The Society started as the Augusta Bird Club in February 1954. The club held regular meetings, and conducted frequent field trips. The location of meetings varied in the early 1960’s, but settled on the Main Library on 9th and Greene Streets in Augusta in February 1961 (until 1973 as the Augusta Bird Club), and kept this meeting place as the Augusta Audubon Society until March 1987, when meetings were moved to St. John’s Towers, and various other locations, until finally settling on the North Augusta Community Center, where it continues to hold its bi-monthly meetings. Programs at the meetings of the Bird Club were typically films, whereas now they consist of presentations by speakers on topics relating to wildlife and conservation issues, with an emphasis on birds and birding.
In 1972, Robert Manne, the Southeast representative from the National Audubon Society presented a program explaining how the Augusta Bird Club could become an Audubon chapter, and as a result, the first meeting of the Augusta Audubon Society was held in September, 1973. In January 1980, the chapter received tax-exempt status, and it was decided to curtail summer meetings. Monthly meetings would now run from January to May, with a hiatus in June-August, and then begin again in September. In 2004, the Chapter began meeting bimonthly throughout the year. Newsletters would be produced to coincide with the months in which meetings were held. Gene Howard started a new website for the chapter in that year. In 2002, the office of the Silver Bluff Center and Sanctuary became the official mailing address of the Society, as well as the repository for its records.
The chapter year was changed in 1985. New officers would now take office in September, rather than January. This brought the chapter into alignment with others in the country. In February, 1997, the name of the chapter officially became the Augusta-Aiken Audubon Society, and the meeting date was changed to the second Thursday of the month.
In February 1985, the name of the Society’s newsletter became, Feathered Flyer. The previous masthead simply read, Augusta Audubon Society. In 2003, due to the mounting costs of mailing the newsletter to every chapter member, Gene Howard began offering its distribution via e-mail. New members were mailed a hard copy, and were then urged to sign up for the on-line version. The option of receiving the hard copy variety is still available to any member who requests it.
Early activities of the Augusta Bird Club included a nesting project, where members erected bird boxes (early 1960’s), working with the Augusta Woman’s Club to put up signs indicating that Augusta was a bird sanctuary, and hosting the Georgia Ornithological Society (GOS) meeting (1962 and 1966) and combined GOS-CBC conference (1969). In May 1975, the Augusta Audubon Society co-hosted the spring Carolina Bird Club (CBC) meeting. The Chapter was very active that year, including running a campaign to increase its size. In March, the AAS led the nation in signing up the most new members. The club also participated in efforts to save Congaree Swamp. In 1977-78, club members actively opposed the construction of Russell Dam, which came to no avail, and in 1978, also opposed the construction of the Pepperidge Subdivision at Tobacco/Peach Orchard Roads, since it would threaten red-cockaded woodpecker habitat.
The early 1980’s were a busy time for the Society. The first Bird-A-Thon was held in 1981, and continues today, through the auspices of the Silver Bluff Center and Sanctuary. The highest count to date is 137 species, which occurred in 2000 and in 2001. The 1981 Bird-A-Thon was the first one for AAS, and for the National Audubon Society. AAS hosted the GOS spring meetings in April 1982, 1987, 1995, and fall meetings of the Carolina Bird Club in 2004 and 2010. In 2000, the club received over $1,000 from Georgia DNR to install wildlife feeders at Pendleton King Park.
The Society began water quality monitoring of Hollow Creek, the stream that feeds the Silver Bluff Stork Ponds, in the fall of 2006. Carol Eldridge wrote a grant proposal to South Carolina Audubon to get the funding for the initial supplies. Volunteers conduct chemical analyses of the water on a monthly basis at three sites, and conduct quarterly macroinvertebrate sampling at two stations. In 2009, Doug and Alice Walker took over as principal investigators on the project, and it became officially affiliated with Georgia Adopt-A-Stream. Amphibian monitoring on Hollow Creek was added in 2010. Funding for supplies has been obtained through South Carolina Audubon, Toyota Motor Corporation, and through the Augusta-Aiken Audubon Society.
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