Monthly Nature Programs

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

All talks will be held at Belle Isle Nature Center (176 Lakeside Dr. Detroit, MI 48207) at 7pm the first Thursday of each month

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017 Dr. Katherine LaCommare, UM-Dearborn Conservation of Manatees in Developing Nations

Dr. Katherine LaCommare spent over a decade studying the habitat, conservation and population biology of manatees in Belize, Central America. She worked with Earthwatch and other non-profits to manage a research, education and conservation research program. She now teaches biology, ecology, conservation biology and other environmental biology manateerelated courses at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

Dr. LaCommare is a conservation biologist that has had a long career both working in conservation programming and conservation education. She has a PhD in Environmental Biology from University of Massachusetts, Boston and a Masters of Science in Forestry and Natural Resources from Purdue University. Her goal is to help students make connections between environmental protection and human well-being.

Snacks will be provided. This talk is free and open to the public. We hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 5th, 2017 Dr. Orin Gelderloos Snow and Ice, Penguins and Leopard Seals: The Ecology of Antarctica in Summer


Antarctica’s basic ecology demonstrates variations on the functions of ecosystems in extreme environments. Biodata which was written by Jackie Stengel of the Master Gardener’s Association of Wayne County. This talk will be given by Dr. Orin Gelderloos from UM-Dearborn.

Dr. Orin Gelderloos served as the founder and director of the Natural Areas and the Environmental Interpretive Center at the University of Michigan—Dearborn, where he is a Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies. Since 1975, he has advised students on environmental studies degree programs that combine courses in natural, behavioral and social sciences, as well as education and business. He earned his Ph.D. in environmental physiology at Northwestern University.

A passionate life-long conservationist, Dr. G has been recognized with many awards including UM-D Regents Award in 1996 for Distinguished Public Service, Detroit Audubon Society 1999 Conservationist of the Year, Governor’s Service Award in 2000 for Service-Learning Educator, and the 2012 U of M inaugural Eugene Arden Award given to honor a record of excellence in interdisciplinary research and teaching. He has received grants from the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency, serves on many boards and organizations, and narrates environmental and historical issues of Southeast Michigan on bus and boat tours. In 2010, Dr. G was featured in the Detroit Free Press as a GREEN Leader of Michigan.

Thursday, September 7th, 2017 Holly Vaughn Osprey in Southern Michigan: A Story of Recovery

500x275_Osprey_PAIS_NPSphotoThe comeback of the Osprey in southern Michigan is a great story!  Nearly absent from much of the state due to the effects of DDT and other pesticide use, southern Michigan’s Osprey population continues to rebound.

DNR Osprey expert Holly Vaughn will speak about the biology, life cycle, decline, reintroduction and research of the Osprey in southern Michigan.  Monitoring efforts are currently in place to track the revitalization of this species.  This year, several birds were banded, and four Osprey chicks from around the state were outfitted with “Backpack” satellite telemetry units.  These units were funded by grants and are helping scientists track the young birds’ daily movement and seasonal migration patterns

Holly Vaughn is the Wildlife Communications Coordinator for Southeast Michigan with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. She is based out of the Detroit Metro Customer Service Center in Detroit. Holly loves to educate people about Michigan wildlife. She has a BS in Fisheries and Wildlife and an MS in Park, Recreation and Tourism Resources from Michigan State University. Holly is an avid birder.

This talk is free! To RSVP please fill out this form or email our Program Coordinator at

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017 Jac Kyle Fall Migration Citizen Science: Safe Passage Great Lakes

Detroit SkyineFall Migration is around the corner and we are looking for volunteers to help us with our Safe Passage Great Lakes Program!

Hundreds of Millions of birds die each year during the Spring and Fall migration due to lighted buildings and window collisions. Warblers and other night migrants are often confused by the nighttime skyline of cities like Detroit and are drawn to lights, crash into windows, circle buildings, and/or become exhausted and fall to the ground. Windows on our homes also can be hazardous, but there are easy solutions to make them safer for birds.

Come learn how Detroit Audubon and Michigan Audubon are addressing these issues and how you can help these efforts. We need volunteers from August 15th – October 31st to monitor buildings (it could be your own school or office!) and report window collisions so we can identify areas for improvement and prevent unnecessary deaths. We would love your help!!!

This talk is free! To RSVP please fill out this form or email our Program Coordinator at

Thursday, July 6, 2017 Erin Rowan Support for Black Tern Project Grows

dsc_0343-2The Black Tern population in North American has been in decline since the 1960’s for reasons not completely understood. In a joint research effort, partners from Detroit Audubon, Audubon Great Lakes, National Audubon, Detroit Zoo, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment Canada, are studying the successful nesting colony at St. Clair flats. This project is in its fifth year in 2017.

Our team is currently trying to band adults and chicks, which will inform conservation strategies. Black Terns are a priority species for Michigan, and all the Great Lakes states have the species on their action plans.

Come learn more about these efforts and the advancements the project has made over these last 5 years from Detroit Audubon’s Research Coordinator, Erin Rowan!

To RSVP, please fill out this form, or email our Program Coordinator 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.

Eastern Bluebirds 600x475Yellow Warbler 600x475Blackburnian Warbler 600x475

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, 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 Dead BirdHeidi 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, 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, 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, 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: