Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Christmas Bird Count: Sunday, December 15

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 15.  This will be the 42nd 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; wolfhowlin@gmail.com).

The National Audubon Society, which coordinates the program, states that "the 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." (https://www.audubon.org/conservation/history-christmas-bird-count).  According to Wikipedia, the CBC is the old citizen science project in existence!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Natural History of the Laramie Area - Wednesday, November 20th, 7 pm

Red-flanked Bluetail (an Asian species seen on the mainland
of North America on only a handful of occasions) sighted by Cody
Porter in his backyard in Laramie. (photo by Laurel Armstrong)
Careful observation of the natural world is key to unraveling the mysteries of life.  In this presentation, Cody Porter will detail a few of the unexpected patterns he and others have observed in the avifauna of the Laramie area. 

Cody is a PhD candidate in the Program in Ecology at the University of Wyoming, where his research focuses on adaptive radiation and speciation, primarily in red crossbills.  Prior to moving to Laramie in 2014, Cody received a degree in Zoology from Michigan State University. 

Although his research is primarily on crossbills, Cody has a wide range of taxonomic interests, including everything from moths and butterflies to snakes and trees.

LAS will host bird chat and refreshments in the street-level lobby of the Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center (UW campus at the corner of 10th and Lewis Streets) beginning at 6:30 pm and Cody's talk will begin at 7 pm in the adjacent auditorium.  Please remember to allow yourself plenty of time to find a parking space - the 10th Street parking lot and adjacent on-street parking are no longer available due to construction. 

Please note, members wishing to cast paper ballots for Board, those will be available at this meeting.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Laramie Range Hike - Winter Montane Birds.

Many conifers in the Laramie Range are producing large cone crops this year, which means lots of winter birds! 

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch at a feeder on the northeast
side of Laramie (photo courtesy of Buzz Hettick)
Join us on Saturday, November 9th to look for winter montane birds on a leisurely hike in the Laramie Range.  We will meet at 8 a.m. at Night Heron Books (107 E. Ivinson Avenue) to organize carpools and procure coffee, etc. for the drive to Vedauwoo.  We will walk for a couple of miles along Vedauwoo Road in search of Red Crossbills, Clark's Nutcrackers, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and other winter birds feasting on pine seeds. 

Be sure to dress for snowy conditions and winter weather; although at this time the weather looks promising there is significant snow on the ground.  Also, please bring water, snacks, sun protection, and binoculars (if you have them).  We anticipate being back to Laramie around noon, but those with their own transportation are free to leave sooner or stay longer. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019


The topic for the October LAS evening program is Bats of Wyoming.  Join us on Wednesday, October 30th (refreshments and bird chat at 6:30 p.m., followed by the program at 7 p.m.)

Larisa Bishop-Boros, a mammalogist who has been studying threatened and endangered bats in 39 states and 3 Canadian provinces since 2008, will give a brief introduction to the bats of Wyoming: how to tell apart the different species, where you would expect to find them, and generalized life histories.  She will also describe threats to our bats, novel strategies to mitigate these threats, and surveillance techniques. 

Larisa received an M.S. degree from Missouri State University investigating the influence of weather and latitude on bat ecology and reproduction in 12 species, as well as a B.S. from the State University of New York's College of Environmental Science and Forestry comparing acoustic monitoring and echolocation identification techniques of bats.  Larisa moved to Laramie in 2014 and is employed at WEST, conducting research to mitigate bat fatalities for renewable energy development and assisting state agencies with population and white-nose syndrome monitoring.

