Due to the continuing emergency response to the COVID-19 virus, our in-person member meetings and many other activities have been cancelled until further notice. Hikes and field trips are being organized for vaccinated members who must comply with the activity leader’s guidelines. Personal field trips for donations of $100 or more are not now being offered. Please visit our website for updates.
DECEMBER MEETING – PRESENTED ON ZOOM
Skagit Audubon Holiday Member Photo Show Presented by: YOU! Tuesday, December 14, 7:00 PM
Although we are not able to meet in person, the program committee has been working hard to bring you the annual Skagit Audubon Holiday Member Photo Show!
Please join us from the comfort of your home to view beautiful photos of birds and nature. This is not a competition but an opportunity for us to share our photos with each other. Your photos are the stars of the show!
The December member meeting will precede the photo presentation.
Preregistration is required and is limited to 100 attendees. Please only one registrant per household. After you register you will receive an email with the link to sign in at the time of the event. Questions? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conservation Report - December 2021
By Tim Manns
Planting trees to sequester carbon
National Audubon research identifies climate change as the single greatest threat to birds as their habitat shifts and shrinks. We look to governments and corporations to address the climate crisis at the large-scale necessary, but we also want to do what we can do as individuals. If you own property, one positive and concrete action is to plant trees to keep carbon out of the atmosphere, the more and bigger the trees the better. To encourage tree planting, the Carbon Capture Foundation based in Longview, Washington makes trees available at no cost. Skagit Audubon is working with this small foundation to bring this opportunity to its members and their friends and neighbors.
At this point we are assessing the level of interest to see if it is sufficient to achieve an economy of scale and keep costs low. The list of trees below is based on what we believe available from nearby sources. It includes deciduous trees particularly good for birds and pollinators as well as conifers that will grow to large size and sequester more carbon. All trees the Carbon Capture Foundation provides will be bare root, rather than in pots, and will need to be planted soon after being received. Delivery could be as early as this January at a central location to be determined. There may be several pick-up dates depending on plant availability and to meet participants’ convenience.
You’ve probably noticed that trees planted in large restoration projects in Skagit County usually have protectors around them, often blue tubes. These help deter voles, mice, rabbits, deer, and other creatures who would like to eat your plants. Survival of planted trees is much higher with protectors. The Carbon Capture Foundation will likely not be able to provide these. By ordering in bulk, we hope to offer protectors plus the bamboo stake used to hold each in place at around $2.00 per tree. So, while the trees themselves will be free, it is possible participants in this program will need to pay $2 per tree to protect them. You may have a site where protectors are not needed, but they’re generally a good investment in ensuring the success of your planting efforts.
If you own property where you would plant more trees, please contact Tim Manns (email@example.com) with which species from the list below you would like and how many of each. If possible, please send your list by December 20.
Washington Native Plant Society has plant lists for different habitats and conditions which can help you select trees on this list that will work on your property: https://www.wnps.org/native-gardening/resources#habitat. Open the list best describing your spot and see which of the listed species below appear there.
Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), Western red cedar (Thuja plicata)-pictured above, Grand fir (Abies grandis)
Deciduous Trees: Big leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum), Red alder (Alnus rubra), Black cottonwood (Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa), Pacific crabapple (Malus fusca), Cascara (Rhamnus [Frangula] purshiana)
Please tell your friends and neighbors about this opportunity if you think they may have a suitable place for planting trees. (Note: the intention is not to provide trees to replant harvested areas where replanting is required under Washington’s Forest Practice Rules.)
Thank you for doing what you can to address the climate crisis and doing so in a way that also supports birds and pollinators. The Carbon Capture Foundation is a 501C3 charitable organization and can accept donations if you are so inclined (https://www.thecarboncapturefoundation.org)
Audubon Priorities for the 2022 Washington State Legislative Session
Read about Audubon’s priorities for the coming legislative session (January 10 – March 10, 2022) at https://wa.audubon.org/news/legislative-agenda-birds. If you act quickly, you may be in time to participate in the December 7th virtual advocacy day when Audubon members statewide will speak with their state legislators about these priorities. Register at the website above.
