1 2009 YEAR IN REVIEW PHOTO CREDIT MIKE LENTZ The birds we see in our backyards, fields, forests, deserts and oceans have much to tell us about the health of our environment...by understanding the message from birds and taking action, we can help them thrive and safeguard our own future. US Fish & Wildlife Service 2009 State of the Birds Report
2 to our supporters Wood duck / Credit Bill Stripling Building a Community It s been said that a species that can produce a Shakespeare, Rembrandt, Beethoven, Gandhi, and Lincoln should not fail to enrich itself by reaching a friendly hand toward another species in difficulty. For at stake is not only the fate of many species in trouble, but also of our human capacity to appreciate, wonder, and enjoy. This 2009 Year in Review is a window on how collectively we have stretched out a helpful hand this past fiscal year to birds in Minnesota, many species of which have declined in our lifetime. As you ll see, our efforts are designed to engage people. In a year that saw many organizations cutting back, we grew our revenues and added staff to enlarge our conservation community and engage more people in conservation. Our new Breeding Bird Atlas Coordinator, Bonnie Sample, has already engaged over 300 new volunteers in an ambitious effort, with clear conservation implications, to survey for the first time, each township in the state for breeding birds and create the largest citizen science effort in our state s history. A new Lights Out position, filled by Joanna Eckles, has helped us engage volunteers to document the problem of bird collisions with buildings and form a community of building owners willing to reduce night lighting for safer bird passage during migration. ON THE COVER This wood duck chick is a reminder of how pro-active bird conservation techniques can bring a species back from the brink. With unregulated hunting and destruction of its woodland and wetland habitats, this perching duck had virtually disappeared from much of its former range by the early 1900s. Through government and citizen action, its numbers greatly increased and today its population is stable or increasing. As with most of the 60 Minnesota birds on Audubon s Action List, preservation and management of critical habitat is the key. Fun fact: Its scientific name, Aix sponsa, translates into waterbird dressed in wedding clothes. Cover photograph Mike Lentz We ve been able to increase our Policy Director position to full-time, hiring John Curry, former Executive Director of the Campaign for Conservation. In that position John led the conservation community to help pass the Legacy Amendment. John has already engaged our activist members and our state legislative community to pass the nation s first law requiring state buildings to turn off all non-essential building lights during migratory periods. And, a new Development Director position filled by Leslie Cook is helping us to expand our community of supporters whose investments, like yours, expand our efforts to help birds and their habitats. We are now laying the groundwork to greatly enlarge our community in the effort to enhance and protect Important Bird Areas in the Twin Cities. Because birds cross political and geographical borders and habitats, protecting them will require re-defining traditional communities of interest. We will seek the active cooperation among city, county, and state planners, conservation groups, agencies, educators, businesses and media. In so doing, we will be building a new community from many, aligned in a common purpose of helping those bird species in trouble. As you read this summary of our past year, we hope you are proud of our efforts. Thank you again for being part of our common unity. You re helping us to create the state s foremost community of friendly hands stretched to the feathered fauna that, in turn, heighten our appreciation, wonder, and enjoyment of the natural world about us. David Hartwell Board Chair Mark Peterson Executive Director 2 AUDUBON MINNESOTA
3 protecting and restoring habitat Lake Pepin Important Bird Area / Credit Mark Peterson Golden eagle / Credit Mike Lentz Vote Yes Rally / Credit Mark Peterson creating a public awareness that habitat matters Audubon Minnesota and the DNR s Division of Ecological Resources dedicated the Vermillion Bottoms Cannon River Important Bird Area (IBA) and the Lake Pepin IBA on October 4th, 2008 in Red Wing. In addition to the public, Red Wing Mayor Donna Dummer, State Representative Sandy Wollschlager and our conservation partners were in attendance. Birding and canoeing along the backwaters of the Mississippi River were part of the celebration. The dedication of these IBAs marks the early stages of our efforts to work with people in the Red Wing area. Two new grants will allow us to build a conservation action plan for these areas. designing a project to learn from minnesota s golden eagles Citizen surveys organized by the National Eagle Center have revealed a surprisingly consistent population of golden eagles using the blufflands and valleys adjacent to the Mississippi River in and near our Upper Mississippi River Important Bird Area south of Wabasha. But, in a question with strong conservation ramifications, where