Programs are held in the Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center auditorium (Room 138).  The Berry Center is located on the University of Wyoming campus at the corner of 10th and Lewis Streets.  Note that there is no longer a parking lot across the street from the building - parking is available on the surrounding streets.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Swallow Nest Box Work Days Postponed

Dear LAS and interested community members,
We regret that because of heavy travel schedules on the part of our nest box monitoring leaders, we will be unable to conduct our scheduled work days this fall at Hutton Lake and the Laramie Territorial Prison.
Please keep an eye out in early 2020 for information on new work days and monitoring opportunities.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Plains Lakes Field Trip

Despite the cold weather and snow, we will venture out Saturday morning (October 12th) to look for waterfowl and other migrants at the Plains Lakes.  Meet us at Night Heron Books and Coffeehouse at 8 a.m. We'll carpool around the Laramie Valley, stopping at various locales, which may include Gelatt Lake, Blake's Pond, Twin Buttes Reservoir, Lake Hattie, etc.  Bring lots of warm clothes, water, snacks, sun protection, binoculars, and perhaps some dry socks.  We plan to be back to Laramie by noon.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Greenbelt Nature BINGO Walk Summary

First, we apologize if we missed anyone this morning! The Make a Wish Foundation Tour de Wish 5K coincided with our nature walk, causing lots of confusion! Eventually we did link up with three families, parents and about 10 kids, for a brief windy walk on the Greenbelt, beginning at Optimist Park.

While birds were scarce, we did see crows riding the wind, a couple ducks that looked like northern pintails but scurried out of the brush and into the sun too quickly to be sure, and a red-tailed hawk swooping in for breakfast. Our group consulted nature BINGO cards to look for other plants and animals along the way, and we spotted raccoon tracks along the riverbank. Several participants chimed in about bird sightings in their own backyards, including white crowned sparrows, northern flickers, grackles, and both mourning and collared doves. Later Janice checked in with a photo of a painted lady butterfly- something on the BINGO list we did not expect to see today!- seen at the Kids Pumpkin Walk at the Territorial Prison, where her family went after the Greenbelt.

Thanks to everyone who braved the wind to join us. Again, we apologize for the confusion at the park, and will be sure to bring a Laramie Audubon Society poster for our next kids meet-up. We hope we didn't miss anyone, and that you'll all join us again to explore!
Photo courtesy Janice Hiller. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Nature Walk at the Greenbelt - Saturday, 10/5

Nature Walk for Kids of All Ages. Join us for a walk along the Greenbelt to see what we can find for plants, animals, and of course birds, this fall. BINGO cards for kids, with prizes. Meet in the parking lot at Optimist Park, next to the river, Saturday, October 5 at 9:00 a.m. This is a leisurely nature walk, but dress for the weather and don't forget your binos!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

9/21 Laramie Hotspots Trip Report

Cooper's Hawk (Photo courtesy of Laurel Armstrong)
Our Laramie Hotspots outing on Sept 21st, 2019 started at Greenhill Cemetery where we were surprised to see a Red-naped Sapsucker taking a bath, with quite a few Pine Siskins flitting around the birdbath as well. Other highlights were a Western Tanager, a Warbling Vireo, and a Cooper's Hawk who was chased by American Crows into a nearby tree giving us a great view.  
Rounding out the list at the cemetery were Wilson's Warblers, American Robins, Cedar Waxwings, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, a Golden-crowned Kinglet, Mountain Chickadees, a Western Wood-Pewee, a Downy Woodpecker, and Turkey Vultures soaring overhead.

The three birders then made a quick stop at LaBonte Park where we saw a Townsend's Warbler as well as Mallards, Gadwalls, American Wigeon, Ring-billed Gulls, and more Turkey Vultures.
At the Greenbelt we combined birding with trash clean-up along Laramie Audubon's sponsored
stretch. The wind had picked up considerably and bird activity was limited, but we saw a Belted Kingfisher and a few other expected species of birds (8 total) as well as a cute little salamander.  We were pleased that there was not too much trash along the way.

Monday, September 16, 2019

9/14: Hutton Lake trip report

Juvenile Bald Eagle flying over Rush Lake. Photo by Jimena Golcher-Benavides.
Ten of us enjoyed a beautiful day at Hutton Lake National Wildlife Refuge this past Saturday. However, the presence of at least 7 Bald Eagles seemed to have scared away many waterbirds, which are normally abundant at Hutton this time of year. Nevertheless, the group was treated to several highlights, including American Pipits, Virginia Rails, Baird's, Pectoral, and Least Sandpipers, and excellent looks at normally skulky Marsh Wrens. Non-bird highlights included a couple of coyotes and a few nice butterflies such as Melissa Blues, Purplish Coppers, and Painted Ladies.

