Tuesday, February13 ,2018 7:00 Social; 7:30 Program Padilla Bay Interpretive Center 10441 Bayview-Edison Road Mt. Vernon, Washington
Under a cloud? On Cloud 9? Curious about clouds? Join Olympia natural-history writer Maria Mudd Ruth for an evening of exploring the beauty and mystery of these shape-shifting natural wonders. Maria’s new book, A Sideways Look at Clouds, blends science and humor to give the lay reader new ways to appreciate the clouds. Maria will explain why birdwatchers make great cloudspotters and will share tips for following your curiosity.
Maria is the author of more than a dozen books including Rare Bird: Pursuing the Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet. She is a member of the Black Hills Audubon Society in Olympia. This program will include a slide presentation, short readings, Q&A, and book sales/signing.
Conservation Report, February 2018
By Tim Manns
Conservation advocacy on issues related to the Audubon mission is an important function of all Audubon chapters. National issues of concern are coming up at a greater pace than ever. With the state legislature in session there is also daily news on regional and local issues.
Off-shore drilling for oil and gas: On January 4th, the Administration published its draft 5-year National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. This establishes a schedule of oil and gas lease sales and proposes to open 90% of the U.S. coastline to oil and gas drilling. There’s no need to belabor the risks of drilling operations and spills to marine life, including birds. No one has forgotten the 2010 Gulf Horizon disaster that killed 11 workers, dumped more than 200 million gallons of toxic crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and injured or killed huge numbers of birds, marine mammals, and other creatures while costing the jobs of thousands of people. The website for this proposal is https://www.boem.gov/National-OCS-Program/. Near the bottom of the second section look for the link to send comments (deadline March 9). This proposal will have detrimental effects on so many coastal areas important to migratory and resident birds and on the livelihood of millions of people. Please tell Secretary of Interior Zinke what you think of it.
Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918: This year is the centennial of America’s cornerstone bird conservation law. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act is the principal protection for 950 species of birds not covered under the ESA or Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Late last year, the Department of Interior announced a new interpretation of the act which is contrary to the bipartisan and long-standing interpretation that the act prohibits accidental as well as intentional harming or killing of non-hunted bird species. The radical new interpretation exempts all industrial activities from the law. A bill, H.R. 4239, has been introduced to embed this interpretation in law. If it stands, companies responsible for oil spills will no longer be held legally accountable for injuring or killing birds. Locally, Puget Sound Energy would no longer be required to place the “fire fly” devices on power lines to help Trumpeter Swans avoid the lines. These collisions are the first or second leading cause of accidental death to this species. Energy companies would no longer be required to place structures atop power poles to prevent electrocuting eagles and other raptors. Wind energy companies will not have to site turbines to avoid and minimize the killing of birds. In short, there will no longer be an incentive for industry and utilities to avoid accidental bird deaths. Write Secretary of Interior Zinke and your member of Congress and let them know that this very great threat to birds flies in the face of a long-time, bipartisan understanding of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and is unacceptable.
Protecting Blanchard Mountain: Yes, there is occasionally good news. The Washington legislature has passed the long delayed capital budget with its funding for school construction and a variety of other things, including protecting the core 1,600 acres of Blanchard Mountain in Skagit County. These are state trust lands intended to produce revenue through logging for beneficiaries such as the local school and hospital districts. The capital budget funds, added to a smaller amount previously appropriated, will buy replacement forest lands on which timber will be harvested on into the future for the beneficiaries while 1,600 acres of Blanchard Forest, renamed to honor former State Senator Harriet Spanel, remain intact. Many, many thanks to the thousands of people, including Skagit Audubon hikers and other members, who contacted legislators, to Bill Wallace, former DNR regional manager and the members of the stakeholders committee he convened to devise the Blanchard Strategy a decade ago, and to the local and state elected officials, especially from the 40th District, who saw it through.
Audubon priorities in the Washington State Legislature: There are significant environmental bills which are priorities for Audubon with our organization’s strong focus on addressing climate change, the single greatest threat to birds. Governor Inslee has introduced Senate Bill 6203 to put a price on carbon, an approach to reducing carbon emissions many economists see as the most effective way to address this huge problem. A low carbon fuel standard bill (H.B. 2338) seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation fuels. There is a list of these and more, updated weekly on the Washington Audubon website. Go to http://wa.audubon.org/conservation/legislative-session-2018 and scroll down to the link for the “Weekly Legislative Update”. For each bill mentioned in the update, you can click on the bill number and arrive at its page on the Washington State Legislature site. You’ll find a button there for commenting on the bill. Alternatively, call your state senator and representatives to comment. They need to hear from us.
