Venice Area Audubon Society



Who will be next?

On national, state, and local levels, organizations such as Audubon have a long history of working to maintain, improve and create wildlife habitats in the face of environmental assaults and crises over the past century. Venice Area Audubon’s minutes and newsletters clearly articulate that this chapter’s early environmental concerns in 1965 were influenced by Rachel Carson’s seminal 1962 book, Silent Spring, which revealed to the public the devastating impact on the environment of unchecked pesticide use.

Shortly after our chapter was established, the investment in environmental education for local children began and has continued. Some examples of VAAS’ youth education work include:

  • Purchasing Audubon Adventures, a magazine subscription about nature and science, for all Venice elementary schools.
  • Enlisting VAAS members as guest speakers in schools
  • Working with science teachers to implement Audubon education resources
  • Donating resource books about birds and birding to both school and public libraries
  • Providing VAAS instructors to teach in-school lessons on birds, birdwatching, and wildlife habitats
  • Hosting entire grade levels of students for field trips to the Rookery and Shamrock Park to see and learn about local bird species and populations
  • Providing backpacks with bird watching and habitat curriculum materials to local elementary school science teachers during Covid restrictions when guest speakers and field trips weren’t possible.
  • Purchased 50 binoculars suitable for small hands to use while birdwatching

Venice Area Audubon’s investment In youth education over the years comes down to one question: Who will be next? Who will be next to take over from us, including current Venice Area Audubon Society members, nature lovers, habitat protectors, environmentalists, scientists, and policy makers? Who of the next generations will invest their time and talents in research and creative solutions to ensure a future of clean water and air, and support a thoughtful balance between wildlife and humans? We engage with our children today to create a spark that we hope will become a passionate flame of action as these youngsters make their own life choices in the future.

Our December 19th program night, Back to School: VAAS's 2nd Grade Birdwatchers Program presented by Linda Soderquist, will highlight Venice Area Audubon Society’s current youth education programs, particularly the 2nd Grade Birdwatchers Program. You’ll learn about the experiences that local elementary school children engage in when VAAS instructors and volunteers respond to the question, who will be next? And, quite frankly, we’re also hoping for your support.

It costs about $10 per student for us to deliver two class periods of in-school environmental education instruction and bus transportation for a field trip. Our instructors and volunteers provide hands-on education experiences at schools and during those field trips for 1,100 to 1,200 students and their teachers from 10 to 12 area elementary schools every spring. When requested by the schools that don’t have the financial means to fully pay for bus transportation, we help provide funding for buses. Our instructors and volunteers modify the field trip experience for students with mobility or learning differences. We believe experiencing the Rookery field trip is important enough to do whatever we can for the children in our schools.

We’re educating our local children not just for now, but as an investment in the future, hoping they are the ones who will be next to care for the environment that we work to protect today. Please join us on December 19th to learn more. In the meantime, our website has information on how you can support our education programs. Venice Area Audubon Society and our local children need your help to keep these programs active.

Jean Pichler, President

Board update

Roy Musick requested to step down as VAAS Co-president effective October 31 and to remain on the Board of Directors as a general Director due to a change in his availability. The Board of Directors honored Roy’s request and is grateful for his continuing service and experience on the Board.

Bailey Cleveland accepted an appointment to the Board of Directors to fill a vacant Director’s position. Bailey’s primary responsibilities will include maintaining the Pollinator Garden and native plants as well as serving as a liaison between the Board and Sarasota County Parks personnel. As outlined in the bylaws, Bailey will serve as an appointee until the April 2024 Board election.

All are welcome for field trips

Venice Audubon offers a series of field trips during the winter season. Each location is carefully selected for a quality birding experience in a variety of habitats and bird species that you will discover. The trips are well organized with a field trip host to assist in the details of each bird walk and on-site preparations.

VAAS field trips are completely open to birders of any ability with an emphasis on making sure everyone has opportunities to find and enjoy bird sightings. Often there are more experienced birders available to assist with locating and identifying the many species encountered on our bird walks.

There are many reasons to join in on a Venice Audubon field trip, but one especially of interest to those new to the area is that you may learn of the rich heritage of birding locations in Sarasota County as well as other nearby parks and preserves. However, the very best reason may be joining the joyful flock of like-minded birders doing what they love most…birding!

Tom Litteral, Field Trip Leader

Upcoming field trips

The Christmas Bird Count is coming up on the 17th of December. Why not go out on some field trips to get familiar again with the local birds before participating in the count? If you have not participated in the count and would like to please contact count leader Bob Clark.

