Thursday, December 1, 2016

Upcoming event: Christmas Bird Count!

UPDATE: Change in date to Sunday, December 18

Gray-crowned Rosy-finches. Photo (c) Shawn Billerman.
We are seeking volunteers to take part in the 117th annual Christmas Bird Count!

The Laramie Audubon Society will again take part in a 100-year-old Christmas tradition, the annual Christmas Bird Count. Volunteers are welcome to join in the count with the LAS chapter as it conducts the Albany County Christmas Bird Count on Sunday, December 18. This will be the 39th count of the Albany County circle. Volunteers are needed to help count every bird present in the 15-mile diameter circle around Laramie on the day of the count. Novices are welcome, and will be paired with more experienced bird watchers.

Volunteers can call ahead (307-286-1972) or meet at Coal Creek Coffee (110 E. Grand) at 7:30 am on the day of the count to get data forms and team assignments. Some teams walk, while others drive through the territory. Volunteers will reconvene at The Grounds Internet and Coffee Lounge (171 N. 3rd St.) at 12:00 pm to drop off morning reports and regroup for those continuing in the afternoon.

Volunteers should wear warm, layered clothing and boots, and bring water, snacks and binoculars if you have them. Feeder watchers are also welcome. Volunteers are invited to a chili supper where results will be compiled beginning at 4 pm the home of Shay Howlin. Potluck items welcome, but not required. Please contact Shay Howlin if you would like to be assigned a route early, would like forms for feeder watching, or have any questions (307-286-1972;

Friday, November 25, 2016

Upcoming talk: Science Cafe with the Prather Lab

Join the Laramie Audubon Society and the Biodiversity Institute next week for a Science Café featuring work by Dr. Jonathan Prather and his lab. Prather studies the neurobiology of communication in birds.

A summary of the lab's recent work: "We use our words to communicate with each other every day, and we rely on good decision making to keep us healthy and out of trouble. In both speech and decision making, specialized circuits in the brain enable us to learn from experience. When we take a close look at songbirds, we find that they do they same thing. Birds learn their songs just like we learn the sounds we use in speech, and female birds evaluate the quality of male birds’ songs in order to select their mates. How does the brain do that, and how can we use that insight to understand more about ourselves?"
Dr. Jonathan Prather

Wednesday, November 30
UW Berry Center Auditorium
10th Street and Lewis Street
Laramie, Wyoming
Free parking after 5 pm

6:30 pm Refreshments and Bird Chat
7:00 pm Program begins

The Science Café will feature three talks:

Dr. Jonathan Prather  - How the brain learns to communicate and make good decisions: What studying songbirds can teach us about human behavior

Karagh Murphy - What songbirds can teach us about human behavior

Jeff Dunning - Shedding light on the female songbird brain

We will also hold our annual board member elections at this meeting. Members who cannot attend this meeting will be able to vote via an online survey, coming soon to your email.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Upcoming trip: Laramie Valley

Pronghorn. Photo (c) Shawn Billerman.
This Saturday, 12 November, Tim Banks will lead us on a tour of the Laramie Valley for whatever birds we can find. Waterfowl have been disappointingly absent so far this fall, but raptor diversity is usually good in the valley! Join us for the adventure--never know what we might find.

We will meet at 8 am at Night Heron Books & Coffeehouse to carpool. Bring binoculars, a scope if you have one, and field guides. Dress for the weather and bring water and snacks. I plan to be back in Laramie by 11:45 am; if you can only join us for part of the time, be prepared to drive your own vehicle or coordinate with carpool buddies.

Birders of all levels are welcome! Our trips are free and open to the public.

Rough-legged Hawk. Photo (c) Shawn Billerman.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Upcoming talk: Rachel Fanelli and Joanna Harter

Please join us this coming Wednesday, October 26 for two talks by our most recent Small Grants recipients. Both Rachel and Joanna received LAS funds this last spring/summer to help with their research and outreach efforts.

As usual, we will meet in the Berry Center auditorium. Parking adjacent to the building is free after 5 pm. Bird chat and refreshments begin at 6:30 pm, and the talks will begin at 7:00 pm.

Rachel Fanelli will give a talk entitled: "Community Outreach with the University of Wyoming Raccoon Project." The University of Wyoming Raccoon Project has taken an active role in the Laramie community to generate excitement around this local wildlife species. Rachel will discuss their outreach efforts and how these efforts have proven fundamental for their research.

Joanna Harter will give a talk entitled: "How does bird diversity in the Prairie Potholes Region respond to wetland persistence?" The Prairie Potholes Region supports a high diversity of birds and diverse wetland habitats, and Joanna is examining the effects of wetland persistence on bird diversity. She will introduce us to this strange and beautiful landscape, and share some of the details of her study with us during her talk.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Upcoming trip: Plains Lakes

Libby Megna will lead a trip to the Plains Lakes this Saturday, 15 October. Hopefully we will find a variety of dabbling and diving ducks between Blake's Pond, Twin Buttes, and Lake Hattie. Plus, raptor diversity out on the plains is almost always excellent.

We will meet at 8 am at Night Heron Books & Coffeehouse to carpool. Bring binoculars, a scope if you have one, and field guides. Dress for the weather and bring water and snacks. I plan to be back in Laramie by 11:45 am; if you can only join us for part of the time, be prepared to drive your own vehicle or coordinate with carpool buddies.

Birders of all levels are welcome! Our trips are free and open to the public.

Our intrepid president, Tim Banks, scoping Lake Hattie on the Plains Lakes trip 18 Oct 2014. Photo by Libby Megna.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Trip report: Laramie hotspots

Doug Eddy led a great trip to several birding hotspots around Laramie this past Saturday, September 24. Despite a light accumulation of snow overnight and chilly morning temperatures, we had a great crowd!

Doug started us off at a birding spot new to me, City Springs on the east side of town adjacent to the plains. Highlights included an Empidonax species, either Dusky or Hammond's, and nice looks at a Green-tailed Towhee and White-crowned Sparrows. See our complete checklist here.

Next stop was Greenhill Cemetery, where a flock of a couple hundred blackbirds dominated the birdlife. These were a mix of Brewer's Blackbirds, Common Grackles, and Red-winged Blackbirds. We found Orange-crowned, Wilson's, Townsend's, and Yellow-rumped warblers, and had a great look at a Cooper's Hawk. Our full checklist is here.

At LaBonte Park, there were quite a few waterfowl on the lake but the highlight was a Merlin. Full checklist is here. Doug finished up the hotspots tour with a stop at the Greenbelt; the birds weren't as plentiful at that location, but we were treated to a great look at a Belted Kingfisher.

Thanks all for joining us! We hope you come again. If anyone who was present would like to have the eBird checklists shared with them, just shoot me an email.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Upcoming talk: Nate Huck

On Wednesday, September 28, Nate Huck will give a talk entitled Duck diets: what they eat and why it matters. As usual, we will meet in the Berry Center; bird chat with refreshments will start at 6:30 pm, and the talk will begin at 7:00 pm.

Nate is the Migratory Game Bird Biologist for Wyoming Game and Fish. He’ll be talking about research from his graduate work at Texas A&M, studying diet composition of Northern Pintails along the Texas coast. He’ll discuss the importance of understanding winter foraging habits for key waterfowl species, and share with us some cool insights from his research. Please join us for his talk!
Northern Pintails. Photo by JM Garg, Wikimedia.