Monthly Speaker Series | 04/2021

Rob Schultz, Vice President and Executive Director for Audubon Minnesota and the Upper Mississippi River region of the National Audubon Society. Rob will talk about the history of Minnesota Audubon and plans for the future.

Monthly Speaker Series | 05/2021

The American Kestrel

The American Kestrel,” featuring Julian Sellers. This presentation will describe the taxonomy, life history, population trends, and threats facing the American Kestrel.  Julian will bring you up to date on the Saint Paul Audubon Society’s nest box project and show some fun videos.

Julian Sellers began birding at age 10 in Rockledge, Florida. He has served the Saint Paul Audubon Society as Field Trips chair, Christmas Bird Count organizer/compiler, and a member of the Conservation Committee. Julian contributed to our “Go Native” booklet, which recommends native plant species for landscaping in central Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, and he coordinates the chapter’s American Kestrel nest box project.

Monthly Speaker Series | 03/2021

Restoring Prairie and Savanna Habitat in Western Wisconsin

Marcie and Mike O’Connor will present “Prairie Haven – Prairie and Savanna Restoration on an Old Wisconsin Farm. The O’Connors bought the farm in 2000 and decided to restore the land back to the way it was before it was farmed. Marcie will talk about the restoration and Mike will talk about his project of collecting recordings of birds and animals.

Presentation Video

Monthly Speaker Series | 02/2021

Recording of February 11 presentation.

February 11: “Hidden Gems of the North Shore,” featuring photographer and naturalist Phil Hartley

Minnesota Master Naturalist Phil Hartley will use photos to show us 20 or so locations along the North Shore that are not actually hidden, but better known and used by locals than tourists. These locations, running from Duluth to Silver Bay, are great spots for nature lovers and bird watchers and are generally just enough off the beaten path that “social distancing” is rarely an issue. Phil’s presentation will use photos to highlight how you know you are there and then some of the most interesting features and birding opportunities of each location.

Download the PDF handout to follow the presentation site by site, including information on why the location is included, where it is, and when is the best time to visit.

Phil Hartley moved from the Twin Cities to the Two Harbors area about 20 years ago. The advent of digital cameras gave him an opportunity to combine photography with a love of the natural beauty of the North Shore. Landscape, nature, and wildlife photography gradually turned from hobby to passion. Phil uses his photography to tell a story and has given presentations on a variety of North Shore topics such as wildflowers, state parks, the Superior Hiking Trail, Lake Superior storms, and hidden gems. You might find him, often with his wife, Helen, along the Lake Superior shoreline, in the Superior National Forest, or in Sax-Zim Bog.

Presentation Handout

Phil posts many of his photos on and on his website,

Monthly Chapter Meeting | 12/2020

(Video Recording)

“For Love of a River: The Minnesota” is a holistic biography of our state’s namesake river written by Darby Nelson with assistance from his wife, Geri, and editor John Hickman. Published in 2019, it was a finalist for the Midwest Book Publishers Award in the Nature category. Darby and Geri paddled the Minnesota River all the way from its source near the South Dakota border to its confluence with the Mississippi in St. Paul. Along the way, they examined the unique geological history of the river basin, admired the diverse flora and fauna, explored some of the basin’s many lakes, learned about the Dakota-US War and subsequent transformation of the landscape to agriculture, and encountered numerous people who share Darby’s passion for this special place and his dedication to addressing the river’s pollution problems. The program will feature photographs from Darby and Geri’s paddling adventures and readings from the book, which is available on Amazon in soft cover and e-book formats. For more information, see

Darby Nelson fell in love with the Minnesota River as a boy growing up in the river town of Morton. He is an aquatic ecologist and biology professor emeritus at Anoka-Ramsey Community College. Darby has been a tireless advocate for the environment, serving on boards for Conservation Minnesota, the Freshwater Society, and the Nature Conservancy, and he was a charter member of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. He has received the Sigurd Olson Award from the Izaak Walton League, Environmentalist of the Year from the North Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, Willard Munger Award from the Minnesota DFL, Steve Chapman Environment Award from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and several teaching awards. Geri Nelson has a BS in biology and secondary education from the University of Minnesota and an MS in gifted and talented education from St Thomas. She taught physical science for 25 years in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, coaching science fair students and advising National Honor Society and the Girls’ Science and Math Retreat. She is proud to be Darby’s typist, first reader, events coordinator and, now that Darby is experiencing the effects of dementia, his spokesperson. John Hickman assisted in the writing of For Love of a River: The Minnesota. John is a writer and documentary film producer and a longtime advocate for the Minnesota River. From 1992–94, he served on Governor Arne Carlson’s Minnesota River Citizens’ Advisory Committee and wrote the recommendations for the committee’s influential final report, Working Together: A Plan to Restore the Minnesota River. In 2011, he was executive producer of the film River Revival: Working Together to Save the Minnesota River, which premiered in prime time on the Twin Cities’ NBC affiliate.

Monthly Chapter Meeting | 11/2020

Dr. Sushma Reddy, the Breckenridge Chair of Ornithology at the Bell Museum of Natural History and the University of Minnesota. In her presentation, “The Dramatic Evolution of Birds on Madagascar,” Dr. Reddy will outline her team’s work so far in uncovering the remarkable diversity of birds on Madagascar and investigating the biogeographic mysteries of how they got to this island.

November Series Recording

Monthly Chapter Meeting | 10/8/2020

Have you been to Elk River’s newest outdoor gem? The William H. Houlton Conservation Area is a 335-acre property located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Elk rivers in Sherburne County. It was one of the largest undeveloped family-owned riverfront properties between Elk River and Hastings. Since 2014, Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR) has been working with the city of Elk River to protect and restore Houlton into high-quality wildlife habitat.

Now, 180 acres of farm fields and degraded grassland have been converted to diverse native prairie and savanna habitat, and 155 acres of floodplain and mix hardwood forests is being restored through invasive plant removal and native seeding and planting. This work not only restores important habitat types that have experienced a tremendous historical decline, but replaces a monoculture system (primarily soybeans) with a high-diversity native plant community that benefits wildlife from the ground up.

Now in its third growing season, the expansive prairie is starting to yield results. Reptiles and amphibians are using the newly installed wetland habitats, and pollinator surveys have shown steady increases in abundance and diversity, with 2019 surveys finding 16 species of bumblebees and 25 species of butterflies. Bird surveys are also showing exciting results, as species like grasshopper sparrows and savanna sparrows are now using the restoration.

Join FMR ecologists Alex Roth and Karen Schik to hear about the stunning changes happening at the site, learn about the experimentation and partnerships that are driving conservation research, and see how this restoration is benefitting wildlife, water quality, and the public.

Karen Schik

Karen Schik, FMR Senior Ecologist


Alex Roth, Ecologist with Friends of the Mississippi River

Alex Roth, FMR Ecologist

Monthly Chapter Meeting | 09/2020

Annie Bracey using MOTUS to track juvenile Common Terns.

Annie is interested in full life-cycle conservation of migratory birds. Her research will focus on studying Common Terns in the Great Lakes region, where populations are threatened or endangered in most states. She studies migratory connectivity and improve understanding of Great Lakes migration routes through use of geolocators. She is also interested in estimating colony productivity and determining the importance of different variables, such as predation and weather, on nesting success.

Topic: Monthly Chapter Meeting | 09/2020
Time: Sep 10, 2020 07:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

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