Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170;

January 2014 Speaker

Our January speaker will be Dr. Eric Stolen, wildlife biologist at Kennedy Space Center.  Eric grew up in Michigan with one year stops in Saudi Arabia and Switzerland along the way.  He moved to Florida in 1985 and earned Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Biology at University of Central Florida.  During this time, Space Coast Audubon entered his life and he became a birder – his Master’s dissertation was on the foraging ecology and roosting behavior of Black Vultures.  Eric went on to earn a PhD in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at University of Florida with his graduate dissertation on wading bird foraging ecology in managed salt marshes. 


Dr. Stolen has worked as a wildlife biologist at the Kennedy Space Center/ Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge since 1995. He currently lives in Port St. Johns with wife Megan, son Ethan and daughter Erin.

Dr. Stolen will talk to us about our friendly, neighborhood Black Vultures.  He asks, “Although common throughout most of their range, how many of us really know much of the rich life-history of these essential and fascinating birds?”  He invites us to join him to explore facets of Black Vulture social behavior and the intricacies of how these noble scavengers cooperate to find food.  He will also discuss how their natural behavior and habitat alteration has brought them into conflict with humans.  He will describe research underway at Kennedy Space Center designed to gain information for management decision making to positively affect these conflicts. The study includes use of satellite GPS and radio telemetry to detect the locations of specific individual birds, and marking of additional vultures with wing tags for a mark-recapture study.  As a result of this work, Eric has some very interesting flight path traces and comparisons to show us. 

Hopefully, you will come away from this talk with a new appreciation for these fascinating and useful birds.