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VAAS Goals and an Update

This summer, the newly elected Board of Directors developed three major goals to support Venice Area Audubon’s mission – “To promote an understanding of and interest in wildlife and the environment that supports it, and to foster the cause of conservation with emphasis on birds and their habitats”. The goals are:

  • Continue to maintain a physical presence at Audubon Rookery Park and the surrounding County properties to support the environment for birds and other wildlife, in partnership with Sarasota County departments.
  • Improve engagement with and outreach to the public throughout the Venice Area Audubon Society service area (Osprey, Nokomis, Venice, North Port).
  • Plan and present a celebration for the 60th anniversary of Venice Area Audubon Society in Spring 2025.

Accomplishing these goals depends on gathering and training more volunteers, expanding our education programs, continuing to speak and act on behalf of conservation, and further developing the diversity of our outreach in the Greater Venice area. We look forward to your participation, support and help throughout the coming year.

As a follow up to our April meeting with Sarasota County Parks and Facilities, in July we hosted Sarasota County General Services and Facilities representatives for a tour of the Audubon Center and a discussion about VAAS’s current programs and needs as well as looking to the future. It was a positive and encouraging meeting. Our Audubon Center lease with Sarasota County expires in March 2024 and, at the request of the VAAS Board of Directors, a lease extension is in development so that we will have continued use of the Center while exploring future options in partnership with the County.

Board members presented our plans to safely reopen and more fully utilize the Center this year. Besides housing administrative, small meeting, and storage space as it currently offers, the Center will also provide an all-season location for our growing youth education programs, expanding opportunities for adult programs including teacher science education training, hosting conservation workshops, and possibly extending meeting or activity space to community groups that fall within the criteria outlined in our lease agreement. Despite the building’s limitations due to its age and construction, it still offers significant benefits from which we can and should draw.

To open the building, several deferred repairs that were exacerbated by the extended closure due to Covid and Hurricane Ian damage must be addressed. The lease agreement stipulates it is VAAS’s responsibility to maintain the building in a safe and usable condition and to bear the costs of such standards during our occupancy. By the time you receive this ChipNote, with the approval of the VAAS Board of Directors and County Facilities Department, these repairs will be completed or in progress:

  • replace the air conditioning units, 
  • update the electrical panel, and
  • replace the broken exit doors in the Great Blue Heron Multi-Purpose Room. 

Our accrued funds are being used for these repairs. All work will be completed by licensed and County-approved vendors and in compliance with County permit and inspection requirements.

We’re excited to work toward safely using our “home among the oaks” again and to expand our program due to the availability of the Center. Although we don’t have a definite time for reopening yet, we’ll eventually put out a call for volunteer help to complete tasks such as replacing damaged ceiling tiles, repairing drywall, rearrang-ing supply and storage areas, and general cleaning. We do need a Florida licensed and insured contractor to do some soffit and fascia work; if you know someone you can highly recommend, please contact us at with their contact information. We appreciate all the interest in reopening the Center over the past months and your patience with the process of getting to this point and beyond.

March 2024
2nd VAAS Ecuador Trip

Toucan Barbet * Photo by Blake Musick

A second Ecuador birding trip is being offered and a limited number of spaces are now available. Dates are March 13-22, 2024 and we will visit some of the world's best birding hot spots in the Andean cloud forests surrounding the Mindo Valley. Approximate cost is just under $3000 plus air fare from Miami.

