The Pasadena Audubon Idea

One evening in 1904 W. Scott Way was in his Eucalyptus grove in Altadena when he heard gunshots ringing out. Going over to investigate he saw an express wagon piled high with mourning doves by hunters taking them to market. Outraged, Mr. Way vowed at that moment to form a society to protect native birds, discourage the wearing of feathers (very common at that time) and to educate the public and schools about the relation of birds to agriculture and the environment.

A notice was printed in the Pasadena Evening Star announcing the meeting which took place the following day, March 25, 1904, at the Chamber of Commerce on Colorado in Pasadena. Over 40 people showed up at that meeting. Mr. Way became the Secretary/Treasurer and Dr. Garrett Newkirk of Altadena, a noted ornithologist, became Chairman. Thus formed the first Audubon Society in California, known as the California Audubon Society until 1909, when the name was changed to Pasadena Audubon Society, to avoid confusion with others that had since formed in the state.

The Estate of the late Don Rogers is to be thanked for the materials in our Archive upon which this account is based.

Ira Blitz, Secretary

Historical Milestones of Pasadena Audubon:

1898 - Renowned field biologist Joseph Grinnell has the first Pasadena bird list published.

March 25, 1904 - Outraged over the killing of mourning doves, W. Scott Way forms "California Audubon." The Society's goals are to prevent the killing of birds, to educate children regarding conservation, and to encourage bird and wildlife protection laws.

September 17, 1908 - Emily Hunt hosted the first home meeting; meetings moved to the Pasadena Library in 1927.

1909 - First outdoor meeting was held in the Arroyo Seco, with 22 species of birds identified. The organization name was changed to the "Pasadena Audubon Society" to distinguish it from other Audubon chapters.

1911 - The first bird walk takes place with 35 people; regular walks begin in 1920.

1938 - Laura Daniels writes a history of the first 25 years of PAS.

May 19, 1953 - The idea of The Wrentit, the PAS newsletter, is born.

1970 - Guy Coheleach, now a famous wildlife artist, designs the Wrentit logo.

1972 - Meetings move to what is now the Eaton Canyon Nature Center.

1993 - Eaton Canyon Fire - A massive fire destroys all PAS records including Minutes and Wrentit Newsletters. Some of it is reconstructed from private archives.

Early 2000's - Many highly skilled birders join. The field trip program becomes quite robust.

2005 - Large bequests from two estates invigorate PAS finances allowing major expansion of activities including: grants for researchers, education and conservation furthering our mission; a Young Birders Program (Three participants of have been named Young Birder of the Year by the American Birding Association).

2005 - PAS publishes the first edition of the Birding Guide to the Greater Pasadena Area.

2013 - Pasadena Museum of History accepts our archives to prevent another loss.

2016 - First Program Manager hired, allowing expanded programs and expanded outreach to local schools and the community.

2019 - Pasadena Audubon and co-plaintiff Arroyo Seco Foundation successfully settle the lawsuit against LA County seeking to improve their sediment removal program in Hahamongna Watershed Park. The Bird Science Program pilot launches in January with the first formal docent training in September. Native Habitat Garden was established with community support at Washington Elementary School in November.

2020 - Pandemic Shutdown requires creative ways to virtually continue monthly meetings and to develop on-line Bird Science resources for teachers. Membership continues to grow!

2021 - PAS embarks on a Strategic Planning project and hires a full time Executive Director.

2022 - PAS hires a part-time Garden Educator, to manage the Native Habitat Garden at Washington Elementary and provide lessons to students.

2022 - PAS publishes the second edition of the Birding Guide to the Greater Pasadena Area, greatly expanded with bar charts, accessibility information, more articles and information, color photos, and stunning illustrations from artist Catherine Hamilton. The American Birding Association recognizes the book as one of the best birding books of 2022!

2023 - PAS installs a Motus receiving tower, a collaboration with the Angeles National Forest, enabling finer tracking of migrating passerines at Bear Divide.

2023 - PAS hires a Programs Coordinator and moves into an office at the Western Justice Center, increasing capacity to manage growing programs. Spanish translation of the Birding Guide is completed.