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  • Sunday, March 31, 2024 1:17 AM | Cynthia Woodard (Administrator)
    This is the fifth year that the Venice Area Audubon Society has been ‘landlords’ of a Purple Martin colony of 66 apartments. Purple Martins are completely dependent upon humans for their housing and thus survival!

    We waited patiently for them to return from their winter stays in the Amazon region of Brazil. They worried us when their arrival was about two weeks later than last year. And because of that, their egg laying has also been later than expected. Ten days ago, one couple finally laid their first egg! Then, five days ago we had over 20 eggs and on March twenty-fifth we found 96 eggs.  Last year we had over 300 eggs, so we are well on our way to perhaps even higher numbers.

    Children in our Youth Education Program assist us, when schedules overlap, in cranking the poles down and up and counting the number of eggs for our citizen scientist data count


    To our utter surprise, however, on March 25 we found a Corn Snake in one of the wooden apartments. That apartment had had 6 eggs in it the week before and was now empty. We took out the snake and brought it to the edge of the pond, where hopefully, it will find other food than omelets! 

    We perform nest checks every five days at 11 AM. Future dates are scheduled for April 4, 9, 14, 19, 24 and 29. You are invited to join us!

    - Barbara Zittel

  • Sunday, March 31, 2024 1:01 AM | Cynthia Woodard (Administrator)

    The results are in!  Many thanks to the six teams that participated in the Birdathon fundraiser for a weekend of great birding and outstanding fundraising in early March.  An incredible 193 unique species were identified by the six teams!  This year’s teams and captains were:

    • Chirp Scouts – Kylie Wilson, Team Captain
    • Clark’s Nutcrackers – Bob Clark, Team Captain
    • Fowl Feathered Friends – Eary Warren, Team Captain
    • Laughing Gals – Jean Pichler, Team Captain
    • The Missing Godwits - Jack Foard, Team Captain
    • Venetian Vireos – Diana Watters, Team Captain

    Congratulations to Fowl Feathered Friends, who won bragging rights for 2024 by identifying 167 species!  Coming in 2nd was The Missing Godwits, followed by Clark’s Nutcrackers.  

    Fowl Feathered Friends

    Our fundraising goal for the event was a lofty $5,000.  Thanks to the generosity of all who donated and made per species pledges, the total amount raised was an incredible $6,467.54!  The top fundraising team was Clark’s Nutcrackers with a total of $1,888.75.  We’re so grateful for the support of the 32 birders and the many donors who made the event successful. 

    Clark's Nutcrackers

    The real winners, though, are the local students in the 2nd Grade Birdwatchers Program.  Venice Area Audubon provides grants for bus transportation to Title 1 schools that request financial assistance to ensure that all children have the opportunity to experience the Rookery field trip.  This year’s bus transportation grants will be able to fulfill all this year’s requests with the addition of the Birdathon monies to our Education Fund.  

    View the list of species identified by all teams.

    Rick Cordner,
    Venice Area Audubon Birdathon Coordinator

  • Wednesday, January 17, 2024 10:37 AM | Jean Pichler (Administrator)

    We're happy to announce Florida Native Plants Nursery & Landscaping in Sarasota is participating in Rookery Day on February 24, 2024.  While they will have a limited selection of plants available for sale at Rookery Day, pre-orders are available and encouraged for pick up at the event.

    To pre-order plants from Florida Native Plants Nursery & Landscaping:

    1. Check their plants list and shop the pages of Florida Native Plants Nursery & Landscaping's website:
    2. Place your order via email to
    3. In your email, remember to indicate you will pick up your plants during Venice Area Audubon's Rookery Day event.

    The native plant sale and order pick up is available from 9-noon on Saturday, February 24, 2024.

    Happy planting! 

  • Sunday, January 14, 2024 4:47 PM | Cynthia Woodard (Administrator)

    Venice Area Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count was featured on ABC 7. Watch the report!

  • Monday, January 08, 2024 4:34 PM | Jean Pichler (Administrator)

    Great Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Egret, and Anhinga are once again claiming territories and building nests at the Venice Audubon Park Rookery.  It's an annual ritual and a welcome sight for Venice residents and visitors alike.  Just as the birds seem to arrive in more numbers daily, so do the visitors to get a close up view of these magnificent species.  

