AOS Fall meeting: October 13-15, 2023

AOS Fall meeting:

October 13-15, 2023

Registration Available Here



6:00 p.m. Board meeting: Via Zoom



5:15 p.m. Registration/Social hour at Shelby Center, Dauphin Island Sea Lab

6:00 p.m. Member Social

Shrimp boil and sides. Monetary contributions are welcome.

6:45 p.m. Announcements/Discussion of Weekend Field Trips

7:00 p.m. Members Photography Show

8:00 p.m. Adjourn



6:30 a.m. Field Trips:

1) Exploring Dauphin Island with Scot Duncan and Barry Fleming

Where: Green Park (next to Ship and Shore)

2) Birds of Pelican Bay Peninsula with Larry Gardella

Where: Public Beach and Pier parking lot.


5:15 p.m. Registration at Shelby Center, Dauphin Island Sea Lab

5:30 p.m. Banquet and Keynote Speaker, Shelby Center, Dauphin Island Sea Lab

5:30 p.m. Social Hour

6:30 p.m. Banquet Buffet

7:15 p.m. Annual Membership meeting and election of officers

7:20 p.m. Announcements & Discussion of Field Trips

7:30 p.m. Keynote Speaker: Scot Duncan

9:00 p.m. Adjourn



6:30 a.m. Field Trips

Noon        Compilation (Includes all bird sightings in Mobile and Baldwin Counties from Friday, October 13 to noon, April 15, 2023)

Where: Goat Trees

Register Here



All participants must email Barry at to advise of your participation and your cell phone number if you plan to attend any field trip so we know how many to expect on each trip, and so any last minute changes can be sent to you. Due to the nature of some sites we may restrict the number of participants on a field trip.  Please check the AOS website for updates.


Saturday, October 14, 2023


Exploring Dauphin Island

Trip Leader:  Scot Duncan and Barry Fleming

Meeting Time: 6:30 a.m.

Meeting Place: Green Park (next to Ship & Shore)


We’ll bird the varied habitats of Dauphin Island with our Keynote Speaker starting at the airport for rails and sparrows, then to the Shell Mounds for warblers, vireos, tanagers and any other Neotropical migrants we can find. In addition to the Shell Mounds we’ll check out the Audubon Sanctuary and other island hotspots, aided by the cellphone network of sightings by other birders on the island. Other than Audubon Sanctuary, which is a circuit of one mile, there is not a lot of distance walked on this outing, though almost all of our time is spent on foot.


Note: It is important for all participants to meet at Green Park, and not arrive at the airport independently. Early airport arrivers can cause rails and sparrows to retreat into the marsh before the rest of the group arrives.



Birds of Pelican Island

Trip Leader: Larry Gardella

Meeting Time: 6:30 a.m.

Meeting Place: Start of pier in the parking lot at Public Beach (next to school)


Join Larry Gardella to get to know the birds of Alabama’s richest beach habitat, Pelican Island, formerly an island, but now a peninsula. With an eBird count currently standing at 186 species, Pelican Island is exceptional for a strip of beach and dune 100-150 yards wide and just over 1.5 miles long at low tide. It’s an easy walk on flat sand, and our distance traveled depends on how close the birds are to the pier. The island is growing longer once again, and given the tide, the far end, which often has most of the birds, will be about 1 to 1.3 miles from the pier. Participants can return to their cars at any time. There’ll be several spotting scopes for general use, which can quickly ramp up your shorebird ID skills.


Sunday, October 15, 2023


IMPORTANT NOTE: This trip is planned, but for the last couple of Octobers bird activity has been very quiet at this usually very productive site. The site will be visited just a little before the trip, and if similarly quiet a different outing may replace this one.


Field Trip to Blakeley Island Mudlakes


Trip Leader:  Larry Gardella

Meeting Time:  6:30 a.m. for a departure at 6.45 a.m. sharp.

Meeting Place:  Green Park (next to Ship & Shore).  Parking is very limited at the Mudlakes so some car-pooling is necessary. Participants staying overnight off the island can meet at the Mudlakes. Please advise when signing up, and you will receive directions and start time.


