Venice Area Audubon Society



Happy New Year

Happy New Year!  We are so grateful for your participation and support in 2023 and look forward to your continuing involvement in 2024.  Venice Area Audubon accomplished a great deal this past year because of our volunteers and members; your dedication, involvement, and passion are essential to successfully nurture and preserve our wildlife and environment.  

Thank you to those who donated toward our education and conservation programs over the last year!  Because of your support, we’re able to equip our expanding education and conservation efforts with necessary materials and resources.  We’re especially grateful for donations to our Education Fund, allowing us to assist with bus transportation costs from local elementary schools to the Rookery for 1,100 to 1,200 second graders and their teachers as part of the 2nd Grade Birdwatchers Program.  Many of the schools would not be able to participate in the field trip without our help.  

With the New Year come new opportunities to be involved.  We welcome and need volunteers whether you’re here full-time, seasonally, or on vacation for ongoing and seasonal projects as well as for special events. Please read about upcoming volunteer opportunities in this edition of ChipNote as well as on our website’s Volunteer page.  If you have additional questions, please reach out via email or give us a call at 941-496-8984.

Don't miss January's Monthly Program about supporting migratory songbirds. Host Jayne Neville, founder/president of Mount Vernon Songbird Sanctuary, will teach us about the difficulties migratory birds face, rehabilitation of injured birds, and how to safely attract birds to our gardens.

The new year also means new programs and field trips! Keep an eye out for our NEW adult education programs, Birding 101 and For Adults Only. Check the Calendar frequently for updates and additions to the field trip offerings. 

May we enjoy the New Year together with good birding and many opportunities to achieve the mission of Venice Area Audubon Society: 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.  We look forward to seeing you soon in 2024!

Jean Pichler, President

Venice Audubon Center Update

As of December 21st, the Venice Audubon Center major safety repair and maintenance projects planned for 2023 have been completed:

  • Three air conditioning units replaced by Bowersox Air Conditioning and Heating
  • Replacement of non-functioning emergency lights in the hallway and Great Blue Heron Meeting Room, installation of a new emergency light in the Center entry area, and electrical panel replacement by Sunshine Electrical Services
  • Replacement of 3 commercial doors, broken door locks, and decayed wooden door frames in the Great Blue Heron Meeting Room with new doors, locks, and frames by Suncoast Commercial Door & Hardware.

If you have experience with minor drywall repair and/or door trim installation, please contact  While a few finishing beauty touches are still needed, we are grateful that the Center’s improvements allow us to use the building safely.  

A Call for Volunteers

Whether you’re a full-time resident, a seasonal visitor, or a vacationer, there are opportunities to participate in and make a difference through our Education and Conservation programs and projects as a Venice Area Audubon Society volunteer. 

Beginning in January, we need your help with:

  • Assisting with 2nd Grade Birdwatchers Program field trips at the Rookery.  During field trips to the Rookery, students are assisted in using spotting scopes, engaging in learning activities, and taking a nature hike around the pond.  Volunteers are trained to help with those activities prior to taking part in field trip assignments.  All volunteers, new and returning, are required to attend a training session either in person or virtually.  VAAS volunteers work under the supervision of VAAS instructors and with teachers from the visiting schools.  No prior teaching experience is necessary.  Contact:  Linda Soderquist,
  • Rookery Greeters.  Welcome visitors to the Rookery Pavilion during scheduled late afternoons/early evenings beginning in January, lend binoculars for visitors’ use, answer questions about the Rookery and surrounding park area, offer information about Venice Area Audubon Society.  Contact:  Jean Pichler,
  • Volunteer for Rookery Day on Saturday, February 24, 2024. Volunteers will be needed for all facets of the day including set up, clean up, parking and directional assistance, greeters, nature walk leaders, staffing information booths, etc.  Training/orientation will be provided.  What a great opportunity to meet the community and visitors alike while spreading the word about Venice Area Audubon Society!  Contact:

Please read ChipNote articles below regarding our need for Rookery Docents and Purple Martin colony volunteers.

Other opportunities to participate as a volunteer are varied and can accommodate whatever time availability you may have.  For more information, opportunities, and to sign up, see the Volunteer page on the Venice Area Audubon website.

2024 Project MartinWatch Kicking Off Soon

Venice Area Audubon Society recently received a letter from the Purple Martin Conservation Association (PMCA) thanking us for participating in their Project MartinWatch Citizen Science program. Data that we collect throughout the Purple Martin (PUMA) season at the Venice Rookery Park is shared with PMCA and used to conduct ongoing research.  Please read more about Project MartinWatch and see our colony’s five-year data on our website.

We expect to see the first returning PUMA ‘scout’ in late January. As soon as that first bird arrives, we will contact all the volunteers who participated in the project last year to assist in setting up the houses to welcome the returning flock. Once the houses are installed, we will begin to document nesting progress every five days throughout the Purple Martins’ breeding season.  Stay tuned for an e-mail inviting your continued participation.

If you are new to this project and would like to be added to our e-mail list to volunteer or to receive ongoing information throughout the breeding season, please contact Barbara Zittel at or by phone 518-522-3340.

We are anticipating another banner year. Please join us to help monitor our colony.  Your assistance is very much appreciated.  Thank you for your dedication to these beautiful birds.

With gratitude,
Barbara Zittel

Learn more

Become a Docent for the Rookery

Starting in January VAAS will have volunteer docents at the Rookery to tell visitors about the birds nesting there. This is something that we have done for many years and is part of our mission to support birds, protect the Rookery and educate the public about birds and the challenges facing them in the future. Thanks goes out to the returning volunteers who have volunteered again to be Rookery Docents.
There are a few unfilled vacancies in the Rookery Docent staffing schedule. Volunteers are asked to be docents in the morning or late afternoon for one day a week from January till mid-April. The morning shift is from 9 AM till noon and the afternoon shift starts one hour before sunset and goes till dusk.
To be a guide you do not need to be a birding expert. Training will be provided.  

If you would like to fill one of these vacancies then please contact Bill Fairbank at 941-330-6573 or


Bird Bits

Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival
January 24-28
Port Canaveral
Learn more

2024 Florida’s Birding and Photo Fest
April 24-28.
St. Augustine Beach
Learn more

Venice Area Audubon Society Birdathon
March 8-11
Details to come but start to gather your team of up to five birders. 

Upcoming Field Trips

Enjoy the new year! Why not go on some VAAS field trips and greet our feathered friends! The following field trips are scheduled for January & February. Our thanks go out to all those hosting field trips.

Celery Fields & Ackerman Park - Jan 2
Grand Lake at Wellen Park - Jan 10
Carlton Reserve - Jan 17
Babcock Webb WMA - Jan 23
Archbold Research Station - Jan 30

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

Sign up now

Christmas Bird Count Topline Report

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.

Read more

With Gratitude

Thank you to Eric and Debbie Jones for their recent donation in honor of Tom and Marby Senker as well as the rest of our wonderful December donors!

Venice Area Audubon Society serves the Venice area community through donations for operating costs and to support our education and conservation programs.  Learn more about supporting VAAS with donation. 

From the Archives

The binocular classes at the schools are ever popular.  One day we had all the binoculars directed at some interesting mating activity of some house sparrows. We quickly had to change focus as one student asked, “What’s going on there?”

This program would never be as successful without the dedication, knowledge, and enthusiasm of the volunteers.  The reward is not money, but the joy and light in the eyes of children seeing and learning about birds and appreciating nature in a new way.

“Wings & Things” newsletter, Grade School Education Program Ends Successful Year, May 1999.

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