YVAS September Meeting
Thursday, Sept. 24th   (Zoom  info below)
Biology and Conservation of  Washington Butterflies

David G. James PhD, Associate Professor of Entomology,
Washington State University, Prosser
     This month's presentation will highlight the biology and conservation of selected butterfly species in central Washington. The talk will also cover current butterfly research and conservation endeavors that Dr James is pursuing with the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy in Yakima, the Washington Butterfly Association, and the Washington wine grape industry. He will also talk about how his work with citizen scientists (including some inmates of Washington State Penitentiary) is helping to unravel the mysteries of Monarch butterfly migration in the Pacific Northwest.
     Speaker Bio: David James developed a passion for entomology at the age of 8 in England by rearing caterpillars in his bedroom. He studied Zoology at the University of Salford near Manchester, then migrated to Australia to work for the New South Wales Department of Agriculture on ways of controlling agricultural pests such as locusts and mites.He earned a PhD on the winter biology of Monarch butterflies in Sydney, and a career as a biocontrol scientist in horticulture blossomed. David developed successful conservation biological control systems for stink bugs in citrus and for mites in pasture, grapes, and peaches. In 1999, David became an Associate Professor at Washington State University at Prosser and worked on conservation biological control of insect and mite pests of hops and grapes. David has published 185 peer-reviewed scientific papers and, in 2011, he co-authored and published a widely-acclaimed book on the life histories of Pacific Northwest butterflies which renowned British naturalist David Attenborough called ‘Magisterial’. Currently he is working on sustainability of IPM and conservation biological control in viticulture, insect conservation, and community research and education projects with Washington wine grape growers, Washington State Penitentiary, and Yakima’s Cowiche Canyon Conservancy.
September/October Dates & Deadlines

Thursday, Sept. 24th 7:00 pm: YVAS September Program
Zoom event name: Yakima Audubon September Program
Event link:
Or iPhone one-tap : US: +12532158782, or 84425576656
Or Telephone: +1 253 215 8782
Webinar ID: 844 2557 6656

Saturday, Sept. 26th 
7:30 am Conrad Meadows bird walk  (see Field Trips)
Thursday, Oct. 15th: October Calliope Crier article deadline (send articles, questions to Anita Osterhaug,
Thursday, Oct. 22nd 7:00 pm: YVAS October Program (Zoom)

Saturday, Oct. 3rd Bird-banding demonstration at Yakima Arboretum
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.
Birding Trip to Conrad Meadows, Saturday September 26th
     Join  in us in the search of the elusive Spruce Grouse (subspecies franklinii) and other montane species. Conrad Meadows is located adjacent to the Goat Rocks Wilderness and is the largest subalpine meadow in the State of Washington. The meadows are at 4000' elevation, and the South Fork of the Tieton River meanders through it. The habitat includes lodgepole pine, subalpine fir, Engelmann’s spruce, and occasional mountain hemlock and, more importantly, patches of grouseberry (vaccinium scoparium), a very important indicator species for spruce grouse. 
     This will be a full day trip, departing at 7:30 am and returning by 3:00 pm, and will involve fairly easy hiking of around three miles. Pack a lunch, water and snacks and dress for changing weather. Due to the current pandemic we will be limiting the number of participants, so for meeting location and to sign up, please contact field trip leader Kerry Turley at 509-840-0980 or by emailing

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.
YVAS Members in the News
     The September 15th Yakima Herald included an article by Pat Muir plus full-page photo featuring YVAS couple Ken Tolonen and Margaret Morris. Check it out: even a mask can't conceal their identity! (You'll also learn a thing or two from these Master Food Preservers about preventing botulism always a good  idea.) Apparently, the always effusive Pat could not coax any comment from  notoriously quiet, laconic Ken. However, both Ken and Margaret photograph well!
Field Trip Report, September 12, 2020
Canada Jays Enjoy Smoked Nuts at Leech Lake!
      Nine Yakima Auduboners attended the first chapter outing in the field during This Time of Covid. We met in  the Fred Meyer parking lot all masked up and hoping the pall of forest fire smoke would thin out as we climbed the pass. Travelling in separate vehicles, my heart sank a little as I noted the smoke seemed  to be getting worse as we approached the pass. I took a poll on whether we should set out in light that looked more like dusk than daylight. All voted to press on and so we started the walk around Leech Lake. A few birds twittered high above in the tall hemlocks and firs but none showed themselves at eye level until we encountered shrub-height alders. In these thickets, a few Chestnut-backed Chickadees and a Red-breasted Nuthatch showed briefly. I'm convinced the dim light was a signal for small birds to lay low and out of sight.
     At the lake edge, we peered through smoke so dense we could not make out the opposite shore. For those who know Leech Lake, it is no more than a 100 yards across, so you get the idea about how smoky it was!  Ross picked out some swimming waterbirds so we approached closer in hopes of identifying them. They turned out to be immature Hooded Mergansers, a fish-eating duck. At the bridge over the outlet, we again found birds in the alder and willow thickets, including several bright Wilson's Warblers and a Pacific Wren. These showed only briefly. Stealing the show, however was a family party of Canada Jays. As usual, these jays were absurdly tame and came in for almonds and corners off a sandwich, Naughty, naughty, I know, feeding the birds. Anyways, these inquisitive boreal jays sure helped turn a tree-identification hike back into a bird walk. Heading back to the yurts at the pass, we had another group of migrating warblers in the conifers, five species in all: Orange-crowned, Nashville, Yellow-rumped (Audubon's), Townsend's, and Wilson's. Then we had our lunch in the smoke and decided it would be best to call it a day and get back into filtered air at home.  