The Blakeley Island Mud Lakes are a complex of disposal ponds that attract large numbers of shorebirds and waterfowl.  We’ll carpool to the site and walk the dirt road up and along the dikes to view rows of ponds of varying depths.  Expected birds are American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, Stilt Sandpiper, and a variety of other shorebirds, as well as Gull-billed Tern, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, and raptors, often including Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Mississippi Kite and Northern Harrier, are often seen.  We’ll return to Dauphin Island in time for compilation at noon. Walking distance is about two miles in the open with no shade. Terrain is good, level dirt road. Mosquitoes and biting flies may be present. If there has been recent rain places may be muddy. Once in the site participants must stay on the roads, not even going into the immediate vegetated verges. AOS and individuals could lose the hard-won permission to bird here if this occurs.     

Note: A permit form must be lodged with the State Docks Authority prior to your arrival and the permit displayed inside the windscreen. Go to to register in advance.  Registration is valid for the rest of the calendar year.


Meet the Speaker

Scot Duncan


“Alabama’s Birdlife and the Climate Crisis: Changes, Challenges, and Choices.”

Ask any long-time birder in the southeastern US about changes to the region’s birdlife, and you will get an earful about how today is very different than it used to be. Most notably, there are fewer birds than there were just a handful of decades ago.  Much of this change is due to legacy threats from last century that are still a burden to bird populations, especially habitat loss, pollution, building collisions, and invasive species and diseases.  And now, nearly a quarter of the way through this new century, it is very apparent that birds are facing a new formidable threat—climate change.

The climate crisis is changing Alabama’s birdlife faster than at any time in the past few thousand years.  More heatwaves, stronger storms and floods, dangerous droughts and wildfires, and a disappearing coastline — the shifting climate is forcing changes to how birds are living in the Alabama landscape. If bird conservation organizations such as Alabama Ornithological Society and Alabama Audubon want to ensure that birds survive in this new era, we need to better understand how climate change is affecting birds.  Only then can we promote the conservation strategies our birds need to survive.

Ornithologists are learning how birds are being affected by climate change. As you might expect, populations of many species are imperiled—some more than others.  But it is encouraging that other species are showing signs of adapting to climate change.

Yes, you read that correctly – many species are adjusting how and where they live to cope with the new climate.  Think of the tropical and semi-tropical species or neotropical migrants that are expanding their ranges northward (e.g., Limpkin, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Northern Parula).  Some bird species are even evolving new body shapes to cope with the changing climate.

In this talk I will summarize what ornithologists are learning about how climate change is affecting birds and how birds are responding.  I will also highlight which Alabama bird species are most vulnerable to climate change.  I will share what Alabama Audubon is doing to help protect our birds and point out ways that everyone can contribute to ensuring that Alabama’s amazing birdlife can survive and thrive this century and far beyond.



Dr. R. Scot Duncan became the Executive Director of Alabama Audubon in August 2022.  He was raised on the shores of Pensacola Bay, Florida, by the celebrated birders and conservationists, Lucy and Bob Duncan.  Both Scot and his brother, Will, have dedicated their lives to science, conservation, and education. Scot holds a BS in Biology from Eckerd College, and a MS and PhD in Zoology from the University of Florida. His research and explorations have taken him to Antarctica, New Zealand, East Africa, Central and South America, the Pacific Northwest, and ecosystems across the southeastern US.  In graduate school, Scot studied tropical forest restoration in Uganda and Latin America, but for the past twenty years had focuses his efforts on endangered species and ecosystems of the Southeast. He is the author or coauthor of 16 peer-reviewed science journal articles and 7 technical reports.

Scot is the author of award-winning Southern Wonder: Alabama’s Surprising Biodiversity, with foreword written by Dr. Edward O. Wilson. Written for the layperson, the book interweaves the disciplines of ecology, evolution, and geology into an explanation of why Alabama is home to more species than any other state east of the Mississippi River. The book won three awards, including the Phil Reed Environmental Writing Award for non-fiction from the Southern Environmental Law Center. Over 3100 copies have been sold.

Scot’s latest book is Southern Rivers: Restoring America’s Freshwater Biodiversity will be published in 2024. Scot is frequently interviewed by the press on issues of species and ecosystem conservation and climate change.  He’s delivered 120+ talks to the public since 2013.  He has a blog, entitled Confluence: The Head and Heart of Southeastern Ecology.

Scot is a professor emeritus at Birmingham-Southern College (BSC), where he taught for twenty years, serving as chair of the Biology Department from 2014 to 2017).

Scot has served on the board of directors of the Cahaba River Society (2006-2012) and the Alabama Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (2021-2022).