Category Archives: What’s new

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 calendars are nearly sold out. We reprinted a small number in response to requests. They are available at the Vashon Bookshop and the Thriftway customer service counter.

Marbled Murrelets need you now

This fall, Washington State is seeking public input on important decisions on the fate of this endangered seabird.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) just released its Revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement (RDEIS) for the Long Term Conservation Strategy for the Marbled Murrelet. This strategy will be implemented on 1.4 million acres of state forest for the next 50 years.

This is a critical time for the endangered seabird, whose population in Washington has declined 44 percent since 2001. DNR manages 213,000 acres of land in western Washington, where mature and old-growth coastal forests provide the Murrelet’s preferred nesting trees. These forests are public lands and you have a voice in how they are managed.

Many people submitted comments on the previous draft of the Environmental Impact Statement in early 2017. Now we are close to the end of a 60-day public comment period.

The Marbled Murrelet Coalition’s goal is to guide DNR to select an alternative that makes a significant contribution to the recovery of the endangered Murrelet. (Coalition members are Conservation Northwest, Defenders of Wildlife, Olympic Forest Coalition, Seattle Audubon Society, Washington Environmental Council, and Washington Forest Law Center.)

Below are links to background information and message points for you to consider including in your public comments.

Action you can take

Submit a comment letter urging the DNR and USFWS to do more to protect this endangered seabird and the mature and old-growth forests where it nests. The deadline for comments is Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at 5 p.m. UPDATE: The deadline for comments has been extended to Thursday, Dec. 6, 5 p.m. Your comments will be received by both DNR and USFWS.

Submit your comments via the official comment portal: www.surveymonkey.com/r/MMLTCSRDEIS

Or mail your written comments to: SEPA Center, PO Box 47015, Olympia, WA 98504-7015

For more information

Washington Environmental Council two-pager: https://wecprotects.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Marbled-Murrelet-One-Pager-V2-2018.pdf

WEC webpage with links: https://wecprotects.org/marbled-murrelet

Message points suggested by the Marbled Murrelet Coalition

DNR’s preferred alternative (Alternative H) doesn’t do enough to support Murrelet recovery primarily because it permits the harvest of too much of our mature and old forests over the next 50 years and does not conserve enough habitat as mitigation.

• Applying the most recent data available, DNR must protect all occupied sites, increase existing interior forest habitat, and establish buffers that will protect vulnerable Murrelet chicks from predators.

• No Long-Term Conservation Strategy (LTCS) should include a net loss of habitat. In the North Puget region, Alternative H anticipates a net loss of more than 1,000 acres after 50 years. The LTCS should include a net increase in habitat for Murrelets across our landscape

• The LTCS should include more and larger Murrelet-specific conservation areas to broaden the geographic distribution of Murrelets in western Washington. Isolated conservation areas create and exacerbate Murrelet population gaps that hinder the species’ survival and recovery.

• The LTCS should lead to more Murrelets across more of our landscape, not fewer Murrelets in smaller forest patches. Broader geographic distribution helps reduce the risk that major human or natural disturbances (logging, roadbuilding, wildfire, increased nest predation) will wipe out significant portions of the Murrelet population.

• The plan must look to the future and protect Murrelets from natural disturbances. DNR should more thoroughly evaluate the potential impacts of tree mortality, wildfire, windthrow, and our warming climate. Habitat loss and degradation from such disturbances should be accurately calculated and properly mitigated.

• The LTCS should also better protect Murrelets from the impacts of human-caused disturbance, especially in areas where Murrelets are known to nest (occupied sites), the forest buffers around those sites, and the “special habitat areas.” Disturbance such as road construction and the use of heavy equipment may result in “take” of Murrelets that is not properly mitigated.

• A meaningful Long-Term Conservation Strategy must set aside enough current and future old forest to not only offset the habitat the DNR plans to log but also to improve forest habitat conditions for the Murrelet, without putting the existing population at further risk. The Long-Term Conservation Strategy must truly support real conservation for the Murrelets for the long-term.

 

Ed Swan revives Washington Birds journal

Ed Swan, a long-time Vashon birder and author of Birds of Vashon Island, recently announced that Washington Birds, the journal of the Washington Ornithological Society, is back after a long hiatus. Ed is the new editor of the journal, which is available for reading online at the WOS website.

Several members of the Vashon birding community contributed to the new edition of the journal. An article by Gary Shugart leads the General Interest section. Ed and Jim McCoy co-wrote a species account for the Northern Wheatear that discusses the Wheatear that visited Vashon several years ago. Ed said that Sue Trevathan’s work is spread invisibly throughout the journal, as she edited and reviewed a number of articles.

For cost reasons, the journal is now available free only online. If enough people express interest in a hard copy, a short run will be printed and sold at a price to be determined by the amount of orders. Email the editor at wabirds@wos.org if you wish to purchase a hard copy of the journal.

