Many thanks to Karen Zook for this month's banner photos.
 YVAS May Meeting
Thursday, May  27th, 7 pm  (Zoom)  
Shrubsteppe Conservation

Scott Downes, Celia Hopkins, Andy Stepniewski
     Shrubsteppe is an imperiled habitat, particularly in the Columbia Basin and Yakima County. As a result, many of the wildlife species that depend on the habitat are also imperiled. Key shrubsteppe wildlife species such as Burrowing Owls, Greater Sage-grouse and Ferruginous Hawk have either disappeared or nearly disappeared from Yakima County. Representatives from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Yakima Valley Audubon and Cowiche Canyon Conservancy will present efforts they are working on to ensure that shrubsteppe habitat and its associated wildlife are conserved for the future.
May is a prime month when this habitat is truly alive with plants and animals! Please join us for a panel discussion as speakers show the value of this habitat, threats facing the habitat and what people can do to preserve this vanishing resource. Come ready to engage the speakers with your questions on shrubsteppe habitat! Speakers include:
  • Scott Downes, habitat biologist with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and a producer on the shrubsteppe short film “This Land is Part of Us” which will be shown
  • Celisa Hopkins, executive director of Cowiche Canyon Conservancy and has been central in the management and conservation of key parcels of shrubsteppe lands in Yakima County
  • Andy Stepniewski, conservation chair of Yakima Valley Audubon Society and a member of Washington State Audubon Sagebrush Songbird Committee
Upcoming Dates & Deadlines

Thursday, May 27th 7:00 pm: YVAS May Program
Zoom event name: Yakima Audubon May Program
Event link:
Or iPhone one-tap : US: +12532158782
Or Telephone: +1 253 215 8782
Webinar ID: 844 2557 6656


Thursday, June 10th - May Calliope Crier article deadline (send articles, questions to

Saturday, June12th - Field Trip to Conboy Lake Wildlife Refuge. (See Field Trips column for details.)

Viewing tips for YVAS Webinars
    Would you like to enjoy Yakima Valley Audubon presentations with the whole family? You can now watch our programs whenever it is convenient for you! Our monthly programs are now available as webinars for viewing both in real time (so you can ask questions) and as recordings from a link on our website,
     To view the live presentation on your laptop, tablet, or smart phone, click on the link in that month's Calliope Crier or go to about five minutes before the program is scheduled to start and click on the Zoom webinar link. If you have never attended a Zoom meeting, you will be asked to download the app this first time. (You do not have to have your own Zoom account to join the webinar.) Be sure to answer “yes” to the questions about joining with video and audio. You can always mute yourself for privacy, but you will need to answer yes to view and hear the presentation.
    To better enjoy the beautiful photos in the presentation, you have the option of viewing it on a larger screen, such as your smart TV. To do this, you will need to connect your device to the TV with an HDMI cable. If your device does not have an HDMI port, there are inexpensive multiport adaptors available to enable this. (Try Office Depot or buy one online.)
     It is even easier to view a recorded seminar once it has been posted on our website! You can watch the recording through your Internet browser, or, if your smartTV allows you to connect to an internet browser, you can simply go directly to the website and click on the seminar link. Video and sound will automatically be displayed and controlled on your Smart TV. Alternatively, you can pull up the webinar on your computer as above and connect your computer with an HDMI cable to your Smart TV.
    Even in these challenging times, Yakima Audubon is committed to bringing you information about our natural world. Please let us know at what you think and what we can do to improve this experience for you.

Like YVAS Programs? Want to help develop them?
Volunteer Needed to be our New Program Chair
Hello fellow YVAS members.
     After several years doing an excellent job as our program chair, Phil Fischer has decided it is time for a break. (Our heartfelt thanks to you, Phil.)
     So, we're looking for a creative person (or people) to be our new program chair(s). Programs are a key benefit of YVAS membership. In the last couple of years we have learned about climate change, butterflies, cottonwoods and yes, birds including both scientific and non-scientific talks.
     The program chair job requires only about 4 hours a month, and you get the added bonuses of choosing the programs you'd like to see and hanging out with fellow board members once a month. (We're a pretty entertaining group.)
    Key skills and duties include a creative mind and good communication and organization skills. The program chair gathers topic and speaker ideas from the board, other Audubon chapters, and other sources, and presents possible programs at the monthly YVAS board meetings. Once programs are decided, the program chair coordinates with the speaker and typically attends the meeting to introduce the speaker. (But other board members are happy to pitch in.) Since programs are currently on Zoom, due to COVID, there's not even any room or AV setup needed.
      So, any creative people out there that want to help in bringing fun and interesting programs to Yakima Audubon? If this is of interest to you, please contact me at
Thank you,
Scott Downes

Welcome new members!
Selah, WA: Sheryl Wheeler
Thank you for renewing your membership! 
Dorothy Armstrong and Vera Backstrom, Bob and Carrie Chicken, Clara Eustis, Don and Jane Gargas, Donna Homer, Rich and Deb Mathieu, Anita Osterhaug and Job Rabinowitz, Deborah Severtson-Coffin, Ken Tolenen and Margaret Morris

Conboy Lake Wildlife Refuge Field Trip
Saturday, June 12th, 2021, 6:00 am4:30 pm

     Join us for an all-day field trip to Conboy Lake Wildlife Refuge in the foothills of Mt. Adams. This refuge is a treasure of micro-habitats, all easily accessible on well-maintained trails. We will park at the Refuge Headquarters Parking lot (unfortunately, the headquarters are closed for COVID) and head off walking from there. The trail follows along the edge of the marsh, where we will hope to see some Sandhill Cranes with their young chicks. The riparian edge is home for Yellowthroats, Flycatchers and numerous songbirds. This trail ends in a marsh overlook with a spectacular view of Mt. Adams. We will head back through the mixed pine and fir forest where we will see Woodpeckers, Wrens, Chickadees, and bluebirds. Conboy Lake is a serene and beautiful wildlife refuge.
     We will meet in Toppenish and car caravan to the Refuge, (an approximately two-hour trip), bird for about four hours and be back to Toppenish around 4-430. This trip will not involve any strenuous hiking, but the capacity of walking for extended periods of time over trails is necessary. We will be following CDC guidelines for COVID safety for outdoor activities.
     This trip will be led by Sarah Shippen and Gene Miliczky and limited to 12 people. Please contact Sarah at to sign up. More trip details will be forwarded when you sign up. We hope you will join us
Conboy Lake Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Sarah Shippen. 

Correction to last month's photo credits: The photo of Williamson's Sapsucker in the White Pass field trip report was by Ross Bornfleth and the Pygmy Owl photo was by Jan Gano.

First Saturday Bird Walk with Kittitas Audubon Society (KAS)
When:   First Saturday of every month, 8:00 am – 11:00 am.
Where:  Parking lot of Irene Rinehart Riverfront Park, Umptanum Road and I-90,  Ellensburg; check in with Steve Moore.
Bring:    Binoculars, good walking shoes, sun screen, insect repellent and your mask, and please remain conscious about social distancing.
   Thank You to Jan and Judy Gano!
       A big THANK YOU to frequent monitors Jan and Judy Gano. During the Bluebird Box cleanout in early April, Jan noted that the numbers on most boxes had faded to the point where they were barely visible. Jan came up with a plan to re-number the boxes using a stencil and some lovely blue paint, and he and Judy sprang into action. Armed with paint, brushes and stencils they spread blue up and down the entire trail. Not only were the numbers and “YVA” painted in blue, the roofs now gleam of Mountain blue and it makes the whole trail look brighter, cleaner and just plain nice.
     On the subject of Bluebirds, I have one small correction to my last article on monitoring. For some reason I said that we monitor through the end of June, but it should be July. So please consider summer monitoring as well as spring monitoring. 
Karen Zook

Still Looking for Bluebird Monitors
     Have you ever considered becoming a Bluebird monitor?  Monitoring is a fun outdoor activity that the whole family can enjoy.  AND you get to see baby bluebirds. If you think that you may be interested but are not sure how to do it, we will be happy to teach you. We will be starting up monitoring around the beginning of May. You can sign up for monitoring now if you would likewe have lots of spaces open. We monitor the boxes once a week through July, and monitors generally do half the trail at a time. I will be coordinating the monitoring this year, so if you are interested or just have questions please contact me (Karen Zook) at
Restoration and Recovery in the Columbia Plateau
Legislature Passes two key budget provisos to protect shrub-steppe
(from the Washington Audubon)

     There’s no better example of the value of community-driven science than Audubon Washington’s work in the Columbia Plateau. Over the course of six years, we engaged hundreds of Audubon volunteers who collected mounds of data on the presence of sagebrush songbirds across the Plateau. The data generated from this million-acre effort has been used to develop species distribution maps that identify the best remaining places for sagebrush birds. These maps will be used to guide conservation and land-use planning efforts, ensuring that important habitat areas are protected from further development and prioritized for ecosystem-based management. The scale and scope of this community-science project was already a significant achievement, but the value of this volunteer-driven work is becoming more important as threats to this landscape intensify.
     Two factors, in particular, have made our science on sagebrush songbirds more important: 1) increasing pressure to develop solar energy on intact habitat in the Columbia Plateau, and 2) the increasing frequency and extent of rangeland fire, which scorched over 800,000 acres of shrub-steppe in 2020. When the gavel fell, signaling the start of the 2021 legislative session, Audubon Washington was ready to leverage our science and our powerful network of advocates to protect this uniquely beautiful landscape. 

Click here to read more of this Washington Audubon blog and to find out how you can take action.

Sagebrush Sparrow, one of the focal species studied by the Audubon's Sagebrush Surveys. Photo by Ellen Stepniewski.
Washington Wildlife Commission April News
OLYMPIA – In late April, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved a number of measures. This Commission is a panel appointed by the governor that sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). WDFW works to preserve, protect, and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities.
     The state status listing for Greater sage-grouse was uplisted from threatened to endangered. WDFW biologists are very concerned last year’s wildfires burned over significant leks (mating grounds), and nesting and wintering habitat of the already dwindling population, that may number only a few hundred birds, though 2021 surveys are not yet finalized.
     The Commission heard an annual briefing on the Department’s wolf management work outlining a 12th consecutive year of population growth as wolves continue their journey toward recovery in Washington. As of December 2020, a minimum estimate of 178 wolves and 29 packs were documented across the state.
     The Commission also maintained the state’s sensitive status of gray whales and endangered status for humpback whales. Recreational boaters are urged to follow regulations to support the safety of Southern Resident killer whales and other marine mammals. For more information visit

To review the agenda and presentation materials from the Commission meeting, visit

Greater Sage-Grouse. Photo by George Vlahakis.    
A Moment for Warblers
    For warbler-spotting tips, check out the May Wildlife Moment in the Yakima Herald, written by YVAS' own Andy Stepniewski. 
Copyright © 2021, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
P.O. Box  2823, Yakima, WA 98907
To contact us, email

Other Contacts:
Membership questions:
Newsletter content:
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Field trips:
Program ideas:
Bluebird Trail:
Bird questions:

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Copyright © 2021, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
P.O. Box  2823, Yakima, WA 98907
To contact us, email

Other Contacts:
Membership questions:
Newsletter content:
Conservation concerns:
Field trips:
Program ideas:
Bluebird Trail:
Bird questions:

Yakima Valley Audubon Society Membership Form

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