Change

 Audubon Rockies Partners with Chapters to Host Workshops

Last week, National Audubon Society climate team staff flew in from Washington DC and New York to take part in two workshops in Colorado - in Aurora and Colorado Springs.  They joined Rockies' Alison Holloran and Daly Edmunds, along with leadership from the Aiken Audubon Society, Arkansas Valley Audubon Society, Audubon Society of Greater Denver.  We discussed the impact of climate change on birds and actions we all can take together to protect them.  Specifically, we talked about the importance of communicating with elected officials and encouraging them to support policies that protect birds, encourage conservation, and take action to limit the impacts of climate change.

Check out the list of climate-threatened birds in CO here and WY here.

Altogether, about 45 people took time of out their busy schedules because they realized the importance of this issue and wanted to learn how to make a difference - from planting gardens with native plant species to reaching out to their legislators.  The impacts effect us all - regardless of political party and gender. Over lunch, we listened to each other and learned from each other.  It was a motiving experience for everyone involved!  

The take-home message was that we each can make a difference ... often times starting conversations with friends and family about our love of birds and our concern about the impact that climate change will have.  As the holidays approach, we hope you'll initiate these conversations too.

If you're interested in engaging on climate change issues, please contact Daly Edmunds at

Resources shared at the workshops:

  Leonardo DiCaprio Releases Climate Change Documentary

The filmBefore the Flood, is an environmental documentary that just aired on the National Geographic Channel (and will also stream online for free). The Academy Award-winning actor plays a starring role—himself—as he tries to understand the extent of climate change and why so little is being done to stop it.

His findings are simple: There are brilliant activists, scientists, writers, inventors, and community leaders working to slow the Earth's warming, repair the damage, and prepare for future threats. But there’s one thing blocking their way—politics.

Over the course of 96 minutes, join DiCaprio as he goes on a world tour of climate change conflicts. 

this film, with its charismatic star, is a great tool to start conversations with friends and family!




Through science, education, and policy, we protect birds and their habitat in Wyoming and Colorado.

Where Conservation Takes Flight!

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