Chirps Article

Birds and Books

It’s summer; time to get out and travel our state for new birding destinations! The North Central Washington Audubon Society website has lots of advice for where to find birds that thrive in their drier, warmer and more mountainous area.

See: North Central Washington Audubon Birding Routes

The Cascade Loop birding trail, part of the colorful series mapping our state, will also guide you to best spots and helpful information on local birds in this area.

And in the evenings, enjoy the surprisingly gripping story of how the North Cascades were set aside as a National Park in 1968 after decades of sustained effort. Local writer, Lauren Danner builds upon her thorough research and firm grasp of the political struggles both within and between the competing federal agencies of the Forest Service and National Parks, to describe the campaign to save the wild Cascades. The pressures of unprecedented population and economic growth experienced in our post-war state ironically provided both the urgent impetus to save this area and attracted a new generation of backpacking enthusiasts with the resources to achieve their goal. Still, it took enormous effort, skill and some luck to create the park we revere today. After awe-inspiring days exploring the trails, marveling at the sharp-edged peaks and arching blue skies, as well as the abundant bird life, thank the hardy band of conservationists whose vision and tenacity gifted us with this beauty, so well described in Crown Jewel Wilderness. (by Anne Kilgannon)

Black Hills Audubon Surveys Birds on Wildlife-Rich Tract Acquired by Capitol Land Trust with Help from BHAS

Black Hills Audubon is now a partner in the acquisition of Blooms Preserve in the Black River watershed, north of Littlerock.  Formerly part of the Holm ranch, this 60-acre conservation land is now owned by Capitol Land Trust (CLT), with help from the Maytown Conservation Fund, managed by BHAS.  This tract of prairie and woodland includes Blooms Ditch — a salmon-bearing channelized stream — and can be managed for conservation of Oregon spotted frogs, a species of concern of the Maytown Conservation Fund, and will provide opportunities for bird surveys and field trips for BHAS.

In fact seven of us from BHAS met with Thom Woodruff, Interim Executive Director of CLT, on a warm and sunny July 12th for our first avian survey of Blooms Preserve, observing an amazing 57 species of birds, including Green Heron, Hutton’s, Cassin’s, and Warbling Vireos, and Western Tanager.  Thanks to all who participated from BHAS, including Whittier Johnson, Bob Wadsworth, Gary Wiles, Paul Hicks, Joe Zabransky, Anne Van Sweringen, and Sam Merrill.  We look forward to observing and enjoying the diversity of this land at other times of year, including during the Christmas bird count and spring migration.

Puget Sound Seabird Survey

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. There are about 7 survey sites within the BHAS chapter territory and PSSS is always looking for new volunteers to conduct surveys.

This season we will be expanding the project, yet again, this time north to the Canadian border and the San Juan Islands. We 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 twelfth season of this exciting project. We are now recruiting enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers to help us 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, we’ll team you up with more knowledgeable surveyors. To help us determine each volunteer’s seabird identification skills, visit www.seabirdsurvey.com to take our quick, fun Seabird ID quiz.

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

Birding Backpack Program Update – “People really love this program”

In February 2018, the Black Hills Audubon Society began partnering with the Timberland Regional Libraries to provide birding opportunities for individuals and families who otherwise lack the resources to go birding. Donated to TRL were 3 Family Birding Backpacks, each pack containing 2 pair of binoculars, 2 field guides to birds, laminated sheets describing local wildflowers and trees, Great Birding Trail maps for Thurston, Mason, and Lewis counties, instruction on how to bird and how to use binoculars, and lists of less well-known local birding sites.

TRL Collection Manager Andrea Heisel says “People really love this program,” and reports that the backpacks have been checked out 21 times. One borrower wrote this on her feedback form, “Checking this out changed my life and reawakened my eyes to the sublime pleasures of birding!”

Purple Martin Bird Box Project

Pictured are Purple Martins on two of the newest boxes #40 and 41 and on three of the oldest boxes H2-H3. Two years ago BHAS arranged for installation of 34 new boxes in addition to the 12 older white boxes already there and built by Peter Hahn. After two years of monitoring we found that the birds did not use the newer boxes for nesting. We believed that the box design did not meet the birds’ needs.  This spring we removed the 34 boxes and installed six new boxes built by Hank Henry to meet the design from Washington Fish and Wildlife.

This year, as of May 24 there are 23 purple martins at the Boston Harbor colony.  They appear interested in both kinds of boxes though haven’t started nesting.  Last year a similar number of adults produced seven fledglings.