Many thanks to Karen Zook for this month's banner photo.
 YVAS February Meeting

Thanks to New Program Volunteers!
      February's program has been postponed while we are training new volunteers to run our Zoom webinars. Our thanks go out to the several members who have offered to learn and help with this shortage, as our regular tech person has been dealing with a family medical emergency. If anyone else is interested in helping out with this, please contact Scott Downes,
   If you've ever hosted a Zoom conversation, you can learn to host a webinar. And the more members trained to do this, the more potential for YVAS to host programs and other online activities and reach more people in our community. So welcome, new volunteers, and thanks in advance for your help!
     Our March program will take place on Zoom on March 25th, and Jack Nesbit's program on Condors in the Greater Northwest will be presented on April 22nd.
Upcoming Dates & Deadlines

NEXT PROGRAM: Thursday, March 25th 7:00 pm: YVAS March Program
Zoom event name: Yakima Audubon January Program
Event link:
Or iPhone one-tap : US: +12532158782
Or Telephone: +1 253 215 8782
Webinar ID: 844 2557 6656


Thursday, March 11th, 2021 - March Calliope Crier article deadline (send articles, questions to

Saturday, February 27 and Saturday, March 27, 8:00 am  -  Field trips to Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge. (See article in  this issue.)

Saturday, March 13th, 9:00 am - Second Saturday Bird Walk. Meet at the Arboretum parking lot in front of the visitor center.  Bird the Arboretum and Greenway trails for approximately two hours. Leaders: Sarah Shippen and Gene Miliczky (
A Trip to the Shrubsteppe
If you're missing having a program this month, check out the beautiful and inspiring short film, This Land is Part of Us. Produced jointly by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Conservation Northwest, this gorgeous documentary explores the shrubsteppe ecosystem around us, the wildlife that depends on it, and its importance to the indigenous people of the Columbia basin and to all of us. And our own YVAS president Scott Downes is one of the producers of this extraordinary film!
Welcome new member!
Yakima, WACarol Minear
Thank you for renewing your membership! 
Moxee, WA: Deborah Brown
Richland, WA: Connie Estep
Yakima, WA: Denny Granstrand
URGENT: Protecting Wild Birds from Salmonellosis
 [This news release is from Audubon Washington. While the huge number of Pine Siskins noted west of the Cascades has not occurred east of the crest in south-central Washington, regularly cleaning your feeder is always a good idea.]

      SPOKANE – Recent reports of sick or dead birds at backyard feeders in King, Kitsap, Skagit, Snohomish, and Thurston counties is prompting the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to recommend that people temporarily discontinue feeding wild birds or take extra steps to maintain their feeders.
       The current die-off of finches- such as Pine Siskins- as well as other songbirds, is attributed to salmonellosis, a common and usually fatal bird disease caused by the salmonella bacteria, according to WDFW veterinarian Kristin Mansfield."When birds flock together in large numbers at feeders, they can transmit the disease through droppings and saliva,” said Mansfield.
      The spread of the disease this winter could be exacerbated by what appears to be an “irruption” of winter-roaming finches- an anomaly where finches and other species that generally winter in the boreal forest in Canada and the far north move south and are spotted in areas in larger numbers than non-irruption years. (More information on irruption is available from the Audubon Society website.)
       “The first indication of the disease for bird watchers to look for is often a seemingly tame bird on or near a feeder. The birds become very lethargic, fluff out their feathers, and are easy to approach. This kind of behavior is generally uncommon to birds,” Mansfield said. "Unfortunately, at this point there is very little people can do to treat them. The best course it to leave the birds alone.”
      Members of the public can help to stop the spread of salmonellosis by discontinuing backyard bird feeding until at least February, to encourage birds to disperse and forage naturally.  "Birds use natural food sources year-round, even while also using backyard bird feeders, so they should be fine without the feeders," Mansfield said.
     Those who choose not to discontinue wild bird feeding are encouraged to clean feeders daily by first rinsing the feeder well with warm soapy water, then dunking in a solution of nine parts water and one part bleach. Finish by rinsing and drying before refilling. Keep the ground below the feeder clean by raking or shoveling up feces and seed casings. People are also asked to reduce the number of feeders they offer to a quantity they will be able to maintain with daily cleanings, use feeders that accommodate fewer birds (such as tubes rather than platforms), and spread out feeder locations. Keeping bird baths and fountains clean is also important.
        It is possible, although uncommon, for salmonella bacteria to transfer from birds to humans through direct contact with infected birds, droppings, or through domestic cats that catch sick birds. When handling birds, bird feeders or bird baths, it is best to wear gloves and wash hands thoroughly afterward.