    We never really know what to expect during breeding season but generally about 100 nests of various species are counted on the rookery island and in trees and foliage along the perimeter of the pond.  In addition to the species listed previously, Black-crowned Night Heron, Tri-colored Heron, Little Blue Heron, Common Gallinule, and Green Heron are among the wading birds likely to be spotted nesting, roosting, or feeding at the pond.   

    There are plenty of other birds to be seen and heard throughout the park grounds, including several species of woodpeckers and warblers, Loggerhead Shrikes, Killdeer, Blue Jays, and of course mockingbirds to  name a few.  In late January we begin to anticipate the return of Purple Martins from their winters in South America.  Volunteers will erect 66 cavity houses to provide nests for these long-distance travelers and soon their aerial flight and vocalizations will be heard throughout the day.

    In short, this is a great time to plan your next visit to the Venice rookery.  Every day brings more to see and experience.  Dusk signals the arrival of hundreds of birds as they settle onto island perches for the night.  It's loud.  It's a bit competitive. And it's fun to watch.  The morning fly-out after dawn is awe-inspiring as Great Egrets, White Ibis, and others depart for a day of foraging in local ponds and neighborhoods.

    A visit now provides entertaining views of courtship and nest-building  as birds fly in with sticks and nest sites are defended, mating behaviors are flaunted, and pairs meet up.  In the next month to six weeks, nesting activity increases, while early hatchlings will emerge and soon become the center of attention as they grow rapidly into their version of adolescence.  

    Come for a visit any day. Venice Audubon Rookery Park is open daily from dawn to dusk.  The views just keep getting better and more entertaining!

  • Saturday, December 30, 2023 8:55 PM | Cynthia Woodard (Administrator)

    Dennis Main really wanted to find a Sedge Wren for the count. Maybe next year!

    Preliminary results indicate that both birds and birders withstood the elements well this year, with the 2023 Venice-Englewood Christmas Bird Count resulting in identification of 140 species, second highest total ever (143 in 2020), and a total of 18,608 birds, down only hundreds from last year's total count.

    Top species: Common Grackle (2147), Tree Swallow (1462), White Ibis (1311) and Mourning Dove (979).

    Rare birds now in review: Short-tailed Hawk, Bonaparte's Gull, Orange-crowned Warbler, Lark Sparrow and Pomarine Jaeger.

    "Onsies" - single bird sightings: Muscovy Duck, Mallard Duck, Reddish Egret, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Short-tailed Hawk, Sora, Semipalmated Plover, Greater Yellowlegs, Great Horned Owl, Merlin, Brown Thrasher, Orange-crowned Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Lark Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Pomarine Jaeger.

    We aren't in it for a competition among teams, especially since some areas are more promising for seeing a diversity of species than others. It's always fun, however, to note teams that had the highest number of species. Nancy Edmondson's team topped them all with 80 species, closely followed by Deb Johnson's team with 78. These two teams have a history of excelling at the count, and it should be noted that Nancy is our longest-running volunteer, with more than 25 years of service to our local CBC.

    We will await Florida compiler approval on our rare bird sitings before submitting our final tallies, but again, this was a very good year for the count! Special thanks to all of the area leaders, to Rick Cordner for his compilation work, to Tom Litteral for handling rare bird entries, Eileen Gerle for backyard birding, and for Jean Pichler single-handedly taking on hosting our after-count gathering at the Center.

    - Bob Clark, Venice-Englewood  Circle Christmas Bird Count Coordinator

  • Sunday, November 12, 2023 10:23 PM | Jean Pichler (Administrator)

    Many of our members and visitors to the Venice area have visited the Sarasota Audubon Nature Center and the Celery Fields in Sarasota to enjoy birding, wildlife viewing, and the overall ambiance of the Celery Fields that have been beautifully and thoughtfully transformed from agriculture to a wildlife-sustaining habitat.  Venice Area Audubon Society schedules field trips to the Celery Fields every year to observe an amazing diversity of bird species that utilize the wetlands, riparian buffers, and gardens throughout the year. Sarasota Audubon, Sarasota County Stormwater Management, and many other organizations and individuals have invested heavily and worked diligently for years to reclaim the area for wildlife and birds, which is now at risk due to impending development.  

