Sequoia Audubon Society
                              San Mateo County, California

Meeting Programs

How Do Burrowing Owls Spend Their Winter?
Speaker: Lynne Trulio
February 11, 2016
7:00 p.m.

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Much of the research on western burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia hypugaea) has focused on breeding birds in the spring and summer. How birds spend their winter has been a mystery. However, recent data from studies in Canada, the mid-west and west are beginning to shed light on this critical question. In our region, Lynne Trulio and her colleagues, Phil Higgins and Debra Chromczak, have begun a study of our local wintering burrowing owls. Lynne will summarize the literature on wintering western burrowing owls and provide preliminary data from our first year of the Santa Clara County wintering burrowing owl study.

Lynne Trulio is a full professor and the Department Chair of the Department of Environmental Studies at San Jose State University (SJSU). Dr. Trulio has been researching the ecology and recovery of the western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea) in California for over 20 years. Through her work, she educates students and professionals on the protection of this species and has worked with many agencies to manage and protect burrowing owls on their lands.

Dr. Trulio has been the Lead Scientist for the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project (2003-2008), was an American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow from 1999-2001 working with the US EPA, and most recently was the Associate Dean for the College of Social Sciences at SJSU. She received her Ph.D. in Ecology from UC, Davis and her bachelor's degree from Goucher College in Maryland.

Tracking winter owls


The Naturalist's Notebook: Tricks from the Naturalist's Tool Kit
Speaker: John (Jack) Muir Laws
March 10, 2016
7:00 p.m.

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How can you become a better observer and naturalist? Join us for an evening of drawing and journaling tricks and techniques that you can apply immediately. A journal or logbook of discoveries in nature is a ubiquitous part of a naturalist's gear, more important than binoculars or a microscope. Learn how to keep your own notebook to open the door to richer discovery, better memory, and more fun in nature. Discover key tools to help you focus your observations, organize your thoughts, enhance recall of critical details, stimulate creativity, and expand the possibilities for your adventures and discoveries in nature.

John (Jack) Muir Laws
John (Jack) Muir Laws

Naturalist, educator and artist John (Jack) Muir Laws is in love with the natural world and has lived his live sharing this passion with others. He is trained as a wildlife biologist and is a Research Associate of the California Academy of Sciences. Jack has taught nature education teacher since 1984 in California, Wyoming, and Alaska. He teaches the tools to help people develop as naturalists and stewards including, ways to improve your observation, memory and curiosity, conservation biology, natural history, scientific illustration, and field sketching all while having fun and falling more deeply in love with the world. In 2009, he received the Terwilliger Environmental Award for outstanding service in Environmental Education. He is a 2010 TogetherGreen Conservation Leadership Fellow with the National Audubon Society. He was the 2011 artist for International Migratory Bird Day. Laws has written and illustrated books about art and natural history including The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling (2016), The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds (2012), Sierra Birds: a Hiker's Guide (2004), The Laws Guide to the Sierra Nevada (2007), and The Laws Pocket Guide Set to the San Francisco Bay Area (2009). He is a regular contributor to Bay Nature magazine with his "Naturalists Notebook" column. He is the founder and host of the Bay Area Nature Journal Club, monthly free nature sketching workshops, field trips and events, connecting people with nature through art.


Garden Wild: Joining the Urban Ecological Matrix
Speaker: Ildiko Polony
April 14, 2016
7:00 p.m.

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Ildiko Polony will go over the basics of habitat gardening with native plants to attract local wildlife to your home garden, giving concrete examples of plant and animal relationships that you can help foster. She will also share some of her favorite plants found in the South Bay, their ecological, ethno-botanical and garden uses. She will illustrate how gardening for habitat connects you with minute details in your own backyard, how these details can be seen in the larger ecosystem, giving you a sense of place and timelessness. How this ultimately fosters a connection to nature that most of us have lost, or never had, and the grave importance of finding this connection in the 21st century world.

Mission Blue by Leslie Flint
Mission Blue by Leslie Flint

Ildiko has been a lifelong environmentalist. She primarily focused on advocacy for action on climate change - until she started gardening in her San Francisco backyard and discovered local wildlife. She quickly became a native plant fanatic and a habitat restoration gardener directing her environmentalism towards immersion in local ecology and its restoration while contemplating through this immersion how humans can live more harmoniously with the non-human world. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Conservation and Resource Studies, completing her thesis titled "Connecting People, Connecting Wildlife: A Bicycle Wildlife Corridor on Arguello Boulevard in San Francisco." Since graduation she has worked at Larner Seeds, a California Native Plant Seed Company, is a habitat landscaper and is currently a coordinator for Nature in the City's Backyard Native Nursery Network as well as the Nursery Manager at San Bruno Mountain Watch's Mission Blue Nursery.


De-extinction and the Vital Ecology of the Passenger Pigeon
Speaker: Ben Novak
May 12, 2016
7:00 p.m.

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In 2012 the non-profit group Revive & Restore formed with a mission to use emerging biotechnologies for 21st century conservation. New technologies can fight diseases, restore genetic diversity, remove invasive species, and even replace extinct species - a process dubbed de-extinction. In 2013 Revive & Restore announced their pilot project "The Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback", stating the extinct passenger pigeon will fly above us again in this lifetime. But what exactly does that mean? How do we bring back an extinct species? Is there a place in nature needing the bird? Ben's collaborative research over the past 3 years pursues answers to these questions, discovering some amazing new things about a largely misunderstood bird. Ben will share these new insights and other progress from the growing field of biotechnology for bird and habitat conservation.

Ben Novak

Ben J. Novak was grew up in the badlands of North Dakota, where Theodore Roosevelt was inspired as a conservationist. He earned studied Evolution & Ecology at Montana State University. Ben's passions are natural history of extinct birds and conservation. He trained in paleogenomics under Hendrik Poinar, at McMaster University. He then joined Revive & Restore taking to lead their passenger pigeon de-extinction work. The project brought him to the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he has written his master's thesis on the ecology of the passenger pigeon while coordinating multiple efforts to move de-extinction forward. His newest venture for the project involves training in avian genetic engineering at the CSIRO Animal Health Laboratory in southern Australia.

Photography Trip to Madagascar - Searching for Endemics
Speakers: Bob and Sue Cossins
June 9, 2016
7:00 p.m.

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SAS members, Bob and Sue Cossins and Larry and Eileen Kay traveled to Madagascar in October 2015.
The photography tour was booked through, Wildlife Worldwide, a British company. The tour leader, Nick Garbutt, is a professional photographer and has written or co-authored several books including Mammals of Madagascar, Madagascar Wildlife, and Chameleons.

The images you will see, taken mostly in the North East Rainforest depict the broad spectrum of animals and plants as well as the people and culture of Madagascar.

The attached photo below is of a Short-Legged Ground-Roller taken by Bob Cossins

Short-Legged Ground-Roller



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

2016 S.A.S.