This year we are excited that we have a pair of Western Bluebirds nesting in a nest box on our property southwest of Eugene. This has not always been the case, so we feel very fortunate to have them successfully raising six chicks this year. As I write this in mid-June, these chicks are within a day or two of flying. The pair of adults may even nest again this year if all goes well!
It is quite a treat to see them on a daily basis. They hunt insects in the vegetable garden, come to the water source in the front yard, and make food deliveries to the nest box throughout the day. They vigorously defend their box from any other birds that get too close. One morning the male bluebird chased off a Western Wood-Pewee looking for a perch and forced it to move on to a nearby tree.
Western Bluebirds have population pressures due to habitat loss and competition from other bird species, mainly European Starlings and House Sparrows. These two non-native species nest earlier and take nest cavities that might otherwise be used by bluebirds.
In 1916, at the urging of dedicated, concerned citizens, the Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds was signed, and twenty years later it was expanded to protect birds throughout North America. This spring, in recognition of the convention’s 100th anniversary, numerous organizations across the continent collaborated to produce the annual State of the Birds report, which focuses on an assessment of all native bird species that live in Mexico, the continental United States, and Canada—birds which, of course, know no borders. Extensive data, some of it from e-bird submissions, were used to determine the conservation status of each species as well as to determine conservation standing of various habitat types. The analysis included trends in population growth and size, extent of breeding and wintering ranges, and an evaluation of the severity of the threats impacting the birds. Although the report is careful to highlight conservation successes, the overall trend is distressing. Of the 1,154 bird species analyzed, a whopping 37% of them are considered to be at high risk of extinction; 49% are species of concern with a moderate risk of extinction, while only 14% are classified as being of low concern.
Over the April 15 weekend, 30 LCAS members enjoyed the early migration at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. We were housed at the Malheur Field Station, some in campers and the rest in dorm or kitchenette accommodations. Although the headquarters remained closed for repairs and was off limits, the rest of the refuge was open. Each morning, half the group birded with Malheur Field Station Co-director Duncan Evered, who blended his knowledge of birds with the natural and cultural history of the area.
Third Saturday Bird Walk – July 16th
Canoe or kayak trip to Fern Ridge Lake, led by Dick Lamster and Maeve Sowles
Join us for a bird-watching-by-canoe (or kayak) trip to Fern Ridge Lake.You will need to furnish your own canoe or kayak and lifejackets (required). Each craft needs an Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Permit. See www.boatoregon.com for more information on this required permit. If you do not have a canoe or kayak, call anyway because other participants may have extra space in their craft.
We look forward to working with Karen and appreciate the skills and talents she brings to creating The Quail newsletter for our members to enjoy! —Maeve
My editing career started with the junior high newspaper in the eighth grade. I then went on to edit my high school newspaper. After taking time to raise three children, earn a BA in English and an MA in education, and work as a teacher and bookkeeper, I returned to school at LCC where I rediscovered my love of journalism and edited the LCC Torch. I earned a BA in journalism at the UO.
Next time you shop online at amazon.com, first go to smile.amazon.com, search for and select Lane County Audubon Society as your chosen nonprofit, and then make your purchase. By doing so, 0.5 percent of the amount of your Amazon purchases will automatically be deposited in LCAS’s checking account each quarter at no additional cost to you.
A hearty thank-you goes out to Hilary Dearborn for staffing LCAS’s table at Oregon Wild’s Eugene Brewshed & Outdoors Celebration, hosted at Ninkasi Brewery on April 28.
Thanks also to David Stone and Ron Renchler, who staffed a table at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History on the UO campus on May 21.
Lane County Audubon Society is an all-volunteer organization, and our members are very proud of the energy and diverse talents that volunteers bring to our cause—we couldn’t do it without them. Volunteering with LCAS is a great way to meet new people, give back to the community, and—best of all—have fun! For more information, contact Maeve Sowles at 541.343.8664 or president (at) laneaudubon.org.