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.
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.
Takeaways from our March Program on Birds and Bugs
- Drinking shade grown/organic coffee helps improve habitat for migratory birds
- Eating organic bananas and other tropical fruit supports the production of organic produce in the U.S.
- Keeping cats indoors will save the lives of billions of birds and mammals every year in the U.S.
Wildlife biologist and field leader Dave Bontrager will lead a trip to the Kirk Park/Pond area, north of Fern Ridge Dam. We will meet to carpool at the usual location, the east parking lot at South Eugene High School. We leave at 8 a.m. If you prefer to join us at the walk location, arrive at the East Kirk Pond parking area off Clear Lake Road, across the street from the boat basin at Orchard Point Park, by 8:30 a.m.
Among the rarest and most imperiled birds in the world, the California Condor is the subject of our May program. Susan Haig, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and a professor of wildlife ecology at OSU, will share some of her deep knowledge on Condors.
Lane County Audubon Society (LCAS) is an all-volunteer organization. Volunteering with LCAS is a great way to meet new people, give back to the community, and best of all, have fun! If you’re interested in volunteering for one of the opportunities below, or if you have other ideas about ways you can help, contact Maeve Sowles at 541.343.8664 or email@example.com
Bike Path Cleanup Coordinator
Help us coordinate the twice-yearly cleanup of our stretch of the West Eugene bike path. LCAS adopted the west end (about five miles) of West Eugene’s Fern Ridge Bike Path. The goal is to help keep Eugene’s waterways an inviting habitat for wildlife and a safe and clean area for recreation. The coordinator will pick the dates and organize the day’s activities.