    Celery Fields field trip

    A Texas developer, D.R. Horton, recently submitted a re-zoning permit to the Sarasota County Planning Commission to allow construction of a high-density neighborhood on the Smith Farm property, directly across Raymond Road from the Celery Fields.  The impact on birds and wildlife will undoubtedly be felt immediately due to habitat loss, landscape changes and increased traffic during construction and, unless adjustments are made to the proposed high density plan, the impact will continue to have a detrimental effect into the future.

    Sarasota Audubon Society has done an excellent job articulating not only their concerns and position but also offering options for balancing development with existing and future wildlife areas.  The Board of Directors of Venice Area Audubon Society unanimously:

    • endorses Sarasota Audubon Society's position that a high-density development is not appropriate for the Smith Farm site.  
    • commends Sarasota Audubon for proposing thoughtful options for consideration to create a lower-density neighborhood that maintains the integrity and investment made in the Celery Fields in a well-balanced manner, appropriate for both wildlife and people.  
    • urges our members and other concerned citizens, whether residents of Sarasota County or not, to take action to express their concerns to the Sarasota County Commissioners regarding this high-density permit application (Rezone Petition 23-30).  

    Please utilize the attached resource provided by Sarasota Audubon Society for taking action:

    For information on Sarasota Audubon Society's position:

  • Wednesday, November 01, 2023 9:40 AM | Jean Pichler (Administrator)

    Venice Area Audubon Society is the featured display at the William H. Jervey, Jr. Venice Library on Venice Island for the month of November.  The display is located in the entry hall on both sides of the permanent Walter Farley exhibit.   

    Featured are elements of our chapter's history, including minutes from the first meeting in 1965 and the first newsletter in 1972.  Also included are a Purple Martin display, for which Venice Area Audubon is a colony landlord, and our three Audubon Florida award winning education programs for children.  A beautiful Florida Scrub Jay painting by VAAS Board member, educator, and artist Linda Soderquist and a Great Blue Heron chick print by conservation photographer and writer Mary Lundeberg are also on display.  

    Stop by the library located at 300 S. Nokomis Ave, Venice this month to take a look.  The display is available during library hours from November 1 to November 30.

  • Sunday, October 29, 2023 12:02 AM | Cynthia Woodard (Administrator)

    Audubon Florida’s Conservation Leadership Initiative (CLI) pairs Florida college and university students with Audubon chapters throughout the state to provide an experiential learning opportunity through Audubon activities, intergenerational mentorship, and networking.

    Venice Area Audubon is pleased to welcome CLI student Colin Jefferis, a third year Environmental Studies major at New College of Florida who has been paired with mentor Jean Pichler until May 2024. During this year, Colin will attend some of our meetings and events and will also develop a project of his choosing that enhances his studies. We’ll hear from Colin throughout the coming months and learn more about the perspectives of the next generation of conservationists through his experiences.

    Here's an introduction from Colin!

    My name's Colin Jefferis, I'm a 3rd year Environmental Studies student from Doylestown, Pennsylvania. I am currently studying at New College of Florida and am excited to be a part of Florida Audubon's Conservation Leadership Initiative. I am also Student Body President at New College. In high school, I found the classes I enjoyed the most were my government classes and my environmental science classes. So, I decided to combine the two and focus on Environmental Policy. I hope to continue to advocate for the environment (as the environment cannot advocate for itself) through litigation and eventually, policymaking.

    I'm currently working on a thesis project that looks at how Indigenous voices have been included and excluded in Everglades restoration efforts. With this project, I hope to find the best policy to improve our Everglades and uplift Indigenous voices. I have worked as an outdoor educator at a summer camp as well as a sustainability policy intern at the Southeast Sustainability Directors Network. I am excited to continue to learn more about the people in conservation as I work throughout the year with Venice Audubon!

    Colin and Jean

  • Saturday, October 28, 2023 11:53 PM | Cynthia Woodard (Administrator)

    Venice Area Audubon’s Little Naturalists program, developed by VAAS Board Member and environmental educator Eileen Gerle, was a big hit with the wee crowd last season.

    Audubon Florida recognized the Little Naturalists Program with the 2023 Outstanding Education Program Award at the Audubon Assembly held in late October. Congratulations to Eileen for creating this amazing education program for our local 3 to 5-year-olds!

    The Little Naturalists program begins again on Saturday, November 4. To learn more about the program and to register for the 2023-2024 sessions, please visit the program page.

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