Tuesday, February 11th 7:00 Social; 7:30 Program Padilla Bay Interpretive Center 10441 Bayview Edison Road Mt. Vernon, Washington
Scott Pearson is a Senior Research Scientist with the Wildlife Science Division of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in Olympia where he has supervised the west-side research team for the past 16 years. He received his PhD. from the University of Washington. His research is focused on assessing wildlife population status and trends, diet, habitat use and quality, evaluating the effectiveness of conservation efforts, and identifying mechanisms responsible for population declines. He is currently monitoring and conducting research projects on the marbled murrelet, tufted puffin, snowy plover, streaked horned lark, and marine birds generally. His talk will focus on tufted puffin conservation status, population trends, and natural history.
Conservation Report, February 2020
By Tim Manns
The Washington State Legislature’s 60 day session opened January 13th and is scheduled to end March 12th. Our state has a two-year budget cycle, and in non-budget writing years such as 2020 the session is very short and the pressure to get things done correspondingly intense. Nonetheless, the Environmental Priorities Coalition (EPC), whose twenty member organizations include Audubon Washington, is pursuing 4 legislative priorities with the help of member volunteers and staff. Please participate in your state government by calling or writing the elected officials who represent you.
The Coalition is focusing on setting a clean fuels standard, updating the goals and timeline for limiting climate pollution, improving the potential for Southern Resident Orcas to survive, and banning single-use plastic bags as many other jurisdictions around the world have already done. Read https://wecprotects.org/environmental-priorities-coalition/. The one-pager links with the description of each priority give details and associated bill numbers for legislation introduced in the current session in Olympia. Contact your elected representatives and ask for their support.
Audubon Washington staff produced a summary of legislative priorities adding a few to the EPC’s 4, some addressing the climate crisis, identified by National Audubon research as the number one threat to birds, and some on related matters such as improved funding for Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. WDFW manages much habitat where we enjoy birding and is responsible for studying and protecting rare species. Read the Audubon summary and details and sign up for weekly legislative updates by Adam Maxwell, Audubon Washington’s Director of Government Affairs at https://wa.audubon.org/conservation/legislative-session-2020 (scroll down to “Overview of 2020 Priority Issues”). Note Audubon’s increasing emphasis on leveraging nature’s ability to sequester carbon by protecting forests and improving farming practices, both very relevant in Skagit County.
The State Legislature’s informative website is a great tool for active citizens: http://leg.wa.gov/Pages/default.aspx. To check on a particular bill in the House or Senate, click on “Bill Information” along the left margin. On this website you can comment on bills and sign up to receive e-mail notification when there’s action on legislation of special interest to you.
We probably all can cite instances of regret when we didn’t speak out and a bad bill passed. Nothing is easier than telling ourselves we can’t make a difference. In fact, there are many examples in Washington State of concerted and persistent action by enough people resulting in positive change. Active citizens can change the world. March 12th is not far off. Let’s make a difference for people, for birds, for the planet.
The owls have it when it comes to being a supreme predator, day or night. With feathers that are serrated on one side and fringed along the other edge, their flight is silent. The result is a complete surprise for their prey, ranging in size from insects to small game.
Not only do owls fly in silence, their asymmetrical ears enable them to pinpoint the location of prey because sound is received in multiple dimensions. Owls have immobile tube-shaped eyes and because of this their vision is binocular with better depth perception so prey is fully focused. One particularly fascinating feature is that owls can rotate their necks 270 degrees; and the Northern Pygmy Owl has “false eyes” on the back of its head. This gives the impression the owl is looking at you from behind and could be a defense mechanism from predators. Yes, owls do have predators, often other owls. Great Horned Owls prey on the smaller Barred Owl and Barred Owls will out-compete Spotted Owls when the two have overlapping habitats.
The smallest owl in the world is the Elf Owl at 5-6 inches tall and weighing in at about 1-1/2 ounces. The largest owl in the world is the Blakiston’s fish owl at 2-1/2 feet tall and weighing in at 10 lbs. or more. Found only in Russia, China and Japan, this owl is endangered. Owls are found on every continent, except Antarctica, and in every ecosystem from the Arctic to the desert. Of the 216 species found worldwide, 18 of them belong to the Barn Owl family (Tytonidae) and 198 belong to the typical owl family (Strigidae).
In Western Washington we are fortunate to have several resident* owls – Great Horned, Barred, Northern Saw-Whet, Northern Pygmy, Northern Spotted, Short-eared*, Long-eared and Barn. Barn owls can eat up to 1,000 mice a year and Short-eared owls are active during the day, feeding early in the morning and again before dusk. In some years, Snowy Owls spend the winter here when prey is reduced in their home ranges in northern Canada, Alaska and the Arctic. *Short-eared owls are found throughout Western Washington in the winter months.
Keep your eyes and ears open and you never know which of these owls may turn up in your neighborhood!
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.