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.
MARCH MEETING – PRESENTED ON ZOOM
“Leque Island: A Restored Estuary for Fish, Birds and People” Presented by Loren Brokaw Tuesday, March 9, 7:00 PM
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), Ducks Unlimited, and local contractor Strider Construction completed construction of the Leque Island Estuary Restoration Project in late 2019. After removing the dike surrounding the island in October 2019, the first high tide entered the 250-acre area of Leque Island for the first time in 135+ years, marking the beginning of the land transitioning back to an intertidal marsh. Leque Island is owned and managed by WDFW and is the area you see crossing the bridge to Camano Island. The project is designed to benefit species that rely on estuary habitat as part of their life cycle, including salmon, shorebirds, waterfowl, and other species. In addition, there is a new walking trail and boat launch. Skagit Audubon was a key participant in the advisory group providing input on project design.
Loren Brokaw is Restoration Projects Coordinator for WDFW in the North Puget Sound region, extending from the Washington/Canada border to south of Seattle. Loren manages habitat restoration projects on WDFW lands that involve restoration of natural processes to benefit fish, wildlife, and their habitats. His work involves partnering with local organizations, planning, and executing stakeholder outreach plans, and securing grant funding to achieve habitat restoration objectives. Loren’s family has lived in the Stanwood Camano area for five generations.
Please register for this Zoom event at: bit.ly/sasmarch. 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? Contact Carla Helm at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you missed the February 9th presentation about waterfowl by Biologist Kyle Spragens, or want to watch it again, a recording is now available for viewing at the following link: https://youtu.be/FqMwQxr7EcQ
Conservation Report - March 2021
By Tim Manns
On January 7th in the waning days of the previous federal administration, rulemaking to weaken the scope of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (MBTA) was to become final. Following inauguration of the new administration the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service quickly postponed the rule’s taking effect until March 8th and opened a public comment period through March 1st. Skagit Audubon signed on a National Audubon group letter and also sent its own urging return to the long-time interpretation of the MBTA as applying not only to deliberate but also to accidental harm to birds. This is the single most important law protecting birds in North America, applying to virtually all native species and key to protecting such Skagit icons as the Trumpeter Swan.
Also, at the federal level, National Audubon is collaborating with many other conservation organizations plus businesses and outdoor activity organizations to support passage of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. This act would dedicate substantial annual funding to implementing the Wildlife Action Plans each state has written to be eligible for federal funding to protect wildlife, particularly non-hunted species. The available federal funds have always been far below the need. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) lists about 1,600 species in trouble, but collectively the states’ Wildlife Action Plans describe almost 12,000 more that are in decline and without attention will become eligible for ESA listing in the future. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would greatly increase funding for protecting non-game species and their habitat and would forestall the declines that result in ESA listing followed by very expensive recovery programs or by extinction. This bi-partisan bill had many co-sponsors in the last Congress but did not fare as well in the Senate. It will be reintroduced in the present Congress. While more information and action alerts will be forthcoming from National Audubon, you can read about this initiative now and how to help on this National Wildlife Federation page: https:// www.nwf.org/Our-Work/Wildlife-Conservation/Policy/Recovering-Americas-Wildlife-Act.
At this writing, the Washington State legislative session is in its 6th of 13 weeks. The pace is fast, and each year many introduced bills do not survive. Audubon Washington’s top priorities, such as passing a Clean Fuels Standard to address the huge contribution which transportation fuels make to greenhouse gas emissions, are still in play. Those priorities which focus on the operating or capital budgets (e.g., adequate funding for WA Department of Fish & Wildlife and for habitat restoration grants) will be addressed later in the session when the biennial budget is debated. You can find a one-page summary of Audubon Washington’s priorities and the latest weekly legislative update by scrolling to the pdfs at the bottom of the following page: http://wa.audubon.org/conservation/legislative-session-2020. Audubon Washington will present a webinar March 10th to update us on which Audubon priority policies are still in play, how the state conservation budget is looking, and how you can help. To register: go to https://wa.audubon.org/conservation/legislative-session-2020, scroll down a few lines to “Legislative Tracker”, open that document and scroll to the registration link.
For other ways to track the progress of legislation and contribute your voice, refer to the conservation report in last month’s Skagit Flyer. Our legislators do want to hear from us. You can be sure they are hearing from those who oppose conservation legislation.
For more on issues Skagit Audubon is tracking, go to “Conservation” on the Skagit Audubon website (www.skagitaudubon.org) and click on “Conservation Notes”.
FROM YOUR EDITOR - March 21, by Mary Sinker
During the recent snow, the two newest brush piles were teeming with birds, especially Spotted Towhees. At one point I counted thirty towhees (and I didn’t think we had thirty towhees on the place)! These busy members of the sparrow family weren’t wasting any time fliting back and forth between the feeders where they were snapping up pieces of suet and black oil sunflower in record time. When they weren’t plotting their next trip to the feeders, they were hopping into and out of the brush piles.
Male towhees are handsome guys sporting jet black heads and backs, flecked with white spots, and warm rufous undersides contrasted with bright white breasts. Towhees scratch through leaves and leaf litter in search of seeds, insects, grubs, and other tasty morsels. Towhees can be rather secretive since they prefer weedy, overgrown, brushy undergrowth and their plumage blends in perfectly. One of the best times to get good views of them is during spring when males spend a majority of their day perched on a brush pile or low branch singing away to attract a mate.
Females are duller in color and once a suitable nest site has been selected, she builds a nest on the ground using stems, bark chips, rootlets, grasses, hair, and other similar materials. The nest is often tucked up against a clump of grass or a log. Towhees have 1-3 broods with clutch sizes of 2-6 eggs.
Audubon Collaborative Grant
Skagit Audubon Youth Education Program has been award an Audubon Collaborative Grant in the amount of $1000.00. These funds will be applied to expand our on-going ‘Family Birding’ program which provides birding kits to local libraries to be checkout by kids and their families. These kits contain: two pairs of binoculars, field guides, activities, children’s books, maps, and swag items.
In response to COVID restrictions, that have greatly reduced in-person programs and events we usually have, it is the aim of these kits to provide tools for kids and their families to go outdoors to enjoy birds and nature.
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 email@example.com
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.