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Birds and Climate Change

Please join us for this program on Thursday, March 14, 7 PM at the Vashon Land Trust building. The program is free and open to all.

Audubon Washington’s Director of Bird Conservation,  Dr. Trina Bayard, and Chapter Network Manager, Teri Anderson, will talk about climate change projections for birds in our region, how we can protect bird habitat, and ways to reduce the severity of global warming.

We’ll also briefly discuss:

  • the potential of expanding our climate-related citizen-science focus
  • a birds and climate change public art project on Vashon as part of Wild Wonders 2020
  • a sign for Christensen Pond Preserve that’s partly to honor Emma Amiad’s contribution to our Island. We’ll be soliciting donations to help cover costs.

The program is a co-sponsored by the Vashon Nature Center and the Vashon Land Trust.

Audubon members raise their voices for birds

A number of Vashon Audubon members participated in Environmental Lobby Day on January 29. We joined more than 500 members of the Environmental Priorities Coalition to urge state legislators to enact 100% clean electricity legislation and other policies. Members Rob Briggs, Sarah Driggs, Rayna and Jay Holtz, Virginia Lohr, Sharon Metcalf, Margie Morgan, and Randy Smith were among those who made the trip to Olympia.

Many of the issues we advocated for have been moving through the legislative process since then. As of Feb. 22, the clean electricity legislation had passed out of the final House and Senate committees.

To see where things stand, read Washington Audubon’s weekly update.

Top priorities for Audubon Washington are a transition to 100% clean electricity, cleaner fuels for transportation, enhanced building efficiency standards, full funding of the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s budget request, and protection of sagebrush habitat.

Other issues on the Coalition agenda are oil spill prevention, emergency actions to save the southern resident orcas, and reduction of plastic pollution

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Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (near the door) with 34th District constituents.

On the lobby day, 28 constituents of the 34th District—comprising Vashon, West Seattle, and Burien—packed the offices of Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, Rep. Eileen Cody, and Sen. Joe Nguyen to urge their support these issues.

Nguyen

Sen. Joe Nguyen (kneeling) posed with his constituents after their meeting

It wasn’t a hard sell; each of them strongly backs the policies we advocated for. Rep. Fitzgibbon, in particular, chairs the House Environment & Energy Committee and has been a stalwart leader on climate legislation.

We also heard from Gov. Jay Inslee, who offered stirring words to the Coalition crowd on the Capitol steps. “It is our duty to defeat climate change,” he said, “and we are going to defeat climate change.”

Don’t miss our January program

Paul Bannick, professional photographer, conservationist, and accomplished public speaker, returns to Vashon on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 6 p.m. at the Vashon Theatre. Paul’s presentations combine breathtaking photos and videos, evocative audio, and first-person stories from the field.

In his program about North American owls, Paul uses intimate and dramatic images to follow owls through the course of one year in their distinct habitats. Audiences see each stage in an owl’s life: courtship, mating, and nesting in spring; fledging and feeding of young in summer; dispersal and gaining independence in fall; and winter’s migrations and competitions for food.

All 19 species found in Canada and the United States are featured in photos, video, and narrative, with a focus on the Northern Pygmy-Owl, Great Gray Owl, Burrowing Owl, and Snowy Owl.

Paul’s presentations are popular, and last year’s program sold out. We encourage Audubon members to come early.

The program is free; however, we appreciate donations at the door to help support this special event.

Close out the year with the Christmas Bird Count

As a grand finale to your holiday season, consider closing out the year by participating in the Vashon-Maury Island Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count (CBC). This year’s Vashon CBC will take place on Sunday, Dec. 30, 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 at your feeder (or anywhere on your property). Birders of any skill level can contribute by spending just a few minutes counting their 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
As owls can be tricky to locate, 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.

This year the CBC compiler and organizer will be Ezra Parker. Please contact him at 206-463-0383 or ezra@cfgrok.com if you’re interested in taking part in the count.

Our 2019 calendar is here!

The 2019 Birds of Vashon-Maury Island calendar, featuring beautiful photos taken on the Island by local photographers, is for sale now. Find them at the Vashon Thriftway customer service counter and at the Vashon Bookshop. Cost is $15 each.

Proceeds from calendar sales support Vashon Audubon activities, such as our free presentations by bird experts, participation in Chautauqua Elementary School’s fourth-grade bird program, and Vashon High School scholarships.

Update: The 2019 calendars are sold out. Thank you to everyone who supported Audubon by purchasing a calendar!

Landscaping with native plants

Come to our program on Landscaping with Native Plants, Thursday, Nov. 8, 7 p.m. at the Land Trust. Moderated by Land Trust Director Tom Dean, a panel of experts will talk about how to plan, plant and maintain native plant landscaping. Bring your questions!

Speakers are Melissa Schafer, Schafer Specialty Landscape and Design; John Brown, Judd Creek Nursery; and Scott Anderson, Master Gardener.

Photo of Cedar Waxwing eating chokecherry berry by David Waterworth

We endorse Initiative 1631

The Vashon-Maury Island Audubon board unanimously endorsed Initiative 1631 at our June meeting.

If approved by voters, I-1631 will reduce Washington’s carbon pollution by 50 million metric tons by 2050.

In addition, $250 million annually will be invested in projects to increase the resilience of our waters and forests to the impacts of climate change. This includes restoring and protecting estuaries, fisheries and marine shoreline habitats vital for birds to survive. It also includes programs to improve forest health and reduce vulnerability to changes in hydrology, insect infestation, wildfires, and drought. This is critical support that will protect important bird habitats now and in the future.

Why is I-1631 important for birds?

The National Audubon Society’s Birds and Climate Change Report details how rising temperatures influence the range of 588 North American bird species. The report concludes that 314 of those are threatened or endangered by climate change.

In Washington, 189 species of birds are at risk. During the past 50 years, more than 60 percent of wintering North American bird species have shifted their winter ranges northward. Soon, they may have nowhere left to go. To protect birds in a changing climate, we must reduce the carbon emissions responsible for climate change.

Why an initiative?

Earlier this year, Governor Inslee proposed a carbon fee system. The proposal passed out of committee in the Senate as SB 6203, but failed to pass the Legislature. Other climate-related bills also died in the Legislature.

After the legislative session ended, conservation advocates filed I-1631. The signature  gathering effort was successful, and the measure will appear on the November ballot.

More information about the initiative

A news story from the Weekly explains key points about I-1631.

Barn Swallows photo by Jim Diers

 

 

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