Manatee County Audubon Society Volume M Number 8 April 2009

We are committed to protecting the environment in our community, our state and our country.
Black-crowned Night Heron

Look back at our history
By Don Bansen, MCAS Historian Steve Newton, a herpetologist and animal curate from the Jungle Gardens, was the speaker in January 1977, and he brought a number of live specimens with him: snakes found locally and from around the world. The last meeting in April 1977 was a pot luck, as it is today. The program was a slide show,”Birds and Things from Down Under.” During the winter of 1977-78 there was such a prolonged cold spell that the Brown Pelicans were “dying like flies” as Bradenton Beach Councilman Andy Rasmussen put it. At his urging the Manatee Audubon Board voted to contribute $100 to buy fish to feed the birds. That donation was supplemented by a gift of 500 pounds of mullet given by Walter Bell, owner of the Bell Fish Co. Manatee Audubon was a regular supporter of Pam Stewart’s Pelican Perch, a wild bird sanctuary. Ms. Stewart was always sending a card or letter to show her appreciation. Norman Matteson was succeeded as president of Manatee Audubon by George Gillis, who served for two years, from 1979 to 1981. A December bird kill on Anna Maria Island littered the beach with dead or dying Red Knots. Catherine Spurr, president of Sarasota’s Wildlife Center, took about 105 sickly birds to her residence on Clark Road and shipped a dozen carcasses to a state lab for autopsies. No cause was ever found.

Our Earth Day celebration will open with volunteers planting a new garden to attract butterflies. Those who help may win a gift for their efforts. Come and join the fun. Admissin is free and there is ample parking at the preserve, located at 4600 24th Avenue in Palmetto. Details on page 2.

Letter from President Steve Black

Needed: Affordable, convenient meeting place
We have a decision to make regarding a meeting place for next year. First Presbyterian Church, where we have been holding our monthly meetings, has raised its rental fee to $150 a meeting, due to increased church expenses. In past years, the church let us use its meeting room for whatever voluntary donation we could make. But we are living in a new world, and the price to continue at First Presbyterian works out to $1,050 for the year (seven monthly meetings at $150 each). One option we are pursuing is to meet at Emmanuel United Methodist Church located at 5115 Cortez Road for $50 a month plus $25 when we use kitchen facilities. We need to make this decision by the end of May. One of the considerations, in addition to money, is to make the meeting place as convenient as possible. We have very valuable members who live on the Island as well as equally valuable members who live in East Manatee as well as Sarasota. If you would like to have input, you can call or email any of our officers or board members with suggestions. Two unsung heroes: Since my time is winding down as president, I want to thank two unsung heroes. They have no titles, but consistently do the work that it takes to make our chapter successful. My first hero is Fred Allen, who is out at Felts Audubon Preserve three to seven days each week. When there is routine maintenance to be done, Fred usually does it. He also does a great majority of the mowing although Tom Heitzman also contributes. Fred keeps the feeders stocked and he makes sure there is water in the solar fountain. I don’t know about all of Fred’s contributions because he just does them without telling anybody. Fred knows about bird sightings at Felts as well as being one of our butterfly experts. My second hero is Ivan Marion. Ivan also likes to work under the radar. Ivan is there to open the church for our monthly meetings, set up the sound system and then close the church. In addition, Ivan is our electrician. Ivan keeps our solar fountain going. He works on our generator and he serves as Roger Robson’s right hand man when it comes to construction work at Felts. Ivan and Fred deserve our undying gratitude.

Red Knot

Bring a dish to our pot luck dinner on Thursday April 16.

Page 2

Felts Preserve: Celebrating Earth Day
By Barbara Singer

Our sixth annual Earth Day Celebration to be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday April 25 at the Felts Audubon Preserve in Palmetto will feature Critters from Elmira’s Wildlife Sanctuary, face painting and crafts for children, guided nature walks—and the chance to spend the day in a beautiful outdoor nature preserve. Admission is free, and there is ample parking at the 30-acre Felts Preserve, located at 4600 24th Avenue (Experimental Farm Road and 24th Avenue East). We will open with volunteers planting a new garden section designed to attract butterflies. The planting will begin at 9 a.m. and those who help may win a gift for their efforts. The development of the butterfly garden is a TogetherGreen Volunteer project sponsored by the National Audubon Society with a generous grant from Toyota. Speakers will discuss ways to attract Purple Martins, native planting for birds and butterflies and landscaping for climate change. Manatee Audubon will sponsor an exhibit of its various activities and offer Earth Day T-shirts for sale for $12 each. Water and snacks will be available for sale. More than a dozen exhibitors will focus on a range of products and services, such as recycling, electric bicycles, bird and nature related items, wildlife photographs, and the various nature tours available in our area. The Bradenton Herald, Manatee County’s newspaper since 1922, sponsors Felts Earth Day. For more information about Felts Preserve, the Manatee Audubon Society and this year’s Felts Earth Day Celebration, visit the society’s website at or call our phone at 941-729-2222.

