Thursday, July 31, 2014

Spring Picnic


Join us for the annual WVAS Spring Picnic to be held Wednesday, May 21, 2014, beginning at 5:30 pm.  You don’t have to be a member to bring a dish and enjoy fellowship with Wabash Audubon members in beautiful Forest Park, in Vigo County.  No reservations needed. Forest Park is located in North Terre Haute, near Markle Mill and Old Mill Dam on Mill Dam Road before the railroad tracks, between Haythorne Ave. and Park Ave.  Questions? Call 812-877-1095 or Carissa.



A Reminder To Our Readers:

The newsletter, Nature News & Notes, is published five times a year - September, October/November, December/January, February/March, April/May.  The Wabash Valley Audubon Society meets September through the month of May.  Our recent newsletters may be read on this website under the "Publications" menu.  

Everyone is welcome to join us regardless of birding and nature expertise level. In fact, most members join us simply to learn more about the natural world around them.

Bird Photo's

The Wabash Valley Audubon Society has several excellent bird photographers.  To view their images, see the "Birds" link in the menu bar near the top of this page.  

Barn Owl, June 2013 by WVAS Member Marty Jones.  Marty currently has many bird photographs on display at the Roly Poly restaurant, 424 Wabash Avenue in downtown Terre Haute.

Clint Murray Receives 2013 James Mason Award


The WVAS presents the James Mason Award annually to a person or group who has done something outstanding for bird conservation or environmental education in Indiana, especially west-central Indiana.  James Mason was an early member of the Society who set an example by tirelessly lobbying the state legislature for conservation laws.

This year (2013) we honor Clint Murray of Crawfordsville.  Clint has single-handedly protected a unique natural area, “The Burn”, in Montgomery County.  This 88-acre wetland, on top of a peat deposit in a glacial depression, was part of the Lye Creek Prairie, and prairie grasses thrive here as well as marsh plants.  The wetland attracts many species of migratory shorebirds, waterfowl, and passerines in spring and fall, and supports pheasants year round.  It is an oasis for birds in a highly agricultural landscape.  Clint discovered the place and its birds in 2001.  Although the prairie had been described by Alton Lindsay and other early conservationists, its existence had almost been forgotten. 

Clint has documented the wetland’s rich bird life with splendid photographs, worked to restore it, and welcomed countless birders as visitors.  Each spring he guides many birders seeking their first glimpse of the elusive Smith’s Longspur, which uses the site in migration.  His site guide on the Indiana Audubon Society website invites birders to discover the place on their own.  Clint’s discovery and protection of The Burn is an inspiration to all who are cheered when an important habitat is conserved for wildlife.

Presenting the award to Murray are Wabash Valley Audubon Society members, left to right, Peter Scott, Alan Bruner, Murray, and Phil Cox

Flickr Photo's

See photographs from past WVAS events on our Flickr site.  The address is or click here: WVAS FLICKR PHOTOS

President Carissa Lovette and guest speaker Brendan Kearns at the 2013 WVAS Banquet 

Member Profile: Ellen Lunsford


In brief, who is Ellen Lunsford?

I'm a speech-language pathologist with Vigo County School Corporation.  I am from Rosedale, IN and have lived in Terre Haute for seven years.  I like to read, enjoy the outdoors by walking, hiking, and riding my bike, rescue turtles, bird-watch, tour old cemeteries, go to the symphony and community theater, and spend time relaxing with my cats.

Why did you become a member of WVAS?

I have been a member since 2011.  I have been very interested in nature since I was young, especially turtles, birds, and environmental causes, and I wanted to be with other people who shared my interests and concerns for wildlife.  I like that I've learned more in-depth information about birds, and I can identify more by sight and by call.  Learning a little about them makes me want to learn everything I can.

What do you like most about being a member?

I have made many new friends through Audubon and found people to share the things I care about.  I have had opportunities that I might not have had otherwise, like participating in bat research and the bird counts.  I've grown my knowledge with each meeting or activity I participate in.  I'm also getting the opportunity to help present at an upcoming meeting about turtle rescue and preservation in the Wabashiki.

What have you learned by being a member?

We always have great topics and speakers, and I feel like I learn something new with every meeting and activity I participate in.  I have tried to get my students more interested in nature and caring about the environment through including nature-related lessons and materials in my room, and encouraging them to learn more about the animals that interest them.

What would you say to someone that is a member to encourage them to be more active in our organization?

It's a great way to meet people who care about the same things you do.  I ended up already knowing more people in Audubon than I thought I would, and I have made many new friends as well.  We have so many different presenters and areas of interest among our members that there is truly something for everyone.

Is there any other volunteer work you do or are you a member of other organizations?

I am the secretary of the Wabash Valley Audubon Society board, and the recording secretary of the Eta Phi chapter of Psi Iota Xi, which is an organization that supports art, music, literature, and speech and hearing causes in the local community.  We fund-raise to provide grants to local schools and organizations.

Member Profile: Nicholas Brown


In brief, who is Nicholas Brown?

I am 34 years old.  I was born and raised in Michigan and spent most of my first 28 years living in the midsized town of Coldwater.  I was born just two days before ‘Magic’ Johnson and the Michigan State Spartans beat Larry Bird and his Indiana State Sycamores in the NCAA basketball championship game.  In celebration my dad and his best friend pleaded with my mom to rename me ‘Michigan State’ Brown!  Needless to say, my mom was neither amused nor accommodating. 

I later went on to receive a Bachelors degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Management from Michigan State University in 2003 and got to watch them win another championship in 2000!  After graduation I went straight to work for the state of Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division for approximately 4 years.  Then I went back to school in St. Louis, Missouri at Logan College of Chiropractic where I received a Human Biology Bachelors and a Doctorate of Chiropractic degree.  I moved to Terre Haute in January 2011 to take a chiropractic job and pursue my new profession in the healthcare field. 

What’s your first memory of being awed by Nature?

The first moment I realized my love of nature occurred at my grandparent’s home in Michigan.  We always went to their house for Christmas and I loved to sit in front of their big bay window and watch the beautiful birds and wildlife come to my grandpa’s bird feeders during those cold winter days.  Cardinals, Blue jays, Juncos, Black-capped Chickadees, Ruffed Grouse, turkey, squirrels, and deer were common visitors.   

Are you a member of WVAS mostly because of an interest in birds, a concern for the environment in general, or is it the refreshments after the meetings?

All of the above, of course!  I’ve always had just a general love for nature and the outdoors and am certainly interested in all things natural.  I am a strong believer and proponent in environmental and wildlife conservation.  And yes, I do love to eat delicious treats whenever possible.   Honestly though, I mostly joined the WVAS because of my love for birds and bird watching.  Joining the WVAS gives me all three though, which is awesome!

What other groups/professional organizations are you involved with?

Over the years I have been involved with or a member of several groups and organizations including: National Audubon Society, St. Louis Audubon Society, Indiana Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Arbor Day Foundation, National Wildlife Federation, Quality Deer Management, Ducks Unlimited and more.

Chiropractors deal with skeletons, right? How do bird’s skeletons compare with human’s?

Yes, chiropractors primarily treat issues involving the nervous and musculoskeletal systems of the human body.  The only major difference between human and avian bones that I know of is the fact that bird bones are made to be hollow in the middle.  This allows them to experience flight while we humans, barring airplanes, are forced to remain bound to the land.  Thanks a lot gravity!

As you know, it’s the Year of the River. Do you have any personal river experiences you’d like to share? What’s your impression of the Wabash and the role it plays in Terre Haute?

I have always loved the water and, lucky for me, I was born in a state with lots of it.  Michigan is home to 4 of the 5 great lakes providing over 3,000 miles of shoreline.  Michigan also sports over 11,000 lakes and over 300 rivers with approximately 36,000 miles of waterway.  So obviously, I was exposed to water just about wherever I went.  I have many fond memories of rivers, but one that stands out to me is canoeing down the Pere Marquette with my family.  It has crystal clear waters and picturesque sandy shores set to a backsplash of mature white pine and oak forests.  Its waters run cold and clear all year and is home to everything from trout and beavers to Belted Kingfishers and Bald Eagles.  We ate lunches on the shore, jumped into the water from high bluffs, and yes, had occasional laughs at each other when canoes accidentally tipped over. 

After moving here I read quite a bit about the history of Terre Haute.  One thing that stuck out to me was how important the Wabash River was in Terre Haute’s history of becoming the city it has become today.  Although the river is not utilized as much as it once was, without it, it’s safe to say that we would not all be here now, which includes the WVAS, our members, and much of the great wetland habitat, ecology, and wildlife we enjoy and respect.  


Bird Identification

Did you know well over 200 different bird species live or migrate through the Wabash Valley each year?  Without help, it is difficult for a beginner to learn birds and their songs.  Fortunately, we are here to help and many people join our society solely for this reason.  Whether you want to just learn the birds visiting your backyard feeder, or wanting to find uncommon birds during migration, the fastest way to learn is by joining us.  We offer field trips and bird identification help events throughout the year.  See the "Calendar of Events" above for upcoming field trips and/or bird identification days at Dobbs Park.

Dr. Marion Jackson tour of the Jackson-Schnyder preserve
Copyright 2014 by the Wabash Valley Audubon Society