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December 2016 Newsletter

Protecting birds and their habitat in Wyoming and Colorado.

What's In This Issue?


Lead Story:  A post-election message from our Executive Director.

Colorado Gives Day - Clock's ticking! Today is the last chance to make a donation to your programs in Colorado and Wyoming, and have it matched! Colorado Gives Day window closes at midnight, tonight.
Western Rivers Action Network
2017 River Trip planned to Gates of Lodorewill we have a mild winter due to La Niña?
Community Naturalists  An amazing year had by our educators, and what Christmas Bird Count is all about.
Habitat HeroWildscaping Ambassador Train-the-Trainer Pilot workshops a success. New Blog Post: These bees will surprise you.
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!
National News National Audubon Society shares their newsletter and policy advisory, along with the results of last year's Christmas Bird Count.

Colorado Gives Day is Today
Donate to Audubon Rockies and Help us Reach our $10,000 Goal

Give Where You Live and Together We Can Make A Difference!

Colorado Gives Day is an annual statewide movement to celebrate and increase philanthropy in Colorado through online giving, and Audubon Rockies is a participating non-profit.  Remember, you don’t have to live in Colorado to give to Audubon Rockies. Donations made nationwide support your programs in both Colorado and Wyoming.

Your programs
Habitat Heroes, Conservation Ranching, Community Naturalists, Citizen Scientists, Western Rivers and Sagebrush Ecosystem Initiativesare 100% funded by generous donors like you. Today, on Colorado Gives Day, your donation is doubled with a match from a $1 million Incentive Fund. 

We can’t think of a better Christmas present than that.


 Bird Bits

Holiday Card Collection

Announcing the new 2016 Audubon holiday cards.  Share the holiday spirit through the beauty of birds. View the Catalog HERE


Landslide Triggered by New Zealand Earthquake Crushes Rare Seabird Colony

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake last month might have killed up to a quarter of the world's Hutton's Shearwaters.  Read the full article HERE



Meet the London Street Artist Who Painted Bird Murals All Over Harlem

Audubon Mural Project's latest collaborator spreads conservation awarness through vibrant street art.  Read the full article HERE


Clever Ways Common Redpolls Survive Harsh Winters
 Bird Trivia

What Bird
Posed for this Close-Up Photo?

Photo by Peter G. Arnold  

Think you got it?  
Check out the answer below!

Support Audubon Rockies


The Roost - Chapter News

Chapter Websites & Newsletters

Colorado Chapters: Wyoming Chapters:

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
Mandi Casolo, Office Assistant

Support Audubon Rockies
 Bird Trivia Answer


Mourning Dove

Photo by Peter G. Arnold  

To learn about Mourning Doves - read here

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








Upcoming Community Events


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

Message from Executive Director

 Post-Election Message


Dear Friends,

At almost a month into the post-election, I want to reach out to chapters, members, and friends. I think it is safe to say this long election has left us all bruised and battered, no matter your political affiliation.

As we move forward into the coming year and with a new administration, I encourage us to work together to create a future we are  all proud of. While the world’s spotlight remains on this newly forming federal administration, it is clear that our birds, wildlife, and landscapes will face many new and reoccurring challenges. However, as a 111-year-old conservation organization, one thing is for sure: this is not the first or the last time birds, wildlife, and our precious landscapes on which we all depend have felt the threat of uncertainty. Given our experience and history, Audubon understands the importance of continuing to forge partnerships and to speak up for the protection and conservation of all that depend on this earth for survival (including ourselves).

This election has spurred impassioned conversations amongst Audubon colleagues. I’d like to share with you a recent statement by Sonia Perillo, Executive Director of Audubon Arizona, one that I believe captures Audubon’s commitment beautifully, “You can be certain that Audubon will continue our work to ensure all voices are heard - right into the ears of policy makers wherever they may be, as we have done so successfully through dozens of previous administrations.”

As we face some of our greatest conservation challenges - climate change, water shortages, and growing urbanization/development of our western landscapes - it is even more critical that we work together. I am hopeful that if we unify behind Audubon’s mission and speak as one, lean in, join together, the birds’ songs will not be silenced.

Your voices are critical. In the coming days, months, and years, let the birds be our unifying factor, from state and federal governments to our local neighborhoods - we need to act as one, because that is when we are strongest. Today, more than ever, you’re what hope looks like to a bird.

Finally, Audubon Rockies wants you to know that you are valued and needed. Let our common love of the natural world and birds be our focus so we may move forward and make our nation and the world a better place.  