Felts Audubon Preserve is located in Palmetto 4600 24th Avenue East Corner of 24th Avenue East and 49th Street East (Experimental Farm Road). Open House on First Saturday of the month Work Day on Last Saturday of the month

Sightings at Felts
By Tami McNally, Secretary

Continued Sightings:
American Goldfinch American Kestrel American Robin Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Cedar Waxwing Common Grackle Eastern Bluebird Great Horned Owl Indigo Bunting Mottled Duck Northern Harrier Palm Warbler Pine Warbler Prairie Warbler Red-winged Blackbird Roseate Spoonbill Sandhill Crane Tricolored Heron Wood Duck Wood Stork Yellow-rumped Warbler

We’re sprucing up the preserve on April 18

Join our workdays to improve Felts
By Tom Heitzman

For those who would like to help at the Felts Preserve, the work days are always the last Saturday of the month, except during April, when the work day is Saturday April 18, one week early. This way we can get things ready for Earth Day, which will be on the last Saturday of the month on April 25. The work days this month and every other month are a great time to come out and help improve the property. We have tasks for all levels, from pulling a few weeds, picking up trash or pulling out invasive plants. As we get ready for our annual Earth Day Celebration 2009, we have lots of sprucing up to do to get the preserve ready for the big event. The burn we had hoped to do this spring has been postponed until next year. The weather conditions never were just right to risk putting our property and those of our neighbors in danger. The Florida Department of Forestry is very cautious in this regard and our window of opportunity just ran out. Stay tuned for a possible burn next winter. The Bluebird houses are back up and we have seen lots of activity and think some of the boxes have nests. I have seen lots of Bluebirds in the Preserve. The Purple Martin houses are also up and we have seen some scouts but no nesting birds yet. Perhaps our local Red-shoulder Hawk is keeping them away. One of the reasons to postpone the burn was the need to get the nesting boxes back up which had been taken down in preparation for a burn. This past week we had a company install more wildflower seed to our existing wildflower meadow. The site was roughed up and then the seed was applied in a water slurry solution over the entire three acres. The seed is then covered with a fiber mulch that helps keep it shaded and off to a good start. Many of the plants from last year are getting ready to re-bloom, so with the new crop of seed and last year’s plants, we should have quite a display in the coming months. Many new longleaf and slash pines were installed in the southwest side of the property as one of our TogetherGreen volunteer days. A dozen volunteers installed more than 110 trees. Keep an eye on these as they mature and create more beneficial habitat for our birds.

A birdful time and a coyote
Wednesday 4/1

Page 3

Upcoming Events
Field trip Circle B Bar Ranch, Lakeland Carol Webster, 747-7295, leads this trip to a nature area with lots of birds and scenic walks.

Saturday 4/4
Open House Felts Preserve 8 a.m. to noon

4/6 - 4/10
Spring Break Camp at Felts Audubon Preserve for elementary students 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. with before and after care available Around the Bend Nature Tours with Manatee Audubon Karen Fraley, 794-8773 $50 payable at registration


By Arlene Flisik, vice president and trip coordinator

Eighteen Auduboners went to wonderful birding sites around Lake Apopka and Emeralda Marsh on March 7-8, the hottest weekend of the year to date. An incredibly knowledgable local birder and park ranger, Gallus Quigley, led us to 98 different species in various habitats. Beyond the total numbers, this trip stood out because so many of the birds were those we seldom see: American Bittern, both species of Whistling Duck, Sora Rail, Blue-headed Vireo, Hermit Thrush, Ovenbird, Grasshopper Sparrow, and White-crowned Sparrow. We also saw ones we “never” see, like Wilson’s Snipe, Say’s Phoebe, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Western (not eastern) Kingbird, and - well, not a bird - a coyote! Not everyone saw every bird, but many saw most, and most saw many, and all felt well rewarded.
Sign up now if you want faster information

Thursday 4/16
Monthly meeting is at 6:30 p.m. (one hour early) for Annual Pot Luck. installation of officers and brief review of the year. Bring a dish to share and your own plate, cup and utensils First Presbyterian Church, 1402 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton.

