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.

Doors open for refreshments at 6:30 p.m. and the speaker will start promptly at 7 p.m.


Birds of San Blas, Mexico

Jonathan Vargas
San Francisco: Thursday, May 17
6:30 p.m. refreshments, 7 p.m. program

Mexican Hermit by Jonathan Vargas

Jonathan Vargas met author and birding tour leader Steve Howell while studying shorebirds in California in 2015. The two birded together and talked about Howell’s trip to San Blas in January 1983. After their meeting, Howell planned to return to San Blas with Vargas to explore newer, well-known birding sites. In January 2016, the two birded the San Blas area for a few days and made a goal to find 250 species. They knew it would be tough, especially when they decided to do it without using sound recordings. In January 2017 they finally succeeded, finding 246 species. It was an amazing day in San Blas.

Jonathan Vargas is a shorebird biologist and a local birding guide from San Blas, Nayarit Mexico. He currently works at Terra Peninsular AC, an organization committed to preserving and protecting the natural ecosystems and wildlife of the Baja California Peninsula. He is a Bird Conservation Projects Associate and promotes birding tours and ecotourism as a means to raise awareness, advance environmental education, and increase knowledge and conservation of birdlife in Mexico.


Jailbirds of Alcatraz:

Monitoring Nesting Seabird Colonies

Heather Robinson
Berkeley: Thursday, June 21
6:30 p.m. refreshments, 7 p.m. program

Double-Crested Cormorant by Heather Robinson

Alcatraz is one of the most visited National Parks in our country, yet very few people realize this 22 acre island in the center of San Francisco Bay is home to nine species of nesting water and seabirds. Every March-September these birds can be found on Alcatraz, with the largest colonies belonging to western gulls and Brandt’s cormorants. In order to uphold the NPS dual mandate to preserve resources for enjoyment of people, the bird populations on Alcatraz have been monitored for over 20 years, focusing on three main areas: population size, reproductive success, and human disturbance.

Heather Robinson is a scientist with the Farallon Institute in Petaluma, CA, where for the last five years she has studied seabirds on Alcatraz and California sea lions on Año Nuevo Island. Heather moved to central California in 2002 to pursue a Master’s degree in Marine Science from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. After completing her degree, Heather moved to Africa for a two year service in the Peace Corps. She then returned to San Francisco Bay where she began a career working with marine birds for the U.S. Geological Survey and then Farallon Institute.