The boreal forest is the largest piece of forested wilderness in the world. In the Americas, it stretches from Maine to Alaska and is a prominent biome in Europe and Asia. This forest is home to many different species of wildlife such as moose, warblers, and even wolves. Yet few of these species can capture the mystique as one of the most elusive animals in the world, the great gray owl.
Chase Davies loves being outdoors and she loves leading nature walks. No surprise, as she is one of the most frequent field trip leaders for the Saint Paul Audubon Society.
Chase is an ecologist with deep knowledge of the natural world and a wide range of experiences outdoors, beginning from the time she was growing up in Dayton, Ohio. “This was during WWII and there were no men around,” she says. “We lived on the edge of the city, on the edge of the school district, and there weren’t many kids around either. But there were fields and I wandered and took everything in. I was just outside most of the time.” She spent summers with a grandmother who lived in upstate New York on a lake, exploring the outdoors there by boat; and the family drove to Naples FL many years for Christmas. “We explored Marco Island and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary – a National Audubon Society sanctuary — driving around in my father’s jeep,” she recalls. Then at age 11 she went to a rustic summer camp near Rocky Mountain National Park and ended up going back every summer for nine years as a camper and then a counselor.
Birding started at age 9 when a friend of her mother’s began taking her along on Dayton Audubon Society outings. “Four rivers converge in Dayton and there are dams to control flooding. The area around the dams is fabulous birding habitat,” says Chase. “We also went out to the countryside, along the dirt roads. When the fields were flooded, they were full of water fowl and that’s when I learned to identify ducks.”
The trip that really hooked her on birds was a weekend near Sandusky Ohio. “Sandusky is on the south shore of Lake Erie, at one end of an archipelago of islands that extend to Point Pelee, Ontario, on the other side. This is where migrating birds – and many warblers – hop across the lake to Canada and further north.”
The next stop in Chase’s life was Vassar College, where she majored in Zoology. “As a freshman, I took a class that used Eugene Odum’s brand new textbook Ecology, which was a radically new approach to science. That course really set me up for knowing what I wanted to do in college and for my future interests,” says Chase. “I took an interdepartmental approach and did independent study, one time studying chickadees and another investigating conservation practices on a dairy farm.”
In pursuing work and a career, Chase realized, “I was not cut out for classroom teaching.” Eventually settling in St. Paul, she worked for the Science Museum of Minnesota teaching classes to adults and kids, and directing the Minnesota Zoological Society as the New Zoo was opening in Apple Valley. In 1994, after a substantial stint as an accountant at H.B. Fuller, Chase retired and was able to spend a year
at the Thorne Ecological Institute in Boulder, CO, where she prepared to become an interpretive naturalist for the Rocky Mountain National Park. She continues to spend “as much time as possible” in the Rockies, often now as a field trip follower.
Chase’s most meaningful birding experiences are when she is leading a group. “I enjoy watching people as they are seeing and learning new things. My goal is to help people open up a little so they are more observant using all their senses. I love to see the joy on a kid’s face looking through a scope.”
Going on a bird walk with Chase is a real pleasure but you need to catch her between travels. Most years this includes a trip to Nebraska in March to see the cranes, back to Minnesota for May, and June in the Rockies, experiencing spring in each location. This year she is going to take in spring on South San Padre Island, Texas.
“I have managed to do what I love for most of my life,” she says. “Being outdoors, learning together with other people. Everyone knows something, and the fun is in sharing what we all know. I call it cooperative learning.”
So I know this is somewhat off-topic (and you are probably all sick of reading about COVID-19), so admin please delete if inappropriate. But in my non-birding day job I’m a physician, bracing for the ramping up of COVID cases and the horrifying specter of lives lost to this disease.
It’s become abundantly clear that this is a disease that needs to be beaten on the public health front, not at the bedside. As a member of a wonderful, vibrant birding community, with many birders “of a certain age”. I feel the need to speak up a bit about our responsibilities to each other and to the country as a whole.
As we’ve all heard, social distancing is key, and birding can be a wonderful form of social distancing. However, it’s not social distancing when you are riding in the car with other birders who don’t live with you. It’s not social distancing when you are clustering in groups, and certainly not when you are sharing optics such as scopes. Anyone of us can be exposed to the virus through asymptomatic friends, so to restrict yourself to hanging out with people who have no symptoms is not enough.
Since this began, I have gone birding once with another person. We met at the site, having come in separate cars. We kept 6 feet distance between us at all times, and did not share any optics. If you are not following procedures like that, you’re not social distancing. It’s also obviously important at more popular sites to avoid touching handrails that other people could be touching, as the virus can live on surfaces for up to three to five days. Frequent handwashing and use of at least 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer is also crucial.
It discourages me when I look on eBird and see multiple people reporting the same group checklist from a site. Maybe I am wrong, and they are all arriving in separate cars and keeping distance between themselves, but I doubt that’s the case. We are at a tipping point in this crisis, and as an educated and caring group we need to commit to doing everything we can to stop COVID-19. If we lose one member of our birding community because of this virus, it will be a tragedy. Make no mistake, if we do not change our behavior, that is near certain.
