Our last Program Meeting was in late February and our last face-to-face Board Meeting was in early March. Since then, we have suspended our normal scheduled activities. I often think about our many volunteers and members who attend these Lane Audubon functions, people I only see at that time. Now months have passed and I feel the loss of normal contacts, hugs, smiles, and bird sightings that we would normally share when we see each other. I hope each of you is doing what you can to stay safe and healthy!
Long-time LCAS board member Herb Wisner, now 98, has completed his memoir, My Life...and Then Some: A Memoir? Herb’s bird-filled autobiography is available on Amazon!
The following teaser is shortened slightly from what appears on the Amazon website:
For 98 years, Herb Wisner has lived a remarkable life. Raised in an extraordinary childhood home near the New Jersey shore, his journeys took him to colleges in Alabama and New York, to overseas exploits while in the Army Airforce during WWII, and to a teaching career that stretched from rural Unadilla, New York, to Eugene, Oregon.
Accompanied by hundreds of photos, Herb’s stories span nearly a century. They include vivid portraits of family and friends whose paths have crossed his. He remembers them all in his unique voice infused with gentle humor.
Due to the pandemic, we have learned enlightening essential practices to secure our families and ourselves from an infection affecting the human population of the earth. Precautions to ensure protection from disease have become daily rituals, changing our lives dramatically. This situation has also raised awareness of our basic needs for safe food supplies, safe water, and safe spaces for shelter. And it has also shown us the fragility of having safe and productive ways to make a living.
All of these are the same essentials we strive to protect for the birds and wildlife who share the earth with us. Usually humans feel they are above or apart from these necessities, since many of us are buffered from the precarious edge of survival. Unfortunately, this is not true for all people.
Recently we have seen the violent side of human nature on stark display. This is an aspect of our humanity that I cannot fathom. Humans are all related – we share the DNA, the human history, the earth. Each of us has the same biological and daily needs, and together we could recreate a safe earth for all. Why are compassion and empathy such elusive principles?
We need to find the resolve to be better at supplying essential needs for ourselves and each other. We need to stop and learn from our huge ongoing mistakes. Drop the prehistoric sub-brain ego responses, and use our hearts to feel the flow of compassion toward all living things. We can do better together in focusing on our mutual needs.
Can we learn from this stressful time and actually make our lives and communities healthier, more holistic and more productive for everyone? It is time for humans to lift themselves to fulfill their potential for caring, empathy, and compassion. Please, let us use our big brains to imagine this into our new reality and make choices that bring us forward to a better future together. This goal needs to become more than a dream and more than rhetoric. Humans have great capacity for adaptation.
Let’s make it work for the common good of all people and the earth. My deepest wish is that we reach a time of peace and wellness for us all.
As I write this piece in early April, our future activities for the next two months are completely up in the air. We know that in May we will not have a Bird Walk and that cancellation of the Program Meeting is a strong possibility. Theoretically, at this point, June will be planned as the time gets closer and we know our ability to gather safely for community activities.
With the pressures of politics and pandemics over the past few months, I feel the need to de-stress in nature as much as possible. Fortunately, this time of year, that is easy. Temperatures are warming, flowers are blooming, trees are leafing out, and songbirds are singing. In Oregon we have lovely habitat diversity, which gives us more opportunity to enjoy nature’s wonders than in many other areas.
Each morning, I open my upstairs window to breathe in the freshness. I listen and watch to discover what is happening out in the yard. I take in the air, the weather, the temperature –a human barometer.
Plants are reaching for the sun. Birds of every kind are singing their dawn chorus of happy sounds. I look and listen for new arrivals of birds. A sense of excitement and anticipation helps me start my day.
Squirrels are giving chase up, down, and around the trees. Swallows chase each other through the sky. Mourning Doves, chickadees, and Stellar Jays are paired up with their mates. Robins hunt for worms to feed their mates on the nest. Purple Finches sing from the tops of trees. Song Sparrow chicks are already begging for food. The animal world is awake and ready to face a new day.
“Where Have All MY Birds Gone?”
That is the question I hear dozens of times a year while answering the Audubon Phone. Lane County Audubon Society (LCAS) has a phone number people call, seeking answers to all sorts of nature-related questions. We receive calls about injured wildlife, impending nearby “development” that will destroy wildlife habitat, neighborhood cats, feeding birds, bird identification, swifts at Agate Hall, building a bird house, buying bird seed, buying binoculars, and more. But for the past several years some of the most common and desperate calls have been concerning the reduction or even total lack of birds in their yards.
We just learned of the passing of Allen Prigge on December 30th. He was 97 years old. A longtime Eugene-area birder, he had been a member and supporter of Lane County Audubon since the beginning. Starting in 1973, Al managed and maintained more than 300 bluebird boxes in and around Eugene. Many local Western Bluebirds are descendants of birds that nested successfully in Al’s boxes.
If you got busy over the holidays and forgot to give an annual donation to Lane County Audubon Society, it’s not too late to give to a great cause.
All of your tax-deductible donation stays local, funding LCAS education, conservation, and outreach initiatives.
You can mail your donation, large or small, to LCAS, PO Box 5086, Eugene, OR 97405. If you prefer to give online with a credit card, use the link on LCAS’s website: laneaudubon.org/support/donate.
Thanks in advance for your support.
Audubon in the Schools
The Audubon in the Schools team has been doing a wonderful job bringing this educational program into our schools. Volunteer instructors have also presented some beginning birding classes for the Outdoor Schools Program. In 2019 the overall number of students who enjoyed these sessions was 1,286! We gave 48 presentations in 23 schools.
Schools are requesting more AITS classroom visits than ever, so we need more volunteers to help out! If you are interested in helping and being a part of this talented group, please contact Maeve Sowles at email@example.com.