are the birds coming from? Where do they breed? With financial assistance from the Schmidt Foundation in Rochester and the DNR, we began a project to find out. In March we released a golden eagle in western Wisconsin with a satellite-linked radio telemetry unit as part of a multi-partner project. After his release this bird moved around the region into late April and then he shot north. It took him only about a week to migrate to Hudson s Bay. He spent the summer along the western side of Hudson s Bay and further north above the Arctic Circle. The goals of this Golden Eagle Project are to: define the numbers, distribution, and habits of wintering golden eagles along the Mississippi River, identify their breeding origins and migratory habits, develop conservation strategies, and inform and engage the public to achieve these goals. To learn more about this project and to follow the movements of our golden eagle, visit our website. years of work pays off with amendment passage For many years Audubon has worked in the legislature and with others to organize and publicize the need for a state fund dedicated to financing critical conservation needs. That work came to fruition last November when 1.64 million Minnesotans voted to create a $270 million annual dedicated fund for Clean Water, Wildlife, Parks and Trails and Cultural Heritage. More voters said Yes to the amendment than voted for any other elected partisan or ballot issue in the history of Minnesota. Now the conservation work begins to develop plans and strategies for these accounts and ensure the most needed projects receive funding over the next 25 years. YEAR IN REVIEW
4 protecting and restoring habitat Bald eaglet in nest / Credit Rebecca Field Wetlands provide habitat for hundreds of species and plants / Credit NRCS Red-shouldered hawk / Credit Rebecca Field legislative successes help birds Fiscal year 2009 proved to be a banner year for advancing conservation law in Minnesota. Led by our new Policy Director, John Curry, Audubon Minnesota, state chapters, and our Environmental Issues Committee of volunteer activists played a pivotal role in securing keystone legislation in the 2009 session that will provide long-term protection for our state s native birds. e-news launched Last December we launched our new monthly enewsletter. While the focus is on legislative and policy matters, the enewsletter also lets members know about our Calendar, Chapter Happenings and Audubon in the News. Sign up at mn.audubon.org. 188,000 acres of forestland The Sugar Hills Forest in Itasca County, a majestic part of Minnesota s transitional forest zone, will achieve permanent protection through the purchase of a conservation easement on land owned by the UPM/Blandin Paper Company. The action will prevent the sale and division into small tracts of development. getting tough with ohv abuse Audubon was successful in passing a new law intended to send a message to the off-highway vehicle (OHV) community that the state is serious about enforcing laws to protect wetlands. This law creates a gross misdemeanor for those who recklessly damage a wetland and permits law enforcement to seize their OHV upon repeat violations. lights out for migrating birds The State of Minnesota essentially adopted Audubon s Lights Out protocols for nearly 6000 state buildings. To minimize bird collisions, state owned and leased buildings will turn off their lights from midnight to dawn during the migration seasons. We believe this to be the first law of its kind in the nation. mississippi river critical area This new legislation will require the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to establish clear guidance and protection for a 72-mile stretch of the river that overlaps neatly with Audubon s Twin Cities Important Bird Area. The update is required in the face of loopholes that have resulted in insensitive development of the river corridor and in the face of new realities such as nesting eagles, falcons and red-shouldered hawks. 4 AUDUBON MINNESOTA
5 protecting and restoring habitat Photographed from the shore: as the world warms, sea ice breaks / Credit USFWS Boy scouts from Troop 524 and their parents build a chimney swift tower at Aveda Corporation / Credit Ron Windingstad Chimney swifts do not sit on perches they use their long claws to cling to vertical surfaces / Credit Rebecca Field new audubon report documents global warming impacts on birds In February, we released our latest State of the Birds Report which received considerable media attention statewide. This report focused on the effects of global warming on birds. Based on 40 years of citizen-science Christmas Bird Count data, Audubon scientists found that 177 of the 305 analyzed species that winter on the continent shifted their ranges northward by an average of 35 miles. Northward movement was detected among species of every type, including more than 70% of highly adaptable forest and feeder birds. Only 38% of grassland species mirrored the trend, reflecting the constraints of their severelydepleted habitat and suggesting that they now face a double threat from the combined stresses of habitat loss and climate adaptation. Audubon Minnesota s analysis of the data for our