Submitted by Andy Stepniewski

Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge Field Trips
Saturday, February 27 and Saturday, March 27, 2021
     If you haven’t visited the Toppenish Refuge during Spring Migration, you have missed out on one of the Valley’s natural wonders! Thousands of ducks, geese, and swans, all in their beautiful breeding plumage stop over or nest at the Refuge each year. We will also be on the lookout for bald eagles, various raptors, shrikes, songbirds, and possibly nesting Great Horned Owls. Our car caravan will stop at pullouts along Pumphouse road, Old Goldendale Road, Lateral C, and Marion Drain to view the flocks from a distance. Different species will be observed on the two field trips as the migration progresses through the season. We will provide a walkie-talkie for each vehicle to keep us together and to share any good spottings!

     Please sign up as soon as possible to ensure participation--you may join either or both trips. We will meet at 8:00 am and bird for approximately four hours. Leaders are Sarah Shippen and Gene Miliczky.
What To Bring: Binoculars, scope, camera, warm and wind-proof clothing, hat, gloves, masks, hot drinks, lunch or snacks.
How to Sign Up: For further details and to sign up, email Sarah Shippen,  Participation will be limited to six vehicles each trip and COVID social-distancing and other safety protocols will be observed

Left: Trumpeter Swan at Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge (TNWR). Right: Snowy Mount Adams from TNWR. Photos by Sarah Shippen.
Second Saturday Bird Walks
     Please join us for Second Saturday Bird Walks in March and April!  Using social distancing protocols, we will bird the Arboretum trails, visit the bird blind, walk the Greenway, and then  loop back along the river, returning to the Arboretum parking lot in approximately two hours. Bring your binoculars and a scope if you have one.
       This event is for all ages and birding abilities.  Participants are welcome to join us for the entire two hours or head home as they are comfortable. 
       For our next walk, meet at 9:00 AM, Saturday, March 13 in the Arboretum parking lot in front of the visitor center. The Arboretum is located at 1401 Arboretum Drive, Yakima, WA 98901. Hope to see you there!
Yakima Audubon Society
Sarah Shippen and Gene Miliczky

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.
Reverse the Rollback of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act
      In early January 2021, the Department of the Interior announced a final rule in the previous administration's effort to strip away critical bird protections under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), giving industries a free pass for bird deaths. This illegal rollback eliminates bird protections at a time when the latest science shows that bird populations are at serious risk from long-term declines and climate change. Fortunately, the Biden administration has taken steps to review and delay this devastating rule. 
     Now is the time to show your support for the MBTA by calling on the Interior Department and Congress to restore and reinforce bird protections. To voice your concerns over these deleterious changes, I urge you to go to the Audubon Washington alert and hit on the “Take Action” button.  Go to:
      Please personalize the sample letter below and paste it in the box to your representative.

