June 8, 2023 – A Renewed Hope for the Swamp Canary

Dr. Erik Johnson, Director of Conservation Science, Audubon Delta

The Prothonotary Warbler, is a charismatic migratory songbird that files our southern swamps and bottomland hardwood forests with their boisterous songs, and is sometimes affectionately known as the Swamp Canary. Unfortunately, their population has declined by about 40% percent since the 1960s, and their preferred breeding habitat – swamps and forested wetlands – has also disappeared at an alarming rate. However, this bird’s decline has outpaced that of their breeding habitat, so scientists have suspected these birds are experiencing difficulties elsewhere, such as on their wintering grounds in Central America and northern South America. Dr. Johnson will talk about research that has revealed new insights into the migratory movements of Prothonotary Warblers, as well as other research and conservation efforts to help reverse population declines.

Dr. Erik Johnson is the Director of Conservation Science for Audubon Delta, a regional office of the National Audubon Society that covers Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. With Audubon, he manages several research projects and provides science support to conservation implementation in the region. He got his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Louisiana State University studying conservation biology and wildlife management. Erik is active in Louisiana’s birding community and serves as Louisiana’s Christmas Bird Count regional editor, is a member of Louisiana’s Bird Records Committee, is the director of the Louisiana Bird Observatory, and is a board member with the Acadiana Native Plant Project. He lives in Sunset, Louisiana.

7PM via Zoom

April 13, 2023 – Managing Bald Knob NWR for the Birds

Chris Swanson, Project Leader, Central AR NWR Complex and
Paul Provence, Deputy Project Leader, Central AR NWR Complex

     Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most popular birding hotspots in Arkansas. Birders flock there, especially in the fall, for shorebirds, waterfowl, and waders. The refuge hosts birds in abundance, in large part, because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) manages habitat for them. Chris Swanson and Paul Provence will discuss their management regime for the refuge. Show them your appreciation, and ask questions about the work they do.

     Chris Swanson is the Project Leader for the Central Arkansas National Wildlife Refuge Complex (CARNWRC) which consists of: Holla Bend, Logan Cave, Bald Knob, Cache River, Big Lake, and Wapanocca. He is a 20-year veteran of the USFWS and has worked in four Regions, two Regional Offices, two National Wildlife Refuge Complexes, two Wetland Management Districts, and a state-wide Ecological Services Field Office. He served as the Project Leader at the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Office where he provided leadership in the delivery of landscape-level conservation through implementation of Endangered Species Act. He earned a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from South Dakota State University. 

     Paul Provence is the Deputy Project Leader for the CARNWRC. He obtained his B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology from Louisiana State University and began his professional career in 2000 working for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in the bottomland hardwoods of northeast Arkansas. He then went on to work for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in the marshes of south Louisiana. Paul joined the USFWS in 2010 as a Biologist for the Southeast Louisiana Refuge Complex at Mandalay and Bayou Teche NWRs, and later served as a Biologist for the Central Louisiana Refuge Complex. In 2015, he returned to his home state of Arkansas to serve as the Refuge Manager for Bald Knob, Holla Bend and Logan Cave.

7PM via Zoom