Sequoia Audubon Society
                              San Mateo County, California

Meeting Programs

SAS on Vacation

Just a reminder – There will be no general meetings in the months of July and August, but field trips are ongoing. We will return with our September 11th general meeting. Have a great summer!

San Mateo Seabirding - A world class spot!
Speaker: Alvaro Jaramillo
Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014 7:00pm

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Salvin's Albatross
Salvin's Albatross ©Alvaro Jaramillo

There are birds that live on the ocean, but only some get full-fledged membership as "seabirds." Usually this term is restricted to the birds that are offshore, not the ones you can see from the beach. They range from shearwaters, albatrosses, to auklets, puffins, phalaropes and even some ocean going gulls and terns.

My aim is to give an introduction to the various seabirds, but also to demystify them. Birds that come to land only when they have to breed are not birds you encounter all that often, and their sea going life is mysterious but we do know something about their lifestyle, what they eat, where they are coming from and where they are going and most importantly why they are in the offshore waters of San Mateo. Just like there are many habitats on land, the ocean also has many different habitats. Even on a single pelagic trip into our waters you go through different zones, each as different as coastal chaparral is from redwood forests, but in the marine sense.

Salvin's Albatross
Salvin's Albatross ©Alvaro Jaramillo

Key is that the waters right offshore are amongst the most productive parts of the ocean in the entire world. You may not think of it that way, but it is like having an amazon forest right in our backyard. The abundance and diversity of ocean life, including the birds is only found in a few key spots elsewhere on earth. We are blessed with a great oceanic backyard!

Part of this talk will explain some of the important aspects that make our oceans amazing for birds, as well as a few ways to see and understand the different habitats that are out there. The more we know, the more we appreciate things, and I hope I can get you on the way to appreciating what is one of the most important birding areas not only of our county, but our continent - the waters of the California Current.

Birds and Buddhism in the Land of the Thunder Dragon.
A Natural History Adventure in the Mountain Kingdom of Bhutan

Speakers: Allan Ridley & Helen McKenna-Ridley
Thursday, October 9, 2014 7:00pm

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In April 2008 Allan Ridley and Helen McKenna-Ridley enjoyed a three-week exploration of the mountain kingdom of Bhutan. Their presentation highlights the beautiful mountain habitats of this isolated Himalayan country and the exciting wildlife they were fortunate to observe and photograph. They will discuss and illustrate the historic importance of Buddhism in Bhutan for preservation of habitat and wildlife. The contemporary economic situation of the people of Bhutan will be considered, finding hope for the future of this new democracy, in its stable social values, education of the young and careful development of eco-tourism.

Allan Ridley, MS, taught biology and ornithology at the Urban School of San Francisco. Helen McKenna-Ridley, MS, taught biology at George Washington High School and was Principal of Raoul Wallenberg High School. Together they have traveled widely and have led birding and natural history trips to Costa Rica, Ecuador, New Zealand and Australia. On the first Sunday of each month they lead a bird walk through the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park.

(This special Wednesday meeting is in lieu of the normal SAS monthly meeting in San Mateo.)

The Echoes of their Wings: The Life and Legacy of the Passenger Pigeon
Speaker: Joel Greenberg
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 8:00pm (refreshments at 7:30pm)

Place: (link to location on Google maps)
Cubberley Community Center, Room H1
4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto

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Audubon: Passenger PigeonsThanks to the generosity of SCVAS contributing half of the expenses for this special program, we are excited to present, Joel Greenberg, author and researcher who works at the Chicago Academy of Sciences. Joel Greenberg explores the story of the Passenger Pigeon and highlights the important lessons that it presents to those of us in the 21st century. The Passenger Pigeon was unlike any other bird. It probably numbered in the billions, making it the most abundant bird in North America if not the world. But this huge population was neither evenly distributed across the landscape nor was it any way cryptic: the species often formed aggregations so vast they are difficult for us to imagine. John James Audubon described a flight that darkened the sky for three days, and a nesting in 1871 spread across 850 square miles of central Wisconsin. A single flight around 1860 probably exceeded a billion birds and maybe as many as three billion. Exploitation for food and recreation destroyed the species in the wild by the first few years of the twentieth century. On September 1, 1914, Martha, the last of the species, died in the Cincinnati Zoo.

Joel Greenberg has over 25 years experience working on natural resource related issues in the Midwest. He has authored four books including Of Prairie, Woods, and Waters: Two Centuries of Chicago Nature Writing (2008, University of Chicago Press.), A Natural History of the Chicago Region (2002, University of Chicago Press) and the forth just published in January 2014, A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon's Flight to Extinction. For the past four years he has been a leader in Project Passenger Pigeon which aims to mark the anniversary of the species' extinction. He co-produced with director David Mrazek the documentary, "From Billions to None: The Passenger Pigeon's Flight to Extinction" that will be aired on a variety of PBS affiliates this fall. Joel's book will be available for sale at the meeting.

note The programs for additional meetings will be posted when available. (Topics subject to change.)

2014 S.A.S.