Greater Yellowlegs (left) and Baird's Sandpiper (right). Photo by Jimena Golcher-Benavides.
Marsh Wren. Photo by Jimena Golcher-Benavides.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Hutton Lake Field Trip and 20th Anniversary Picnic

Join us Saturday!  In the morning we'll head to Hutton Lake, and in the afternoon we'll host a potluck picnic in Optimist Park to celebrate our 20th Anniversary!

September 14th: Hutton Lake National Wildlife Refuge.  This hotspot is just 12 miles south of Laramie.  We'll concentrate on migratory waterfowl, grassland birds, and raptors.  Hopefully there will be several spotting scopes to share.  Meet at Night Heron Books and Coffeehouse (107 Ivinson Ave.) at 8 a.m. to coordinate carpools.  We'll be back to Laramie in time for you to prepare your dish for the 20th Anniversary Picnic Celebration.

September 14th:  Optimist Park - 20th Anniversary Potluck Picnic.  Join us from 2 - 4 p.m. for a potluck picnic and activities in Optimist Park to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Laramie Audubon Society!  We'll also share information regarding earlier iterations of Audubon in Laramie.  Please try to remember your own tableware and a dish to share.  LAS will be providing some food, plus ice cream. 

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Sept. 7th Field Trip - Wyoming Hereford Ranch

Join us Saturday (9/7) as we travel to Cheyenne to visit the Wyoming Hereford Ranch, an Important Bird Area.  We'll meet at 7 a.m. at Night Heron Books and Coffeehouse (107 E. Ivinson Ave.) and carpool from there.  There is a good reason that we visit WHR each fall - we often have sightings of migrating birds that do not visit Laramie.  With the mixture of habitats on the ranch, we typically see a variety of songbirds, with a few raptors and waterfowl added to the mix.  The terrain is generally flat, with gravel roads, grassy paths, and lawns.

Remember your warm clothes (just in case), sturdy shoes, snacks, water, sun protection, and binoculars, etc.  Feel free to leave at any time if you have your own transportation.  We expect the group to return to Laramie by approximately 1 p.m. 

Saturday, August 31, 2019

8/31: Snowy Range trip report

Thirteen birders ventured out to Brooklyn Lake Rd. in the Snowy Range to look for migrants in the high elevation spruce forests. Although we didn't have great luck with migrants, the group did manage to find a handful of Wilson's Warblers, a Townsend's Warbler, and a Cordilleran Flycatcher among others. The real highlights were great looks at a flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets, an Osprey above Brooklyn Lake, a flock of three juvenile White-winged Crossbills, and a group of three incredibly cooperative Pine Grosbeaks.

Male Pine Grosbeak. Photo by Brian Waitkus.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Join Us at This Thursday's Local Market!

Join Laramie Audubon Society for our final Kids' Activity at the Thursday Local Market this Thursday, August 29, from 3-6 pm at Undine Park. We will have nature BINGO with prizes, for those who like to roam, and coloring pages for those who enjoy art.
Grown ups, we'll be available to answer your bird questions and to tell you about ways you can enjoy field trips and programs this fall!