state received widespread attention because of the sobering implications. The boreal chickadee, Bohemian waxwing, and three-toed woodpecker have declined 58-93% in part because of their movement north out of the state. Ten of 26 grassland species moved north significantly. Species such as the eastern meadowlark, vesper sparrow, and short-eared owl were likely unable to move because grassland habitat has been converted to row crops. We will continue to organize our members and the public to push for state and federal legislation promoting clean energy and energy efficiencies. We will also work to expand our bird monitoring projects to provide early warnings documenting the impacts of global warming and habitat loss. the chimney swift conservation project begins to halt birds decline This year we started the Chimney Swift Conservation Project as part of our evolving Audubon at Home program. Like many of our birds, chimney swifts are declining in numbers throughout North America. Although the cause for the nearly 50% decline of this swift over the past 40 years is not well understood, the continued practice of capping chimneys suggests that the rate of population decline will continue without active intervention. We are working to create public awareness about this species through brochures, presentations, articles, and our website on how people can help. Chimney swifts are aided by making chimneys accessible or by building specially-designed towers for nesting or roosting. Since these swifts have come to rely on the insides of chimneys as their primary nesting and roosting sites, constructing artificial towers will help conserve this species. One of our goals is to partner with parks, nature centers, schools, corporations, and individuals to construct these inexpensive towers. The towers also serve to create awareness about these birds and to encourage others to erect similar structures in their neighborhoods, parks and other public places. Boy scouts from Troop 524 and their parents (shown above) built a chimney swift tower at Aveda Corporation in Blaine last fall. Aveda purchased the materials for the tower which was constructed as an Eagle Scout Project for Scout Jeremy Wolf. YEAR IN REVIEW
6 reducing hazards to birds Nashville warbler, common window collision victim / Credit Jim Williams Recording bird collision statistics / Credit Claudia Egelhoff John Curry & Senator Amy Klobuchar / Credit Mark Peterson Bald eaglet banding / Credit Dan McGuiness birdsafe lights out documenting the problem, providing solutions Every year hundreds of millions of birds collide with windows in the United States. Nashville warblers are common window collision victims in Minnesota. Now in its third year, Project BirdSafe continues to make strides to reduce hazards to birds. One cornerstone of BirdSafe is our Lights Out program. Because night lighting can draw migrating birds off course and lead to collisions with glass, we are working to reduce light pollution during migration. To do this, we work with building owners, managers and tenants to turn off all unnecessary lights from midnight to dawn during spring and fall migration. Minnesota skylines continue to get darker as the program attracts new participants, saving energy and birds. BirdSafe volunteers continue monitoring research routes to add to our knowledge about the species and numbers of birds affected by window collisions locally. We have collected over 1,500 birds of at least 100 species from a handful of urban monitoring sites. We are also working to raise awareness of bird-window collisions among architects, city planners and designers with the publication of BirdSafe Building Guidelines, now in production. This booklet will offer design solutions for both new and existing buildings and has the potential to make a much safer urban landscape for birds. 6 AUDUBON MINNESOTA addressing climate change We seek climate change legislation because the greatest threat to birds is global warming. Our work was visible in a capacity-filled Town Hall meeting in April with Senator Klobuchar and a panel of experts. Policy Director John Curry led the panel s Q&A session. We also held other events with Representatives Walz and Paulsen. Audubon mobilized its members throughout the spring. At the end of June the House of Representatives passed the landmark American Clean Energy and Security Act. The bill sets limits on greenhouse gases and moves us toward clean energy. It reduces U.S. global warming emissions 83 percent by Audubon will now be organizing for the Senate vote. taking the pulse of nature - bird monitoring This year we continued our partnership with the National Park Service and others to monitor the numbers and health of bald eagles along the Mississippi River. We banded, measured, and sampled blood from bald eagle chicks nesting along the river between Anoka and Lake Pepin. Because of the bald eagle s place at the top of the food chain, these birds have proven to be good biosentinels of ecosystem health. We also continued our spring landbird monitoring with the help of birders from our metro Audubon chapters. We will continue to expand our monitoring efforts along the Mississippi River and in other Important Bird Areas as well.
