Category Archives: Uncategorized

Volunteers build habitat garden

Vashon Audubon, in collaboration with the Heritage Museum and Vashon Nature Center, is creating a garden at the museum that shows  how native plants can help sustain wildlife, reduce our carbon footprint, and create more balanced ecosystems and beauty around our homes.

Sheet-mulchingLed by Audubon board members Adria Magrath, Jim Evans, and Dana Schuerholz, dozens of Vashon residents showed up over three wet Saturdays to lend a hand in transforming the museum garden site. Vashon Green School students arrived with shovels and cardboard and prepared the area with the first layer of sheet mulch during one of their Wednesday field trips.

shoveling mudInitially, the site was largely under water. The volunteers shoveled drainage material, mounded organic matter, and planted native groundcover, shrubs and trees surrounded by a circular gravel pathway to create a garden that’s above the water table now.

“This was truly a Vashon community effort with people donating time, plants, information, laughter, coffee and tea, and lots of enthusiasm,” said Schuerholz. “Thanks to all who helped out!”

“We hope to encourage people to dedicate parts of mowed lawn areas to native plants, providing food and shelter to wildlife—and to birds in particular,” she said.  “Less mowing also means less carbon released. Did you know that one hour of mowing a lawn with a gas-powered mower is the equivalent to driving 650 miles on the highway?”

planting-treeThat was one of many statistics shared with folks who showed up during the work parties. People were also encouraged to replace non-native plants that die out with natives.

The Audubon Habitat Garden will be a permanent educational feature on the museum site.

The next phase will be the creation of signage with information about each plant’s benefit to insects and birds of Vashon, as well as the traditional indigenous uses of each plant.

Islanders speak up for birds

Members of Vashon Audubon and other Audubon chapters across the state advocated for birds during Environmental Lobby Day in Olympia on Thursday, Jan. 30.

In the photo above, Vashon Islanders Sarah Driggs, Margie Morgan, Virginia Lohr, and Steve Hunter (first row, 5th-2nd from the right) join other Audubon chapter members on the Capitol steps. The number of environmental advocates swelled to around 400 as other participants in the Environmental Priorities Coalition arrived later.

Together, they called for action in four areas:

  • Establish a Clean Fuels Standard, HB 1110 | SB 5412. This standard would require fuel producers and importers to reduce pollution from the fuels that power our transportation sector, which is responsible for nearly half of our state’s climate and air pollution.
  • Reduce Plastic Pollution, SB 5323. The Reusable Bag Act would eliminate thin, carry-home plastic bags at all retail establishments, reducing plastic in our waterways, ocean, and recycling equipment (which gets clogged up with plastic).
  • Establish Limits on Climate Pollution, HB 2311 | SB 6272. This legislation would set credible and ambitious climate pollution limits, provide clear direction to meet these limits, and invest in nature-based solutions like trees and soils to capture excess carbon.
  • Protect and Restore Habitats for Healthy Orcas, HB 2550.  This bill would respond to decades of development-related habitat loss by setting a new standard—net ecological gain—to leave our environment better for future generations.

Audubon Washington is also advocating for bills concerning Sustainable Farm and Fields, SB 5947, and Zero Emission Vehicles, SB 5811.

In meetings with 34th district legislators or their aides, Vashon Audubon members stressed that more than 140 bird species in Washington are at high or moderate risk of devastating population declines because of climate change, adding to the urgent need to take climate action now.

The Vashon group also thanked our delegationSen. Joe Nguyen, Rep. Eileen Cody, and in particular Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon—for continuing to be outstanding leaders in crafting climate solutions.

If you would like to stay abreast of developments in the legislature, sign up for Audubon Washington’s weekly legislative tracker.

All Welcome!

The Salish Sea Pigeon Guillemot Survey is the topic of our February program, to be held Thursday, Feb. 13, 7 p.m. at the Vashon Land Trust building

All are invited to come and learn about the regional research on Pigeon Guillemots and how Vashon is participating. Speakers Emily Terao, from the Whidbey Audubon Guillemot Group; Maria Metler, from the Vashon Nature Center; and Adria Magrath, from Vashon Audubon will talk about the survey results and share their personal stories.

This program is sponsored by Vashon Audubon with support from the Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust and the Vashon Nature Center.


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

Photo of Cedar Waxwing on serviceberry by Jim Diers


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.

« Older Entries