I am happy to answer anyone’s questions to the best of my ability. I’m in frequent contact with Cape Cod Healthcare’s COVID-19 response team, keeping up with all of the latest on testing and management of cases.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me anytime. I’m also on FB and can be messaged there.
Thank you for reading,
Peter Crosson, MD
West Barnstable, MA
The Saint Paul Audubon Society Annual Meeting is on May 9 at 7:00 p.m. for the purpose of elections of Board Members and Officers. It precedes the evening program.
In accordance with procedures used by most nonprofits, the SPAS Board voted at the February 2019 Board meeting to change the approval process of the annual budget. The proposed Fiscal Year Budget is to be posted for information and comment on the SPAS website starting April 1 of each year for at least 28 days, after which time the Board will approve a final budget.
Comments should be received by Treasurer, Louise Eidsmoe [email protected] by May 2, 2019.
|Proposed Budget 2019-2020 by Board 2-4-2019|
|SPAS FY is 6/1 – 5/31||Dec 31 2018||Prop Budget|
|REVENUE||YTD-5/31/18||17/18Bud||18/19 Bud||18/19 YTD||2019-2020|
|Field trips and Warbler Weekend||$ 3,160||$ 3,500||$3,500||$ 3,500|
|Landscape Revival event||$ 1,270||$ 500|
|meeting snacks||$ 62||$ –|
|Fund Drive – Endowment|
|Fund Drive – Operating Fund||$ 10,475||$ 9,000||$ 9,000||$ 8,313||$ 10,000|
|Donations||$ 300||$ 300||$ 450|
|Dues: from National||$ 7,057||$ 6,300||$ 6,300||$ 270||$ 7,000|
|Grants – Endowment||$ 2,023||$ 2,000||$ 2,000||$ 2,000|
|Interest||$ 20||$ –||$ 5||$ 12|
|Outside Grant||$ 3,100||$ –||$ –||$ –|
|Total Revenue||$ 27,147||$ 21,120||$ 21,100||$ 8,588||$ 23,462|
|Total||$ 27,147||$ 21,120||$ 21,100||$ 8,588||$ 23,462|
|EXPENSES||17/18 actual||17/18 Bud||18/19 Bud||18/19
|Equipment & Display||$ 300||$ 300||$ 300|
|Insurance||$ 315||$ 350||$ 350||$ 315||$ 350|
|Membership Recruitment||$ 100||$ 164||$ 200|
|Misc & Contingency||$ 36|| $ 150
|$ 150||$ 142||$ 150|
|Operating Expenses||$ 291||$ 600||$ 600||$ 188||$ 600|
|Conference (Upper Midwest)||$ 300|
|Web Page||$ 1,815||$ 2,000||$ 2,300||$ 500||$ 2,000|
|Web Page Development||$ –|
|operating exp – total||$ 2,457||$ 3,500||$ 3,700||$ 1,309||$ 3,900|
|Conservation Committee||$ 2,180||$ 2,000||$ 4,000||$ 1,526||$ 6,000|
|Education Committee||$ 500||$ 500||$ 1,500||$ 1,500|
|Landscape Revival||$ 939||$ –||$ 557||$ 275||$ 1,500|
|Birdathon & Butterfly Count||$ 258||$ 200||$ 300||$ 300|
|Christmas Bird Count|
|sub- total||$ 3,377||$ 2,700|
|Field Trips incl Warbler Wkend||$ 4,575||$ 4,500||$ 3,500||$ 228||$ 4,500|
|Member Meeting Programs||$ 1,900||$ 2,700||$ 3,000||$ 1,045||$ 2,100|
|Ramsey Cty Birding web map||$ 4,000||$ 5,000|
|Programs subtotal||$ 10,475||$ 12,200||$ 11,857||$ 4,574||$ 15,900|
|Art and Misc – Newsletter||$ 100||$ 100||$ 100|
|Design – Newsletter||$ 1,000||$ 1,000||$ 1,000|
|Labels – Newsletter||$ 150||$ 32||$ 150|
|Postage – Newsletter||$ 2,550||$ 2,700||$ 600||$ 2,700|
|Printing – Newsletter||$ 8,000||$ 8,000||$ 2,005||$ 8,000|
|Newsletter subtotal||$ 9,375||$ 11,800||$ 11,800||$ 2,637||$ 11,950|
|MEP membership||$ 150||$ 200||$ 200||$ 150|
|Audubon/ other||$ 100||$ –|
|MN Ornithologists Union||$ 75||$ 75||$ 75||$ 75||$ 75|
|Grants||$ 1,500||$ 2,000||$ 2,000||$ 4,000|
|Audubon of the North Woods||$ 2,000||$ 2,000||$ 2,000|
|Support to orgs – total||$ 3,825||$ 4,275||$ 4,275||$ 75||$ 4,225|
|Total Expenses||$ 29,509||$ 34,475||$ 31,632||$ 8,595||$ 35,975|
|total expenses||$ 29,509||$ 34,475||$ 31,632||$ 8,595||$ 35,975|
|Income – expenses||$ (2,362)||$(13,355)||$(10,532)||$ (7)||$(12,513)|
|Savalajo Grant of $3,100 was received in FY 17/18 but spent in FY 18/19|
|Landscape Revival had remaining income of $331 received in FY 17/18 but spent in FY 18/19|