“I strongly support the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The recent removal of bird protections under the MBTA is deeply concerning to me, and I urge the Interior Department to restore the MBTA and reinstate protections for birds, and that Congress stands in support of these critical efforts.
      Birds are a fundamental part of our ecosystems and culture and provide significant value to my community, the nation, and the world. Yet our bird populations are facing serious threats that have led to a decline of 3 billion birds in North America since 1970, while two-thirds of our bird species are at risk from climate change. 
       We need to be doing far more to protect and conserve birds, but the attack on the MBTA has only put birds at greater risk. The MBTA has provided longstanding and bipartisan protections for birds from avoidable hazards, but the rollback of the law has undermined
he ability to reduce preventable bird deaths and help birds recover from events such as oil spills.
      I urge the Interior Department to restore the MBTA and to create a new pathway for permitting under the law--and that Congress passes legislation to reinforce this effort--in order to help conserve birds and encourage practices that protect birds from the variety of threats they face. Now is the time to act to save our nation's birds, and I stand in strong support of the MBTA to help give them a fighting chance.”
      Once again, please personalize the above message and paste it in the message in the link. Thanks for your help on this important issue!

     —Andy Stepniewski

Answering questions - sharing information – connecting with other birders virtually 
Do you:
  • Have questions about a bird you recently saw?
  • Have a recent bird sighting that you would like to share?
  • Like to share a local birding venue or find out about one?
  • Want to hear about birds others are finding?
Then come to BirdYak!

       BirdYak is an email “chatroom” or “listserve” for topics relating to birds and birding in Yakima County.  It is probably the best and fastest way to reach many birders here. This list is open to anyone.  Postings focus on issues of bird sightings and identification related to Yakima County, and associated topics such as local birding destinations and equipment. It is easy to post both text and photos and have questions answered by other local birders.
      To subscribe to BirdYak, send an email to: If you decide BirdYak is not for you, unsubscribing is very easy. The first time you post, there may be a delay as your email is verified as not a robot or advertiser. 
        The BirdYak website can be seen at: The entire archive of emails that have been sent to BirdYak since its beginning in November 2000 can be found on the website.

—Eric Heisey

      Glass collisions are a huge problem for birds. The American Bird Conservancy estimates that up to a billion birds die in collisions with glass each year in the United States. Although most people have seen or heard a bird hit a window, they often believe it is an unusual event. Add up all those deaths and the number is staggering.
     Both common and rare bird species hit windows. Back in 2015, Joe and I had a Red Crossbill hit one of our windows at our home here in Yakima. It was that crossbill striking the window and dying that inspired me to look for help preventing window strikes at our home.
       Bird feeder and bird bath placement are important in helping to prevent collisions. The most likely place for birds hitting windows is near bird feeders. It may seem odd, but feeders are safest when they’re closest to windows—because if a bird takes off from the feeder or bath and hits the window, it won’t be going at top speed and has a better chance of surviving. Place feeders and baths CLOSER than 3 feet to a picture window (or even affixed to the glass or window frame), or FARTHER than 30 feet from a window.
There are other things you can do to help prevent birds from striking windows.
       Decals are readily available on the internet or at stores for bird lovers. They are inexpensive and rated “highly effective” by the American Bird Conservancy. However, one or two decals on a small window may help reduce collisions, but become less effective as window size increases because birds will simply try to fly around them.  
       Vertical cords can also be mounted in front of glass. They are often referred to as “Zen Curtains.” We have used these at our place for five years, and we have been very pleased with the results. We know others in Yakima who use them as well. We have had birds bump the windows when they are trying to escape a hawk or falcon, but none of them have died since we have installed the cords.. Just a few days ago, we watched as a Sharp-shinned hawk chased a bird toward the window. The bird escaped, the hawk banked sharply and its tail brushed the window (making the cords move), but it flew off unharmed.
      One example using vertical cords is called Acopian Bird Savers. They are fairly inexpensive and easy to install. Check out their website here:  You may purchase them from the website, but if you prefer, they will give you instructions on how to make your own. They do not charge for the plans. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, we’ve heard they are fairly easy to make.
      For more information on these or other solutions for bird collisions, please visit the American Bird Conservancy’s website at
 —Karen Zook
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

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Yakima Valley Audubon Society · PO Box 2823 · Yakima, WA 98907-2823 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp