Calendar: Speaker Series
These free monthly programs feature scientists, photographers, authors, international travelers and others speaking on a wide range of topics related to birds and their environment.
Both members and non-members are invited to attend, but we encourage you to become a supporting member so we can continue this popular Speaker Series.
Time and Place: The programs are usually held on the third Wednesday of the month, except for December, July, and August. Unless otherwise noted, all meetings are held at
Cubberley Community Center, Room H1
4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto
(see street view map or map PDF)
Refreshments at 7:30 PM, program at 8 PM
"Condors and People: How We Live (or Die) Together"
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
While condors are once again flying over the California countryside, they are still endangered in both North and South America. Throughout the Americas they are threatened by habitat loss, lead, micro-trash, hunting and poisoning. Although condors are revered by many, even admiration can become a threat, as seen in the growing feather trade for tourists and the capture of condors for ceremonies in an area of highland Peru. Her presentation will provide an anthropological perspective on how a wide variety of people in the Andes view condors, including biologists and hunters, conservationists and ranchers, archeologists and herders, historians and village leaders. She will also address issues that California condors face. The goal is to understand what is happening and learn how to protect condors for future generations throughout the Americas.
Nicole Sault became a member of Santa Clara Valley Audubon decades ago, but as her research takes her abroad many of us have not had a chance to meet her. Her focus is on Andean condors, based on research in Peru, Bolivia and Argentina, but she also looks at the history of California condors. Nicole works with various organizations on both continents, including Friends of California Condors Wild and Free. During years of research among indigenous peoples in the Americas she has learned about the symbolic meaning of birds and what they can teach us through birdsong and behavior. Studying the cultural context for relationships between birds and people or ethno-ornithology, has lead her to examine the roles of various birds besides condors, such as hummingbirds, vultures and macaws. As a cultural anthropologist, she began doing research in Mexico among the Zapotec.. More recently her research among the Bribri of Costa Rica can be found in: Ethno-ornithology: Birds, Indigenous Peoples, Culture and Society. Edited by Sonia Tidemann and Andrew Gosler. Earthscan. London. 2010.
Back to the top
"The Great Migration and other Serengeti Miracles"
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Doug Cheeseman, Painted Snipe, and Cheetahs
It is a miracle that the Serengeti ecosystem is still intact! These great plains in east Africa are renowned for thriving predator populations, including cheetah, lion and leopard, who owe their success to the wealth of prey, especially wildebeest, zebras and gazelles. The Serengeti ecosystem spans approximately 12,000 sq miles and provides grazing for the largest terrestrial mammal migration in the world. With well over 50 large mammals and 500 bird species the ecosystem has a tremendous diversity, including large rivers and marshes, beautiful kopjes (huge granite outcroppings), grasslands and woodlands, that feeds this miracle of life. Through photos of many amazing species, even the Ground Pangolin, Doug will illustrate the wealth of wildlife, following the Great Migration from the wet season in the southern Serengeti during the birthing months to the dry season centered in the northern Serengeti along the Mara River where crocodiles are lying in wait. The area is also home to the Ngronogoro Conservation Area, which encompasses Ngorongoro Crater and the short grass plains of Ndutu.
Doug and Gail Cheeseman have been leading African wildlife safaris to Tanzania and Kenya since 1978. In 1998 Doug retired from many years of teaching zoology and ecology at De Anza College to photograph and lead wildlife safaris around the world full-time. He has presented many programs for Santa Clara Valley Audubon from his diverse travels. He became a member of SCVAS back in 1970 and continues to be active in Audubon. He is also very involved in the controversial proposed road that could slash through the Serengeti irreparably damaging this unique ecosystem.
Back to the top
"Attu: Extreme birding in the Aleutian Islands"
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Whiskered Auklet, Gray-crowned Rosy Finch, and Julio Mulero
Attu, a legendary place that needs little introduction to birders, has been the site of many first North American records due to its proximity to Asia. Historically, the island was the site of the only World War II land battle fought on U.S. territory and its battlefield area is a National Historic Landmark. This presentation starts out birding in Adak and chronicles the 3-day pelagic trip to and from Attu with several stopping points along the way. The logistics of traveling to and within Attu, the westernmost point of the United States, as well as the current state of the island's infrastructure will be described. Please join us on a photographic tour of the birds and landscapes of this remote and very unique corner of our nation.
Julio is a member of Bay Area Bird Photographers (BABP) where he first presented this program - it was so well-received that he agreed to present it to us also. He holds a PhD in Molecular Biology and his research focuses on forensic human identification through DNA analysis. Julio and his wife, Renee, support the U.S. economy through their frequent domestic birdwatching trips and are longtime active members and volunteers for SCVAS.
Back to the top
"A Photo Tour of Bird Behavior"
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Steve Zamek, Motmots, and Grebes
Can a snake strangle a heron? Why would a nuthatch feed bluebird chicks? Do hawks play with their prey? What do flycatchers feed their young? How are verdins like hummingbirds? Answers to these questions, and more, can be found in the photos presented this evening by local bird photographer Steve Zamek.
Steve has spent much of the past several years lugging around camera gear in an effort to capture the beauty and behavior of birds in their natural habitat. The images shared will include a wide variety of bird behavior, including courtship, mating, tending young, hunting, territorial defense, and nest building.
Come enjoy the fascinating world of bird behavior, from the mundane to exciting, endearing to violent, commonplace to unexpected.
Back to the top
Annual Meeting with potluck picnic and volunteer recognition
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
McClellan Ranch, Cupertino (get directions)
Join your fellow SCVAS members for the Annual Meeting on the lovely grounds of McClellan Ranch Preserve, where our headquarters is located. We will enjoy a dinner-potluck with old and new friends so please bring a main dish, casserole, salad, or hors d'ouevres to share. Beverages and desserts will be supplied by SCVAS. Bring your own plates and utensils so we can do our part to reduce waste. Meet the SCVAS Staff, Board Members and Officers, and vote in the annual Board Officer elections. Browse our fantastic Nature Shop! We will also present awards to our many deserving volunteers during the short program. Come, join us!
Back to the top
July and August 2015
There are no programs in July and August. But our Nature Shop and Headquarters (get directions) are open! Join one of our other events going on this summer. Our Speaker Series resumes in September.