Yours in conservation,
Alison Holloran

Western Rivers Action Network

Glowing fall cottonwood thankful for recent desert rains.  Near the San Rafael River, Utah.  Photo by Abby Burk.

We Will Need You Like Never Before


The recent weeks have brought many surprises and potential changes.  As with any election or new administration there are many unknowns. Regardless of what political party is in charge or who is president, we need to be prepared to work with the new administration and Congress where we can and to fight to protect our water and freshwater habitats for birds and people when we must. Audubon’s centrist approach will continue to strongly advocate for protecting birds, their habitats, and our shared environment – like we have successfully done for 111 years.


The election hasn’t changed the fact that Colorado has significant challenges around water. At the state level in Colorado, the overall political landscape did not change much.  However, as always, the best thing Colorado can do is to continue to be proactive in ensuring resiliency and water security for people and our environment.

As we face some of our greatest conservation challenges - climate change, water shortages, and growing urbanization/development of our western landscapes - it is even more critical that we work together. What can you do to help right now? Ask friends, family, and co-workers to join Audubon’s Western Rivers Action Network (WRAN). We will need our united grassroots and WRAN leaders engaged and activated like never before.
We are grateful beyond words for you, and Audubon’s strong Western Rivers Action Network.

*Please watch for Colorado engagement opportunities coming in December.

Audubon Rockies and O.A.R.S Green River Gates of Lodore Trip


Hard to believe, but it’s that time of year to start thinking about river trips!  The 2016 Audubon Rockies / O.A.R.S. commercial rafting trip on the Yampa River was a tremendous success. Due to this great experienceboth as pure fun and an educational adventurewe are planning to head out on the Green River through the Gates of Lodore, June 12-15th 2017. It has been said that the Gates of Lodore river canyon is one of the most beautiful in America. This gorgeous 44 mile section of the Green River is class III. All physical abilities are welcome! There will be oar rafts, paddle rafts, and inflatable kayaks available to trip participants. Each day, participants can choose which type of watercraft they would like to enjoy.
Find out more details or view the flyer!

La Nina Is Here!


What do sunblock, skin moisturizer and flip-flops in November mean for Coloradans? The Climate Prediction Center forecasts La Niña conditions are present and slightly favored to persist (~55% chance) through winter 2016-17. Typical La Niña episodes bring less moisture and warmer temperatures to Colorado.  During La Niña events, the jet stream tends to favor the northern tier of the country, rather than the southwestern United States. All of this could mean less snowpack for rivers. Right now, Colorado sits at 6% median snowpack statewide. So think and dance for snow! Read more here: The Climate Prediction Center forecasts La Niña  and Colorado SNOTEL Watershed Time Series Snowpack Graphs

Good News for Grand Canyon Habitats


On November 7-12, 2016 the Department of Interior will begin increasing the release from Glen Canyon Dam for a high-flow experimental release (HFE) of approximately 36,000-cubic-feet per second for 4 days (96 hours). The goal of the high-flow experiment is to move sand stored in the river channel and redeposit it to rebuild eroded sandbars and beaches downstream of the Paria River in Grand Canyon National Park. This release follows the science-based Protocol for High-Flow Experimental Releases from Glen Canyon Dam established in May 2012 and is a component of the Department's compliance with the Grand Canyon Protection Act of 1992. Read more at: Grand Canyon November 2016 High-Flow Experiment


Join Western Rivers Action Network Now

Community Naturalist Program


Christmas Bird Count -
117 Years and Running!


‘Tis the season to be counting! That’s right - it is Christmas Bird Count time. From December 14 through January 5th, tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas will brave snow, wind, or rain, and take part in the effort. Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this long-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations, and to help guide future conservation action.


The CBC data collected by observers over the past century allow Audubon researchers, conservation biologists, wildlife agencies and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, it provides a picture of how the continent's bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years. The long term perspective is vital for conservationists. It informs strategies to protect birds and their habitat, and helps identify environmental issues with implications for people as well.

Join us! As important as the CBC has been to birds, this yearly tradition has been equally important to the people who participate. Families and friends get an opportunity to enjoy time outdoors together learning about what the local birds are up to. You don’t have to be a birding expert, just grab a pair of binoculars and a field guide and you are set. Visit the Audubon Rockies website in order to find a count near you.

It Was A Banner Year for the Casper Community Naturalist!