Birding festivals around the Northwest

Many Audubon chapters and other organizations sponsor birding festivals around our region. Typically they offer a number of birding trips led by knowledgeable guides, and are great opportunities to see species you might not find in your own area.

Here’s a listing of festivals in 2019. We’ll add more as we learn about them, so check back from time to time.


Klamath Basin Winter Wings Festival, February 14-17. Enjoy over 50 guided birding and photography field trips, workshops, receptions, keynotes, and more throughout the Klamath Basin in Oregon and California. Featured speakers are Pepper Trail, George Lepp and Julie Zickefoose. Learn more » www.WinterWingsFest.org


Port Susan Snow Goose and Birding Festival, February 24-25, Stanwood. Take part in several different free guided tours and presentations on snow geese and other birds and wildlife in our region. Festival headquarters is the Floyd Norgaard Cultural Center in Stanwood. Learn more »  discoverstanwoodcamano.com/calendar/portsusan-snow-goose-festival


Wings Over Water Northwest Birding Festival, Blaine, March 15-17. In its 17th year, this festival celebrates the migratory birds that flock to the coastal waters of Drayton Harbor, Birch Bay and Semiahmoo Bay. This major stopover on the Pacific Flyway is designated an Important Birding Area. Learn more » www.wingsoverwaterbirdingfestival.com


Othello Sandhill Crane Festival, Othello, March 22-24. For nearly two decades this event has celebrated the annual return of nearly 35,000 Sand Hill Cranes to Othello, Washington as they migrate to their breeding grounds in Alaska. The festival offers opportunities to view the cranes up close, with tours led by local experts, and also boasts tours of the flora, fauna and geology of the area, lectures, and children’s activities. Learn more » www.othellosandhillcranefestival.org/the-festival


Olympic BirdFest, April 12-14. Guided birding trips, boat tours, live auction and raffle, gala banquet, and more. Featured speaker: John Marzluff, wildlife science professor and author. Options: Enjoy a three-day pre-festival birding cruise of the San Juan Islands, April 9-11. Stay on for a Neah Bay post-trip on April 14-16: two days birding coastal Washington. Learn more » www.olympicbirdfest.org.


Leavenworth Spring Bird Fest, May 16-19. Come and celebrate this festival’s 17th anniversary! Witness an array of returning migratory birds in peak wildflower season in North Central Washington’s beautiful Wenatchee Valley. This year’s keynote speaker is Richard Crossley, an internationally acclaimed birder, photographer and award-winning author of The Crossley ID Guide series. Learn more » www.leavenworthspringbirdfest.org


Puget Sound Bird Fest in Edmonds, September 13-15, is an annual fall celebration of birds and nature found on the beautiful shores of Puget Sound. The three-day event includes speakers, guided walks, land- and water-based field trips, exhibits, and educational activities for children and adults. Plan to spend the weekend in Edmonds, birding and meeting other birders, naturalists, photographers, and people engaged in fascinating bird research projects. Learn more » pugetsoundbirdfest.org


Go birding and make a difference!

Are seabirds in the southern Salish Sea increasing or decreasing in numbers? Which species are changing their range?

Help us find out. The Puget Sound Seabird Survey (PSSS) is a community and citizen science project managed by Seattle Audubon that empowers volunteer birdwatchers to gather valuable data on wintering seabird  populations across the southern Salish Sea.

This season PSSS will be expanding the project, yet again, this time north to the Canadian border and the San Juan Islands. They received funding from the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program through the Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife to add 15-30 new survey sites, develop an oil spill plan, and train volunteers on how to react to a spill.

You can contribute to this vital seabird science by joining the 12th season of this exciting project. PSSS is now recruiting enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers to help monitor the status of our local wintering seabirds. Training on survey methodology will be provided at a location near you in September and early October.

Volunteers should ideally be able to identify Puget Sound’s seabird species and be available on the first Saturday of each month, October through April, to conduct a 30-minute survey. But, if determining between Lesser and Greater Scaup is a challenge, you’ll be teamed up with more knowledgeable surveyors. To help PSSS determine each volunteer’s seabird identification skills, visit www.seabirdsurvey.org to take a quick, fun Seabird ID quiz.

Learn more, including training dates, at www.seabirdsurvey.org and email Toby Ross, Senior Science Manager, at tobyr@seattleaudubon.org if you would like more information or to take part.

4th grade birding program inspires young artists

For nearly 25 years, Vashon Audubon has participated in Chautauqua Elementary School’s 4th grade birding program, contributing presentations about birds and field trips on the island.

The Vashon Center for the Arts also participates through its artist-in-the-classroom program. In 2018, artist Bruce Morser led the students in drawing and painting birds. The kids’ work was displayed in the VCA breezeway during the summer. This video captures some of their delightful work.