By Tim Manns
For over a century the National Audubon Society has advocated for conserving birds and the habitats on which they depend. As a National Audubon chapter, Skagit Audubon Society actively advances its mission of conserving and restoring natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity. Not only people, but also birds and all wildlife depend on a healthy environment. Many marine birds winter on Skagit County’s bays and straits, where they feed on small fish, bivalves, and other aquatic life. Water pollution, oil spills, derelict nets, and shoreline armoring are among the things directly or indirectly affecting these species. Marbled murrelets, federally listed as threatened with extinction, depend on clean marine waters for foraging and old growth forests for nesting. Harlequin ducks spend most of the year along rocky shores but breed along clean, fast-flowing rivers.
In some cases, birds have been able to adapt to human changes in the environment and now depend on manmade structures or particular types of agriculture. Skagit County hosts more wintering Trumpeter Swans than anywhere else in the U.S. because it has wetlands suitable for night roosts and harvested corn and potato fields for daytime foraging. In the absence of sufficient hollow old growth trees, migrating Vaux’s Swifts shelter for the night by the thousands in the decommissioned powerhouse smokestack at old Northern State Hospital.
A wide range of local, regional, and national issues affect birds and other wildlife as well as people in Skagit County. These issues are relevant to our mission. We particularly focus on conservation issues in Skagit County, and we join with other Audubon chapters and like-minded organizations to address conservation issues at a broader geographic scale. The Audubon mission and our volunteer work to further it reflect the kind of world in which we want to live and hope to leave for future generations.