GARDENING FOR BIRDS – Attracting Birds to the Garden
BY JANE BRANDT
Birds visit the garden in search of food, water, and shelter. When enticing birds to the garden, give them a safe cat-free environment. Fruits, seeds, and insects on the plants and on the ground offer food for the birds. Keep the garden pesticide free and consider adding native plants.
A few native shrubs to consider for flowers and fruit: Mahonia (Berberis); Aquifolium (tall); Mahonia nervosa (2 ft.); Mahonia repens (10-14 in.); Lonicera involucrate (Twinberry) and Ribes sanguineum (Red Flowering Currant).
A good online resource for PNW native plant information is the wildlife habitat section at www.nwplants.com.
WINTER BIRDING CRUISE
Saturday, February 17
9:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Waiting list for birding aboard the Blackfish IV
The birding cruise advertised in last month’s Skagit Flyer is full, but we’re keeping a waiting list in case anyone drops out or can’t make the bad weather postponement date (Feb. 24). If you would like to be on the waiting list, please phone or e-mail Tim Manns (360-336-8753 or email@example.com). The trip is proving so popular that we’ve moved up from the 30-passenger Blackfish III to the 48 passenger Blackfish IV. Expert Skagit Audubon birder Gary Bletsch will be the spotter for finding and identifying seabirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, and possibly other wildlife. The Blackfish IV will leave from Skyline Marina (2201 Skyline Way, Anacortes) at 9:30 AM sharp. If you’re confirmed for the trip, please arrive by 9:00 AM. We’ll return about 12:30 PM. The Blackfish IV is owned and operated by Outer Island Excursions. It is well-designed for birding, with room for everyone inside and out. Dress warmly. Waterproof jacket and pants would be best. You might want to bring a thermos and snacks. Cost: $60.00 per person. To confirm your place (limited to 48), Skagit Audubon must have your check or money order made out to “Skagit Audubon” no later than the February 13th Audubon monthly meeting. Please mail the check or money order with “boat cruise” in the memo line and “Attn: boat cruise” on the envelope to: Skagit Audubon Society, P.O. Box 1101, Mt. Vernon, WA 98273. If paying in cash, please do so at the February Audubon meeting. In case of inclement weather, the trip will be rescheduled to Saturday, February 24. When you reserve with Tim, please be sure to include your phone number and email address and say whether you would be able to make the rescheduled date if we have to cancel February 17. Please also note that whether this trip goes or not is dependent on a full 48 people signing up.
Great Backyard Bird Count: February 16-19:
If you enjoy watching birds, have basic identification skills, and want to help ornithologists answer a range of questions about birds, here’s an easy way. Since 1998, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and National Audubon Society have collaborated on the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) to gather bird information over a wide geographic area. Additional partners include Bird Studies Canada and many organizations in other countries. This year, the GBBC will take place February 16-19. Participants count birds in their yards, or anywhere, for at least 15 minutes on one or more of the count days and submit the data online. During the four days of the count, you can submit as many lists as you want, from as many locations as you choose. Over 160,000 people participate each year from many countries, creating a snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds. The GBBC website reports that, “In 2017, Great Backyard Bird Count participants in more than 100 countries counted more than 6,200 species of birds on more than 180,000 checklists!” Go to http://gbbc.birdcount.org/ for instructions on how to register and to gather and submit the data. You can send in bird photos too. “Scientists use information from the Great Backyard Bird Count, along with observations from other citizen-science projects, such as the Christmas Bird Count, Project Feeder Watch, and eBird to get the big picture about what is happening to bird populations.”
If you see a dead, sick, or injured swan, call the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife 24-hour hotline: (360) 466-4345, ext. 266. Do not handle the bird. Leave a short, detailed message with your name and phone number plus the location and condition of the swan(s). WDFW collects information to assess the impact of lead poisoning and power line collisions, the main causes of accidental swan deaths.
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.