Clean-fuel standard could help birds at risk from climate change

To avoid the worst impacts of climate change on people and birds, we must drastically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. In the Puget Sound region, that means focusing on the transportation sector, which produces more than 43 percent of the climate pollution in our area. The biggest contributors are gasoline and diesel.

Two efforts are in the works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has proposed a clean fuel standard that would reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels by 25 percent by 2030. The standard would apply to King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

The proposed clean fuel standard would set a limit on greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels. This would give an advantage to cleaner fuels like electricity and biofuels, leading to more infrastructure and better access to these fuels for everyone. Low-carbon biofuels could come from locally sourced materials, including food, agricultural and forest waste.

On the state level, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, who represents Vashon Island, sponsored a low-carbon fuel standard in the last legislative session. Gov. Jay Inslee has asked the Legislature to pass this standard in the 2020 session. Passage of the PSCAA’s proposed standard could push the legislature to pass a similar standard that would apply statewide.

Washington Audubon has expressed support for the PSCAA’s proposed rule and has made a low-carbon fuel standard one of its priority issues in the state’s 2020 legislative session.

You can advocate for a clean-fuel standard by joining Vashon Audubon’s contingent to Audubon Washington’s lobby day in Olympia, to be held January 30. Send a message to if you want to participate. In addition to a clean-fuel standard, Audubon will be supporting a 100 percent clean-electricity standard that would phase out coal-generated electricity and phase in electricity from clean resources, and a clean-building package designed to reduce new buildings’ energy use.

Learn how to use native plants to attract and support birds

Vashon Audubon is offering two sets of free classes for Island residents to learn about native plants that birds favor—and how to plant them so the plants and birds will thrive.

1. Hands-on creation of a demonstration garden
The first set of classes is hands-on: an opportunity to help create a demonstration garden for improving bird habitat at the Vashon Heritage Museum. Participants will dig and remove invasive plants at the site on Saturday, Jan. 11; create mounds and add woody debris on Saturday, Jan. 25; and plant natives on Feb. 1. The work will be done from 9 a.m.-12 p.m.; participants can come for all or some of the time. Refreshments will be provided.

Interested? Contact Dana Schuerholz at

2. Classroom presentations and field trips
The second set of classes provides classroom presentations and discussions, followed by field trips to Island properties and instruction on proper planting.

In the first class, on Thursday, Jan. 23, participants will learn about the benefits of 18 native ground covers and shrubs, the light and soil conditions they require, and which birds are attracted to them. This class includes a drawing—winners will get plants to take home.

The second class, on Wednesday, Feb. 19, is focused more on birds: the life history and interesting facts about Island birds, how they use native plants, and at what time of year.

These two classes will be held at the Land Trust Building from 7-8:30 pm.

On Saturday, March 28, participants will visit two properties with gardens, wetlands, and/or forest and learn planting and siting techniques.

To learn more or sign up for this set of classes, contact Sylvia Soholt at


Ring in the New Year with the Christmas Bird Count

“Barrow’s Goldeneye” by Fyn Kynd is licensed under CC BY 2.0

As a grand finale to your holiday season, consider celebrating the New Year by participating in the Vashon-Maury Island Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count (CBC). This year’s Vashon CBC will take place on Sunday, January 5, 2020, from dawn to dusk, followed by a gathering at the Land Trust building at 5 p.m.

The annual Christmas Bird Count is the longest-running citizen science project in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the largest in the world. The CBC comprises a census of the individual birds found within more than 2,000 15-mile diameter count circles all across the region, with most located in the United States and Canada, but growing participation in Mexico, Central and South America as well as a few Pacific islands.

The Vashon count regularly records around 115-120 bird species, and recent counts have featured rarities such as Yellow-billed Loon, White-breasted Nuthatch and Red-shouldered Hawk. Our count circle includes all of Vashon and Maury Islands, a section of the Kitsap Peninsula along Colvos Passage and most of Blake Island to the north.

As this is a huge area, we’re looking for as many volunteers as we can find to help cover as much of it as possible. There are several ways to participate for people of all skill levels:

1. Join a team in the field
A number of field teams will venture out to cover particular portions of the count circle, including all of the various birding hot spots. Teams generally spend most or all of the day in the field, and observers with a team can expect to record around 30-50 species with the guidance of experienced team leaders.

2. Count birds at your feeder
If you don’t have the time or inclination to join one of the field teams, you can still help out by counting the birds on your property. Birdwatchers of any skill level can contribute by spending just a few minutes counting their feeder or yard birds.

3. Owling parties
There will also be one or more owling parties heading out from 3 or 4 a.m. until dawn in the hope of hearing some owls calling.

4. Report owls from your neighborhood
Owls can be tricky to locate, so another way to assist with the count would be to report any owls you hear calling over the next few weeks, particularly on the day of the count.

5. Allow shoreline access from your property
As there are many portions of the shoreline where there is no public access, if your house is on the waterfront anywhere other than Quartermaster Harbor, you can also help by granting permission to one of the field teams to count seabirds from your property.

At the end of the day we’ll congregate at the Land Trust building for our wrap-up meeting, where the stalwart birders who make this event happen share their triumphs and disappointments over warm drinks and light refreshments.

Please contact Vashon CBC Coordinator Ezra Parker at 206-463-0383 or if you are interested in taking part in the count.

Need a last-minute gift?

The 2020 Birds of Vashon-Maury Island calendar makes a lovely present. It features beautiful photos taken on the Island by local photographers.

The calendar can be purchased at the Vashon Bookshop for $15. The calendars are almost sold out, so online orders are no longer available.

Vashon Audubon is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization. Proceeds from calendar sales support  our activities, such as free presentations by bird experts, participation in Chautauqua Elementary School’s fourth-grade bird program, Vashon High School scholarships, and programs that promote native plants for birds as well as climate solutions.

Nov. 14 program: Vashon Bird Count 2020

Thursday, Nov. 14, 7 p.m., Vashon Land Trust building

Free and open to all

The annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is the largest and longest-running bird census in the world, with more than 75,000 participants spread out over more than 2,500 count circles across the Western Hemisphere.

Join Vashon CBC Coordinator Ezra Parker to learn more about our local count. Following a review of the history and past results of the Vashon CBC, find out how easy it is for anyone to participate in the 2020 survey and make an important contribution by conducting a count of the birds at their own home.

This program includes an instructive session with tips for successfully identifying winter backyard birds.

Dana Hofman memorial

Vashon Audubon has lost one of its stalwarts. Dana Hofman, husband of Lindsay Hofman, died November 1 of complications from heart disease.

Dana served on the Vashon Audubon Board for several years, and was a sturdy supporter of Lindsay and Audubon for many years before that. For those of us who served on the Vashon Audubon Board, “Dana and Lindsay” are almost one word, no spaces.

Join in remembering Dana at a memorial service at the Presbyterian Church on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 1 PM. A high tea will follow the service.

Lindsay invites friends and family to drop by the house at 5 PM later that day. Lindsay says they will be “celebrating Dana’s life and enjoyment of wine.” The Hofman home is at 21107 Westside Highway SW.

If you would like to make a donation to Vashon Audubon in honor of Dana, please send it to Vashon Audubon, PO Box 838, Vashon, WA 98070.

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