Saturday 4/18
Workday Felts Preserve 8 a.m. to noon to get ready for Earth Day on 4/25 Photos by Connie Zack

Sunday 4/19
Field trip to Fort De Soto Park for spring migration. Depart Main Post Office at 8 a.m. Steve Black, coordinator, 376-0110

We may offer the newsletter in color via email
By Barbara Singer

In an effort to help the environment, reduce mailing expenses, and disseminate information faster, we are considering offering our Manatee Audubon newsletter via email beginning September 2009. This will give a newsletter with color photos and images, and it will give Manatee Audubon the opportunity to expand some areas of interest. We are asking that you try receiving the newsletter electronically and if you are not happy you can always switch back to the black-and-white printed edition. We assure you that your email address will be guarded, not sold nor given out without your written permission. If you would be willing to participate in this effort, complete the following and return at either the April 16 general meeting, Audubon booth on Earth Day or mail to Manatee Audubon, P.O. Box 14550, Bradenton FL 34280-4550. Yes, sign me up for electronic newsletter________ Yes, send me electronic Event Updates__________ Name _________________________________________________________ Email address____________________________________________________

Thursday 4/23
Learn to monitor beach nesting birds! from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Holmes Beach City Hall 5901 Marina Drive in Holmes Beach Tami McNally, Manatee Audubon, and Suzi Fox, director Turtle Watch For more information, call 778-5638

Saturday 4/25
Earth Day at Felts Preserve 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission free. Volunteers will begin at 9 a.m. to plant garden to attract butterflies. Elmira’s Wildlife Sanctuary will present some wild critters and there will be speakers, a range of exhibits, water and snacks.

Welcome New Members:
Dr. Philip and Joan Kinnard Richard and Sandra Pope

To trip or not to trip
By Connie Zack, field trip chair

Page 4

Manatee Audubon needs field trip leaders for the 2009-2010 season. No leaders, no field trips. If you are interested, please see me at the April 16 monthly meeting or call 758-2929 or email You can choose a location or ask for suggestions. It is quite easy to do and it is lots of fun.

Pot luck, paper plates, napkins and cups
By Patti Clauser

Thank you, everyone, for your donation of snacks at our monthly meeting. I really appreciate the assortment of goodies. Don’t forget the Pot Luck on April 16. Everyone is to bring a covered dish to share. We start a little early that night at 6:30 p.m. I am also writing to ask everyone to bring me any, and all, leftover paper products you may have around the house. We are seeking donations of small plates, napkins and cups. We serve many people each month at our meetings, and I know you have odds and ends like I do. So if you clean out your cupboards, please keep us in mind. Also, if you would like to donate cans of Crystal Light, we can always use them. Again, thank you for being so generous.

Elderhostel birding program: I am in the process of getting information and setting up an Elderhostel birding program just for our Audubon group for March-April 2010. I expect to have more information and details at the April meeting. It will most likely be in southern Arizona. You can go to the Elderhostel website, scroll to the bottom of the opening page, click on Birding and then click on Arizona. That takes you to a description of “Cave Creek Canyon Birding at Portal.” The website says that Cave Creek Canyon is one of the country’s premier birding areas. The little town of Portal, which lies 40 miles north of Mexico, is described as a birdwatching retreat that “attracts many rare Mexican birds, which come to nest in the spring and summer.” Elderhostel says that there is a program of daily field trips and lectures by l ocal experts. Since we will have to make an advance deposit, please bring a check for $50 with you to the April 16 meeting if you are interested in this Elderhostel program. After getting more information, and the date for the trip, you can decide definitely if you want to go.

She’s the only one from Florida selected to go Washington
By Arlene Flisik, vice president

National Audubon recently invited activists to come to Washington D.C. at the end of March for three days of training followed by meetings with our representative and two senators for the purpose of discussing public land issues concerning Alaska, most notably drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Alaska may be far away, but its issues have been a prime concern of mine for years, so I applied and was the only person chosen from Florida. I tend to doubt I had much competition, but in any event I now have an important assignment, and by the time you read this, I will have spent about one hour of my life being that person everyone loves to hate, a lobbyist!

Send your items for The Night Heron to newsletter editor Molly McCartney at or call 778-3228

Manatee County Audubon Society PO Box 14550 Bradenton FL 34280-4550

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Permit #970 MANASOTA, FL

April 2009 Newsletter

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful