President's Page


Welcome to LCAS! We are a volunteer organization made up of over 1400 members. Our commitment to help preserve wildlife and habitat diversity throughout the Pacific Northwest involve many activities for all ages. Come to a Program Meeting or a Bird Walk and get to know us!

--Maeve Sowles, president (at) laneaudubon.org



From Our President: Field Guide to the Future: Half of North America’s Birds Are at Risk from Global Warming

An alarming new report by National Audubon Society (NAS) reveals that hundreds of bird species are threatened by global warming. NAS ornithologists spent seven years studying 588 bird species and found that 314 face significant risk in a warming world. Of those, 126 species are at risk of severe declines by 2050, and a further 188 species face the same fate by 2080, with numerous extinctions possible if global warming is allowed to erase the havens birds currently occupy. To understand the links between where birds live and the climatic conditions that support them, the NAS ornithologists analyzed more than 40 years of historical North American climate data and millions of historical bird records from the U.S. Geological Survey’s North American Breeding Bird Survey and the Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Understanding those links allows scientists to project where birds are likely to be able to survive—and not survive—in the future.

From Our President: Native Fruits Attract Many Birds

Throughout the summer and fall months, I watch birds use the berry-producing trees and shrubs on our property. The fruit is a magnet for many birds and gives them a wonderful diet supplement during the breeding season and migration. Many bird species have at least a partially frugivorous diet and will eat fruit regularly.

From Our President: Oak Trees Play Important Roles

We have several large Oregon White Oaks on our property. During midsummer, as the high sun filters through the leaf canopy, the oaks create cool, shady spots where we can sit and enjoy the summer afternoons. These trees are always filled with birds. The oaks provide good nest sites, and we have seen Purple Finches, Cedar Waxwings, American Robins, and Warbling Vireos nesting in them. One year, we found a juvenile waxwing on the ground under an oak tree. It tried to get up on the fence but could not yet fly, and it was vulnerable on the ground. We put it up on a lower branch of the oak tree and the parents continued to feed it; we hope it survived. 
 

From Our President: American Robins Successfully Adapt

Each year American Robins nest on our property. The nesting pairs arrive in late February and begin singing and setting up their territories. One pair of robins nests near our gate, one pair nests across a field to the south, and another nests north of our house, all in conifers. I notice them in the early spring because they are so vocal and aggressive with each other. As trite as it sounds, the robins’ songs are a joy to hear first thing in the morning as well as late in the day. Their vocalizations, along with those of other singing birds of the summer, provide a great morning sound track.
 

From Our President: April Brings Vaux’s Swifts Back to Agate Hall

As most of you know, the chimney of Agate Hall on the University of Oregon campus is an ecologically significant migratory stopover for tens of thousands of Vaux’s Swifts during the spring and fall months. During last year’s fall migration, over 45,000 birds were counted entering the chimney. The number is not a total of the birds that might have used it, because counts were done only weekly and sporadically. (If we had volunteers to do daily counts, the numbers would be far higher.) Agate Hall is included on the Vaux’s Happening website as one of the most active Vaux’s Swift roost sites. (See www.vauxhappening.org/Vauxs_Happening_Home.html for more information.)

 

From Our President: Birding: A Wonderful Obsession

Bird-watchers are a unique group of people. We share an obsession, yet each of us reaches that point in a different way. Outsiders might not always understand what makes us the way we are, but if they watch, listen, and learn more about birds, eventually they might share our quirkiness. As a child, I watched yard birds with my mother from the kitchen window. Backyard birding is still a great joy in my daily life. I know many of you enjoy this aspect of bird-watching as well!
 
Conversations with people in the birding community can often be difficult for non-birders to understand, especially when we are describing the color of lores or primaries or undertail coverts. We tend to be so absorbed in our bird descriptions that we forget how we must sound and appear to a non-birder.
 

From Our President: The Mystery of Birding

Each fall, I anticipate the arrival of the first White-throated Sparrow at our feeder. We usually see only one or two individuals that stay from November to March or April. Then they leave, presumably to fly north to find breeding territory along the west coast or interior of Canada—or as the biologists say, to achieve their biological potential. When the sparrows arrive for the winter, I always wonder where they have been since last spring. Did they find a mate and adequate habitat to breed successfully? Why do we never see more of them? Are they the same birds that appeared last year at the feeder? Always mysteries without answers.

From Our Treasurer: Looking Forward

For me, November is a month for preparing and looking forward—preparing (somewhat regrettably) to spend more time indoors than out, harvesting and preserving for later use the late-season produce from my urban garden, anticipating the more regular appearance of our backyard winter bird populations, looking forward to the holiday season and the Christmas Bird Count … the list goes on. 
 
As Lane County Audubon’s treasurer, I have a few preparatory duties in November too, such as beginning to prepare LCAS’s financial reports as the year draws to a close, planning next year’s budget, and writing this column asking for your continued support of our organization. 
 
In reviewing our financial reports, I’m always struck by how many ways we serve our members and other Lane County residents—young and old—by celebrating and educating them about birds, wildlife, and the habitats they depend on.

From Our President: Birds on the Move

One reason I love spending time in my garden is just to be outdoors. Gardening is a great excuse to be in the yard and watch birds at the same time. If I had not been checking the fruit trees the morning of August 31, I would not have seen the dark bird in the lower field sallying out from the bird boxes and flying back to perch, catching insects. It gradually made its way from box to box, up toward my garden area. I grabbed the binoculars (I keep them nearby) and saw it was a Black Phoebe! This was the first sighting for the species on our property, and it made my morning! Its plumage was not the bright black of an adult, so I assume it was a first-year bird exploring the area. It spent about 15 minutes in my view, then flew up and over some trees to the north.

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