The following field trips are coming up in December. Our thanks go out to all those hosting field trips.

Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park - Saturday, December 2

Old Myakka Bridge/Crowley Museum - Friday, December 8

State College of Florida - Friday, December 15

2023 Christmas Bird Count - Sunday, December 17

Ollie’s Pond - Friday, December 22

Deer Prairie Creek Preserve (South) - Friday, December 29

Please consult the Field Trip page on our website for trip timing and other details. There are sometimes changes in trip timing or additional trips may be added.

Most local field trips will take about 2 to 3 hours. It is recommended that you wear sturdy walking shoes for the field trips, and put on sunscreen and bring along water and any snacks you need. And don’t forget to bring your binoculars.

VAAS is currently putting together the field trip program for January through April 2024. Please contact Bill Fairbank,, if you have any suggestions for field trips or would like to host a field trip. Training for hosting a field trip will be provided. You do not need to be an expert birder to be a trip host.

You can count birds in your backyard for the Christmas Bird Count

Our local Christmas Bird Count is scheduled for Sunday, December 17th, and while the teams are all set, there is still a way for you to help with the count if you would still like to participate. Just take time on count day to count the birds in your own backyard!

Here is how to participate:

1. Check the Venice/Englewood Circle map and determine if your home is within the counting circle. When in doubt, count!

2. On December 17 (only), keep track of any birds that come to your yard. You can count all day, and if you hear owls into the night, count them as well. Base your count for each species on the largest number of birds you see of that species at one time, as we are trying to gauge estimated total birds, not total trips of one bird to a feeder!

3. If you don’t have a bird book handy or need more help with identification, you can go online to an app like the Audubon bird guide, see pictures and also hear various calls to help you with your identification. You can also use the Merlin app to record and identify calls. Both apps are free.

4. If you have any sightings of a bird you think might be particularly unusual, taking a picture will help with our documentation. Save the photos and take a few notes on the bird, its color, size and behavior. If, after checking your submitted list, we think more documentation will be needed, we will be in touch to ask for more detail and any photos.

5. When you have concluded your viewing, within the next day, just email your list to Bob Clark at Include your name, your address, a list of the birds you saw—including the estimated number of each species—and note the estimated amount of time you spent viewing just in your yard.

Each year we have more than 100 volunteers out in our area, but they can’t be everywhere. While they may run by your neighborhood, they won’t be able to find every last bird, especially those in backyards. Your participation can make a big difference!

Learn more

Bird Bits

Everglades Birding Festival
January 11-15, 2024
View details.

25th Birding and Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival
January 24-28, 2024
View details

VAAS Archbold Research Station BirdingPlus Field Trip
Tuesday, January 30
Cost is $25 per person. Space is limited and registration is required for this event.
View details

Venice Area Audubon Society Birdathon is back!
Pencil in the weekend of March 8-11 on your 2024 calendar for this fun birding event. Details TBD.

Save your stamps

'Tis the perfect season to collect cancelled postage stamps to benefit Venice Area Audubon Society. Stamps saved by Venice Area Audubon members are given to the Venice Stamp Club for sale and VAAS receives a donation in return. It's easy! Simply cut or tear around the stamp, leaving a little envelope space around the stamp. Collectable stamps must be physical stamps with a cancellation mark, not meter printed postage. Stamps of any denomination, size, design and nation are accepted.

Bring your stamps to any monthly program night or send them to VAAS, P.O. Box 1381, Venice, FL 34284. We're grateful to VAAS member and Venice Stamp Club President Frank Blum for this ongoing fundraiser.

From the Archives

In Mrs. Vieta’s talk on the bald eagle she explained how this river to bay pollution has filled fish with DDT. Since eagles are fisheaters they have found traces of DDT in eggs that have not hatched. Another vicious cycle. Anyone knowing of or seeing an active eagle’s nest should report it to the bald eagle chairman and/or the bird recorder.

Mr. Allan Crowley, area superintendent of State Parks and a prominent Conservation figure, gave a most interested illustrated talk on conservation and food chains, stressing man’s interdependence with wild life. He concluded his talk with slides, taken for the most part in Myakka State Park, showing its beauties and its wild life. He spoke with great simplicity and humor, but no one could miss the underlying plea for conservation in all its varied forms.

Excerpt from the October 25, 1965 General Meeting minutes submitted by Nan Bergh, Secretary

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