For information on issues Skagit Audubon is tracking go to “Conservation Notes” under the “Conservation” tab on the chapter’s website (www.skagitaudubon.org).
FROM YOUR EDITOR – by Mary Sinker
Continuing the holiday decorating for birds theme from last month, pinecones, winter berries, and wreaths replace pumpkins as the stars of the show for our feathered friends. A great project to do with children is to gather cones (the large, more open cones work well), coat them with peanut butter, and then add assorted seeds, nuts, and fruits. Hang where you can easily see them, and the birds will give you hours of enjoyment as they extract all the goodies.
If you want to try making bird seed ornaments or wreaths, Google is your friend! Dozens of ideas and simple recipes await and once you’ve selected a recipe, you can adapt it to the food preferences of the birds in your yard. These homemade projects are fun to do with children and make excellent gifts for bird-loving friends or family. Happy holiday decorating for the birds! Spotted Towhee by Mary Sinker
Meet the Black Oystercatcher – by Jeff Sinker
If you have ever been standing on a rocky shoreline, heard a loud ringing whistle, and then seen a large stocky dark bird with a striking reddish-orange bill fly by and land amongst the mussel-covered rocks, you’ve just seen a Black Oystercatcher!
Ranging from Alaska to Baja California, these shorebirds are never far from the rocky coastline of the Pacific Ocean. They prefer to feed on the rising and falling tides because the shells of mussels and other bivalves open more often, making it easier for the oystercatcher to pry the shell completely open to spear the meat inside. Oystercatchers also feed on crabs, which they smash, single-shelled mollusks like limpets, which they chisel off the rocks, and they probe for clams in the mud. Despite their name, they only occasionally eat oysters!
Oystercatchers place their nests on the ground well above the high-tide line on beaches that gently slope to the adjacent feeding area. The male makes several scrapes on the ground and the female selects one. A clutch of 1-4 eggs is laid and both parents share incubation duties for 24-29 days. The downy chicks are able to walk as soon as they are dry and both parents protect and feed their young for several months. It takes time for the youngsters to learn how to open the hard shells of mollusks and similar prey items.
Oystercatchers are sensitive to human disturbance at feeding and nesting sites, oil spills, and other marine pollutants. Most birds are permanent residents in their range, but some will wander away from breeding areas during spring and fall. Black Oystercatchers can be seen regularly along the rocky shorelines of Deception Pass State Park at West Beach and Rosario and also at Washington Park in Anacortes.
This year is the 122nd for the Christmas Bird Count, sponsored by the National Audubon Society and the nation’s longest-running community science bird project. Each year between December 14 and January 5, volunteers across the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Pacific Islands count bird species and individuals in almost 2,500 count areas. Each area is a 15-mile diameter circle. Skagit Audubon’s role in this large effort is organizing the Padilla Bay Christmas Bird Count, named for the location of the count circle’s center on the March Point peninsula by Padilla Bay.
The 2021 Padilla Bay Christmas Bird Count will take place Sunday, December 26th. The count usually happens the last Saturday of the year, but this year that day is Christmas. Flexibility for moving the date is limited because some of the same volunteers are needed for other counts in the area whose traditional dates are ones we need to avoid overlapping. For information about participating in this all-day, rain or shine, survey birders should contact Tim Manns (firstname.lastname@example.org or 360/333-8985). The count will be conducted following Covid-19 protocols, i.e., vaccinations required, sharing rides only with members of your own household, masks worn when sufficient distance isn’t possible. Photo credit: American Robin by Mary Sinker
The Education Committee needs volunteers to help with a number of adult presentations coming up in the next several months. These Power Point presentations are scheduled at libraries and private organizations/clubs in the area. If you can help give part of a presentation (already written), that would be great; or, you can assist with the computer and help answer questions from the audience. If you can lend a hand, please contact Sheila at email@example.com
Skagit Audubon Society holds monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of each month except for the months of July and August. We meet at 7:00 pm at Padilla Bay Interpretive Center(Google map), 10441 Bayview-Edison Rd. Mount Vernon. Meetings are open to all.
The board of directors meets at the same location at 7:00 pm on the first Tuesday of each month, except for the months of July and August.