The Venice Area Audubon Society hosted its inaugural Bird Rookery Day on Saturday, March 19th, with an array of environmentally important exhibits, hands-on conservation demonstrations and educational presentations by leading local organizations. The on-site exhibitors included the Mangrove Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, The Peace River Butterfly Society, Sarasota County Master Gardeners, START’s Healthy Pond Collaborative with the Sarasota County NEST Program, the University of Florida IFAS Sarasota Extension and McKeithen Growers, Inc. The event attracted an estimated 800 to 900 enthusiastic visitors and included a popular native plant sale featuring a tree give-away of 150 Red Maples and 150 disease-resistant American Elms and tours of the world-renown bird rookery.

The educational presentations included START’s Charles Reith’s talk on the importance of trees and Ruth Ward from the Florida Native Plant Society’s Mangrove Chapter demonstrating how to successfully propagate new plants. The Healthy Pond Collaborative’s Sandy Gilbert, CEO of START, and Mollie Holland, Coordinator for Sarasota County’s NEST Program, shown above followed with an explanation of how to maintain healthy storm water ponds by using No Mow Zones to reduce erosion and aquatic plants on the pond’s littoral shelf to improve water clarity. Audubon’s Kate Borduas did an interesting talk on Birds, Bees and other pollinators with the wrap-up provided by Jack Foard, the Venice Area Audubon Society’s President, and Sarasota County’s Park Naturalist, Theresa Good.

By all accounts every one had a good time and gained some valuable new insight on the importance of native plants and their impact on the quality of our waterways.

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