World-class Holbrook travel has arranged this special birding tour for Venice Area Audubon members. For more details, check their web page at VAAS group leader will be our own naturalist and author Eileen Gerle. To make a reservation or for more information, contact co-president Roy Musick at

Bird Bits

  • The 2023 Florida Birding & Nature Festival from October 12 to 15 at Apollo Beach offers four days of field trips, seminars, keynote speakers, and a nature expo. More information and registration are available on the Festival website:
  • Audubon Florida Assembly is back! Save the date for October 26-28, 2023 for this year’s in-person event to be held at the Sheraton Tampa Brandon Hotel. The theme is Conservation in a Changing Landscape. The event includes learning sessions, field trips and opportunities to meet and network with other Audubon members and staff from throughout Florida. Details and registration will be available at   

Birders Delights

Do you have an interesting bird sighting you’d like to share, perhaps  an unexpected visitor to your backyard, at the beach or while traveling? Have  you finally found that long sought after elusive bird? Or your tried-and-true summer bird showed up particularly early or late this season. Have you experienced the delight of introducing a bird to someone for the first time? Share your joyful sighting via email at with the  species, a general location (state, county, park, etc.) and what made this sighting notable for you. We’ll put together a list of delights for an upcoming ChipNote.

ChipNote is now an early bird!  Keep an eye on your email inbox the first day of every month for ChipNote's arrival. ChipNote can also be found on the Venice Area Audubon website. We hope this helps you more easily plan for monthly events.

Birding Field Trips 

Field trips will begin again in October when hopefully cooler weather returns.  Information and details will be posted on the VAAS website beginning in mid-September and will include updates and changes as needed due to weather, trail closures, etc.

In addition to local field trips, carpool day trips are returning to our Events calendar this year. These Birding Plus events will include special programs in addition to birding opportunities.

Plan to join us at:

  • Audubon Corkscrew Swamp (November 9)
  • Archbold Research Station (January 30, 2024)
  • Center for Birds of Prey (March 2, 2024).

Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Day Trip Details
Thursday, November 9, 2023

Our group admission includes:

  • time to bird and explore the Nature Center on your own
  • docent-guided tour along the boardwalk through a variety of habitats
  • presentation by Dr. Shawn Clem, Director of the Western Everglades Research Center to discuss some of the ongoing research projects at Corkscrew Swamp, including the Sanctuary’s Motus Wildlife Tracking station

Trip details:

  • $25 per person, maximum 40 people
  • Wheelchair and walker accessible
  • Bring your own lunch or purchase food and beverages at the Nature Store and the Café
  • Registration will allow participants who wish to arrive early to enter the Sanctuary beginning at 8:00 AM. We will organize a 7:30 departure from Venice to carpool with an ETA of 9:30 AM at the sanctuary.
  • Contact Jean Pichler at for registration link and any questions. Registration opens on October 1.

Monthly Meeting Program

September 19, 2023

Are You Bird-Smart?

6:00pm refreshments
6:30pm meeting and program  

Venice United Church of Christ, Naar Hall
620 Shamrock Blvd, Venice 

We’re looking forward to seeing you!

Venice Area Audubon Society
Board Meetings

VAAS Board of Directors meetings are open to members and the public. Board meetings begin at 1:00 PM on the second Thursday of each month, September through May (except for Wednesday, November 9) and are held at the Venice Audubon Center, 4002 S. Tamiami Trail, Venice. The next Board of Directors meeting will take place on Thursday, September 14.

We Appreciate our Members!

Sometimes members wonder what their membership dues and general donations accomplish. Along with the countless volunteer hours accumulated throughout the year, your financial support is critical to helping VAAS achieve its mission.  During the 2022-2023 year, you added to needed education and conservation funding for:

  • the 2nd Grade Birdwatchers Program in 10 local public schools, including providing need-based bus transportation for a sneakers-on-the-ground field trip experience for the children and their teachers to the Rookery Park.  In total, over 1,200 Venice-area students are reached through this program every year;
  • purchasing 50 new binoculars for use in our youth education programs;
  • materials for the Little Naturalists Program for 3- to 5-year olds;
  • free monthly education programs open to members and the public;
  • purchasing 10 new binoculars for Docents and Greeters to lend to visitors at the Rookery Park;
  • stewardship projects to protect and enhance Venice Audubon Rookery Park including habitat restoration and native plant gardens;
  • additional housing for the Purple Martin nesting colony;
  • emergency donations to wildlife rescue organizations after Hurricane Ian;
  • annual donation support for local bird and animal rescue and rehabilitation organizations
  • education and conservation materials for distribution at local environmental events and fairs, and so much more!

