Speaker Series

Golden Gate Audubon’s monthly Speaker Series in San Francisco and Berkeley features renowned naturalists, photographers, ornithologists, authors, international travelers, and other fascinating speakers. To cover event costs, we ask non-members for a voluntary donation of $5. Non-members may attend for free if they join that evening. As always, GGAS members are welcome to attend free of charge. Locations are listed on the right side of this page.

Please note the new, EARLIER start time for our speaker programs in 2017! Doors open for refreshments at 6:30 p.m. and the speaker will start promptly at 7 p.m.

Birds on the Farallones


Photo by Annie Schmidt

Russ Bradley
Berkeley: Thursday, January 19
6:30 p.m. refreshments, 7 p.m. program

The Farallon Islands, a National Wildlife Refuge, are legally part of the city of San Francisco but remain a truly wild place. The islands host the largest seabird colony in the contiguous United States, along with significant populations of marine wildlife like seals, sea lions, and white sharks, along with unique endemic terrestrial species. For almost 50 years, Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly Point Reyes Bird Observatory) has conducted monitoring, research, and conservation efforts on the islands. Learn about island wildlife and research, and how the Farallones can help us understand ecosystem change.

Russ Bradley is the Farallon program leader and a senior scientist for Point Blue Conservation Science. He has spent over 1,600 days on the Farallon Islands.

This is the first in a number of Centennial-year speakers on issues deeply entwined with Golden Gate Audubon’s history. GGAS’s very first conservation campaign in the late 1910s and early 1920s involved stopping oil tankers from dumping contaminated ballast water near the Farallones.


Dancing Grebes and Ventriloquist Owls

Western Grebes rushing / Photo by Willie Hall

Western Grebes rushing / Photo by Willie Hall

David Arsenault
San Francisco: Thursday, February 2
6:30 p.m. refreshments, 7 p.m. program

NOTE: First Thursday this month, not the third Thursday as usual, due to scheduling requirements of our host venue.

Plumas Audubon, in partnership with other Northern California chapters and Audubon California, has been working to conserve grebes and owls.  Clark’s and Western Grebes are colonial water birds that nest on floating mounds of vegetation and have elaborate courtship rituals including a “rushing” display where pairs dance across the water together.  For the last seven years, Plumas Audubon has determined how water level management affects breeding grebes on three reservoirs, which comprise a significant proportion of grebes that breed in California.  Meanwhile, the ventriloquist Flammulated Owl is a secretive, neotropical migrant that eats only insects and nests in tree cavities.  For the last five years, Plumas Audubon has studied migration and the effect of forest management on this owl around Lake Davis, the largest known population in the Sierra Nevada.

David Arsenault, Executive Director of Plumas Audubon Society, is a wildlife biologist who has studied birds throughout the western U.S. and the Americas for more than 20 years. He first became involved with Audubon in 1996 by leading field trips for the Lahontan Audubon Society while attending graduate school in Reno.  Plumas Audubon is a 200-member chapter based in Quincy, where David has lived for 12 years.


Least Terns in Alameda

Least Tern and chick in Alameda / Photo by Eleanor Briccetti

Least Tern and chick in Alameda / Photo by Eleanor Briccetti

Susan Euing
Berkeley: Thursday, March 16
6:30 p.m. refreshments, 7 p.m. program

California Least Terns – an endangered species that weighs less than 1.6 ounces – have nested on the tarmac of the former Alameda Naval Air Station for over 40 years. Under management of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Alameda site has become the most productive Least Tern breeding colony on the West Coast.

Susan Euing is the USFWS biologist who manages the Alameda Least Tern colony. She will share fascinating information about these amazing birds and the surprisingly uplifting history of how Golden Gate Audubon’s citizen scientists and volunteers have aided in the decades-long recovery effort.