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May 2007 Issue (vol 38, number 5)
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(Next issue September 2007)

MAY General Membership Meeting

Tuesday, May 29, 7:30 PM
Bellingham Public Library Lecture Room
PROGRAM: Birding in East Africa

Lyall and Judy Bishop spent the month of February 2006 birding in East Africa where they observed approximately 400 different species of birds. They spent most of their time in the large parks of Kenya and Tanzania, extending from Samburu in the north to Tarangire in the south. The Bishops will share pictures of birds, interspersed with other animals. Please join us for a spectacular presentation by this popular team.

As always, meetings of the North Cascades Audubon Society are FREE and open to the public.

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NCAS Officer Nominations

The following individuals have been nominated to fill the officer positions for NCAS for the Audubon year 2007-2008.

Joe Meche President

Paul Woodcock Vice President

Lila Emmer Secretary

Dian Birsner Treasurer

Nominations will remain open through April and May and the positions will be voted on at the General Membership meeting on May 29.


Beginning in September, all NCAS General Membership meetings will begin at 7 PM. We tried for a short time to do this in the past and eventually changed the time back to 7:30. However, many have opined since then that a 7 PM start would be better. Starting earlier means getting home earlier, and for working people and/or students, this seems a better fit.

Well See You in September

Another Audubon year comes to a close on the last day of this month, but that doesnt mean that well do nothing for three months. Your Board of Directors will continue meeting through the summer and many projects are lined up to keep us busy.

We hope that you will stay in touch with us during the summer and return with lots of stories to submit for publication in the Avalanche, which is your newsletter.

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NCAS Spring Field Trips

Dave Schmalz
Field Trip Chair

Springtimes warming temperatures and lengthening days herald a period of immense and dynamic transformation in the life cycles of our local bird populations. Tens of thousands of wintering waterfowl, shorebirds, and seabirds which annually rely on Whatcom County for their winter habitat are currently staging and poised to head northward and inland to their breeding territories.

Simultaneously, countless thousands of temperate and Neotropical songbirds are beginning to arrive locally and regionally to the habitat they depend upon for their breeding season after wintering from points as far south as Central and South America.

NCAS offers a variety of spring field trips designed for all levels of birdwatching experience to share in the discovery, awe, and appreciation of the avian world and the greater cycle of natural wonders and events upon which their lives (and ours) depend.

All NCAS Field Trips are FREE and open to members and non-members alike. Due to popularity, most trips require advance registration. For more information or to register for a particular trip, please contact individual trip leaders listed below or NCAS Field Trips at 671-1537.

Please note:
Trips with an asterisk are co-sponsored by Whatcom County Parks and Recreation and led by North Cascades Audubon guides.

Saturday, May 5. Semiahmoo Spit. *

Repeat of April 7 trip. Note: As spring progresses, emphasis of this first Saturday of each month outing will shift away from wintering birds to a focus on resident and migratory, breeding songbirds.

Saturday, May 12. Lake Padden - Chuckanut Ridge.

Full-day (half-day option) trip exploring open water, wetland, and woodland habitats with a particular emphasis on identifying birds by their songs and calls. Special guest leader, George Heleker, has spent the past 10 years chronicling the abundance and diversity of local, breeding songbird populations 8:00 AM. Trip Limit: 12. Trip Leaders: Dave Schmalz, 671-1537, and George Heleker.

Saturday, May 19. Tennant Lake - Nooksack River Dike.

Full-day trip covering the diverse habitat and spectacular scenery of the Lower Nooksack River country. This fairly strenuous 6-mile hike will explore open meadows, wetlands, forest, and riverine habitat featuring swallows, warblers, sparrows, wrens, and birds of prey. 8:30 AM. Trip Limit: 12. Trip Leader: Paul Woodcock, 380-3356.

Sunday, May 20. Chuckanut Songbirds.

Full-day (half-day option) trip exploring the extraordinary south Chuckanut Mountains for Neotropical songbirds, raptors, and more. Special guest leader, George Heleker, has spent the past 10 years chronicling the abundance and diversity of spring songbird populations in this scenic wonderland. 8:00 AM. Trip Limit: 12. Trip Leader: Dave Schmalz, 671-1537.

