Conservation Column: Hope for the Environment Amid Cautious Optimism

Under review by the new administration: One hundred (that’s 100!) anti-environmental regulations. Dare we hope that as we move forward, the health of the environment becomes a priority for decision makers? I hear the birds singing and remain cautiously optimistic.

Included in the review is the removal of protections for spotted owls and other old-growth- dependent species, the delisting of wolves from the Endangered Species Act, and regulations that limited scientific and public input in decision-making, including weakening of the National Environmental Policy Act. So far, the leasing for drilling and extraction on public lands in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has been halted and regulations around some types of pollution are being reinstated. More locally, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) upheld the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s denial of a key permit that would have allowed the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and Pacific Connector fracked gas pipeline to move forward.

Bird Flight Patterns and Music Education

Concert Video Exploring Connections in Music and Science

Lane Audubon has purchased access to this new and exciting virtual concert and curriculum to give to local schools and share with our members. You can see an introductory preview at:

The New Bedford Symphony Orchestra in New Bedford, Massachusetts, offered this opportunity to Audubon Chapters around the country.

2020 Eugene Christmas Bird Count

In late September, the National Audubon Society notified all 2,646 Christmas Bird Count (CBC) Coordinators that they would allow CBCs, but only under strict COVID guidelines. These included social distancing, masks, no carpooling except family “pods,” and no live Countdowns. They further recommended no sharing of spotting scopes, binoculars, or bird identification books.

I discussed this with all 27 Team Leaders, and everyone agreed that we could do this. It would really be somewhat easy for us, as we have been doing all of this by following the State of Oregon guidelines since the beginning of the pandemic. Not being able to have our traditional Chili Feed Countdown was going to be the most difficult activity to give up.

So, on Sunday, January 3, 2021, we had the 79th Eugene Christmas Bird Count (ECBC). The weather was really good for an Oregon day in early January and we took advantage of it. One Team Leader commented that she needed to add sun screen to her list of items to take on the Christmas Bird Counts! We had 140 people on the 27 Field Teams, plus another 119 Home Counters. That’s 259 observers, a new record!

Remembering Paul Sherrell

December 26, 1940 to December 9, 2020

Many of you knew Paul Sherrell.  He was a fixture around Eugene birding for many years.  Paul passed away in early December.

Paul grew up in Vancouver, Washington, and completed his education to a Masters Degree in biology at Central Washington University.  He moved to Oregon to teach, mostly at Jefferson Middle School in Eugene.  He became interested in birding in the 1980s.  Upon retiring in 1999 his birding increased, and he began traveling on international birding tours with his friends.

Several of his birding friends have remarked how easy it was to have Paul as a companion.  He was willing to go anywhere and at any time.  When a visitor needed some help finding birds, you could always count on Paul to assist.  He traveled with friends to Costa Rica in 2003, South Africa in 2005, Panama, Kenya and Tanzania in 2007, Ecuador in 2008 and Peru in 2009.  He was lucky, too.  He found a Rustic Bunting in his yard, a Tricolored Heron and a Least Tern at the beach, and, during the Panama trip with his friends, the first ever Crowned Slaty Flycatcher in North America. 

Conservation Column: Cooperation—Some Birds Do It, Can We?


Conserving biodiversity is a big challenge, but there is much we can do. Populations suffer from habitat loss and fragmentation, the wildlife trade, invasive species, and disease. These are exacerbated by climate change, as animals shift range, search for food, and crowd into smaller habitats. And all of these factors work together to stress populations, increase the chances of human encroachment into wildlife habitat, and provide the fuel for the next pandemic.

A concerted effort on the part of people cooperating to enact solutions is long overdue. But is cooperation possible? These are stressful times—the pandemic, the economy, politics, wildfires, and the state of the environment—just to name a few things. During times of stress, it’s easy for people to be less tolerant and less cooperative, for us to withdraw or just not want to bother. But we would do well in these difficult times to draw on the better aspects of human nature, our capacity to be generous, compassionate, and cooperative.

Conservation Column: Logging Is Not the Solution to Wildfires

The wildfires that tore through our communities and devastated natural areas were terrifying. We are so sorry for those who had to flee, for those who lost their homes, for those impacted by the fire and smoke. We are sad, too, for the individual animals that might have been harmed due to the wildfires, but it is comforting to note that nature is resilient and populations are generally not wiped out by fire.

Most of the species found in the western states have evolved with wildfire, and although there may be some exceptions, their populations will recover. Fire allows many seeds to germinate and the growing vegetation will provide a source of habitat and food to numerous animals. The Black-backed Woodpecker, which has been a candidate for the endangered species list, actually thrives in burnt conifer forests, where it gobbles the plentiful wood-boring beetles. Other insects come in and, along with the new growth, provide good sources of food for wildlife. The snags, large dead trees, provide shelter to birds, especially cavity nesters. The snags also help to anchor the soil, shade young conifers from intense sunlight, and provide habitat for many insect-eating bats, birds, and small mammals.

It is essential now to move forward in a way that avoids misconceptions about fire and creates the best possibility for recovery. Several misguided proposals to increase logging are already being discussed. 

What does the science say?

All Tied Up in Knots: Seven Years with Calidris canutus -- LCAS October program

This program is available for viewing now, click here:

In a slide show of her original paintings, Janet Essley explores the fascinating life cycles of these long-distance migrants, the amazing physiology, and the conservation challenges they face. The Red Knot (Calidris canutus), a medium-sized sandpiper, is a regular guest along the Oregon Coast during its spring and fall migrations. Extremists among sandpipers, Red Knots migrate longer distances, breed farther north, display faster beach-probing feeding maneuvers, and ingest harder shelled mollusks than other sandpipers. See Events/October Program Meeting for more details.