eEcho 2018 Nov-Dec

BHAS Seeking Nominations for Two Annual Awards

Jack Davis Conservationist of the Year Award Nominating Criteria

This award is primarily for citizens or teams who have volunteered their time and skills in the field of conservation. The award is intended for persons who have not previously received it. When submitting a nomination, please be guided by the following criteria:

* Work was a volunteer initiative relying heavily on volunteer time;
* Nominees worked collaboratively with others, including governmental and non-governmental organizations, to help resolve an environmental issue;
* Nominees used objective sources of information and reliable data, while demonstrating professionalism throughout;
* Nominees worked consistently on the issue and persevered, proving resourceful under difficult challenges;
* Results of the work made a significant difference either in real environmental benefits or improved awareness by the public or governmental agencies on an environmental issue.
* Work has generally been within the BHAS geographical base (Thurston, Mason, and Lewis counties);
* Nominees may be members of BHAS, but don’t have to be;

Submit the name(s) and a brief description of the effort made by the individual(s) or teams and their progress and successes as they relate to the Jack Davis Conservationist of the Year Award criteria. If you are nominating a team, please list the key individuals who led the team and their contact information. Please email your nominations to ConservationAwardNom@nullblackhills-audubon.org or mail them to the Black Hills Audubon Society, PO Box 2524, Olympia , WA 98507. Questions can be addressed to the Conservation Chair, Sam Merrill, at conservationchair@nullblackhills-audubon.org. (Deadline Jan 20, 2018

Dave McNett Environmental Educator Award Nominating Criteria

Black Hills Audubon is proud to continue recognizing environmental education efforts by area residents. We would like to receive nominations of individuals who have carried on Dave McNett’s tradition of educational excellence. These individuals are making a positive
difference in the lives of living beings through their work as educators. The nomination criteria for this award are:
* Nominees collaborated with others toward the educational goals of informing the public about an aspect of our natural world pertaining to bird habitat or conservation;
* Their work has been inspirational to those they have worked or taught with;
* Work need not have been done on a volunteer basis, but did involve volunteers or one’s own volunteer time;
* Nominees can be professional environmental educators, but need not be;
* Nominees have worked in the field for at least two years;
* Work has generally been within the BHAS geographical base (Thurston, Mason, and Lewis counties);
* Nominees may be members of BHAS, but don’t have to be;

Please email your completed nomination, along with a brief narrative about why you are nominating the person, to McNettEnvEducatorAward-nom@nullblackhillsaudubon.org, or mail it to Black Hills Audubon Society, P.O. Box 2524, Olympia, WA 98507. (Deadline Jan 20, 2018)

Pass on Plastics

(by Kim Adelson) – Items made of plastic are a major source of pollution on both land and sea. A staggering amount of plastic ends up in our oceans—the equivalent of 136 billion milk jugs annually. Sea animals such as birds and dolphins get tangled up in it; others, such as sea turtles and 90% of seabirds, ingest it. This problem has been growing rapidly: in the 1960s, only 5% of seabirds were found to have plastic in their systems, but by 1980 the number had jumped to 80%. Projections are that nearly 100% of pelagics will be plastic consumers by 2050. Sea plastic is hard for animals to avoid; large pieces eventually break down into small, sometimes microscopic particles, which remain in the stomachs of sea birds and other creatures, sometimes filling them to the point that they starve. Birds also suffer because the often-sharp pieces can puncture internal organs. Most plastic in the oceans was originally dumped on land and was swept by rainwater or sewage systems into streams and rivers, finally making its way into the ocean.

Fortunately, we can all take easy steps to reduce our contribution to the plastic problem.

