Lane County enjoyed wondrous weather this summer. We had blue skies, moderate temperatures, and small amounts of rain at intervals, keeping the deciduous plants lush and green through August. Now that fall has arrived, we will see the progression of fall colors in the leaves. Fall colors in Oregon are not as famous as those of the northeast, but the stately backdrop of evergreen trees creates a contrast for the yellows and oranges of our deciduous canopy of ash, alder, oak, willow, and big-leaf maple. The understory of vine maple and poison oak adds splashes of reds.
September is the month for Vaux’s Swift migration! These small birds will be gathering in large flocks to roost for the night at the Agate Hall chimney on the UO campus, along with other locations. We will have our “Bon Voyage to the Swifts” gathering on Friday, September 13th, this year. Please come out to join us in watching and marveling at these interesting little birds. Their migration dates begin with sightings as early as late August and continue on into October. You can look for them any evening throughout this time span. Migration depends on the wind and the weather, food availability for the insect-eating swifts, and whether drought or fires are occurring. We never can predict exactly when they will arrive or when they will all move on to the south.
I have a couple of goals for mid-to-late summer this year. One is to get up to the higher mountain elevations to see the montane wildflowers on display July through August. It has been a few years since I made this trek, and I realize it is something I don’t want to miss yet again. I have memories of hiking the trail at Iron Mountain when hillside rock gardens were ablaze with Indian paintbrush interspersed with bright yellow stonecrop. And in the high meadows, enjoying a lush array of blooming flowers that changes weekly as the progression of flax, penstemon, yarrow, saxifrage, lupine, larkspur, beargrass, and others creates a stunning palette of colors. Trails at Mount Hood, Jefferson Park, and the Three Sisters areas can be bountiful with flowers, but also mosquitos.
Bird migration is one of the true marvels of the natural world. Some 350 species of North American breeding birds make the arduous journey north to take advantage of burgeoning insect populations, budding plants, and an abundance of nesting locations. Often they follow the same route to their summer homes, year after year. Northern summers offer longer daylight hours and more insect food to help them nest, feed, and fledge their young in a short span of time–six to eight weeks! It is a very efficient process, even though they had to make the long trip north.
A recent article published in The Atlantic prompted a good discussion among LCAS Board members. The article, “A Journey Into the Animal Mind,” can be seen at: tinyurl.com/y2mwpbdo
It is only partially about crows, but includes many examples of animal consciousness and learning. It is a story of the Jain sect in India, which is an ancient religion whose highest commandment forbids violence not only against humans, but also against animals. The Jains run a Birds Hospital in Delhi, India.
How many have viewed the electronic version of The Quail newsletter? If you have not, please click on the link above.
The striking difference is the eye-catching photos and high-contrast text with different colored print. It is always easy to find. If you want to refer to it later, just go to the web site!
We encourage you to “go electronic” with your newsletter subscription for a few reasons. The environmental costs of paper and ink processes, handling and mailing, and then ultimately the excess paper waste, are all a burden on the earth. Some people cherish their paper copies of The Quail, and we understand. This is one reason we continue to offer a printed version of The Quail, for those who want to hold it in their hand.
If, however, you do not actually find that necessary to your enjoyment of the newsletter and do not keep it for later reference, please consider sending in a request for an electronic version. Many organizations have switched to only electronic newsletters to save money. With the new reality of higher paper, ink, production, and mailing costs, we too are prompted to ask you to try out the e-Quail. You might like it even better than the print version!!! Whatever your choice, we appreciate your support.
The Lane Audubon phone receives many calls from residents who ask that question. We also receive similar questions from our website contact page asking about usual backyard birds that are missing from their feeders.
Possible reasons for the lack of birds in any one location are many. We must then ask the person:
Has there been tree or brush removal nearby?
Has there been new construction in the area?
Has there been pesticide spraying?
Are there outdoor or feral cats in the area?
Regardless of the 2018 election results (I am writing this on November 5!), I realize my message will be the same…
As Audubon members who value nature and wildlife, we need to increase our efforts to connect, inform and educate our youth about how cool and amazing nature is. We need to share our awe and reverence for the natural world around us. Share the wonder of both the complexity and simplicity of natural ecosystems. Even after generations of study by humans, we still know and understand only a small part of how underlying natural processes work to support our life systems on the earth.
We need to share that our own survival as a species depends upon how we care for the earth we inhabit. If we nurture, protect and preserve the earth’s natural places, it will be our own species we save, as well as other species with whom we coexist.
I cannot give up hope that a future generation will be able to breathe in clean air, drink clear water, and gaze out at lovely natural wonders for inspiration. Please remember, humans need nature and nature depends on us to cherish and protect it.
My travels this summer took me to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology near Ithaca, New York, where I was able to bird in renowned Sapsucker Woods near the lab. I also took a behind-the-scenes tour of the research facility itself, technically known as the Imogene Powers Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity. The center houses classrooms, a DNA sequencing lab, and a library containing the world’s largest collection of recorded natural sounds, including the songs, sounds, and calls of more than 5,600 species of birds!
Scientists at the lab not only conduct some of the most cutting-edge research on birds and their habitats but also teach students and others about the threats that birds and other wildlife face in response to climate change and environmental destruction taking place throughout the world.
We have a small and committed Board that steers our various projects and lends a hand when needed. The Board will help new volunteers with advice, support, and experience. We want to see everyone succeed in forwarding our mission. We care about wildlife and their habitats, and we also care about people.
Most of you know that we are an all-volunteer group. Some chapters have paid staff, but that is not the case with us. We do need help. Spend some time with us, come to a Board meeting, a Program meeting, and please, get involved. Lane Audubon’s work is important in the community. We advocate for environmental education and conservation programs throughout Lane County. If you have an interest in joining other Lane Audubon volunteers or have skills you would like to put to work in support of our goals, we would like to hear from you! Call 541.485.2473. Be a part of the team of Lane Audubon volunteers! Please step up to help us keep our energy and forward momentum going!
Special volunteer opportunity: Audubon in the Schools!