Due to the continuing emergency response to the COVID-19 virus, our in-person member meetings, field trips and hikes and most other activities have been cancelled until further notice. This includes the offer of personal field trips for future donations to Skagit Audubon Society of $100 or more. We will update this notice and resume activities when the government health authorities say that it is safe to do so.
February Meeting - presented on Zoom
Watching After Waterfowl: Washington’s Unique Role in Waterfowl Ecology, Conservation and Management Presented by Kyle Spragens Tuesday, February 9, 7:00 PM
The term “waterfowl” comprises a highly diverse suite of species, that have adapted to span a broad array of habitats across the globe. Often in North America, due to their “gamebird” designation, the intricate storylines that define this group of migratory birds, unfortunately gets lost as an afterthought. By providing a comparative perspective, this presentation strives to provide you with insights to the unique set of circumstances, changing story lines, and considerations involved in waterfowl ecology in Washington state.
Kyle is the Waterfowl Section Manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, based in Olympia, and serves as a technical liaison to the Pacific Flyway Council. He is originally from the Northern San Francisco Bay Area and is a graduate of Humboldt State University (BSc & MSc) with an emphasis in Wildlife Management. His previous waterfowl adventures have spanned from the Canadian Arctic tundra to lagoons along the Black Sea in Turkey to fishponds in Hong Kong’s Pearl River Delta; including six years as a Wildlife Biologist for the USGS-San Francisco Bay Estuary Field Station and three years as Senior Waterfowl Biologist for the USFWS-Yukon Delta NWR in Bethel, Alaska. His background has focused on cooperation with partners across the Pacific and East Asian-Australasian Flyways conducting monitoring and research projects related to nesting waterfowl, migration chronology, sea-level rise impacts to migratory bird habitats, and spatio-temporal dynamics in habitat use.
Please register for this event at: http://bit.ly/febsas. Preregistration is required and is limited to 100 attendees. Please only one registrant per household. After you register you will receive an email with the link to sign in at the time of the event. Questions? Please contact Carla Helm at email@example.com.
If you missed the excellent January 12th presentation, “Bring Back the Pollinators”, or want to watch it again, a recording is now available for viewing at the following link: https://youtu.be/demS6FlWizs
Conservation Report - February 2021
By Tim Manns
At this writing in mid-February, it’s 10 days after the assault on the U.S. Capitol and almost the end of an Administration that for the last 4 years busily reduced environmental protections. We all need reasons for political optimism, and fortunately some are at hand. The balance of power at the federal level has shifted just enough to maybe enable passing legislation addressing climate change, restoring protection for birds and other wildlife, renewing our government’s reliance on science, and so much more. Audubon Board Member Alice Turner brought to the Board’s attention an article from the Autumn 2020 issue of Living Bird magazine (Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology) describing a Bird Agenda for the 117th Congress. The article points out that the Congressional Review Act of 1996 offers a way to quickly reverse the outgoing Administration’s reinterpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 in a way exempting all but deliberate killing of birds. Perhaps this is also how to reverse the Administration’s mid-January opening to logging of 3.4 million acres of old-growth Northern Spotted Owl habitat in California, Oregon, and Washington. The now unprotected area includes more than a third of what was set aside in 1994 by the Northwest Forest Plan to protect the owl from extinction and more than a half million acres on the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie, Okanogan-Wenatchee, and Gifford Pinchot national forests.
The balance of power in Olympia remains favorable for environmental legislation, if not easy. When this newsletter reaches you the Washington State Legislature will have been in session several weeks. This being an odd-numbered year, the session will especially focus on writing the next 2-year budget; actually 3 budgets: operating (General Fund), capital, and transportation. All are relevant to Audubon Washington’s legislative priorities and those of its partners in the Environmental Priorities Coalition (EPC). Adam Maxwell, Audubon Washington’s State Campaign Manager, produces periodic updates on the progress of legislation. The link to these updates and information sheets are on this page: http://wa.audubon.org/conservation/legislative-session-2020. The EPC has posted brief papers on the coalition’s key issues: https://wecprotects.org/environmental-priorities-coalition-2/. EPC staff produce a weekly Hot List of top environmental issues in the House and Senate: https://wecprotects.org/environmental-priorities-coalition-2/bills-to-watch.
For a longer list of environmental legislation, sign up for weekly emails from Bellingham-based RE Sources (www.re-sources.org), whose weekly legislative alerts are easy to skim. There are action items too (https://p2a.co/T6LIzvq). With legislative hearings all virtual, you can sign in to support or oppose any bill having a hearing without needing to travel to Olympia. This replaces the sign-in sheets in the corridors familiar to those of you who participated in Lobby Days past. The Washington Legislature’s own website (https://leg.wa.gov) is an easy-to-navigate way to read and follow bills, learn what committees your senator and representatives are sponsoring, and submit comments.
The political climate and events of recent years and days have convinced many that it’s important to be an active citizen supporting the issues you care about whether that’s wildlife habitat, climate change, affordable housing, or many others. It’s easy to be overwhelmed but not difficult to begin with the help of the kinds of aids mentioned here.
For more about issues Skagit Audubon is tracking, go to “Conservation” on the Skagit Audubon website (www.skagitaudubon.org) and click on “Conservation Notes”.
ARE YOUR BACKYARD FEEDERS KILLING BIRDS? By Kim Nelson
Even though there are lots of advantages to feeding birds, your feeders could possibly be to blame for a vast die-off of birds. Wildlife rehabilitation centers throughout the area have been reporting huge increases in Pine Siskins suffering from salmonellosis, an often-fatal bacterial disease. This disease is easily transmitted through the saliva and feces of sick birds, and because Pine Siskins flock together in large numbers at feeders, this makes them especially susceptible to infection. Adding to this issue, is that this winter marks an irruption year for boreal finches in which large populations migrate south due to a poor food crop in their usual wintering grounds in Canada.
Sick Pine Siskins are typically easy to spot: they are often isolated and look lethargic and fluffed. While some wildlife veterinarians recommend taking sick Pine Siskins to wildlife rehabilitation centers, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) veterinarian, Kristin Mansfield, believes that the best course of action is to leave these birds alone and report your sightings, including dead birds, using their online form: https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/a384e90f69744f2e846135a9ce80027f.
WDFW also recommends temporarily discontinuing to feed birds for at least two weeks to hopefully encourage birds to feed on natural food sources elsewhere. Some wildlife rehabilitators have suggested feeding more intermittently, such as every other day, in order to stop spreading the disease. Either way, if you are going to continue to feed birds, it is strongly recommended that you clean your feeders on a regular basis (ideally daily) by washing them with warm soapy water and disinfecting them with a 9 parts water to 1 parts bleach solution before rinsing and drying them thoroughly. You will also want to rake up any feces and seed casings found below your feeders as well as clean your bird baths on a regular basis.
The Education Committee needs volunteers to help with a number of adult presentations coming up in the next several months. These Power Point presentations are scheduled at libraries and private organizations/clubs in the area. If you can help give part of a presentation (already written), that would be great; or, you can assist with the computer and help answer questions from the audience. If you can lend a hand, please contact Sheila at firstname.lastname@example.org
Skagit Audubon Society holds monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of each month except for the months of July and August. We meet at 7:00 pm at Padilla Bay Interpretive Center(Google map), 10441 Bayview-Edison Rd. Mount Vernon. Meetings are open to all.
The board of directors meets at the same location at 7:00 pm on the first Tuesday of each month, except for the months of July and August.