Tuesday, Oct. 8 th. 7:00 Social; 7:30 Program Padilla Bay Interpretive Center 10441 Bayview Edison Road Mt. Vernon, Washington
Sue Cottrell has been studying birds of prey and guiding outdoor trips for more than 30 years, including trapping and banding raptors as a volunteer of the Falcon Research Group. A resident of Whatcom County, she is one of the lucky ones that can say she has had several "5 falcon days". She will give an introduction with a slide show to raptors that we have here in NW WA, as well as share her current research and photos of her latest projects working with Red-tailed Hawks and American Kestrels.
Conservation Report, October 2019
By Tim Mann
Fall brings return of avian abundance to Skagit’s bays and river deltas: so many ducks, snow geese, swans, hawks, falcons, bald eagles, great blue herons. This remnant of once much more widespread natural abundance did not just happen. Some once rare species are now common again thanks to protection, concerted effort, and investment. We’re mindful too of species in decline. The marbled murrelet could be gone from Washington within a few decades. Wintering Western Grebes and Surf Scoters were once much more numerous.
And other birds, ones not associated with the bays and adjacent fields? If you have a hunch that bird populations in fields and forests have declined, there’s now well-researched basis for that idea. On September 19th the journal Science published a large-scale study estimating avian loss in North America. Using multiple data sets to look at 529 bird species, the study found that since 1970 the number of North American birds has dropped by nearly 3 billion, almost a quarter of the total population. Declines have varied with type of habitat as well as species. Waterfowl and certain raptors are among the few increases, the very species so conspicuous in Skagit winters and that have received much conservation attention. Read more at https://www.audubon.org//north-america-has-lost-more-1-4-birds-last-50-years-new-study-says.
This news combined with National Audubon’s 2014 report projecting serious declines in birds from habitat loss due to climate change (https://climate.audubon.org/) paints a grim picture. Together, these studies should command everyone’s attention. The fate of birds is ours too. Their decline is yet another warning that change must happen. The biggest need is addressing human-caused climate change in a concerted way. Elected leaders and captains of industry must act, but we can all help reverse avian decline. Support protection of wildlife habitat by public agencies and land trusts, keep cats indoors, reduce bird/window collisions, don’t use pesticides, plant native plants. For more ideas: https://abcbirds.org/get-involved/bird-friendly-life/. Participate in conservation advocacy too. Audubon focuses on issues relevant to its mission “to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.” What kind of world do we want?
For this re-opened comment period, the draft restoration plan and EIS are identical to the one on which many of you commented in 2017. Those comments remain valid. Nonetheless, if the ESA is to be upheld and the North Cascades are to ever again have their full complement of species, it’s important to send individual comment letters briefly describing why grizzly restoration matters to you and supporting one of the plan’s action alternatives, such as Alternative C. Remember that if this approach to supplementing the tiny existing population (if any) of grizzlies is implemented, several human generations will pass before a viable population again inhabits the wild North Cascades, an area the size of Massachusetts. Generations from now, sighting a grizzly in these mountains will still be a rare event indeed.
A few very lucky birders, including my husband Jeff and me, were treated to a Willet sighting at Skagit Wildlife Area, Hayton Reserve, back in mid-August. Who is this guy and what was he doing here?
Willets are large plain shorebirds, but as soon as they take flight their identity is unmistakable with striking black and white markings and even calling their name in flight. Quite possibly, this bird had spent breeding/nesting season in the northwestern interior at a prairie marsh before migrating to the coast for the winter.
Willets forage for insects, crustaceans, marine worms, crabs, small mollusks, small fish, aquatic insects and plant material by walking along the shore or in shallow water, probing in mud or water for their food. Their wide diet depends somewhat on their local environment and in favorable areas they are abundant, nesting in colonies, and spring mornings are filled with their ringing calls.
Isn’t migration wonderful!
FROM YOUR EDITOR – October 2019, by Mary Sinker
Growing up, my family spent a few years in Vermont, and each autumn, kids looked forward to raking huge piles of leaves, jumping into them, and raking them into various patterns like the Starship Enterprise! At the time, we didn’t give any thought to how the leaves would benefit the gardens and wildlife but our parents did. Mountains of leaves were raked onto garden beds or shrub borders where they decomposed during the winter, providing mulch as well as fertilizer. Leaves also provide winter homes for all sorts of bugs, beetles, caterpillars, butterflies, moths and the like. Birds benefit from the leaves because they find seeds and bugs hidden underneath them. Leaves also provide valuable mulch helping to protect roots and plants from freezing, thawing and re-freezing again. Leaves help to conserve moisture or to keep excess moisture from collecting around the crowns of plants which could lead to root or crown rot and loss of the plant. Leaves that collect on a sidewalk or mat down on a lawn can be raked or chopped as mulch and spread around garden beds or shrub borders to add nutrients to the soil and provide winter homes for all sorts of little critters. So – in short – please try to Leave the Leaves whenever possible!
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.