By April, spring migration is in full swing. Birders eagerly await the “first of the year” bird sightings at their favorite birding spots. We have kept track of yard birds for over 20 years at our property. We feel a rush of excitement and joy when we see and hear the first Tree Swallows fly down to our bird boxes each spring. The same is true for the first Rufous Hummingbird and Turkey Vulture sightings. Part of our amazement is the realization of how far the birds have travelled since we saw them last in the late summer.
During our walks this March, we have been delighted by the activity of birds preparing for spring. It’s particularly amusing to observe the crows flying overhead and calling boisterously as they choose their evening roosting site. Most people who study birds believe that one function of this gathering process is information exchange, and I wonder what they are saying to one another each evening. Despite the voices, both raucous and melodious, that we hear this spring from our bird neighbors, we are well aware that when it comes to human policy decisions, the birds have no voice and it is up to us to speak on their behalf. Fortunately, what’s good for the health of wildlife is good for the health of people.
Lane County Audubon Society will hold its annual spring Swift Event outside Agate Hall, although this year we will wait to set a date until we see swifts begin to arrive at the chimney. Their migration patterns are less predictable than ever before. In the past we have seen the earliest Vaux’s Swifts arrive by mid-April with increasing numbers over the next three to four weeks.
The Vaux’s Swifts use the chimney to roost for the night as they gather during spring migration. The LCAS Swift Event is a wonderful chance to observe and learn about the birds as they return from Central and South America for the breeding season.
Lane County Audubon Society owes a very big thank you to the local company called CBT Nuggets! They selected LCAS as the nonprofit to receive “NuggetLOVE” during the month of February. This gave us an opportunity to have donations matched up to $5,000 by the company! Through electronic outreach, we were able to raise $4,253.15 from our members during February. CBT Nuggets matched this amount, plus they donated another $5414.12! Our grand total was $13,920.42!!
Thank you to our members for their support and thank you to CBT Nuggets for their amazing donation!
I often ask friends what books they have enjoyed recently and would recommend to others. I’d like to share a few titles that I’ve heard about so you can put them on your winter reading list too!
Audubon Statement on the Occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
January 3, 2016: Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt to protect the vast populations of waterbirds that were being decimated by wanton killing by the plume trade. The 188,000 acre refuge represents some of the most important bird habitat on the Pacific Flyway. It is one of the crown jewels of the National Wildlife Refuge System and belongs to all Americans. In 2013, the Refuge adopted a long-term management plan developed through an inclusive collaborative process that brought together the local community, tribes, conservation groups, state and federal agencies, and other stakeholders. These stakeholders have continued to work together to implement this strategy which includes one of the biggest wetland restoration efforts ever undertaken.
We have been hearing owls in the evening at our property in the forested area southwest of Eugene. In all of the 22 years we have lived here, Great Horned Owls have nested nearby. Before sundown and into the evening, deep hoots echo through Fox Hollow; the deeper voice is the male and the higher pitched hoots are the larger female. Breeding season has already begun for this species, even though the landscape is wet and the temperatures wintery. Those deep hoots are communicating territory claims as well as courtship and pair bonding—annual rituals for the pair that mates for life.
Great Horned Owls start nesting in January, raising their families in the depths of winter. Like other owls, they do not build their own nests, but take over the abandoned homes of other species, including squirrels, ravens, herons, and Red-tailed Hawks.
If you haven’t returned the donation envelope included in the November issue of The Quail or gone online to show your support for Lane County Audubon Society during our annual fund drive, you can still do so. Simply mail your tax-deductible gift to LCAS, PO Box 5086, Eugene, OR 97405. (Make checks payable to Lane County Audubon Society.) If you prefer to use your credit card through our online donation page, visit http://laneaudubon.org/support/donate to complete the transaction.
This year marks the 74th Eugene Christmas Bird Count (ECBC) and the 116th National Audubon Society (NAS) Christmas Bird Count. The ECBC this year will be on Sunday, January 3, 2016. Our 15-mile diameter count circle is centered in the Danebo area of Eugene and is divided into 27 areas, each with a Team Leader. The Team Leaders organize the teams, lead the groups through the area during the count day, and then submit the results to the ECBC Steering Committee.
Dick Lamster is the Count Coordinator, and he will work with NAS on the administrative tasks of the count. He will also coordinate with the Team Leaders, handle publicity, cowrite the postcount narrative, and assign new participants to teams. If you want to participate this year and were not on a team last year or you want to change teams, call Dick at 541.343.8664. Otherwise, call your Team Leader from last year (although he or she might be calling you soon).
Noah Stryker, Eugene/Creswell native and local bird nerd, is nearing the end of his year-long birding adventure. During his international big year, he has recorded sightings of well over 5,000 bird species, breaking the world record for species seen in one year, which was 4,341. Noah has documented his trip in his blog, Birding Without Borders, hosted by National Audubon. Check it out at http://mag.audubon.org/articles/birds/welcome-birding-without-borders. His blog reflects the intellect, humor, creativity, curiosity, stamina, and deep love of nature that he brought to this project.