Monday, August 26, 2019

August 31 Field Trip - Snowy Range

High elevation migrants. High elevation spruce forests in the Rockies host an impressive number of birds in early fall. Many of our local breeders (Dark-eyed Juncos, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Wilson’s Warblers, etc.) form large mixed species flocks that attract migrating species (including rarities like Tennessee and Nashville Warblers) on their journey south.
On this trip, we will venture to the high elevation forests of the Snowy Range to explore this relatively under-appreciated phenomenon. Expect to do a couple of miles of hiking on trails or dirt roads.
Meet at Night Heron Books (107 E. Ivinson Ave. in downtown Laramie) at 8 a.m. At Night Heron we'll coordinate carpools (and some of us will procure snacks/coffee!).  Make sure to bring food/water, warm clothes, rain gear, birding supplies (binoculars, etc.), sun protection, and sturdy shoes or hiking boots.  We plan to be back to Laramie around 1 pm, but those with their own transportation are free to return earlier or later. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Gap Lakes Trip Report

The vast majority of us (myself included) missed a great trip last Saturday.  Here's Brian's trip report:

On 13 July 2019 Jimena Golcher-Benavides joined Brian Waitkus during the hike to the Gap Lakes in the Snowy Range.  The unusually large amount of snow this year required walking into the area from Highway 130 doubling the normal length of the hike and could have resulted in the lower number of birds being sighted.  During the walk into the area we reviewed the calls of the Brown-capped Rosy-finch.  While at the south slope of North Gap Lake we heard one Rosy-Finch call but were unable to sight the bird.  In addition to the Rosy-finch call we recorded numerous robin and White crowned sparrow with fewer American Pipit.  One male Peregrine falcon, one male Northern harrier and two Northern flicker were also observed.  Despite the snow and the lower number of birds being observed the great weather gave us a wonderful day in the mountains.
One of the many drifts across the road leading to the Sugarloaf Recreation Area trailhead
(photo courtesy of Brian Waitkus)

Sunday, July 14, 2019

LAS returns to Thursday Local Market for Kids' Activities!

We've had a busy summer with kids activities, including nature BINGO and planting pollinator-friendly flower seedlings at Thursday Local Market in Undine Park and monitoring tree swallow nest boxes at the Wyoming Territorial Prison.

Kids of all ages are invited to join us again at the market this Thursday, July 18, from 3 to 6pm at the SE corner of Undine Park. We will have nature BINGO for those intrepid explorers who wish to roam the park looking for birds and bunnies, insects and vegetables, and more. For those who are interested in a more artistic pursuit, learn about birds of the Rocky Mountains, including our own state bird the Western Meadowlark, with coloring pages, or try your skill at finding hidden birds and their eggs in a coloring camouflage "hidden feathers" activity.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Field Trip Saturday - Snowy Range Hike

Join us on Saturday, July 13 for Laramie Audubon’s fourth annual trip to the Snowy Range to hike to the Gap Lakes with hopes of seeing Brown-capped Rosy-Finch.  We will carpool from Coal Creek Downtown, leaving at 7:30 am to the Sugarloaf Recreation Area. 
Brown-capped Rosy-Finch (courtesy of Brian Waitkus)
 This past winter was an exceptional year of snow in this area, the road into the Lewis and Libby Lakes parking area remains closed to vehicle traffic due to the eight snow drifts still crossing the road.  We will hike in from Highway 130 approximately 2.3 miles to the Gap Lakes area.  As of Monday, Libby Lake is mostly clear of ice, Lewis Lake is 60% open and South Gap lake is completely ice covered. 
The trail from the parking lot is more than 50% still covered with snow and the water in areas is running higher than normal.  It will be interesting to see the yearly weather variations of the Snowy Range and how this affects the local bird life.  The trip to the Gap could take 1.5 hours and with approximately 1 hour near north Gap Lake the total hike could take 4 hours.
Birds seen so far this summer include White-crowned Sparrows, juncos, warblers, American Pipits, and robins.  Marmots are in abundance with fewer numbers of pikas.  The snow has retarded the growth of wildflowers so could give a good show.
Bring binoculars, rain/windproof clothing and layers suitable for cold/windy weather as well as more clement conditions, sunscreen, insect repellent (was not needed this Monday), snacks/lunch, water, and hiking boots for walking on talus, wet ground, and snow. 
If you have questions, please contact the trip leader (Brian) at wildphoto1@juno.com.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Join LAS this Summer for Kids Activites at Thursday Local Market!