  • Avoid disposable plastic items: straws, take-away containers, cutlery, grocery bags, etc. Substitute reusable items, such as canvas totes and metal straws, or biodegradable items such as paper and cardboard. Bring mesh totes from home for fruits and veggies rather than using the plastic bags provided by the store.
  • Buy a reusable water bottle. And a travel mug.
  • Stick with clothing made from natural fibers. Those made from synthetics such as rayon, acrylic, polyester, and nylon shed “microfibers” every time they are washed and are in fact the largest source of plastic pollution.
  • Avoid disposable diapers.
  • Buy used items. Not only are you saving the plastic in the item itself, but also in the packaging in which so many products are encased.
  • When you can, buy items packaged in cardboard rather than plastic. Think laundry and dish-washing detergent. Cardboard degrades much more quickly than plastic and is more easily recycled.
  • Avoid fancy tea bags. Those shiny tea bags that look like silk are actually made of plastic. Go with paper tea bags or, better yet, switch to loose tea.
  • Buy items in bulk, or at least avoid products in single serving containers. For example, a quart of yogurt in a single package uses a lot less plastic than a six-pack of smaller portions.
  • Support local plastic bag bans or taxes.
  • Kick your gum-chewing habit. Nowadays, most chewing gum contains polyethylene and polyvinyl acetate rather than chicle, which was made from tree sap and was biodegradable.
  • Use biodegradable bags for pet waste.
  • Recycle your plastic goods. Only about 10% of plastic in the U.S. is recycled.

Many people don’t recycle plastic because they are unsure how to do so. In general, the “best” plastics are those embossed with a 1 or 2 on their bottoms; those with higher numbers are either more toxic or less reusable. If you must buy plastic objects, try to stick with the lower numbers. Styrofoam, commonly used in meat packages in groceries, is one of the longest-lasting plastics, but you can recycle it at Dart Container Co., 600 Israel Road in Tumwater.

Shape also matters. In Thurston County, for example, transparent bottles and jars can be  recycled only if the neck is narrower than the base. Opaque food tubs, like those for yogurt or sour cream) are recyclable but clear tubs are not. Rigid, but not soft, plant pots are also recyclable. Prescription medicine bottles are recyclable only if their openings are narrower than their bases (which is generally not the case). Plastic lids are never recyclable—they gum up recycling equipment. So do plastic bags. Plastic clamshells are not recyclable.

Plastic lasts in landfills and in the seas for thousands of years; it harms wildlife. Many plastics also leak estrogenic chemicals that are carcinogenic. It is made from oil, and hence its use encourages drilling and oil transport. There are so many good reasons to try to reduce our reliance on plastic: please commit to taking at least one or two small steps in that direction!

Wildlife Rehabilitation in Washington State

As birders and others interested in wildlife go about their activities, they’re likely to find injured animals that could be saved by people with the necessary expertise. Here’s a brief introduction to wildlife rehabilitation, a profession licensed by the State of Washington.

While the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) manages wildlife on a population level, it values the role of wildlife rehabilitators who care for sick, injured, and orphaned wildlife. All native wild birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians are protected by State laws and regulations, and it is unlawful to attempt rehabilitation

without the proper permit. Anyone wishing to practice wildlife rehabilitation must get a Wildlife Rehabilitation Permit (WAC 232-12-064) from the WDFW, which authorizes a person to temporarily possess and treat injured, diseased, oiled, or abandoned wildlife for the purpose of wild release. Rehabilitators must meet several requirements to earn this permit, and those who work with native migratory birds must also have a US Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Permit. Licensing ensures high standards of practice and that all wildlife rehabilitators are trained, qualified, and provide humane care and housing for wildlife in their custody.

Animals in rehabilitation face one of four fates: successful rehabilitation and release, non-releasable permanent educational placement, natural death as a result of its condition, or euthanasia. On average, half or more of the wildlife brought to wildlife rehabilitation facilities die or must be euthanized. So rehabilitators must make difficult decisions daily and take their responsibilities seriously. Every animal is carefully evaluated, diagnosed, and treated through a program of veterinary care, proper diet, medication, physical therapy, exercise, and prerelease conditioning. Successful rehabilitation means that released animals are physically and psychologically fit and can truly function as wild animals. State law states that they must be able to recognize and obtain the proper foods, select appropriate mates and reproduce, show fear of potential dangers, and know how to avoid predation. Successful releases are planned according to weather, season, habitat, safety, and location.

Most rehabilitators rely on you to get the animals to them. Since they are volunteers, by law they may not be paid for their work except by donation. WDFW asks that we respect the time, compassion, and personal expense they put into every animal they care for, and consider donating to these caregivers.

In Thurston County, Yelm Veterinary Hospital (360-458-7707) treats injured small mammals and birds, but no orphans or babies. Raindancer Wild Bird Rescue (360-970-5402) in Olympia treats birds of prey, corvids (crows, ravens, jays), and bats. In Pierce County, Jasmine Fletcher’s “A Soft Place to Land” ( 360-761-2915) in Graham treats small mammals, deer and elk. Kelley Ward’s-Featherhaven (253-350-5792) in Enumclaw treats songbirds only.

Field Trip Planning is Fun! Come Help Plan 2019 Field Trips on December 5

(by Bonnie Wood) – I have a birder friend in Gig Harbor whom I see only occasionally. Each time we see each other, she tells me about the birding sites she has discovered and enjoyed. I am not familiar with all of them, but I note them, considering that they might be worth a field trip for all BHAS members and other interested folks.

On Wednesday, December 5, at 6:00 p.m., the BHAS Field Trip Committee will hold its annual planning meeting for 2019. But I don’t mean to sound official and bureaucratic: birders willing to be field trip leaders meet at my house and talk about their favorite – or newly discovered – birding sites. Plus I’ve got snacks!

We would love to have you join us. Join us to share your favorite birding sites. Join us to help plan 2019 BHAS field trips. We welcome new faces and ideas. I want to emphasize: one does not have to be an expert birder to lead a field trip. Just be willing to convene a group at a specific time and place.

My house is at 2800 Aberdeen Court in southeast Olympia. From Boulevard Avenue, turn east, coast down the hill, and turn right at the second cul-de-sac. My house is on the lower corner. Please RSVP to bwood2800@ gmail.com. I look forward to seeing you!

November 6: Public-Comment Deadline for Marbled Murrelet Conservation Strategy

(by Maria Ruth) – The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have released their revised draft Environmental Impact Statement for the endangered Marbled Murrelet Long-Term Conservation Strategy. Public comments are being accepted through November 7.

DNR manages about 15% of Washington’s murrelet habitat, with eight alternative management strategies under consideration. Which strategy is eventually chosen may determine the fate of the species in Washington; having lost 44% of its population in the state since 2001, the species faces local extinction in the near future.

Our state forests are public land, and you have a say in how they are managed. Please speak up to support a conservation strategy that will make a significant contribution to the recovery of this species. The BHAS Conservation Committee is submitting comments, but individual comments matter, too. Please use DNR’s official comment portal to send comments electronically (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MMLTCSRDEIS) or by U.S. mail to: SEPA Center, P.O. Box 47015, Olympia, WA 98504-7015.

For suggested talking points, please visit BHAS’s website (“Marbled Murrelet” under the Conservation tab).

Armchair Birding: Raptors in Focus

(by Anne Kilgannon) – Have you ever been hawk-watching? Standing on a ridge overlooking a stretch of country created just right for an updraft of warmed air, forming a highway in the sky for the soaring of raptors? Some Fall day I will be there, thrilling to the sight of big birds streaming by, the urgency and tug of the migratory season pulling them through the sky. The Chelan Ridge Hawk Migration Festival on the dry side of the North Cascades is within reach—and a likely adventure some day—but the epitome, the dream trip, would be Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania, so heroically saved for us by Rosalie Edge in 1938 when she purchased the land under the migration path.

Oh my, what a story! If you enjoy gripping page-turners and unlikely champions battling great odds—and winning—get a copy of her life story, Hawk of Mercy, by Dyana Furmansky, for an eye-opening history of a dark chapter in Audubon. It’s a passionate and inspiring biography of a woman wholly taken with birds and their protection, who threw herself and her fortune into conservation work almost alone, but who through persistence and sheer chutzpah created a movement and galvanized a quiescent public to stand up for birds. From a traditional norm of seeing hawks as vermin fit only to shoot and let rot in their thousands as they attempted their annual migration over the mountains of Pennsylvania and other infamous spots, Edge transformed the reflexive killing to awakening a sense of awe in the majesty of the birds responding to the seasonal imperative. In time, binoculars replaced shotguns, respect and understanding ended the wanton slaughter.

