Monday, December 11, 2017

Laramie Christmas Bird Count

Christmas Bird Count season is upon us! A CBC is a great way to get out and socialize with other birders while collecting valuable data, and is fun for both veteran and novice birders. Check out Audubon's CBC site to learn more about how the CBC works and to explore data from past counts.

The 40th annual Laramie CBC will be held on Saturday, December 16. Shay Howlin is the compiler for the Laramie count; if you have any questions, please direct them to her at

Meet at Coal Creek Coffee downtown at 7:30 am to get your area and birding buddy assignments. Alternatively, call Shay ahead of time at 307-286-1972 for details. If you are new to CBCs, Shay can pair you with a more experienced birder--just let her know that you're interested the count but would like some help! We will meet up again at The Grounds Internet Cafe at noon to compile morning reports and regroup those who want to keep birding in the afternoon.

You 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!

Gray Jay

Board meeting

Sorry for the short notice, but we will hold a board meeting today at 5 pm in the second floor conference room of the Berry Center. Our board meetings are open to the public; if you would like to see the inner workings of LAS, feel free to attend!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Board member elections, Fall 2017

The 2017 Laramie Audubon elections are here!  We will be voting for new board members during our monthly meeting this Wednesday, November 29, at 7pm in the Berry Center auditorium on the UW campus (our normal meeting spot).  Only current LAS members can vote in these elections.

We have six members running to fill openings on our Board.  Candidates are not running against each other--please vote for each candidate based on their individual merit.

2017 Laramie Audubon prospective board members:

Laurel Armstrong started birding with her daughter in May 2016. It has been an awesome experience and LAS has played a large part in developing her love of birds. The field trips have been a great source of knowledge as well as a whole lot of fun. Her academic background is in engineering, but most of her life has been devoted to being a parent. She is excited to contribute to Laramie Audubon and the birds of Wyoming in a small way by joining the board.

Art Denison has had a lifelong interest in birds and has been an Audubon member for over 50 years.  He is a retired professor of Physics at the University of Wyoming, and was manager of a physics group at the Idaho National Laboratory and Livermore National Laboratory for 30 years.  He is a lifelong student, still auditing classes in ornithology and neurology at UW.  He regularly attends LAS field trips and meetings, and enjoys participating in the organization.  He is excited at the prospect of contributing more to the Laramie Audubon Society as a member of the board.

Paul Dougherty started birding while attending summer camp at his local Massachusetts Audubon sanctuary as a kid.  Over the years, participating in Christmas Bird Counts and Bird-a-thons helped to transform his interest in birds into an aspiration for a career in ornithology.  He is currently a PhD student at the University of Wyoming studying avian speciation.  He has enjoyed attending field trips since moving to Laramie this past fall, and is excited to continue birding with Laramie Audubon members, and expand his participation in the organization.

Sue Favret started birding while hiking, and quickly realized how much help others can be in bird identification. She joined Illinois Audubon and with them monitored bluebird boxes, worked on habitat improvement, and participated in various other Audubon activities. She can recount with joy the first personal sightings of a number of species. She’s running for the board of Laramie Audubon to give back to the birding community from which she has gained so much.

Zoe Gustafson recently moved to Rock River to work for WEST Inc as a data analyst.  She hopes to combine her passions of ornithology and statistics into a career as a Biometrician.  Since moving to Laramie, she has come on some recent fall field trips and has enjoyed learning about all the bird species in the area.  She is excited to be a part of a group in the community that promotes something that she loves—avian conservation!  She says that if elected to the board, members can count on her to work hard to make Laramie Audubon even better.

Kathy Rittle first became interested in the natural world as a child exploring her local woods and on family excursions to a Massachusetts Audubon property. She has an M.S. in Geology from University of Wyoming, and works at Trihydro assisting with assessment and remediation of former industrial sites.  She has previously served on the board of the Wyoming Children’s Museum & Nature Center and has lead youth gardening programs at both the Children’s Museum and Slade Elementary School.  Since discovering the MAPS banding station during the summer of 2016, she’s volunteered there at every opportunity.  That experience has fueled her desire to become more involved with the Laramie birding community.

Upcoming talk: Science Cafe with the Chalfoun Lab

Join the Laramie Audubon Society and the Biodiversity Institute next week, Wednesday November 29, for a Science Café featuring work by Dr. Anna Chalfoun and her lab. Chalfoun studies the effects of human disturbance on wildlife.

Brewer's sparrow nestlings begging on the Jonah Field
Photo by L. Sanders
The Science Cafe will focus on recent research by the Chalfoun Lab centered around sagebrush-obligate songbirds living on natural gas fields in western Wyoming.  It will delve into why songbirds aren't doing well near energy development, whether they are able to adjust their behaviors based on habitat quality, and what effect climate change may be playing in conjunction with energy development.  The Science Cafe will feature talks by Dr. Anna Chalfoun and two of her students: Lindsey Sanders and Tayler Scherr.

From left to right: Dr. Anna Chalfoun, Tayler Scherr,
and Lindsey Sanders.

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.

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.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Upcoming trip: Laramie Valley

This Saturday, November 11, we will take a tour of the Laramie Valley for whatever birds we can find. There should be lingering waterfowl, and 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. We should be back to Laramie around noon; 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.

White-tailed Jackrabbit

Friday, November 3, 2017

UW Beast Feast

The University of Wyoming student chapters of The Wildlife Society and American Fisheries Society are hosting their annual Beast Feast on Saturday, November 11th from 5:30 - 9 pm at the Train Depot. See the flyer below for details. This is a great, family-friendly event that supports student involvement in wildlife science and conservation in Wyoming!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Upcoming talk: Small grants updates

Please join us this coming Wednesday, October 25 for three talks by our most recent Small Grants recipients. Jesse, Courtney and Rebecca received LAS funds to help with their research and outreach efforts. See below for descriptions of their projects.

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.

Communicating Science: Lessons from the Field Surveys Podcast by Jesse Alston

Jesse will tell us about the new podcast he started with the help of an LAS outreach grant--Field Surveys.  Field Surveys is an ecology and conservation podcast that takes listeners behind the scenes of how ecology and conservation really get done.

Living on the edge: Bird diversity on a grassland/sagebrush ecotone in Thunder Basin National Grassland by Courtney Duchardt

The Thunder Basin National Grassland, situated along the transitional zone ('ecotone') between the Great Plains and sagebrush steppe, is an extremely diverse place. Shaped by disturbances including fire and black-tailed prairie dog grazing, it is home to a surprisingly diverse community of birds including greater sage-grouse, mountain plovers, burrowing owls, and lark buntings (and about 90 more!). Courtney will present a little about the natural history and species diversity of the region, as well as her own research in this amazing landscape.

State of Emergency: Reducing the impacts of natural disasters through restoration by Rebecca Upjohn

Natural events, like hurricanes and wildfires, are essential parts of most ecosystems.  As ecosystems are altered through climate change, invasive species and human intervention, the frequency and intensity of these events increases, causing exceedingly more damage to human infrastructure and vital ecosystem services and functions.  Restoration ecology plays an important role in developing methods to address these underlying issues, reverse damage to critical habitats, and reduce the impacts of future events.

Photos courtesy of Jesse, Courtney, and Rebecca.