      Even though the birding results were very modest on account of the smoke, I think we all had a good time and hope we can get going on more outings , with our masks.
Andy Stepniewski
Bird list
Hooded Merganser 3                             Red-breasted Nuthatch  3
Belted Kingfisher  1                               Brown Creeper  1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)  1          Pacific Wren  1
Canada Jay  5                                       Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon)  5
Steller's Jay  3                                       Orange-crowned Warbler  3
Common Raven  2                                Nashville Warbler  1
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  5             Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's)  5
Barn Swallow  2                                     Townsend's Warbler  1
Golden-crowned Kinglet  3                     Wilson's Warbler  2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1


Top: Smoked nuts! Bottom: Gene Milizcky communes with Canada Jay. Photos by Ellen Stepniewski, Sarah Shippen.
Need Candidates to Fill YVAS Board Positions
     We will be voting (by Zoom!) on new Board of Directors candidates at the YVAS October meeting. Open positions are President, Secretary, and Treasurer. Here is the  job description for President:
  • Organize and run the monthly board meeting. These occur on the second Tuesday at 7pm and are presently Zoom meetings. Several days before the meeting, the president sends an email to all the board members asking for items that need discussion. These items are arranged into our template for a board meeting and sent back to the members so that they can see all the items. (These choirs should only take minutes to do). The president is the chair of the meeting, helping to keep discussions on topic and following Robert"s rules of order.
  • Run the monthly chapter meeting. The meeting is on the 4th Thursday at 7pm.  The president calls the meeting to order, and leads a discussion of the month"s events (like bird sightings, field trips, and upcoming events). Next the speaker is introduced and at the end of the talk, thanked. 
  • Act as the liaison to the state and National Audubon groups.  Usually once or twice a month our local chapter will get a message from state or national about a new policy or fund raiser. All the president has to do is forward the item to the board members and put this item on the agenda for the next board meeting.
     We all know that the president will occasionally have schedule conflicts, and we have always been able to get prior presidents to step in. The president is not responsible for taking notes or for arranging for the speakers. 
Note that the job has nothing to do with a person's birding ability, but the general public will assume that you must be a cracker-jack birder.

     We need a new Treasurer because Karen Zook, our current treasurer, has volunteered to be Richard Repp's apprentice to manage the Bluebird Trail. If you are interested, please email Karen at .
     The Treasurer is responsible for the financial transactions and reports for the chapter, i.e. paying the bills and reimbursements, depositing  monies received by the chapter, balancing the books, making monthly reports to the Board of Directors, writing thank you letters for donations, making sure all state, federal and Audubon forms, reports and filings are done in a timely fashion, and checking the YVAS PO box. Good computer skills, communication skills, and organizational skills are needed for this job, plus proficiency with business tools such as Microsoft Office. Experience working with numbers and or bookkeeping would be a bonus.You’ll be a member of the YVAS Board of Directors, which is a great group, and you’ll get to work directly with great people like Joy, our membership chair. The treasurer works behind the scenes, but still is connected with the members, donors, speakers, etc. and is an important part of the organization.
     Information positions will be posted in the October Calliope Crier. If you are interested in more information about Board opportunities, contact Ellen Stepniewski ( or Bill Drenguis(
Trump finalizes drilling plan for Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Plan clears the way for an oil and gas lease auction on the refuge’s 1.6 million-acre coastal plain by December 2021.  (All photos by Ellen Stepniewski)

       On August 17th, the Trump administration said it will open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, a move that will allow oil and gas rights to be auctioned off in one of the nation’s most celebrated wild places. Under the plan, leasing on the 1.6 million-acre coastal plain will move forward on a pristine wilderness that is home to migrating caribou and waterfowl, polar bears and many other wildlife.
     The refuge encompasses 19 million acresand extends from the frigid Arctic Ocean south 200 miles, encompassing spectacular mountains, rolling tundra, and northern fingers of the boreal forest. It provides habitat for the world’s remaining Southern Beaufort Sea polar bears, 250 musk oxen and 300,000 snow geese, which come from the south to breed.