Laramie Audubon Society will host kids' activities from 3-6 pm at the Thursday Local Market in the SE corner of Undine Park on June 27, July 18 and August 29.

This Thursday, June 27, join us for Nature BINGO in the park. We will look for birds, including the American robin, Swainsons hawk and northern flicker, along with butterflies, squirrels, spruce trees, and other animals and plants, large and small, with prizes for BINGO. We will also have peat pots, potting soil, and pollinator friendly flower seedlings to plant. Do you know what wild bergamot, or bee balm, looks like? Bring a seedling home to plant, and find out!

Activites will vary throughout the summer, so keep your eyes open on the LAS Blogspot, and LAS and Thursday Local Market Facebook pages.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Hunting Proposal for Hutton Lake National Wildlife Refuge

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comments regarding their proposal to open Hutton Lake NWR to waterfowl hunting.  They are considering three alternatives - (1) no change to current policy (i.e., no hunting); (2) general hunt plus youth hunt (season lasting approximately from mid-September through the end of the year); or (3) youth hunt only (season limited to a single weekend in September).

The USFWS notes that the Refuge’s establishing legislation stipulates that the maximum area that can be opened to hunting is 40%.  The proposal therefore opens only 37% of the total acreage to hunting; however, that area encompasses both Hutton and Hoge Lakes.  Other than Rush Lake, most of the acreage that would remain closed to hunting is either upland habitat or has been dry for many years.  If you are interested in learning more about the proposal or commenting on the proposed alternatives, please reference the USFWS website:  https://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/huntfish.php#.  The USFWS is accepting comments through June 21. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Dawn Chorus - Birding by Ear at Happy Jack

The mountains surrounding Laramie host an exciting diversity of breeding species throughout the summer. This Saturday (May 25th), we will meet at 6 a.m. in the Laramie Mountains to focus on birding by ear: identifying our breeding species by the songs they use to defend territories and attract mates.  Possible species include Yellow-rumped Warblers, Wilson's Warblers, American Redstarts, Cordilleran Flycatchers, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thrush, Lincoln's Sparrows, and many more. We will meet at the Happy Jack parking lot at 6:00 am.  Expect to walk 1-2 miles.

The Happy Jack Recreation Area lot is the second parking area/access road on the right if you are coming from I-80 - the US Forest Service sign says "Happy Jack."   Note that the Forest Service charges a $5 fee per car to park at this location. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Hereford Ranch Field Trip (Saturday, May 4th)

We will meet at 7am at Coal Creek Coffee (downtown location: 110 E. Grand Ave.) to coordinate carpools for the drive to Cheyenne. We’ll head to one of the best birding areas in Southeast Wyoming to view spring migrants - a chance to possibly see rarities and some birds more often associated with the Eastern US.  It looks like Saturday will be a beautiful day!

If you plan to meet us there, expect us to arrive around 8:15 a.m.  Note that you may want to visit the gas station on the north side of the I-80/Campstool Road exit on the way to the Ranch, just in case the Ranch's bathrooms are closed! 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Tricky Bird ID

Join us Wednesday evening (April 24th) for our April meeting.  Arrive early for refreshments and bird chat, beginning at 6:30 p.m.  At 7 p.m. Libby Megna will teach us the fieldmarks of commonly misidentified and otherwise tricky species around Laramie. Hone your skills for spring migration! 

As usual, the April meeting will take place in the lobby and auditorium of the Berry Center, which is located on the University of Wyoming campus at the corner of 10th and Lewis Streets.  Note that there is currently limited parking in the immediate vicinity of the building due to construction.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Two Field Trips on Saturday

SAGE-GROUSE LEK.  We'll meet at 5:15 a.m. Saturday (April 20th) at the Eppson Center (1516 N. 3rd Street) to arrange carpools and then leave promptly at OR BEFORE 5:20 a.m. - not the usual LAS leisurely start!  We'll then drive to the Greater Sage-Grouse lek north of Laramie.  We've scouted the access road and are very optimistic that it will be passable on Saturday.  Please bring a spotting scope if you have one!  And binoculars.  And plenty of warm clothes!  We will return in time to join the second trip of the day (see below).

