Skip to main content

Adult Programs

Past Speaker Events 2019

March 2019

March 2019 Speaker Event

Midway Atoll: The Effect of Plastic Pollution on Birds

with Anna Vallery

Date: Thursday, March 14, 2019
Time: Social at 7:00 PM; Presentation at 7:30 PM
Place: United Way, 50 Waugh Drive, Houston, TX 77007

This event is free and open to the public. Please register so we have an idea of how many are attending.

Despite being thousands of miles from civilization, plastic pollution from Asia and the Americas constantly washes up on the pristine shores of Midway. Plastic is found in the stomachs of the many birds that call the atoll home. Houston Audubon Conservation Specialist Anna Vallery spent six months on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in 2015 as a biological science intern. She immediately fell in love with the habitat, the wildlife, and, of course, the seabirds. But during her time there she was faced with the harsh reality that human activity has impacted even the most remote locations. Midway has since become the heart of the plastic pollution movement and is inspiring cities far away, like Houston, to do better.

Anna Vallery is a Conservation Specialist with Houston Audubon. She runs the Natives Nursery, manages two northern sanctuaries, and helps with the Bird-Friendly Communities Program. Her love of wildlife is life-long, but she discovered her love of birds during an internship on Midway Atoll working with Laysan Albatross. Since then, Anna has completed a master’s degree studying Galveston Bay’s shorebirds, seabirds, and wading birds and is now surrounding herself with all the bird knowledge Houston Audubon has to offer.

January 2019

November Speaker Event

January 10: BirdCast - Perspectives on Bird Migration in North America with Andrew Farnsworth

This event is free and open to the public.

Date: Thursday, January 10, 2019
Time: Social at 7:00 PM; Presentation at 7:30 PM
Place: United Way, 50 Waugh Drive, Houston, TX 77007

Bird migration is a spectacular global phenomenon that has long captured the attention of human observers, but it wasn’t until the turn of the 20th century that ornithologists realized the magnitude of migration that occurred at night. Now, several technologies have advanced sufficiently to allow us to achieve new understandings of the characteristics of nocturnal bird migration across a broad range of scales in new and different ways. 

The BirdCast project is a collaborative effort between ornithologists and computer scientists to further our understanding of the biology of bird migration by using state-of-the-art machine learning and computer science techniques in combination with data collected with remote sensing methods, like radar and acoustic monitoring, to achieve these understandings. Dr. Andrew Farnsworth from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology directs this project, and he will be speaking about some of the novel insights gleaned so far from this fascinating project.

Dr. Andrew Farnsworth began birding at age 5 in Rye, NY. He quickly developed a fascination for bird migration and has been fortunate to turn his passion into a career. Andrew is a research associate in the Information Science and Technology program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the project leader for BirdCast and BirdVox. 

His primary research focus is the study of nocturnal bird migration using remote sensing techniques. These techniques include: 

  • The use of microphones and autonomous recording systems for acoustic monitoring of flight calls. 
  • Weather surveillance radars (marine to WSR-88D) to study densities of birds aloft at night. 
  • Thermal and closed circuit video cameras to study movements of birds in urban areas.

Dr. Farnsworth received his MS Zoology from Clemson, under Dr. Sidney Gauthreaux, and his PhD from Cornell, under Dr. John Fitzpatrick. He is also a musician, though it's not quite his night gig given his research. Andrew lives in New York, NY with his wife Patricia and daughters Aja and Elle (but all of their hearts are in Texas).