Saturday, June 2. Semiahmoo Spit. *

Repeat of May 5 field trip.

Saturday, June 9. Beginning Birdwatching.

This half-day trip will cover all the basics of birdwatching, including field guides, binoculars, scopes, basic identification, and where and when to visit local areas for best viewing. Also, enjoy some time in the field practicing your skills at a local natural area. 8:30 AM. Trip Limit: 10. Trip Leader: Paul Woodcock, 380-3356.

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Second Annual Woodstock Farm/Chuckanut Bay Spring Bird Count

On June 4, 2006, an event was held which we hope will become an annual tradition. The first Woodstock Farm/ Chuckanut Bay Spring Bird Count took place on a very rainy and cool day. Our species total was 52. The plan for the second annual count, which will be held on Sunday, June 3, is to improve in all categories and have fun doing so.

The bird count area will include Woodstock Farm, Clarks Point, Chuckanut Rocks, Chuckanut and Mud Bays, and their environs. We will begin at daylight and finish with a potluck dinner at Woodstock Farm at 7 PM. The evening count wrap-up and dinner is open to all who wish to attend but space is limited so please RSVP to Bellingham Parks and Recreation at 676-6985. If you wish to take part in the count, please contact Paul Woodcock at 380-3356.

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On Global Warming

John Flicker
NAS President

Its official. The first six months of 2006 made up the hottest half of any year on record. By itself, that may not sound like a big deal. But 2005 was tied with 1998 as the hottest year ever, and nine of the hottest years on record have come in the past decade.

Climate scientists have been telling us for some 30 years this would happen if we didnt reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They predicted other changes, too, including the increased frequency and intensity of hurricanes, too much rain in some places and too little in others, melting glaciers and polar ice, rising sea levels, eroding coastlines, and higher rates of extinction. These are no longer just predictions. Theyre happening, and we can measure them.

Birds are excellent barometers of changing conditions that signal potential danger. Many migratory species are now arriving earlier at their nesting grounds, leaving later, and changing locations to survive. Other animals with less mobility are in more trouble. Polar bear populations in Canadas western Hudson Bay dropped from 1,200 in 1987 to fewer than 950 in 2004 because of sea ice breaking up, and the species could soon face extinction in the wild. Coral reefs are dying everywhere because of seawater acidification and rising ocean temperatures. Higher sea levels are threatening productive estuaries and coastal wetlands, and coastal residential areas are not far behind.

Scientists struggled for years to prove once and for all that greenhouse-gas emissions, particularly CO2, cause global warming. That debate is over. Burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas emits CO2 into the atmosphere, and the buildup of CO2 causes global warming.

While temperatures change dramatically from winter to summer and from the equator to the poles, changes in average global temperatures are very small. An average temperature change of only about five degrees would mean the difference between a pleasant day outside and a significant portion of the planet being uninhabitable. We also know from South Pole ice cores that the average global temperature goes up and down in direct proportion to the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. And heres the scary part. Current CO2 concentrations already exceed the highest levels in 650,000 years.

Unfortunately, it is already too late to prevent some of the effects of global warming. Still, there is time for action, not despair. The worst effects of global warming can be prevented. The United States emits more CO2 than any nation and Americans more per capita than anyone else. The solution starts with us through changes in both our personal behavior and in public policy. For starters, everyone should see Al Gores excellent film, An Inconvenient Truth. If you have, tell a friend. Meanwhile, Audubon will continue to suggest ways you can help in our magazine and here at www.audubon.org.

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NCAS Birdathon 2007

May 1-31

Its time again to experience the unadulterated excitement of spending 24 hours in search of birdsfor a good cause. The NCAS Birdathon is the chapters most ambitious fund raiser of the year and a perfect excuse to spend a day birding. The rules of engagement are pretty simple and you are free to operate at your own speed and level of expertise.

To begin, put together a team or plan to participate as an individual, and feel free to go anywhere your budget allows. You can pick any 24-hour period during the entire month of May to do your count. Before you do the actual count, the fundraising part of this event is to seek pledges from family, friends, or coworkers to support your efforts. Supporters can pledge a flat rate or they can pledge to contribute a fixed amount per species that you observe. Unlike the Christmas Bird Count, were only counting species, not total numbers of individual birds. If you see 2,000 robins, they count as one robin.