LARAMIE HOTSPOTS.  We'll meet at 8:00 a.m. at Coal Creek Coffee (Downtown location - 110 E. Grand Avenue) and then head out to some of our favorite in-town birding locations.  An easy trip for the beginning or experienced birder.  Attendees should bring their own binoculars, warm clothes, water, and snacks. 

Feel free to attend either trip - or both! 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Art Show and Field Trip

Remember that the opening reception for our art show is tomorrow (THURSDAY) evening from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Berry Center ground floor lobby (on the UW campus at the corner of 10th and Lewis Streets).  Food, conversation, and art - what great way to spend the evening!  We have work in a variety of media reflecting on the theme A Study in Biodiversity: Showcasing the Richness of Life

And then on SATURDAY morning, join us for a trip to Hutton Lake National Wildlife Refuge.  Meet at 8 a.m. at Coal Creek Coffee (110 Grand Avenue).  We will carpool from there.  Bring warm clothes!, water, snacks, binoculars and other birding equipment. 
(photo from last weekend's Plains Lakes field trip, courtesy of Laurel Armstrong)

Monday, April 1, 2019

Trip report: Plains Lakes

Despite chilly weather and frozen-over lakes, we had a good morning of birding! Jerry Johnson told me that Hattie and Twin Buttes were completely locked in ice, so we checked Blake's Pond, Meeboer Lake, and Gelatt Lake. Some of us also stopped at Sevenmile Lakes--but if you try this, be very careful as there is no public access and vehicles zoom down 230.

Embarrassingly, I haven't been birding much in Wyoming yet this year so I was hyped by the Red-winged Blackbirds and Western Meadowlarks along Pahlow Lane. Blake's Pond was almost frozen over, but we were treated to great looks at Bald Eagles and Mountain Bluebirds. A few Killdeer huddled in the snow at the edge of the pond. Click here for our complete list.

Mountain Bluebirds. Photo by Laurel Armstrong.
Meeboer Lake hosted a few hundred waterfowl--mostly Redheads and American Coots, but we found a few other species mixed in. The highlight was a Horned Grebe. Click here for our complete list.

As an added bonus, a herd of white-tailed jackrabbits were hanging with the cows along the road to Meeboer.

Photo by Laurel Armstrong.

However, the most exciting birds of the morning--in my opinion--were at Gelatt Lake. As we drove up, a Bald Eagle kicked up the gull flock and it was easy to pick out a Lesser Black-backed Gull! Ultimately, we were treated to five gull species. See our complete list here.

American White Pelicans. Photo by Laurel Armstrong.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Saturday Trip - Plains Lakes

THE PLAINS LAKES TRIP is still scheduled for Saturday morning - meet at Coal Creek Coffee (110 E. Grand Avenue) at 8 a.m.  Bring lots of warm clothes and warm footwear, as well as snacks, water, binoculars, and, if possible, a spotting scope (don't worry if you don't have one, I don't either and other people generally share!).  We plan to be back to town by 1 pm, although people should feel free to return earlier if they have their own transportation. 

Originally, we also had scheduled a trip to the Greater Sage-Grouse Lek for Saturday morning (earlier than the Plains Lakes trip) - THE LEK TRIP HAS BEEN CANCELLED due to the condition of the access road.  It is possible that we will reschedule the lek visit.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Eagle Banding and Raptor Research (Wednesday Evening Talk)

Wildlife biologist Mike Lockhart, formerly with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, will be giving a talk on Wednesday evening (March 27th) regarding his years afield trapping eagles and other raptors for scientific research projects.  The talk will center more on anecdotal experiences in the field rather than scientific findings, and will discuss interesting events and observed behaviors witnessed for eagles and a variety of other wildlife. 

