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Serving Southwest Florida's
Peace River Basin & Charlotte Harbor



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Latest News & Articles

2014 - 2015 MEETINGS

PRAS meets monthly September - May

Our next meeting is January 15, 2015

The Peace River Audubon Society chapter is holding a general meeting on January 15, 2015 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Church on 1532 Forrest Blvd., in Port Charlotte. The public is invited.

Tony Licata will discuss the results of the 2014 PRAS Christmas Bird Count. This is a great way to hear about the many types and numbers of birds that winter here in Southwest Florida as well as the trends in population changes. The meeting will start at 7:00 PM. Doors open and refreshments will be served at 6:30 PM.

Please call Jim Knoy at 303 868 8337 for more information. We hope to see you there.


Meeting Location

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Church

1532 Forrest Nelson Boulevard, Port Charlotte

Doors open at 6:30 and the meeting begins at 7PM.


From Highway 41, drive to Forrest Nelson Blvd., then right into the church's main parking lot.

Ollie's Pond Memorial Plaque Dedication

Peace River Audubon Society recently dedicated a newly installed bench at Ollie's Pond on January 1, 2015.

A plaque on the bench reads:


This bench was installed in honor of Oliver H. Hewitt (1916 - 1999),

retired Professor of Wildlife Management at Cornell University.

An accomplished ornithologist, Ollie regarded this pond 

as one of his favorite birding sites.

(Peace River Audubon Society)

Information about Oliver H. Hewitt's life can be found here.



Peace River Audubon Society's website has links to local birding hot spots.

Click here to view our hot spots.

Important Video from Audubon Florida

Tips for Successful Wildlife Photography


As you know, breeding season gets off to an early start in Florida—and where there are adult birds in showy breeding plumage and adorable chicks clamoring to be fed, wildlife photographers are sure to follow. While many of us enjoy glimpses into the secret lives of birds, we don't often think about the ecological risks involved in taking wildlife photos.

Each year, Audubon biologists, wardens, and volunteers spend countless hours educating photographers who have approached nesting birds on our sanctuaries too closely—disrupting their natural behaviors and threatening the birds' health and the safety of their chicks. Many photographers just don't realize what the impacts can be…and unfortunately a small, harmful minority care more about killer photographs than the birds.

Audubon Florida has recently made several short outreach videos.  The most recent one (the third in the series) presents some important guidelines for wildlife photographers.  As more and more people enjoy the ease and immediate gratification of digital photography it is important to set boundaries to protect the birds. 

Please take a moment to watch this new video from Audubon Florida: http://youtu.be/aIAfP12jTNQ .

The Amazing Life of a Tiny Shorebird, Sanderling # VM0

by Bill Dunson

One of the most remarkable things that a naturalist can learn is how individual animals live their lives. We often see birds in large flocks or alone, yet we cannot know anything about them as individuals. Yet through banding programs using markers which are visible, it is possible to follow the lives of birds without capturing and damaging them, except for the initial capture. I have always opposed the capture and marking of birds unless there is a very specific need for the information which justifies the adverse impact of the capture process. However there is a very strong justification for marking shorebirds which are often undergoing population declines. If we know exactly where they spend their time, there is a greater likelihood of success in protecting these habitats.

On Christmas day I was out doing what I enjoy most, hiking and observing nature, specifically on the beach at Knight/Palm Island. Over a two hour period I observed about 640 individuals of 34 species of birds, feeding and resting along the shore. One of the most interesting observations I made was finding a banded sanderling, a small shorebird about 8 inches long and weighing only 2 ounces. You will see in the photos I took that there was a metal band on the lower right leg and a green flag engraved with a code, VM0, on the upper right leg. The bird was healthy and feeding in the surf zone as is their habit. Since I was fortunate enough to get a decent photo of the flag, I was able to enter the information into a web site ( www.bandedbirds.org ) and determine where it was originally banded and whether it had been seen since then.



To my amazement this tiny waif is at least 5 1/2 years old since it was banded originally on 5/15/2007 at Cooks Beach-North, New Jersey. It has been subsequently been re`sighted eight times in two locations during the fall, winter and spring. It apparently spends the winter on Knight Island, Florida, and migrates through Mispillion Harbor, Delaware (see map) on the way to its breeding grounds in the high Arctic. I find several aspects of this quite incredible. First that a tiny bird can live this long and survive five years of round trips between the Arctic, Delaware/New Jersey and Florida, and be spotted and identified repeatedly. The chances of this seem quite implausible yet there are photos to document three of these sightings. It is also impressive that this individual has chosen to return to the same locations during the winter and its long distance spring migration. In other words it is a "snow-bird" with a specific known location in two places. This tiny bird presumably knows the surroundings well and is able to return exactly to them year after year. We can only surmise that it also has specific breeding grounds somewhere along the coastal tundra of the high Arctic that it returns to year after year.

There are many things about nature that evoke wonder, but just thinking about this tiny shorebird surviving the many hazards of its life and completing this perilous journey up and down the eastern coast of North America leaves me absolutely amazed. There is something about knowing this bird (#VM0) personally that makes a big difference in the appreciation of its remarkable life journey and I hope will help we humans to provide better protection for these tiny specks of life. Let's be better stewards of the beaches, shores and mudflats for all of these life forms that share the planet with us.

Bill Dunson is a biologist and professor emeritus of Penn State University. He lives in the Englewood, FL area part-time, and leads walks at Wildflower Preserve and often joins our PRAS walks.





The PRAS White Bird newsletter is now electronic. Costs for printing and mailing have become too burdensome and we are doing our part to reduce unnecessary resource use when possible. Click here to get a monthly reminder of the publishing of the newsletter by signing up for our newsletter email group.

Attend Meetings and Learn

Pennington Park Wednesday Workdays

  • Did you know that the Audubon Pennington Park in Port Charlotte is maintained by PRAS?
  • Did you know that Brazilian pepper, carrotweed and air potatoes have been invading the beautiful habitat?
  • Did you know that every Wednesday at 8AM our volunteers meet to maintain the park?

Well, if the above is news to you - you're missing out on a wonderful opportunity to enjoy birding AND make a diference in our community.

If you'd like to help maintain the park, please meet at the park entrance on Wednesdays mornings at 8 AM. The entrance is off Alton between Peachland and Midway Blvds - approx. 1 1/2 miles west of Kings Highway.

PRAS College Scholarship Fund

The Peace River Audubon Society College Scholarship Fund is an endowed fund to support an advanced college undergraduate environmental studies major residing in Charlotte or Desoto Counties. Our goal for the fund is $30,000 and we are making progress with every fundraising effort to meet that goal. Once the goal is attained, the interest earned will support yearly scholarships. If you would like to donate to this fund please contact our Treasurer, Jim Comfort at 941-505-0206.

If you would like to take advantage of the tax benefits for planned giving options by leaving a legacy through a bequest in your Will or through a gift annuity in yours or someone else's memory please contact your attorney or financial advisor. Your gift will support our work while meeting your own personal needs for income, retirement planning, and tax savings.


We need your help and expertise - Get involved in PRAS today


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Site originally created 1998
by Bob Leitner and Bill Coombs
Site Redesigned by: Gregg Klowden, 1/2004

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Page last reviewed or modified:
January 31, 2015


The Peace River Audubon Society is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. Our Federal tax ID number is 59-2190872. We do not engage a professional solicitor and 100% of the funds generated by this request will be used to support our Chapter programs. Our registration number with the FDA Division of Consumer Services is SC-040701.