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.


Conservation Victories

Pier 94 restoration site / Photo by Eddie Bartley

Arthur Feinstein
Berkeley: Thursday, March 16
6:30 p.m. refreshments, 7 p.m. program

It’s a long and proud list: California least tern, California Brown Pelican, California clapper rail (oops!! Ridgway’s rail), Alameda whipsnake, Suaeda californica (known as “California sea-blite” and yes – it’s a plant – but at GGAS we’re broadminded). What do they have in common? They all are endangered species who continue to exist in our part of the Bay Area, along with tens of thousands of shorebirds and waterfowl, because of Golden Gate Audubon’s successful efforts in preserving their essential habitats (of course with lots of help from our friends and allies). From the tidal marshes and seasonal wetlands at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline Park (Ridgway’s rail) to the upland nesting grounds at the closed Alameda Naval Air Station (California least tern), From San Francisco’s Pier 94 (sea-blite) and Pier 98- Heron’s Head Park- (a wealth of waterfowl and shorebirds) to Orinda’s Gateway Valley (Alameda Whipsnake and California tiger salamander), to the McLaughlin Eastshore State Park (people and birds) GGAS has played a crucial role in shaping the habitat face of our region. This program will describe the struggles and victories and the wonderful results of our efforts.

Arthur Feinstein served GGAS over a 20-year period as Conservation Chair, President and Executive Director. Arthur has been awarded the national Clean Water Network’s 30-Year Heroes Award and the National Audubon Society’s Bay Champion Award. Arthur is currently on the Executive Committee of Sierra Club California as well as Board of the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture, among others.


Ospreys in San Francisco Bay

Tony Brake
San Francisco: Thursday, April 20
6:30 p.m. refreshments, 7 p.m. program

Ospreys on nest platform by Tony Brake

The last decade has seen a remarkably rapid expansion of nesting Ospreys along the San Francisco Bay shoreline. The first record of an Osprey nest was on the Mare Island Strait in Vallejo in 1990. Beginning in 2003, the number of nests began a steady climb and expansion southward. In 2012, a census of Osprey nests was launched and found 15 successful nests producing 30 fledglings. By 2016 a total of 42 Osprey pairs were observed, with 26 successful nests producing 51 fledglings. Nests are concentrated mostly along the Mare Island Strait and the Richmond shoreline. Nearly all of the nests were built on human-made structures, such as light towers, cranes, and utility poles. Many of these are on derelict structures that may collapse or be removed, presenting a significant conservation challenge. A positive development is that in 2016, nine nests were on artificial platforms or modified utility poles.

Tony Brake is a retired research scientist in molecular neuroscience from U.C. San Francisco. He has been a volunteer with the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory since 2003, and the Golden Eagle Monitoring Team for the East Bay Regional Park District.


Least Tern on eggs in Alameda, viewed through protective fencing during annual Return of the Terns bus tour/ Photo by Darlene McNulty

Least Terns in Alameda

Susan Euing
Berkeley: Thursday, May 18
6:30 p.m. refreshments, 7 p.m. program


California Least Terns – an endangered species weighing under 1.6 ounces – have nested on the tarmac of the former Alameda Naval Air Station for over 40 years. Managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and now owned by the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs, this 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.



Egrets and more at Audubon Canyon Ranch

John P. Kelly
San Francisco: Thursday, June 15
6:30 p.m. refreshments, 7 p.m. program

Great Egret by Keith Carver.

A century ago, herons and egrets were rare in the San Francisco Bay area. Now, after a long recovery from intensive hunting and habitat loss, these elegant birds have become symbols of wetland health and conservation. We’ll take a fascinating look into the lives of herons and egrets, with insights from ongoing studies at Audubon Canyon Ranch on the conservation of wetland landscapes, the effects of climate change, and the protection of heronries. In addition, John will share recent work on shorebird responses to tidal marsh restoration in Tomales Bay and the dependence of wintering water birds on Pacific herring spawning.

John Kelly has been studying heron and egrets throughout the Bay Area for nearly 30 years. As ACR’s Director of Conservation Science, he manages ACR’s Cypress Grove Research Center on Tomales Bay, works on local and regional conservation issues, and serves as scientific advisor for a variety of conservation agencies. His scientific work focuses on the habitat relationships, population ecology, and behaviors of coastal and estuarine birds.