At Audubon we most often meet with our members in parks, nature centers, and beaches to observe and protect the birds we all love. This fall we brought the Audubon flock together in a different place, visiting local breweries across South Carolina for our “Birds and Brews” event series. These events were an opportunity to discuss the work our staff and members are doing across the state, highlight our chapters, and advocate for policies important to birds and people to our elected officials. The series culminated this week where we were honored to host Congressman James E. Clyburn at Oak Road Brewery in Summerville, SC.
At our event in Summerville, Beidler Forest Audubon Center Director, Matt Johnson, shared updates on the important work being done at our Beidler Forest Sanctuary including our ever-expanding MOTUS tower network project. Matt also highlighted the recent designation of Beidler Forest and Four Hole Swamp as an Underground Railroad Network to Freedom site. We were joined by National Audubon Society Government Relations Director, Jesse Walls, who highlighted several federal priorities we are supporting including migratory bird protections and natural infrastructure. Then we heard from Congressman Clyburn who spoke on the importance of being good stewards of our environment, his decades of experiences working on conservation issues, and the work being done in Congress today to increase protections for birds and our environment. We thank Congressman Clyburn for his continued leadership and advocacy for conservation policies that address climate change.
South Carolinians are seeing the importance of protecting habitats essential to birds as the impacts of climate change that have long affected these areas are now on our doorstep. Increased flooding and more severe storms are constantly impacting more of our state, and the time for action is now. This was a common theme at each location we met this fall:
We kicked off our Birds & Brews series in Charleston at Holy City Brewing, following an advocacy training with Charleston Audubon. Advocacy trainings give advocates a firsthand look at the birds and habitats we are fighting to protect, skills necessary to be a successful advocate, and real-world examples of how to put these skills to work. Birds and Brews was an opportunity for Audubon advocates to showcase what they’ve learned by speaking to fellow members of the community about why our work is so critical.
At our Silver Bluff Audubon Center and Sanctuary in Aiken, Georgia Audubon and Augusta-Aiken Audubon co-hosted an amazing bird walk, where we saw Roseate Spoonbills, Wood Storks, Painted Buntings, Wilson’s Snipes, Bald Eagles, and a Northern Harrier just to name a few. After the bird walk, we gathered at Riverwatch Brewery in Augusta to reflect on the beauty of Silver Bluff and the importance of protecting habitat essential to threatened species like Painted Buntings.
In Bluffton, Hilton Head Island Audubon members joined us at Southern Barrel Brewing Co. to highlight Audubon South Carolina’s bird and climate friendly forestry programs and a successful 2021 Shorebird Steward season. These programs are essential to our climate and education work, ensuring that landowners and beachgoers across the state are equipped with the knowledge and practices to be good stewards of our state’s habitats.
At Birds Fly South Ale Project in Greenville, SC we were glad to welcome State Representative West Cox to speak with our members. We highlighted our ongoing MOTUS Tower network efforts, which we have recently expanded in the Upstate with a new tower at Caesars Head State Park. The migration data provided by this project will help Audubon and scientists worldwide understand how climate change and other factors affect how birds migrate and the places most important to protect.
We thank our elected officials, Audubon members, local brewery partners and Audubon staff for making these events possible this fall. We look forward to hosting another series of Birds & Brews in 2022.