The villainy assigned hawks as “chicken killers” was, in part, ignorance of the crucial balancing role of predators in general and the raptor’s place in the natural order. Society still struggles with the notion of wolves and grizzlies taking their rightful places. Hawk-viewing festivals are part of continuing public education, as are banding programs, annual counting and mapping of bird populations, and other programs to gather data, establish patterns, and learn the intricacies of bird life.

An excellent window into this work and the fascinating people who make it their life’s purpose is Jack Connor’s Season at the Point: The Birds and Birders of Cape May. Connor describes in gritty but affectionate terms what it means to participate in the annual tallying of raptors as they pass over this spot on the eastern flyway. As you read his account, your back will ache in empathy, your eyes will want to be there scanning, straining to identify smudges and streaks of sky-high birds as they stream by. You will be moved by the Cape birders’ dedication and their dogged strength as they struggle each year to add to our store of knowledge—still rudimentary, still a new science of migration and population.

Should you be pulled to join in, either at the Cape or more locally at Chelan, it would be best to study the classic work Hawks in Flight, by three noted graduates of Cape May: Pete Dunne, David Sibley and Clay Sutton. Their book is dedicated to Maurice Broun, who got his start when Rosalie Edge hired him as the first “curator” at Hawk Mountain. Roger Tory Peterson wrote the Foreword, adding another link to the chain of bird knowledge passed hand to hand, having himself stuffed envelopes for Rosalie’s conservation crusades in her New York apartment in his early days. It was Peterson’s “method” of bird identification system, first published in the 1930s, that helped turn bird study to field study, not “bird in the hand” by way of the shotgun. All these steps we now take for granted are but one or two generations of birdwatchers in the making. Hawks in Flight takes the Peterson method even further as the authors explore the visual frontiers beyond field marks and feather colors. Watching and identifying raptors calls upon the birder to develop new skills involving “a number of hints and clues: the rhythm and cadence of a bird’s flight; its overall color, shape, and size; plumage characteristics; and behavior under given conditions. All form a composite picture of a bird that may be flying at the limit of conjecture.”

It’s startling to realize that the tips offered for hawk identification were painstakingly assembled from experience at Cape May in the near past: Pete Dunne conducted the first season-long migration count just in 1976. This is still an evolving story, one we can participate in and advance if we have the time and skill. Bird watching is a relatively young pursuit and one heavily dependent on citizen science. With climate change and habitat loss threatening, we all feel the urgency of the moment, but seeing how far we have come in such a short span is also encouraging. We are giant strides from the massed killing of hawks, Passenger Pigeons, and other birds shrugged off by public indifference; our challenges are subtler if no less deadly. Rosalie Edge’s campaigns will not be our way, but with new tools and knowledge, we will join our pioneer forebears and marshal awe and wonder “for the birds.”

Replacing Fossil Fuels with Renewable Energy in Washington State – Black Hills Audubon Supports I-1631

(by Sue Danver) – Pervasive wildfires, along with heat and drought, contaminate the air we breathe and ndanger both humans and wildlife. Climate change—that is, global warming—is already here in Washington State, and National Audubon scientists have determined that this change is the greatest threat to birds—too fast for birds and other wildlife to adapt to, not  to mention us.

To address climate change, Black Hills Audubon, as well as Audubon Washington, have  endorsed initiative I-1631. This measure would place an ever-increasing fee on greenhouse-gas emissions from the use of fossil fuels by the largest emitters in the state. These funds would be used to develop renewable energy, like wind and solar, and to protect forests, clean water, and clean air while also protecting communities at risk from change.

Our air would become cleaner not only because of decreasing emissions into the atmosphere but also as the shift away from carbon will reverse the terrible effects of global warming, including wildfires, droughts, severe storms, and the even more  disruptive climate that we are now headed toward. Passage of I-1631 would foster development of renewable energy, thus generating many new jobs in the state, while offering help for those losing jobs in fossil-fuel industries and communities affected by the transition. Passage of this initiative would establish our state as a leader in addressing global warming.

Climate change is with us; we need action now. We have before us an opportunity to do  our part in addressing a clear and present danger. Please help Washington State be a bellwether for the nation by supporting I-1631 in the November election.