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: An Abundance of Gratitude

The ending of this year and beginning of a new year make me think of gratitude.

I find it important for my sanity to remember the many ways I need to be thankful for my existence, and to appreciate the many people for whom I am grateful. Obviously family and friends top my list, but many others whom I’ve met through Lane Audubon also enrich my life. 2018 will be the 18th year I’ve served as president of this group. It has become an identity, as well as a passion that fills me with purpose. I am also grateful for the many members who have either become friends or with whom we share a sense of familiarity and common ground. This interconnectedness gives us a shared space within which we can communicate and feel accepted.

Gratitude deepens and energizes relationships.

From Our Treasurer: Simple Pleasures

Talking with a longtime friend on a warm evening in early September, I discovered he had never seen the Vaux’s Swifts entering the chimney at the Old Condon School near Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus. The building with the chimney is now called Agate Hall. If you haven’t yet seen the swifts descending into the chimney to roost each evening for a couple of weeks in September and again in April as they migrate through, be sure to put it on your bucket list of birding events. See next April’s Quail for details on Lane County Audubon’s “gatherings” celebrating their spring migration.

The next day, my friend, his wife, and I headed to the chimney, and happened upon a couple of other Audubon folks there doing “citizen science,” counting the number of swifts entering their temporary roost as they migrated south in the fall. There were also a few neighborhood residents who had dropped by to witness the spectacle. It was near sunset, and our small group of observers enjoyed an easy conviviality, sharing our enthusiasm and wonder.

The swifts didn’t disappoint. They began circling right before sunset and gradually increased in numbers until they filled the sky, circling the chimney like a tornado, getting ready to retire for the night.

From Our President: Savoring an Autumn Sunset

One corner of our land, on the far northeast slope, is tucked under the overhanging branches of the big firs. It is a peaceful hill where we have buried our pets, and where the previous owner had buried his old dog. My husband has made grave markers for each of them. I have many memories here. In the spring, this corner has the first Red Currant blossoms and a spreading patch of fragrant Lady-slipper Orchids. A patch of Pacific Hounds-tongue blue flowers lights up the area when they bloom. It is the spot where one of our dogs cornered a porcupine against the fence, giving us a chance to see the little animal at close range, before we helped it find an opening to get away. Here we have seen bobcat and coyote scat along a deer trail that continues over the old fence into the woods to the north.

Rachel Carson Award Winners

Our LCAS president, Maeve Sowles, and our conservation chair, Debbie Schlenoff, along with Louise Shimmel of Cascades Raptor Center, are soon to be honored for receiving the Rachel Carson Award. This award highlights efforts to reduce and eliminate pesticides in ways that protect community and environmental health.

The three women worked as a team and partnered with NCAP, publishing an op-ed piece about Rozol and other rodenticides.

From Our President: LCAS Thrives on Volunteers, New and Well-seasoned

We are happy to announce that Ramiro Aragon has agreed to be an LCAS Board member. He has attended Board meetings, co-led our Latino Outreach programs, assisted with bird walks for more than two years, and recently graduated from OSU with a Master’s of Natural Resources. He is also a dedicated advocate for birds and wildlife and teaching people to enjoy the experience of the natural world. We appreciate the time and talents he brings to Lane Audubon.
Ramiro is but one shining example of our dedicated volunteers. Building our core group of volunteers is our most powerful means for reaching out to the community and engaging the public with our goals of education and conservation.

From Our President: Exploring the Bird-rich Summer Lake Area

avocetIn early June, we visited Summer Lake in Eastern Oregon to explore some areas new to us. We have driven through this high desert basin many times on the way to visit relatives near Lakeview, but never spent time there, and it was not a disappointment. The ODFW Summer Lake Wildlife Area is 18,941 acres in size, “with a goal of supporting wetland dependent wildlife and a diverse array of other wildlife and plant species for use and enjoyment by present and future generations.” 

From Our President: Landscaping for the Birds

It’s the time of year when we have an opportunity to create bird-friendly yards! Get out in the garden to work some landscaping magic with the purpose of welcoming the migrating birds to nest and raise their young in our area. Birds have been using the Northern Hemisphere for nesting over thousands of years. In recent years, human impacts on the environment have drastically changed their world, as well as ours. Actions we take today can help make our yards more welcoming to the birds and wildlife. 

The goal is to provide native plants the birds can eat, the pollinators can get their sustenance from, and that are relatively easy to grow in our Pacific Northwest soils and climate. Overall it is a win-win-win for animals, plants and people. Native plants are habituated to our weather cycles, require less water in the summer, and can also survive the wet cold winters. They produce nectar for birds and insects in the spring, and fruits and nuts for birds and other wildlife in the autumn. These plant species are also fairly resistant to insect pests and diseases, so in general they do not require much human intervention. 

From Our President: More Nature Equals More Happiness

April and springtime are a welcome change from our intense winter weather. Nature and the outdoors beckon with spring plant growth and the arrival of migrating birds. Each morning I open the upstairs window and breathe in the fresh air. I take stock of the weather, watch and listen to the birds for a few minutes, and assess the new day. Connecting with nature is a necessity for my mental and physical health.

From Our President: Helping Anna’s Thrive Through Winter

Over the past few winter months, my husband and I have hosted two males and one female Anna’s Hummingbirds at our property. This is the fifth year we have had them consistently all winter. We live at a 1,000-foot elevation, so tend to have cooler temperatures than the valley floor. Many Willamette Valley folks have been hosting over-wintering Anna’s here for more than a decade. It has become normal to see these birds during the winter months. Through the cold, harsh ice storm (we were without power for 5 days) with its snow and sub-freezing nights, we tried to keep the sugar water feeders thawed for them. My husband would get out early to change out the warm feeders for the birds, having brought them in for the night. We even rigged up heat lamps and extension cords to keep them thawed during the day. Feeding wild birds is a big commitment!

A woman from the Coos Bay area called the Lane Audubon phone to report she has been hosting about 40 Anna’s Hummingbirds since the fall. They stay until early spring and then move on, probably heading north and east into the interior of the state. She said it was more typical for her to have seven or eight birds, so 40 was a new record for her!

From Our President: Armchair Nature for Winter

Winter is not the greatest time to find and watch birds, thanks to cold, inclement weather. But it is a great time to read and learn about birds! Here are some book recommendations shared by other nature lovers. Finding an interesting bird book to expand our knowledge and interest in nature will be easy this year. Hope you enjoy the flights of mental imagery on the pages of some of these books!

Steve Gordon’s recommendation: “I just read a really nice little book, The Path by Chet Raymo (Walker & Co., 2003). It makes me remember the amazing wonder I felt as a child for small parts of my yard and the fields nearby.” The author teaches astronomy and physics at Stonehill College in Massachusetts. His daily walks to and from work take him about one mile, including a stretch through a park. He ties the history of the universe and his town in with observations of stars, birds, plants, photosynthesis, and more. He has a good eye, ear, and mind. Through his story, he tells us of his feelings and knowledge of “place” at both a minute and universal scale. 

Jim Maloney recommends The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman (Penguin Press, 2016). A New York Times bestseller, this book is not pretty prose about our favorite feathered friends. It succinctly summarizes studies of bird intelligence by informing us not only of the facts but also the history of the research and observations of the wonderful world of bird ingenuity.

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