Monthly Nature Programs

Back by popular demand, our Monthly Nature Programs will start up again in 2017!

All talks will be held at Belle Isle Nature Zoo (176 Lakeside Dr. Detroit, MI 48207)

Thursday, January 5, 2017 7pm Erin Rowan Birds of Saipanmicronesian-honeyeater-600x475

Our newest staff member, Erin Rowan will be telling us about her research on the island of Saipan. In 2011-12, Erin managed 6 TMAPS (Tropical Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) banding stations on Saipan with The Institute for Bird Populations. The goals of the ongoing study are to monitor endemic species populations, study their molt, and compare fluctuations in populations to changes in vegetation cover and seasonality. Come find out about the endemic species of Saipan!

To RSVP: Please fill out this form, RSVP on our facebook events page, or please kindly email us at:

Thursday, February 2, 2017 7pm Bruce Szczechowski Birds of East Africa

Bruce has a Master’s Degree in Wildlife Biology from Michigan Technological University.  He teaches Biology and grey-crowned-crane-600x475Environmental Science at Thomas J. Anderson High School in Southgate, but also co-owns and leads trips with Tembokanga Tours and Educational Adventures in Kenya. Bruce did his master’s degree on toxins in Common Terns on colonies in the Detroit River and the Great Lakes.  He is a consummate naturalist and wildlife photographer.  Not only will he wow us with his photography and his tales of the natural history and ecology of African species, we hope that some in attendance may want to go on a birding/wildlife trip to Kenya with Bruce as leader, as both an educational and fund-raising event for Detroit Audubon.

To RSVP: Please fill out this form, RSVP on our facebook events page, or please kindly email us at

Thursday, March 2, 2017 7pm Jennifer Braatz The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge

Come learn about a gem found on the Detroit River, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. The history and future of this special place!

In 2001, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge was established as a result of binational efforts from politicians, conservation leaders, and local communities to build a sustainaIMG_20161228_115402955_HDRble future for the Detroit River and western Lake Erie ecosystems. Because of this collaboration, international status was given to the refuge, making it the first of its kind in North America. The refuge consists of nearly 6,000 acres of unique habitat, including islands, coastal wetlands, marshes, shoals, and waterfront lands within an authorized boundary extending along 48 miles of shoreline.

To RSVP: Please fill out this form, RSVP on our facebook events page, or please kindly email us at

Thursday, April 6, 2017 Heidi Trudell Safe Passage

In order to save birds, we need to save their habitats. But birds have wings, can’t read maps, and don’t stay where they’re safe. So how can we create a more bird friendly world beyond parks and refuges? We need to know HOW they die. What kills birds tells us where we can make changes to prevent bird deaths in the future. Join Heidi in exploring the preventable causes of avian mortality that put so much pressure on the birds we know and love, and learn about how valuable dead birds are to science.

This talk primarily focuses on window collisions, window collision prevention, and uncomfortable topics such as wind farms, cats, and where birds go when they die. There is no viewer advisory for the images in this presentation: it is suitable for all audiences.


Heidi Trudell is a relentless advocate for birds. Her passion for preserving incidentally dead birds began in 2003, and her freezer list since then has spanned three states and over 130 species. Heidi has been a librarian, zookeeper, rehabber, bird guide, and nature blogger in Texas ( She tends the Facebook groups “Dead Birds (for Science!)” and “The Auk-ward”. Heidi serves as a coordinator as well as monitor with Washtenaw Safe Passage and she currently works at an automotive tech startup in Ypsilanti.

To RSVP: Please fill out this form, RSVP on our facebook events page, or please kindly email us at

Thursday, May 4, 2017 Cole Hawkins, Impacts of Cat Colonies on Wildlife in CA

Feral Cats 600x475Our speaker for this month is Cole Hawkins, who studied the impact of cat colonies on wildlife in California.

“I am primarily going to be talking about the impact of cat colonies on wildlife. The colonies I studied were being maintained and fed by local people who felt that the cats were well fed and didn’t need to hunt. The data showed another story.”

Cole Hawkins teaches Biology and Environmental Science at Macomb Community College, co-runs an Eco-Music Camp with his wife Priscilla at Mono Lake in California, a unique saltwater lake towers of tufa rock rising out it, which he has been visiting since 1978!.

Cole, grew up in Southern California and farmed citrus and olives in the Central Valley for over 20 years. He has a B.A. in History from Buffalo State College, a Master’s in Biology from Fresno State University, and Ph.D. in Wildlife and Fisheries from Texas A& M. He participated as a volunteer in various research projects including the Institute for Bird Populations Burrowing Owl survey (3 years) and The PRBO California Gull study at Mono Lake (4 years). He taught Biology in California Community Colleges for 12 years, including several years at Solano Community College and Woodland Community College. He currently teaches an Introductory Biology class and a Nutrition class at Macomb Community College in Michigan.

In this program Cole will be talking about his research on the impact of cat colonies on wildlife in California, but his findings may have important lessons for us here in Michigan as well.

To RSVP: Please fill out this form, RSVP on our facebook event page, or please email us at

Thursday, June 1, 2017 Brian Merlos Audubon and Climate Change: Our Role as Advocates for Birds

The National Audubon Society is working with our chapters and network to protect birds facing the threat of climate change. As we take on this work that begins in our backyards, this presentation will give you resources to be an advocate and share positive information to our friends and neighbors. We will share inspiring solutions that will help take our conversations about climate change further. We believe you can be the voice of hope that empowers our neighbors and community to help birds survive our changing climate.

Brian Merlos is the Michigan Climate Organizer for Audubon Great Lakes and in his fifth year organizing in Southeast Michigan. He has experience working for non-profit groups, in the state legislature, and electing candidates at the local, state, and federal levels. He prioritizes advocacy for climate and conservation justice as the most important issues of this generation.  Brian is a graduate of the University of Michigan with degrees in Political Science and American Culture. In his spare time, he enjoys playing hockey, seeing live music, and spending time in the great outdoors with friends.

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