Over 4,500 students participated in the Audubon Rockies’ Community Naturalist program in Natrona County during the 2015/2016 school year. Additionally, many resources were made available to teachers like teacher trunks, sagebrush poster and lesson plans, and leadership from our education staff. Audubon resources and expertise were used by many groups including Casper Mountain Science School, Casper College, Wyoming Game and Fish Dept., University of Wyoming, Murie Audubon Society, Werner Wildlife Museum, Izaak Walton League, and the Science Zone.  

Our Casper MAPS banding blew away all expectations in its first year! We reached over 2,000 students and adults in the first summer of banding! Weather did affect the number of workable days, but it was an encouraging summer nonetheless. Our MAPS program produced 2,200 miles walked by participants, showing how education, science, AND recreation all go hand-in-hand.
Classroom curricula was made available to both formal teachers and naturalists. These were used by Casper area teachers and included our Bird Trunk, BirdWatch, and Audubon Adventures.  Our curriculum also includes 25 other science topics such as water quality monitoring, snow science, and ecology.
We organized and participated in multiple public events in Casper, including International Migratory Bird Day, which served 250 students, as well as Riverfest, Citizen Science Day, and the Public Lands’ River Clean-up Day. 
Our guided bird watching trips are perfect places for seniors to connect with each other and to share a passion for the outdoors. We covered over 10,000 miles, and walk over 1,000 miles on our guided trips!

Happenings from Southwest Colorado


As snow flies and autumn draws to a close, gearing up for the upcoming 117th Christmas Bird Count is ever-present for bird enthusiasts.  The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a 117 year-old program of the National Audubon Society.  Each year, thousands of volunteers across the Western Hemisphere come together to participate in this early-winter bird census.  The CBC provides critical data on bird population trends, with viewers logging what they see and hear within a 15-mile diameter.  In Pagosa Springs, CO, folks will refresh their bird identification chops with two “Birding 101” sessions on December 7th and 14th before conducting the count on Saturday, December 17th, weather permitting.  Hoping for good weather and a big turnout this year! 

Pagosa High School Global Studies class is investigating the path and complexity of water in the Colorado River basin.  Students are examining the distribution, diversion, allocation, and ecological implications of these actions, as water originates in the local headwaters of the nearby San Juan River and sometimes flows as far as the delta in the Sea of Cortez.  I recently joined them for a field trip to the Blanco River Diversion Dam project, installed and maintained by the Bureau of Reclamation.  We learned how water is redirected from the Blanco River just 20 miles southeast of Pagosa Springs and tunneled 30 miles, under the Continental Divide and merged with the Rio Grande, to supply the cities of Santa Fe and Albuquerque.  Audubon Rockies SW hopes to get the Global Studies class out to Four Mile Ranch this spring to measure water flows and begin a long-term flow analysis of Four Mile Creek. 
I’ll be dropping into the 5th grade classes over the next month to talk about snow science, as pertinent to their weather studies.  Additionally, I’m working towards the possibility of involving middle school students in citizen science efforts this winter/spring.  Whether in collecting and reporting SWE (Snow Water Equivalent) values or in contributing to the Great Backyard Bird Count, allowing students to participate in nationally recognized data collection leads to a great sense of ownership and science identity, ensuring a conservation ethic with younger generations.
Looking forward to further exploring relationships with both Pagosa middle and high school classes!  
Make sure to keep warm and fluff your feathers!

Habitat Hero Program


Wildscaping Ambassador Train-the-Trainer Pilot Workshops A Success!

53 volunteers trained to spread the word about actively restoring habitat for birds and pollinators 


Audubon Rockies formed a partnership with Colorado Native Plant Society to solidify a speaker’s bureau. Our pilot Wildscape Ambassador Train-the-Trainer workshops were a success53 volunteers were trained on spreading the word about actively restoring natural habitat for birds, butterflies, and other pollinators by implementing water-wise and native gardens on our landscapes.  We provided these future ambassadors with the tools of the trade, including how to present to a local garden center/nursery, HOA, library, community organization etc… on the importance of creating native plant gardens, that not only create a welcome place for birds, but benefit the environment and our communities too!

Stay tuned for upcoming trainings, as we are looking to train 400 Wildscape Ambassadors in 2017.  We're actively working on setting up workshops along the Front Range for Spring 2017.

A special thank you to Gardens on Spring Creek and High Plains Environmental Center for hosting our pilot workshops!


These Bees Will Surprise You

Guest Blogger, Jessica Goldstrohm with
The Bees Waggle

Read our latest blog here!


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

Where Conservation Takes Flight!

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