As usual, the venue is the Berry Center Auditorium, located on the UW campus at the corner of 10th and Lewis Streets.  Arrive at 6:30 pm for birdchat and snacks or at 7 pm for the talk itself; leave yourself plenty of time to find parking - much of the formerly available parking is now obstructed by new construction.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

LAS Small Grants Spring 2019

Laramie Audubon Society Small Grants Program

DEADLINE:  April 15, 2019

In keeping with our mission, Laramie Audubon Society (LAS) will offer small grants for conservation and outreach. Conservation grants include conservation and restoration projects as well as scientific research. Outreach grants support projects that increase knowledge and appreciation for birds, other wildlife, and habitats. There are no geographic restrictions for projects, although we focus on funding projects around Wyoming and western North America. Grants will generally be awarded for no more than $500.  Grants are reviewed semi-annually. Current deadline is April 15 (note that this deviates from the usual due date of March 31).

Saturday, March 9, 2019

3/9/2019 -- tonight's owling trip cancelled

The high winds and heavy snow fall promise to make owling tonight pretty miserable and birdless, so we've decided to cancel this trip. We may try to reschedule at a later date.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Owling - Saturday Night (March 9th)

Cody (our trip leader) has been scouting the local area and determined that we will go to the Snowies this year (previous announcements indicated a different destination). We will target Northern Pygmy-Owls and Boreal Owls, though Northern Saw-whet Owls are also possible. Folks should also bring snowshoes and skis if they have them -- we may not have to use them much, but it's best to bring them just in case. Cody anticipates that we won't have to travel too far, but we could walk/snowshoe/ski up to 2 miles or so.

Please also bring binoculars, a flashlight or headlamp, lots of warm clothing!, snacks and water.  We will meet at Coal Creek Downtown (110 Grand Avenue) at 6 pm on Saturday, March 9th to arrange carpool groups.  Please consider making a purchase at Coal Creek - they support LAS via continued donations of coffee to our evening programs!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Trip report: Montane birding

It was snowing steadily in Laramie when we headed out to Albany for montane birding--perfect weather for finding winter finches! We went to the Albany Lodge to get breakfast and watch birds at their feeders.

The feeders were completely unoccupied when we first arrived. The kind staff at the lodge put out more seed--and Brian had a secret sunflower stash that he contributed as well. We waited and waited for birds to appear...but it turned out that ordering breakfast was the solution! A flock of 100+ Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches came in as soon as we stopped watching intently.

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch. Photo by Laurel Armstrong.

We were also treated to great looks at Pine Grosbeaks, Mountain and Black-capped Chickadees; solid entertainment for two hours while we reveled in delicious eggs, hashbrowns, breakfast burritos, etc.

Photo by Laurel Armstrong.

On our way out, we walked up the road a bit to check the feeders at the bright turquoise house (private property; view from the road only). The same species were present plus a hardy Song Sparrow!

Our full eBird list is here.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Trip Report - 2019 Annual Snow Tracking Trip

The 23rd of February 2019 animal snow tracking field trip to Chimney Park led by Dr. Gary Beauvais was attended by 19 individuals on skis or snowshoes.  Moose, fox/coyote, squirrel, snowshoe hare, and mouse tracks were located even though light overnight snow covered older animal tracks.  This variety of wildlife gave the group a sample of how the animals moved across the snow environment.  Gary spent the day discussing forest and winter ecology of the area including how the recent fire will alter the future forest composition.  Mountain Chickadees were heard while a brown tree creeper and hairy woodpecker were observed.  On the way traveling to and from Chimney Park a road killed mule deer was observed being fed upon by a bald eagle, a golden eagle and at least 20 ravens and 10 magpie.

Evening Program - Short-eared Owls

Wednesday evening (February 27th), Zoe Nelson will update LAS on the results of the Western Asio Flammeus Landscape Study (WAfLS).  WAfLS is a citizen science project designed to gather information to evaluate the population status of Short-eared Owls.  Such information is needed by conservation practitioners who want to design management actions that will reverse Short-eared Owl population declines.  This eight-state program engages citizen scientists to gather critical survey data, enabling a rigorous assessment of the status of the species.  Zoe is the Wyoming state coordinator for WAfLS. 

