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For the Birds


From Strawberry Plains Audubon Center

Photo: Northern Saw-whet Owl banded in 2019. Photo: Bill Siler

Science staff and volunteers at Strawberry Plains Audubon Center (SPAC) at Holly Springs, Mississippi have been engaged in studying and banding the elusive Northern Saw-whet Owl, the smallest raptor in eastern North America.  Using mist nets and audio lures used to attract the owl, the team members “were humbled that two hatch-year female individuals shared their presence with us. Such intimacies are beyond rare and difficult to portray.”

Read more about studying Northern Saw-whet Owls in the Autumn 2019 issue of Living Bird magazine:
Now in their second year of Northern Saw-whet Owl banding, the data collected from these individuals will further inform Project Owlnet and the Bird Genoscape Project, both significant avian research initiatives. Such endeavors hold merit beyond scientific insights. This elusive bird is among a myriad of overlooked or mistaken wildlife that frequent the habitats of our southern landscapes and communities without notice. Though a diminutive bird by many standards, Saw-whets effuse a wonder and awe that many birders find without equal.

Christmas Bird Count
The Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC), the nation’s longest running community science bird project, fuels Audubon’s work throughout the year. Occurring annually in over 2,500 locations across the Western Hemisphere, this winter (2020) marks the 120th CBC and everyone was invited to join SPAC’s second Annual Christmas Bird Count, Saturday, January 4th, 6:30 am – 6:00 pm.

This all-day count, hosted by SPAC staff and friends, was held in lieu of their Annual Winter Bird Count, expanding its range beyond the SPAC sanctuary boundary in a 15 mile diameter circle centered about 5 miles southeast of SPAC. The count’s location was chosen to provide opportunities to find birds among Marshall County’s varied habitats (e.g., Hudsonville grasslands, Chewalla Lake Recreation Area, Duck Pond, Holly Springs National Forest and SPAC). Whether a novice or lifetime birder, the CBC is a great opportunity for all backgrounds to engage and learn our winter bird species, while highlighting the importance of community science projects for measuring long-term trends in species’ abundance through time.

This event is FREEand open to all ages and skill levels.

North Delta Winter Birding
Delta Wind Birds and SPAC teamed up for the annual North Delta Winter Birding trip, Saturday January 18, 8 am – 3 pm. We’ll seek local winter specialties including Barn Owl, Sandhill Crane, enormous flocks of Snow and Ross's Geese, LeConte’s Sparrow, Brewer’s & Rusty Blackbird, and rare sub-species of the Red-tailed Hawk, such as Harlan’s and Krider’s. Registration is required, and all proceeds support Delta Wind Birds’ efforts to foster habitat for migratory shorebirds in the Delta.

For more information visit:

Land and Community
Just as native biodiversity of flora and fauna are the metric for habitat vitality, inclusive representation of diverse human perspectives, backgrounds, and shared narratives are essential to resilient and equitable communities. Against the backdrop of a historically agrarian society, Strawberry Plains and the community provide a tangible example of how landscape and culture are inextricably linked. Through dialogue, programming, and research, SPAC’s Land & Community initiative is highlighting how legacies of land degradation are as central to understanding habitat resilience as the legacies of our communities’ collective memory, equally part of a narrative that will best inform just, sustainable, and prudent conservation practices.

Strawberry Plains Audubon Center is located at 285 Plains Rd., Holly Springs, MS 38635. For information about SPAC programs, call (662) 252-1155 or visit

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