Your dues and donations make an impact across the board - all ages, locals and visitors alike, at the Rookery Park and far beyond the park boundaries.  We are so grateful for your support through memberships and donations and, just as importantly, through your time and talents as volunteers. Without your help, none of the projects listed above would be possible. Your generosity is an amazing gift beyond words, except to say THANK YOU again!  


It's easy with our new Affinipay secure payment system

  1. Using the camera app on your cell phone or other device, scan the QR code until the prompt “” is displayed. 
  2. Tap on the displayed prompt.  It will link you to a payment screen.
  3. Here you can pay your membership dues or donate. Please make sure to include your contact email.
  4. Click Submit Payment to finalize your payment.  A receipt will be emailed to you. 

2023 Purple Martin Breeding
Season Recap

The 2023 Purple Martin nesting season has come to an end. The three poles, with a total of 66 apartments, are still standing between the Audubon Center and the rookery, but their musical song, aerial acrobatics, and the hatchlings at their entrance holes peering out at the world, waiting for their next meal, are now just a memory.

We are hopeful that they are fulfilling their destiny and following internal drives to fly south to the Amazon rainforest in Brazil where they will stay until their return next season.

Our colony did well! In fact, all but 3 of the 66 apartments were used. The new pole that was added in February almost doubled our results when compared to last year. (See the bar graph for a visual comparison across the five-year time frame of our colony.) We had a total of 418 eggs, and 334 young, of which 283 fledged. That's quite impressive!! 

Thank you to all who participated in this adventure. Your efforts, enthusiasm and sweat (literally, the last few nest changes) are very much appreciated! You helped make this breeding season a huge success. Through your hard work we added 283 new Purple Martins to the declining population of this species. 

- Barbara Zittel, Purple Martin Project Chair 

Volunteering with VAAS

Ambassadors Needed! 

Help represent VAAS at the Alligator Creek Fest on Saturday, October 7.  We'll have a tent and table set-up with displays, information about VAAS, and hands-on activities for kids and adults alike. The event runs from 11 AM-2 PM at the South Venice Yacht Club. Help introduce people to Venice Area Audubon and our activities. Contact Jean Pichler at  

Volunteer Saturday

Would you like to help keep the Audubon Rookery Park beautiful and welcoming to birds and other wildlife? Why not volunteer to garden, landscape and restore habitat at this local ecological gem. Whether you can volunteer just once or on a regular basis, please join us for our next Volunteer Saturday session on Saturday, September 9, from 8 - 10 a.m.

We meet at the Venice Audubon Center and there is no need to sign up in advance. Just come and stay as long as you feel comfortable. We suggest you bring a water bottle, sunscreen, hat, and sturdy shoes. If you have work gloves and a rake or other garden tools, please bring them. If not, we have some to share. There will be no "hard labor," and you won't need special skills to participate. Just come, help keep our park in top shape and enjoy some fun and camaraderie with other members. Contact Roy Musick if you need more information mail to:

From the Archives

As our lead up to celebrating Venice Area Audubon's 60th anniversary in 2025, ChipNote will offer a monthly tidbit of chapter history.  

From the minutes of the newly chartered Venice Area Audubon Society's first meeting, September 27, 1965:  "Mrs. Truchot brought greetings from the Sarasota Audubon and said that 16 members from that group had helped to swell the charter membership to 38 as of September 27. She gave a check of $10 to Mrs. Thompson as the prorated balance of annual dues of members previously associated with the Sarasota branch. This will soon be augmented by a check from the National Audubon." Minutes respectfully submitted by Mrs. Nan Bergh, Temporary Secretary.

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