     Read the
Washington Post article by Juliet Eilperin here to learn more about how this threatens the refuge and its species. Enjoy Ellen Stepniewski's photos below for a glimpse of what's at stake.

Aerial view of tundra and its thousands  of  small ponds, breeding habitat for countless waterfowl and shorebirds.
All photos by Ellen Stepniewski.

Rock Ptarmigans, a type of grouse,  are  brownish in  summer, mostly white during the long Arctic winter.

Long-tailed Jaeger, a spectacular predator, often takes lemmings.

The American Golden Plover breeds on the tundra and migrates to South America for the winter.

An Arctic fox taking prey to its pups.
Helping the Birds in Your Backyard

Welcome to our new column about enjoying and preserving birds in your own backyard and other local habitat.

     What can you do to help birds in your back yard? It boils down to the basics: food, water, and shelter.
     During the fall and winter, many of us focus on feeding birds. We use feeders to attract and feed them, and some of us sprinkle a little food one the ground for a yard-sized sparrow patch. The main thing to remember about feeding wild birds is KEEP IT CLEAN. If you don't want to rake up and pick up the spilled seed and chaff, don't bother putting out ground seed, and if you don't want the chore of cleaning bird feeders, don't put them up. The same goes for feeding overwintering hummingbirds. Even when it is cold, the nectar won't last forever, especially if you are using a heated feeder.
    Water is important year round. Some of us have water features in our yard, but you don't need anything elaborate to attract birds. It is nice if you can offer sources of water at different heights and depths. Many birds prefer to use a ground bath, while others prefer a pedestal type. Most birds don't like a deep bath, either, especially smaller birds. Once again, it is important to keep them clean.

    There are not many ways to create an instant bird habitat, but when adding trees and plants to your yard, try to make them bird friendly. Choose some native species, and leave the seed heads of perennials standing over winter. This can provide shelter and a source of food. The same goes for sources of fruit. Native shrubs such as Serviceberry provide food and shelter for birds, but there are many others to choose from. Crab apples are easy to grow and provide a nice source of fruit for many species, such as Waxwings, Robins, and Flickers. Sunflowers are a great annual plant that many birds love. Leave them standing over winter as well and you will be surprised at how many birds will visit them.
    Remember that attracting birds attracts predators. It isn't fun to watch Cooper's hawks and other raptors hunt and eat the birds in your yard, but they are an important part of nature and they are something you need to accept if you want to feed birds in your yard.
     Finally, if you have cats, KEEP THEM INDOORS. It is better for the cats as well as the birds. In addition, if you have a lot of free-roaming cats in your neighborhood, consider not feeding the birds, especially the ground-feeding ones.
— Karen Zook
YVAS Receives Donation from Pacific Power

Yakima Audubon has received a $5,000 donation from Pacific Power for use in an environmental project.

     In August, a representative from Pacific Power contacted YVAS about a donation they wanted to make to us, and on August 24, I participated in a conference call about the donation.
     Pacific Power is working on a new transmission line from Outlook to Punkin Center, the first phase of a project that will eventually extend to Buena. The additional power/new lines are needed due to increased demand in the area. Because of the route the new line will take, trees and other habitat will be removed. During the planning process, Pacific Power asked the community what they would like to see happen to help offset the destruction of habitat, and the community requested that donations be made.
We later learned that YVAS was chosen for a donation because Don  Lee, a past YVAS member, recommended us. Don no longer lives in the area, but he still has property and a home in the Granger area. In fact, his property was the location of the first Barred owls seen in Yakima County, perhaps in the very trees which will be removed for the project.
       YVAS has now received the $5,000 donation, and we are looking for ideas on how best to use it. The Board has discussed a few ideas, but we would like your input. What would you like to see us do with this money? The project should benefit the environment and the local community. We could possibly partner with another organization, or we can work on our own.
      Please send  your ideas to, and I will make sure to relay them to the YVAS Board of Directors for discussion.
     It's nice to have some good news to report! Many thanks to Don Lee for suggesting YVAS, and to Pacific Power for the donation.
— Karen Zook
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