Conservation

Conservation Column: Celebrate and Help Migrating Birds

Birds do not recognize the man-made boundaries between countries, and yet they need to cross them to survive. Consequently, it’s up to us to coordinate efforts to protect them as they move through their annual cycles. International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD), officially designated in 1993, celebrates the migration of billions of birds each year between their breeding grounds in the United States and Canada, and their winter homes in Mexico, Central and South American, and the Caribbean. Events celebrating bird migration occur throughout the region, (for information on LCAS’s IMBD event on May 13, see page 7), with the growth of IMBD prompting the creation of the nonprofit organization, Environment for the Americas, to provide educational materials and outreach. In fact, one of the first landmark conservation laws was the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1916, signed by Canada, U.S., Mexico, Japan, and Russia. The act grants full protection to over 800 species of birds, including their feathers, eggs, and nests. 

Migration is an extraordinary feat. It’s mind-boggling to imagine a Warbling Vireo, who weighs barely half an ounce, traveling several thousand miles from an over-wintering roost in Mexico to a nesting site in Oregon.

Together for Birds

In light of recent moves to roll back environmental protections, the American Bird Conservancy is circulating a petition entitled Together for the Birds. The group encourages everyone who cares about birds to sign this petition. It asks the new Administration and Congress to protect conservation priorities that protect wildlife and the environment we share with them. 

FMI: abcbird.org

Conservation Column - Which Words Will Prevail?

“Words are the bricks of our world and they have the power to change it.”

—Enock Maregesi, “East Africa: Writing for Kiswahili Language Revolution,” The Citizen (2016)

So far it’s just words, but for those who favor more protective conservation measures, the new forest management plan looks like a giant step backwards. In August, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved a new Resource Management Plan (RMP) for Western Oregon. Unfortunately, the approved plan will replace the carefully considered, science-based 1994 Northwest Forest Plan on millions of acres. It reduces streamside protective buffers by half or more, a loss of 300,000 acres of streamside reserves and a threat to the clean, cool water needed by salmon and other fish and wildlife. An increase in road construction and off-road vehicle access will further fragment and degrade habitat. Logging levels will increase by 37 percent. In the nearly half a million acres managed for timber, logging will be of the more destructive clear-cut variety.

The proposed plan includes 2.6 million acres of federally managed public forests. The recreational opportunities of this public land; the essential habitat for  fish, birds and other wildlife; and the many ecosystem services such as clean water, clean air, climate change mitigation,  and landslide and erosion control, should not be traded away for short-term profit. Many people in federal agencies have worked for years to find programs that balance the demand for logging with environmental values. The direction of the new proposal puts that strategy and our forests at risk.

Conservation Column: July-August 2016 The State of North America’s Birds, 2016 Report

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.

Conservation Column: May-June 2016 “Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul." —Emily Dickinson

Springtime brings birdsong and baby birds and feelings of exuberance. There was uplifting news this month out of Midway Island when it was announced that Wisdom, the world’s oldest Laysan Albatross on record and a symbol of hope for many people, has hatched yet another egg—likely her 40th baby! Her new chick is named Kukini, after the Hawaiian word for messenger.

Conservation Column: Pesticide Ballot Initiatives Need Your Support

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.

Conservation Column: Oregon Audubon Council Establishes Goals

The Oregon Audubon Council (OAC) met in Sutherlin, Oregon, on November 7. In attendance were representatives from eight chapters around the state as well as regional representatives of National Audubon. The goals of the OAC meetings are to bring together state chapter members, discuss conservation issues of concern, and determine how we can best help make a difference. Although each chapter focuses on concerns as they come up throughout the year, conference participants identified priority issues that would benefit from a coordinated effort by multiple chapters. We’ve addressed many of these issues previously. The issues and our goals are outlined below. (For more information, please contact dschlenoff@msn.com).

Wetlands issues

  •  Klamath National Wildlife Refuges: Ensure that these important wildlife refuges on the Pacific Flyway receive adequate water in both the short and long term.
  •  Lake Abert (Oregon’s only saltwater lake, an important stopover for migratory birds and part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network): Engage with conservation partners to help determine the reasons the lake dried out and explore opportunities to restore it.

Vaux’s Swift Migration Is Unusual This Year

LCAS hosted two Swift Events this fall, as usual. What was unusual about the events was that we saw virtually NO Vaux’s Swifts. During the first evening, September 11, we saw three swifts fly over the Agate Hall chimney. No swifts have been seen at the chimney since.

Typically the peak of migration is mid-September to early October. This year, there were reports of 1,820 swifts entering the chimney on August 28, and 774 the following week. The firefighters at the adjacent fire station told us that on September 4 they observed thousands filling the sky.