7 engaging people Upper Mississippi River / Credit National Park Service Landowner workshop / Credit Ron Windingstad Eastern bluebirds nest building / Credit Jim Williams Installation of a purple martin nesting structure / Credit Ron Windingstad aveda and audubon step up for clean water For the last three years, Aveda Corpration and Audubon Minnesota have joined forces to raise funds during Earth Month in April. The Clean Water: It Just Takes Baby Steps campaign raised over $40,000 from Aveda clients through its salons in fiscal 2009 for Audubon and its efforts to raise water quality awareness along the Mississippi River. In addition, Aveda itself contributed over $20,000 to the campaign. Audubon applauds Aveda and its mission to set an example for environmental leadership and responsibility. Through their salons and spas Aveda raises funds for over 22 environmental organizations across the country and internationally. habitat 101 teaches landowners best practices Audubon Minnesota hosted two landowner workshops in southeast Minnesota and northeast Iowa at sites adjacent to Important Bird Areas in the Driftless Area. During these workshops, landowners learned about area birds and ways to improve critical habitat with native plants and sustainable land practices. Working with our partners we acquainted landowners with management for forest interior birds, stream management through establishment of filter strips and bottom land reforestation, rotational grazing and its importance to grassland birds, and the management of early-successional woods for birds. new project surveys the state by townships The Minnesota Breeding Bird Atlas wrapped up its first survey season. Hundreds of volunteers reported breeding bird evidence across the state. Breeding bird evidence includes clues like seeing an adult pair or an adult carrying nesting material, like the bluebirds above, or an adult feeding young. With more than 20,000 observations submitted, volunteers identified 222 species, including more than 180 breeding species. The Legislative- Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources and a consortium of bird conservation organizations made this research effort possible; success depends on our dedicated volunteers. You can help! Go to mnbba.org. conservation advanced with small grants We awarded nearly $5,000 to five state Audubon chapters for their proposals to advance bird conservation as part of our grant program. Many school children will benefit. In Minneapolis, inner city children will learn about birds on a boat excursion. Duluth school curricula will be updated with bird conservation information and accompanying binoculars. In the Bloomington area, volunteers will be equipped to present bird programs in local schools. In St. Cloud, elementary students will be building nest boxes. The program also is funding a cooperative project involving many partners and volunteers to build and monitor purple martin nest structures in the Brainerd area. YEAR IN REVIEW
8 engaging people Participants of all ages raise funds for Audubon Minnesota during the birdathon / Credit Ron Windingstad Pine siskin / Credit Jim Williams Boreal chickadee / Credit Jim Williams Backyard bird feeding is a great way to teach children about the behaviors of local birds / Credit Joanna Eckles a new tradition begins: first annual birdathon Audubon Minnesota s First Annual Birdathon took place from May 1-10, This special fundraiser helped to support our work and to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day. Donors pledged a dollar amount for each species seen by a participant during a 24 hour period. Participants of all ages took to the woods, prairies, wetlands, or their backyards, covering areas from the St. Croix River Important Bird Area (IBA) in the east to Lac qui Parle IBA in the west. Collectively they saw 94 species and raised over $1,000 for our bird conservation work. Watch for information about next year s Birdathon in our Spring 2010 newsletter and at mn.audubon.org. 8 AUDUBON MINNESOTA christmas bird count completes 103rd year, newer february event growing The Audubon Christmas Bird Count tradition continued in Minnesota this past year. Since 1906 Minnesotans have joined people from around the country counting birds and reporting their tallies. This has resulted in one of the longest running wildlife counts anywhere and the most popular mid-winter birding tradition in the country. This past year 957 people counted birds in 49 different surveys finding over 250,000 birds from 129 species. While the bird and species counts are a slight decline from recent years, the counts still rank in the top 10 highest of all time. Woodpeckers made a strong showing this year. All nine of our regular woodpecker species were tallied in numbers above the 20-year average and all but the northern flicker increased over last year. Other species recently declining posted an increase over last year including the evening grosbeak, purple finch and snow goose. Unfortunately eastern screech owls, northern saw-whet owls, pine siskins and boreal chickadees were below their 20-year average and down from A more recent tradition continues to grow with the mid-february Great Backyard Bird Count. Reporting results through the web, birders in Minnesota and elsewhere are helping to track the numbers and locations of birds. Last year we had reports on over 85,000 birds of 97 species. The common redpoll topped the list with nearly 20,000 reported. The black-capped chickadee was found on the most reports reflecting its common statewide occurrence in the winter. seed sales success! Last year, many people stocked up for backyard bird feeding by participating in our spring and fall bird seed sales raising nearly $13,000. These fundraisers were made possible by the generosity of Performance Seed in St. Cloud, MN annual meeting Our Annual Meeting brought members together to meet each other, review accomplishments, learn about current issues, and plan for the year ahead. The meeting featured Audubon s Vice-President of Policy, Betsy Loyless, who mapped out the political landscape on issues of importance to us, and Dr. Greg Butcher, Vice-President of Conservation, who gave attendees a sneak preview of the Birds and Climate Change report.