Arrive early for Bird Chat (and refreshments!) starting at 6:30 p.m. in the ground floor lobby of the Berry Center. The talk itself begins at 7 p.m. in the adjacent ground floor auditorium (Room 138). The Berry Center is located on the University of Wyoming campus at the corner of 10th and Lewis Streets. Note that the parking lot across the street from the Berry Center is no longer available, so please plan to park on the adjacent streets.    

Photo (Northern Pygmy-Owl) courtesy of Shawn Billerman.  LAS is always looking for great bird photos to use in this blog and on our Facebook page - if you have some, please let us know!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Winter Tracking Trip - Saturday, February 23rd

Gary Beauvais, Director of the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, will lead us on a snowshoe/cross-country ski trek through forest and riparian areas at Chimney Park (destination is snow-dependent) on Saturday, February 23rd. During this 11th anniversary of Gary’s field trip we’ll learn how to identify winter animal tracks and unravel the many mysterious signs that are written into the winter snow. We will also be shown/updated on the existing knowledge of the natural history of the winter environment.

We will gather at Coal Creek Coffee (downtown - 110 E. Grand Ave.) at 8 a.m. before leaving for the field trip. Expect to be back to Laramie at approximately 1 p.m. (those with their own transportation may leave at any time). Chimney Park is a USFS site and requires a $5 per carload fee for parking. Alternate/backup date in case of bad weather is March 2.

Please email us at laramie.audubon@gmail.com if you have questions about any field trips.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Evening Program: Lake Tanganyika Ecosystem

Join LAS at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, January 30th for our first evening program of 2019: Lake Tanganyika Ecosystem!
Africa's Great Lakes are renowned for their extraordinary diversity of cichlid fish. Jimena Golcher-Benavides's research focuses on how this diversity has come to be in Lake Tanganyika, Africa's inland sea. Jimena is a PhD candidate in Dr. Catherine Wagner's laboratory within the Program in Ecology at the University of Wyoming. Through her talk she will narrate her experiences working in remote Tanzanian villages and raise awareness on unique fish fauna and the fragile ecosystem that holds it.
Arrive early for Bird Chat (and refreshments!) starting at 6:30 p.m. in the ground floor lobby of the Berry Center. The talk itself begins at 7 p.m. in the adjacent ground floor auditorium (Room 138). The Berry Center is located on the University of Wyoming campus at the corner of 10th and Lewis Streets. Note that the parking lot across the street from the Berry Center is no longer available, so please plan to park on the adjacent streets. (image courtesy of Jimena Golcher-Benavides).

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Drew Pearson Arnold, 1947 - 2018

The Laramie Audubon Society was saddened to learn of the recent death of Drew Arnold.  Drew joined the LAS board in 2000, within the first year of its organization in May 1999. In 2002 Drew was elected President of LAS and after serving in this position for two years then served as Vice President through 2005. 

While giving much of his time working on the various issues that came before Laramie Audubon during these years, Drew championed, in coordination with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, access to and protection of Hutton Lake National Wildlife Refuge.  Following his service on the board, Drew continued to support LAS and, when possible, continued to bird the Laramie area. 

According to the obituary published in the Laramie Boomerang, in 1989 Drew was diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis: "In 2011, needing full time care and warmer weather, Drew made a bold move to Mexico.  While in Mexico, Drew continued to have tremendous impact on the people around him and transcended his physical limitations with a genuine faith and commitment to live life fully to the end.  He added to his life list of 1,100 birds, helped to found a Christian school and [helped] fund raise for local kids to attend, advocated for wage increases of the workers at Los Labradores (and saw their salaries double), mentored and discipled many and played host to a steady stream of visitors." 

Drew died on November 8th, 2018 in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  A full obituary has been published in the Laramie Boomerang: www.laramieboomerang.com/obituaries/drew-pearson-arnold/article_beb69307-3e71-5cbd-8dbd-08b4bf2010fb.html