If youd like to participate or support the effort of those who do, please contact the Birdathon Coordinator, Joe Meche, at 739-5383. You may also e-mail him at joemeche@aol.com. If you prefer, you can fill out the form below and mail it to:

NCAS Birdathon

PO Box 5805

Bellingham, WA 98227-5805





PHONE (optional)____________________________________

E-MAIL (optional)____________________________________ AMOUNT ENCLOSED ___________________

I regret that I cannot participate in the count but I would like to support the efforts of the NCAS Birdathon by making a tax-deductible contribution. My check is enclosed.

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The Fun Page

Joe Meche
Poetic License Holder

Four-letter Codes For Birds

Bird banders, biologists, and numerous everyday birdwatchers are familiar with and use a four-letter code to record bird names in the field. The idea is to make it easier to keep track of what youre seeing without having to write out the entire name. The system is easy enough to learn and use as you wish. Its open to all.

Last year and again last month, a discussion/debate ensued on a well-known list serve when someone sent in a posting using the four-letter code instead of writing out the entire bird name. The debate actually grew quite heated at times and I found it all to be quite amusing.

To add a bit of levity to the situation, I posted a couple of short stories using four-letter codes that form real words. The two stories that follow will provide you with an opportunity to become familiar with the substance of the system. The four-letter code words are in bold print and all caps. Enjoy the stories and see how many birds you can identify in the process.

A Four-letter Birding Adventure

I went birding with my Uncle DICK and my Aunt CORA and we decided to stop by and pick up my nephew, GREG. He had been afraid to leave the house since he heard there was a PUMA in the area. He also had a strange incident just before that when he spotted two mergansers that he swore were telling him to COME HOME.

We birded for a while until hunger took over, so we decided to go with the FLOW and stopped at a small cafe near the harbor. We inquired about the regular waitress who had recently had a baby and the owner said, Its ABOY and they named him ARLO!

After lunch, we continued birding and ran into my sister, CATE, who was trying to COPE with losing her job because she was listening to old Perry COMO records when she should have been working. We all laughed and joked about what a HARD life she had. Her husband, HUGO, had lots of money so she didnt really have it so bad. Of course, he had a pronounced LISP and a tendency to MOPE, so that was her trade-off. You could say that she really had it RUFF, but where theres a WILL, theres a way.

Back on the beach we noticed that the SAND SAGS as you get closer to the water and figured that we could SATE our birding appetite elsewhere. It was beginning to look like SNOW and we knew that our time was running short, so on a WHIM, we called it a day.

Further Four-letter Fun

After spending the better part of a month trying to get the city council to impose BANS on a few of the downtown BARS, I needed a break. I was so EAGR to get away that I agreed to drop my wife at the MALL while I did a little birding at a local hotspot. It would be the perfect way to KILL a couple of hours.

After birding for a while on a gorgeous but hot summer day, I thought it might be fun to try birding in the BUFF. No one else was around so I ducked behind a BUSH and became one with nature, except for my daypack and my binocs, that is. I knew that if I were discovered by a policeman, he would certainly CITE me but it felt soooo good! The sun was bright and it felt like an OVEN. As I walked along humming a symphony by LALO, I stumbled over a log!

I barely scratched my knee but did COME away with a noticeable LIMP. I decided to VEER off the trail and get my clothes on before I got to the waterfront. Outside the breakwater, the SURF was running high and the PROW of one boat was scraping against the rocks, while a WISP of spray hung over the marina.

I slowly made my way along the trail and back to the car, thinking that a Miller LITE would be especially refreshing, as well as a pleasant distraction from the CORE of the days problems. It would be good to get HOME and take my dog, BOBO, for a walk before settling in to an evening of MASH reruns.

As I walked the dog, I said HOLA to my Dominican neighbor, ROSA, and asked how her favorite baseball player, Sammy SOSA, was doing. She seemed unusually GLIB when she said that Sammy was a NOGO this year and went back to her weeding.

