Kyle Horton

Kyle Horton, a professor in wildlife, will be leading a discussion Nov. 10 on bird migration.

You might be able to see and enjoy birds, but if you want to learn more about them from the Desert Rivers Audubon Society for the time being, you’ll have to do a lot of it online.

Because of COVID-19-related restrictions on large gatherings, the Audubon chapter is heading to Zoom for its monthly meetings as its 2020-21 season begins, though it is still offering twice a month.

Desert Rivers Audubon Society normally meets the second Tuesday of the month at Southeast Regional Library in Gilbert with a free program and so it will kick off its new season Tuesday, Sept. 8. To get an invite to the free session, go to bit.ly/3l6FhcG. People also can sign up for the entire fall season.

On Tuesday, Arizona State University professor Dave Pearson will discuss “What to Save and Who Decides?”

As the world’s human population grows, more habitats and species will be impacted.

 How do conservationists plan to make biodiversity a high priority when there will be such a growing number of competing interests in the future? 

 If intact ecosystems can be evaluated for their dollar value to those living around them, then an argument can be made for saving them that non-conservationists can understand and appreciate. 

This approach is called “ecosystems services” and is already being applied in several countries. Pearson will discuss if it works and if there are unintended consequences. 

Pearson is a popular presenter because of his quick humor and the urgency of his topics. He researches the interaction of ecology, conservation, ecotourism and education with the aim of developing methods that promote sustainable use of biodiversity. 

On Oct. 13, the Audubon Society will present Pierre Deviche, who will discuss dragonflies.

Deviche will discuss various aspects of the biology of odonates– dragonflies and damselflies – including their main characteristics, classification, history, behavior and life cycles. 

He will explain why scientists and the public at large are increasingly interested in these insects. The focus will be species that are found in Arizona – where and when to look for them, how to identify them, and tips to photograph them.

Currently a professor of environmental physiology at ASU, Deviche has a B.S. in biology and a Ph.D. in behavioral euroendocrinology, both from the University of Liege, Belgium.

On Nov. 10, Colorado State University Assistant Professor Kyle Horton will discuss bird migration in North America,

“The notion of hundreds of millions, if not billions, of migratory birds passing in and out of broad geographic areas is of considerable public and ecological interest – and of conservation concern,” a spokeswoman for Desert Rivers Audubon said. 

“Many species of migratory birds have evolved the capacity to migrate at night, and the recent and rapid expansion of artificial light at night has dramatically altered the nighttime sky through which they move.

Horton will discuss how he uses weather surveillance radar to quantify and forecast migratory movements and generate lights-out alerts across the United States.   

Kyle Horton, a professor in fish, wildlife, and conservation biology, was a Rose Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology from 2017-2019. 

His work on migratory birds employs a range of tools and approaches, including the use of radar, acoustics, and citizen science data. 

Desert Rivers Audubon isn’t all online.

It also leads free, socially-distanced guided bird walks in area parks and preserves. Masks are required and social distancing is enforced. 

Family groups will be kept together. No more than 10 people may go out together.

Family bird walks are held the third Saturday of the month October through March at the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert, one of the top birding destinations in Arizona. 

Walks also are held at Veterans Oasis Park in Chandler on the first Saturday of the month, November – April. 

The first walks step off at 8 a.m., with the last one going out at 11. The chapter provides kids’ activities but bring binoculars if you have them, though a limited number of loaners will be available.

The Burrowing Owls Walk and Talk sessions are held the fourth Saturday of the month year-round. Join guide Anne Koch at the ramada at Zanjero Park on Lindsay Road south of the 202, one hour before sunset.

Information: desertriversaudubon.org