9 governance $800,000 $700,000 $600,000 $500,000 $400,000 $300,000 $200,000 $100,000 $0 Audubon Minnesota s 5-Year Growth Trend thank you. We are deeply grateful to the individuals, foundations, and businesses whose generous contributions supported our work to protect birds and their habitats during our fiscal year Revenue FY08 FY09 Percent change Contributions: Individuals $226,248 $233,785 3% Grants: Foundations 91, ,104 90% Grants: Corporations 83, ,164 60% Bequests 22,827 10,145-56% Government Grants 41,328 91, % growing our program in a challenging year The fiscal year ending June 30, 2009 was a challenging one for all. Despite the economic environment, our work continued to grow on a steady and thoughtful course. Our budget for 2009 increased 36% over the previous year as we received several restricted grants in support of program and administrative growth strategies. We thank the organizations that have helped us achieve this impressive growth. Most notably, we: received funding from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Minnesota Ornithologists Union to launch Minnesota s Breeding Bird Atlas partnership project; were a recipient of Toyota s Together Green grant program to expand our urban Lights Out program on behalf of migratory birds; obtained a grant from an anonymous foundation to support a full-time policy director, and were awarded funds from the Bush Foundation to hire a full-time development director. Contributions from individuals also increased slightly this year, and we thank you all for your dedication to our work on behalf of Minnesota s birds and our natural environment! Earned Other Income 42,349 91, % NAS Provision* 38,111 9,387-75% Total Support and Revenue 545, ,926 36% Expenses FY08 FY09 Percent change Staff/Program Management $358,478 $500,501 40% Professional Services 22,103 37,087 68% Travel/Meetings 44,331 34,772-22% Operations/Management 46,702 65,972 41% Publications 17,615 13,470-24% Support Services to NAS 56,017 90,124 61% Total Expenses 545, ,926 36% *The NAS Provision is the amount by which our program receives supplemental funds from the National Audubon Society to help balance our budget. It is our goal, in fact our directive, to eliminate financial support from the national office and become wholly self-sufficient. YEAR IN REVIEW
10 FRIENDS Partners in Bird Conservation 30 years protecting minnesota S birds and their habitats audubon minnesota is a member-supported, community-based organi zation. As a non-profit state office of the National Audubon Society, we share Audubon s 104-year heritage of working to protect our environment. Our mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds and their habitats, for the benefit of humanity and the earth s biological diversity. Audubon Minnesota 2357 Ventura Drive, Suite 106 Saint Paul, MN mn.audubon.org VOLUNTEERS Our thanks to volunteers who regularly gave of their time and talent. BOARD OF DIRECTORS David Hartwell, Chair Don Arnosti Paul Egeland Rebecca Field Bill George Joel Koemptgen Scott Lanyon Gene Merriam Cassy Ordway Walter Pratt Deborah Reynolds Michael Steffes Mary Ellen Vetter Susan Wilson CHAPTER PRESIDENTS Audubon Chapters work locally, mobilizing members to provide environmental education, conservation, and advocacy to meet the needs of their communities. Agassiz Audubon Society Scott Wockenfuss Albert Lea Audubon Society Jerry Skaar Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis Jerry Bahls Austin Audubon Society Peter Mattson Brainerd Lakes Area Audubon Society Jennifer Lust Central Minnesota Audubon Society Brian Jungels Duluth Audubon Society Jane Cleave Minnesota River Valley Audubon Chapter Ron Windingstad Mississippi Headwaters Audubon Society John Eggers Saint Paul Audubon Society Dan McGuiness Wild River Audubon Society Sue Leaf Zumbro Valley Audubon Society Jim Peterson IMPORTANT BIRD AREA TECHNICAL COMMITTEE John Cecil Francie Cuthbert Bruce Fall Jan Green Tex Hawkins Carrol Henderson Robert Janssen ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES COMMITTEE Don Arnosti Jerry Bahls Ginny Black William Bruins Susan Chapin Val Cunningham Don Janes Greg Jueneman LIGHTS OUT BIRDSAFE PROJECT Donna Bahls Jerry Bahls Stephanie Beard Mary Jean Becker Mike Biermaier Bev Blomgren Jeff Lawrence Bob Russell John Schladweiler Mary Shedd Steve Stucker Dan Svedarsky Dave Zumeta Gene Larimore Joan Meierotto Rick Meierotto Gwen Myers Richard Newmark Lois Norrgard Trudi Poquette Susan Solterman Elizabeth Closmore Karen de Boer Claudia Egelhoff Brian Goodspeed Kit Healy Ed Heinen LIGHTS OUT BIRDSAFE PROJECT Mark Johnson Kathy Knauth Paula O Keefe Duane Peterson GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS SUPPORT George Skinner BIRD SEED FUNDRAISERS Sheldon Sturgis and the staff at Performance Seed Site Volunteers: Don Arnosti Ginny Black Bill Caverley Joanna Eckles Seed Pickup Sites: Aveda Corporation Graphic Resources Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Mother Earth Gardens Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota STAFF MEMBERS Mark Peterson, Director Leslie Cook John Curry Joanna Eckles Bonita Jenné John Petroskas Laurie Sacchet Mike Ulness Helen Wang Kit Healy Carol Kronholm Klaus Rechelbacher Rebecca Rubenstein Mark Martell Bonnie Sample Jon Stravers Jenny Vitale Ron Windingstad 10 AUDUBON MINNESOTA