Report: 389 bird species are at risk

National Audubon’s climate study, Survival by Degrees: 389 Species on the Brink, reports that two-thirds of North American birds are at increasing risk of extinction from global temperature rise. Read More

Tribute to Ed Swan

A Celebration of Life will be held in Ed’s honor at the Vashon United Methodist Church at 2 PM on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. In special remembrance of Ed, who donned a bird T-shirt every day, consider wearing a bird T-shirt if you have one. Questions? Please contact Sue Trevathan at mstrev30@gmail.com

“There are some who bring a light so great to the world that even after they have gone, the light remains.”

Whoever wrote these beautiful words must have envisioned Ed Swan. 

We lost Ed to a heart attack Friday, Oct. 28 in the prime of his life, while he was doing what he loved most, birding at one of his favorite places. Vashon has been in mourning ever since.

Ed’s knowledge of birds was legendary, yet he remained modest and humble. When he and his wife, Linda Barnes, moved to Vashon in 2000, his reputation as a master birder preceded him.

Instead of waiting to be asked, he showed up at every opportunity to support Vashon Audubon and was always willing to share his vast knowledge about birds in a way that fueled their curiosity to learn more. He served as Vashon Audubon president for many years, and managed the Christmas bird count, an annual survey that contributes to global knowledge about bird populations.

Many of us were delighted to encounter Ed while out birding on the island, always wearing his classic bird T-shirts. He was known to bundle up his young sons, Garnet and Leander, and take them all over the island on his birding expeditions.

Ed was meticulous in his record-keeping, noting for many years the arrival and departure dates for migratory and rare birds on the island. This effort culminated in his essential book, The Birds of Vashon Island: A Natural History of Habitat and Population Transformation, which was so popular that he produced an updated edition in 2013. This book is key to our understanding of bird populations and their habitats on Vashon. It is a go-to for island naturalists and will remain the definitive baseline of bird species accounts, seasonal abundance, and birding hotspots on the island as we face an uncertain future of climate change and habitat loss.

After Ed and Linda moved to West Seattle in 2015, he resurrected Washington Birds, the journal of the Washington Ornithological Society, after many years of dormancy. He was always seeking better ways to teach birding techniques, and he developed a unique, systemic method for improving birdwatching skills that he taught to eager participants through Vashon Audubon, Tahoma Audubon, and North Cascades Audubon. He led countless birding trips all over Puget Sound, and offered backyard consultations on how to attract birds and other wildlife. 

As I look out my window and see my first Varied Thrush of the season, I think about the gifts Ed left for us and my hope that we can make a difference in the lives of birds, even if it’s just in our own backyards.

– Sue Trevathan


 

If you would like to send a note to Ed’s family the address is:
Linda Barnes
2247 Prescott Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98126

In recognition of Ed’s tremendous contribution to our Island community, Vashon Audubon plans to purchase a bench in his honor at one of his favorite island birding locations. If you would like to send a donation, please mail a check to: Vashon Audubon, PO Box 838, Vashon WA 98070

– or – 

use the “Donate” button below to send a donation via your PayPal account or your credit or debit card.

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Please include a note that the donation is in tribute to Ed Swan. We will mail you an acknowledgement for your tax records.

A report to our members

Over the past year we continued to fulfill our mission: To enjoy, learn about, and preserve birds and the diverse natural habitats of Vashon Island and beyond. Read More

Join us to improve bird habitat

Work parties will be on Thursday mornings in November and December. Tasks will vary seasonally but often include removing invasive plants like blackberries and English ivy. Contact Jody Pritchard or Jim Evans if you’d like to participate.

Meet at the Judd Creek Loop Trail trailhead on the east side of 111th Ave. SW in Paradise Valley. (Note that this is NOT the parking lot off 111th that is close to 204th SW.) We recommended that you wear sturdy shoes and work gloves and dress for the weather and encounters with blackberries and nettles. Bring water and snacks, and senses of humor and purpose!

Why are we doing this?

Songbirds are vanishing from North America because they’re losing vital habitat due to human activities. To demonstrate our commitment to resilient songbird habitat in our community, Vashon Audubon is partnering with the Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust to restore and care for part of the Judd Creek Preserve in Paradise Valley.

We’re calling the area where we’ve chosen to work the “Paradise Valley Block.” The block is seven adjacent properties encompassing about 40 acres in Paradise Valley, located east of 111th Ave. SW, part of the Land Trust’s Paradise Valley Preserve. The block has about 2,000 feet of the mainstem of Judd Creek, about an equal amount of a major tributary, plus short portions of several smaller tributaries.

This is one of the most vibrant places on Vashon. The habitats along the stream corridors are in good shape (thanks to major work by the Land Trust over the years). The property is also home to wetlands, second-growth forests, and forest restoration projects going back 10 or more years. The creek hosts chum, pink, and coho salmon, and the native plant community is diverse. The skunk cabbage wetlands along the Judd Creek are spectacular!

These features make the place vital habitat for songbirds and other Vashon wildlife. The land provides excellent opportunities for improving wild bird habitat as well as being an outdoor laboratory and classroom.

The block is also a high-profile public-use site and a keystone part of a Judd Creek habitat corridor linking Island Center Forest to Quartermaster Harbor. It’s a place where our work will be visible and will matter.

Respecting your ecosystem might start with discovery and understanding, but it eventually requires manual labor.

John Marzluff, Avian Conservation Biologist, University of Washington.

Photo of Judd Creek by Susie Fitzhugh

Pine Siskins need our attention

Once again we’re hearing reports of sick Pine Wiskins at feeders in the Pacific Northwest Read More