Venice Area Audubon Society



Photograph by Wayne Foote

Starting the new year off with a bang!

What an amazing month of January it has been on our way to welcoming February. Field trip groups enjoyed fantastic birding experiences, the Purple Martin early arrivals started to return for breeding, programs for adults and children provided very well attended learning opportunities, volunteers began preparing for our 2nd Grade Birdwatchers field trips, the Rookery birds showed off the first hatchlings of the season, and so much more.

A rousing THANK YOU to all those who have participated, visited, volunteered, and donated over the last month. It has been wonderful to meet and welcome so many members and visitors; you provide the purpose and possibilities for Venice Area Audubon Society to continue to engage in education and conservation efforts in our corner of Sarasota County and well beyond.

As fun and exciting as January was, February will be even more so. Among the upcoming highlights:

Please keep an eye on the Events Calendar and News on our website. Additional field trips, programs, and important news are updated throughout the month.

- Jean Pichler, President

Rookery Day, a free and family-friendly event on Saturday, February 24 from 9-noon, provides the Venice area community an opportunity to learn about and experience Venice Audubon Rookery Park and our organization. Guided walks around the Rookery pond, informational and educational activities for children and adults, and displays by Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources, UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, and Venice Audubon are among the highlights of the morning. In addition, Florida Native Plants Nursery & Landscaping is offering a native plant pre-sale/event pick up option.

Plan to attend AND to volunteer! It’s a great way to meet folks, share your enthusiasm  for the natural habitat around us, and take away some new information as well.

Volunteer opportunities for two-hour shifts are available online. Sign up to volunteer now!

Learn more about Rookery Day

Rookery Watch

Great Blue Heron
4 nests: 1 chick

Great Egret
6 nests: 0 chicks

Double-crested Cormorant
3 nests: 1 chick


1 nest: 0 chicks

As of January 26, 2024

The VAAS Birdathon is back, bigger and better than ever!

Please participate!  Every species identified earns money for Audubon education programs, like our award-winning 2nd and 5th-grade programs.
There are two ways to participate:
Join a Team. Each member of the team that identifies the most birds will have a once in a lifetime honor to be first listed on our new Birdathon Championship Plaque to be hung at the Venice Audubon Center for perpetuity! (Along with a free lunch at our sponsoring Venice Area restaurant.)
When:  Weekend of March 8th - 11th (your team chooses a 24 hour period to list birds)
Who: Teams consist of 2-6 birders
Where: You can go birding anywhere in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and Lee counties.
Even small teams of two or three can see a lot of birds during this most important event and each new species makes money for our education programs. Of all days to go birding this is a date that makes a difference.  
Make a Pledge. Encourage your family, friends and neighbors to make a pledge. Donors can pledge a fixed amount or a per species amount. You do not have to ask anyone for donations, (unless you are comfortable asking friends and family to support your team). Just enjoy a day in the field.

For more information or to send us your pledges and team registrations, email us at

Learn more

Volunteers needed!

We are in need of additional volunteers for the 2nd Grade Birdwatchers Program rookery field trips. School field trips began in January but we have many openings for volunteers to help with learning activities, spotting scopes and binoculars, and leading nature walks at the Rookery.

Training is required and provided, but no teaching experience is needed. Participating as a volunteer is a wonderful way to make an impact about the need for conservation with the younger generation.

Learn more about our award-winning program in local schools and sign up to volunteer.

VAAS' 2024 Purple Martin Colony Begins

On January 12th a group of Venice Audubon Area Society (VAAS) volunteers decided to set up the wooden house, officially termed T-14, (is has 14 apartments) with four gourds attached to the ‘rigging.’ We did so because of pressure from several of our members who saw Purple Martins (PUMA) all around the area and felt that our February 3rd date was too late to accommodate early arrivals. Additionally, the T-14 is a puzzlement that has to fit together in a bit of a complicated arrangement—so expertise was needed. That came with Duke Synder and Neil Milligan, while Fonda Synder, and Barbara and Bob Zittel came along as ‘also ran.’

We got the structure up in great time. No PUMAs appeared! Several days later our President, Jean Pichler, saw a hawk on top of one of the poles and called me in distress. “Perhaps this is why no Martins have shown up yet!” she said. I figured we were just a little early and they would find us soon enough. And they have.

On January 17th several volunteers reported the arrival of four Martins. We provided that information to the Purple Martin Conservation Association for their Early Scout Report. We have room for 18 pairs of breeding PUMAs in the apartments that have been erected, but we expect many more birds. So, on Saturday, February 3rd, from 9AM to Noon we will set up the remaining two 24-gourd poles. You are invited to watch or participate.

Learn more about the Purple Martin Watch on our website.

Bird Bits

Fire Fest at Carlton Reserve - February 3

Great Backyard Bird Count - February 16-19
Take part in community science from the comfort of your own yard!

Georgia Bird Fest is a month of activities from April 6-May 4.

Upcoming Field Trips

Winter is on its way out. The days are getting longer. It’s a good time to go on a field trip! The following field trips are coming up in February & March. Our thanks go out to all those hosting field trips.

Bald Eagle Field Trip - February 6
State College of Florida - February 7
Oscar Scherer State Park Bird Walk - February 8
Harns Marsh - February 13
Myakka River State Park - February 21
Lakeview Park - February 28
State College of Florida - March 6
Wildflower Preserve - March 8

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

Sign up now

Bird of the Month: Blue-headed Vireo

The Blue-headed Vireo (Vireo solitarius) is a fairly common migrant and winter resident throughout Florida. Seasonal occurrence is mainly from September to April. At an average length of 5.5” (tip of bill to tip of tail), it is half the size of a Blue Jay.  A very attractive and colorful vireo, it has a steel-blue head with bold, white “spectacles” and wing bars; olive-green back, yellow sides, and a white throat, chest and belly. Similar to most large vireos, BHVIs eat insects, including larvae. They hunt along live branches, preferentially in the interior as opposed to gleening the foliage, making observation somewhat challenging.  Listen for the unmistakable, harsh, “laughing” alarm call sung by this bird.

- Photo and information by Mike Wisensee.

The Blue-headed Vireo pictured above was sighted by Rick Cordner on “The Hill” of the Celery Fields during the VAAS January 2nd field trip.

- Pranty, B. (2014) Birds of Florida, (p. 206). New York: Scott; Nix, Inc.
- All About Birds: Blue-headed Vireo Overview

Education Fund Challenge Met

You did it! The generosity of those who attended December’s monthly program highlighting our children’s education programs earned the $500 match challenge!  We are happy to announce fundraising efforts for our dedicated Education Fund that evening totaled over $1,100!  We are grateful to all who donated to the fund and especially to our anonymous donor. 

From the Archives

"Mrs. Truchot brought with her the Busy Bee award for Mrs. Vieta from the State convention at Lehigh Acres. As Queen Bee Mrs. Vieta has a crown and sceptre adorned with bees which she is to wear with authority. Venice Area was third in new members in percentage and age of chapter. Our goal which we hope to meet by October, 1966 is 82 members."

Excerpt from the Venice Area Audubon chapter meeting minutes. January 18, 1966

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