In all, it was a pleasant day, but I was worn out when I finally DOVE under the covers. Before I drifted off, I made a vow to PARE down my busy schedule.

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Support the Paddle to Lummi

Paul Woodcock

For six days this summer, from July 30 to August 4, the Lummi Nation will be hosting a significant event. The 11th Annual Intertribal Canoe Journey is expected to bring 6,000 guests to the Lummi Nation and could gather crowds as large as 15,000 people per day. As many as 100 canoes from Coast Salish tribes of Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska are expected to take part. The festivities will include ceremonies, feasting, and traditional gift-giving, and the first potlatch at Lummi since 1937. The importance of these annual events to all Coast Salish people cannot be overstated. The canoe journey and the gathering provide an opportunity to honor and preserve their languages, traditions, and culture. Through the experience, the youth can learn the traditional ways of their ancestors and experience life traveling on the water.

The Lummi Nation has extended an invitation to the entire community to join them and take part in this unusual experience. More importantly, they are asking for assistance from local people to help them succeed in this huge undertaking. The Paddle to Lummi Community Connections Committee has been formed and is being co-chaired by Beth Brownfield and Kara Black of Bellingham. The committee will be organizing volunteers and collecting donations of produce and money to support the event.

I attended one of the organizational meetings and plan to volunteer. I suggest that other birders and Audubon members might wish to do the same. Many of us have been enjoying the wonderful birding on the lands of the Lummi Nation for years. The tribe has been gracious enough to issue permits to non-tribal people who wished to access their lands. Last year, when the permits were revoked due to an unfortunate incident, several Audubon members contacted me suggesting ways that we, as a birding community, might build a better relationship with the Lummi community. I would like to suggest that this event provides an opportunity to do that. The Lummis are looking for assistance. We have been given an opportunity to take part in an exciting event, show our appreciation, and help build connections within our community.

To volunteer, call Beth Brownfield at 738-8899, or e-mail her at bethbrownf@aol.com. You can also call Kara Black at 676-2300 or e-mail her at kara@treefrognight.com.

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The Winds of Change Blow Upon Us

John Miles

There are indications that the northwest corner of Washington may be in for big changes. A number of events have transpired in recent months that are cause for concern. Anyone who takes a Sunday afternoon drive around Whatcom County will find that trailer parks, housing developments, shopping centers, and sundry small commercial ventures are appearing all over the landscape. An outraged call to the County Planning Office will elicit a sympathetic response but little more. The planners will simply plead that their hands are tied. They have no legal way to enforce zoning in the county, and without zoning, landowners can do with their property virtually what they will. Oh yes, there is local zoning, but nothing on the regional scale that amounts to anything. So the Sunday foray into the county is not what it used to be.

Representatives of the Army Corps of Engineers have informed us that we have a great opportunity out here at Cherry Point. We can build a superport. The water is deeper here than anywhere else in a similar sheltered situation, so we are urged to get off our duffs and take advantage of the situation. Lots of oil, after all, will soon be upon us, and we really ought to have the facilities ready to receive it. We are promised by others a recreational complex and shopping center to rival southern Californias bestthe Sun Valley Mall just north of Bellingham. Progress is truly roaring down upon us.

I am wondering if all of this is the great opportunity that developers would like us to believe it is and further, if we can- not do something to increase the likelihood of good, effective regional planning in the near future. This is not only the problem of Whatcom County, of course. What Alaska oil is to Whatcom, the national park and industrial tourism may be to Skagit. Perhaps the North Cascades Audubon Society can play a significant role in marshalling citizen interest and energy to do the educational and political spadework necessary to produce a regional plan and strategy of implementation for that plan that will assure quality future environment for the men and other creatures of the region.

Editors note: This article was on Page One of The Audubon Avalanche, in December of 1972. Have you seen any of this come to pass? Do you have memories of how things used to be 35 years ago in Bellingham and Whatcom County? Id like to publish your own views about the incredible changes that have taken place in this area and continue to dramatically alter the landscape we call home. Pros and cons are welcome, so voice your opinions here. See page 2 for details on how you might contribute.

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