Snohomish Conservation District 75th Anniversary Better Ground Showcase

Lorenzo was invited to be keynote speaker at the 75th Anniversary Better Ground Showcase. Along with his video and slide presentation, he spoke about the importance of backyard habitats and the need to preserve not only living trees, but old and dead trees (snags) that are necessary for nest-cavity birds, such as woodpeckers, sapsuckers, owls, ducks, chickadees, nuthatches, and many others.

conservation-district-flier

This inspirational event honored many individuals and businesses in the region for their impressive conservation leadership. The list of those honored included kids and teens. I was particularly impressed by Val Schroeder, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award. She has been promoting the Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program on Camano Island since 2002 resulting in 866 certified properties on Camano Island. Individuals can make a difference! Read about the others here.

The evening was hosted by the Snohomish Conservation District at the Rosehill Community Center.

rosehill

If you are unaware of the Snohomish Conservation District, I urge you to check them out at their website:

http://snohomishcd.org/

“Across the United States, nearly 3000 conservation districts offer free help to residents to conserve land, water, forests, wildlife and related natural resources. Their mission, which began after the devastating dust bowl era of the 1930’s, relied on working with farmers and rural landowners on a one-on-one basis.”

I was particularly impressed by their efforts and commitments to backyard habitats that are so vital to the future of birds.

“In response to the critical need for the protection of Puget Sound, a unique and precious feature of northwest Washington, as well as a vast network of salmonid streams and rivers, SCD has developed an urban and suburban program that exemplifies our heritage of working with partners and landowners on land and water resource concerns. Our programs have grown to include low impact development, Firewise communities, backyard wildlife habitat and on-site septic programs and natural yard care.”

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Othello Sandhill Crane Festival (19th Annual)

Just got back from our first time attending the Annual Othello Sandhill Crane Festival (March 18-20).

Years ago we were in the Columbia Basin area to find Sandhill Cranes and were fortunate enough to see thousands of them. A few photos from that trip are included in our book, A Kid’s Guide to Birding. The natural landscape there is spectacular on its own, but with huge numbers of cranes, it was like something you would only imagine existing in the earlier days of exploration.

So when an invitation to speak at the festival came from the organizers in Othello, we were more than happy to head back out to the area.

So let me tell you about this festival. It is fantastic! The festival’s organizers put a lot of effort and careful planning into the event. There were regular scheduled buses and vans taking people out to the best wildlife viewing areas (which also included private agricultural areas) as well as areas of geological interest. Breakfast was served on Saturday and there was a Banquet in the evening along with one of the keynote speakers. All the speakers had impressive credentials and did great presentations. There were displays, book sales, and more. But what impressed me the most was the incredible community involvement, with both young and old involved in all sorts of ways. I was beginning to wonder if there was a town ordinance that required everyone to be involved, because it seemed like everyone and every organization had some role in helping the event come together.

So make plans to be there for the next one, the “20th annual” Sandhill Crane Festival in 2017. But book early because when we tried, ever hotel in the area was fully booked!

Here are a few photos from the trip.

Annual Othello Sandhill Crane Festival
Sign on the way into Othello. Nothing better than a community that appreciates its wildlife.

 

 

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Columbia National Wildlife Refuge
Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, just north of Othello, Washington.
Coyote in Columbia National Wildlife Refuge
Howling Coyote in Columbia National Wildlife Refuge. A little hard to spot, but near the center of the photo.
The Crab Creek road
The Crab Creek road southwest of Othello

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It is very quit out in this landscape, apart from bird song, and in this instance the huge sound of thousands of geese.
It is very quiet out in this landscape — apart from bird song, and in this instance, the huge sound of thousands of geese.
Geese, Crab Creek
Large flock of geese flying near the Crab Creek area.
American kestrel
American kestrel
Western Meadowlark
Western meadowlark. This bird has an amazing ability to project sound.
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier — an elegant looking raptor that sometimes flies low and slow while hunting.
Annual Othello Sandhill Crane Festival
Othello Sandhill Crane Festival brochure
Othello Sandhill Crane Festival
Othello Sandhill Crane Festival brochure with the “Kid’s Guide to Birding” announcement.
Porcupine in Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.
A porcupine — normally nocturnal, so this is an unexpected site.
When we arrived, organizer Marie Lotz had arranged a special and unexpected private tour for us by Randy Hill, former USFWS biologist, who had an encyclopedic knowledge of the area and the wildlife.
When we arrived, organizer Marie Lotz had arranged a special and unexpected private tour for us with Randy Hill, former USFWS biologist, who had an encyclopedic knowledge of the area and the wildlife.
Loggerhead Shrike
Loggerhead Shrike. These are wanna-be raptors that are known for impaling their prey on thorns and barbed wire.
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes in corn field. They are almost 3.5ft tall and have a loud and cool Jurassic Park sound that is impressive even when they are only a few of them around. But being a very social bird, they often gather in the thousands.

 

An Osprey Dive

Lorenzo was invited by Everett Parks & Recreation to lead the Aquanauts Science Camp on a birding trip to Spencer Island (July 21, 2015). Bird sightings included Great Blue Herons, Cedar Waxwings, Killdeer, Caspian Terns, Marsh Wrens, Red-wing blackbirds, and Belted Kingfishers. The highlight was Osprey doing repeated dives for fish as shown in the photo sequence taken by Lorenzo. Notice in image #3 how the Osprey goes down with feet first before reaching the water.


Spencer Island
is a 400-acre island in the Snohomish River estuary.

New York state to dim lights to save migrating birds

New York state to dim lights to save migrating birds

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-32491715

The state of New York is to turn off non-essential lights in state-run buildings to help birds navigate their migratory routes in spring and autumn.

Another raptor-type dinosaur found

raptor-type dinosaurAnother raptor-type dinosaur found.

“’Based on the findings so far, we assume that the dinosaur is something close to a Microraptor or others in the raptor genera,” said Lim Jong-deock, chief curator of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage. “However, it’s uncertain at this stage exactly which type of dinosaur it was, and there is a chance that it is a new type that hasn’t been reported to academia as of yet.’”

“Microraptors are bird-like dinosaurs from the Cretaceous period. They measure between 77 and 90 centimeters (30 and 35 inches), weigh just one or two kilograms (2.2 or 4.4 pounds) and have feathered wings. They were the smallest carnivorous dinosaurs and were believed to have eaten insects or other animals.”

http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/Article.aspx?aid=2997736

Hawk Mountain

Juvenile Red-Tail Hawk

Hawk Mountain is an amazing place you may have read about. Definitely on my bucket list of birding places to visit.

I was watching this video — Birding Adventures TV Extreme Raptors — and thought it would be good to share it.

(There’s a bit much product placement in this video, but its well done).