Many thanks to Karen Zook for this month's banner photos.
 YVAS March Meeting
Thursday, March  25th, 7 pm  (Zoom)  
Our Backyard Bumbles: An Introduction to Washington's Bumblebees

David Jennings
    Bumblebees are some of our most endearing native pollinators. With their furry bodies (and ability to thermoregulate) they are well-adapted to survive in colder and temperate ecosystems, such as those in Washington State.  Bumblebees are the only bees native to North America that are truly social –there are also some sweat bees that meet the definition of eusocial.  Bumblebees have a complex social life and their means of communicating within colonies are not fully understood, despite many decades of research.  Unlike the European honey bee, bumblebees have an annual lifecycle and only the queen bee survives the harsh winter, subsisting overwinter on food reserves she consumed prior to hibernation. 
     There are many factors that impact bumblebee populations. While some species have stable populations, others are in decline. As generalist foragers, they do not depend on any one plant species; however, many native and agricultural plants do rely on bumblebees to achieve pollination. Bumblebees are more efficient than honey bees in pollination of some human food crops, including tomatoes and cranberries. Thus, the loss of bumblebees has far ranging impacts due to their role as pollinators.
Learn them, respect them, protect them!

For a Field Guide to the Bumble Bees of Washington State, visit
To learn more about these amazing bees, visit
To engage in bumblebee research as a citizen scientist, visit
Upcoming Dates & Deadlines

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


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

Friday/Saturday, April 2nd and 3rd,  9:00 am - Annual Bluebird Box Cleanout. (See article in  this issue.)

Saturday, April 3rd, 8:00 am  -  Field trip to Clear Lake at White Pass. (See article in  this issue.)

Thursday, April 8th - April Calliope Crier article deadline (send articles, questions to

Saturday, April 10th, 9:00 am  -  Second Saturday Bird Walk at Yakima Arboretum. (See article in  this issue.)

Friday, April 23rd, 9:00 am  -  Tour of Sunnyside Wildlife Area. (See article in  this issue.)

Saturday, April 24th - Zimmerman Farm Field Trip. (See article in this issue.)

Friday-Monday, May 7-10 - Yakima County Migration Count. (See article in  this issue.)

Also in May - Annual Birdathon Fundraiser. Watch for details in the April Calliope Crier.
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.
Welcome new members!
Richland, WA:  David Barnes
Yakima, WAAlexander Conley

Thank you for renewing your membership! 
Ron Sell, Cheryl Meenach, Frank Brown, Kerry Turley, Jeff and Cindy Kozma, Wendy Nash, Phil Fischer, Dale and Terry Critchlow, Ralph Woodall Jr., Janell Hodge, Alice Presson, Karen Ramey, Cathy Reed, Myra Dorsey, George and Kay Allan, Rick Mains, Fern Sule and Lance Chamberlin, Teri Martine, James Christiansen, Kathy and Joe Howell, Tyler Shepard, Cathy LeCompte, and Karen Hyatt

Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge Field Trip
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. 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
White Pass Highway to Clear Lake Field Trip
Saturday, April 3, 2021

     April is the time for woodpeckers and waterfowl along the lower White Pass Highway. We will first explore the oak and pine forests in the Oak Creek and lower Bethel Ridge areas for a variety of woodpeckers, up to eight species are possible! Other species we’ll target include resident species of the dry forests such as nuthatches, chickadees and finches. After a thorough search in these drier woodlands, we’ll move west into wetter forests around Clear Lake to take in the waterfowl migration, as well different resident birds tied to moister habitats.
     Bring a picnic lunch and fluids, and dress for the weather. Meet at 8 AM in Yakima, return in mid-afternoon. We will travel in a caravan with FRS radios. All covid distancing rules apply, please.
     Contact Andy and Ellen Stepniewski, to sign up.

Savor Spring on April Second Saturday Bird Walk
Saturday, April 10, 2021
     Join us in April to enjoy spring at the Arboretum. 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. 
       Meet at 9:00 AM, Saturday, April 10th 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

Sunnyside Wildlife Area Field Trip
Friday, April 23, 2021
     During this tour of the Sunnyside Wildlife Area, you will get to experience the unique marsh habitats and the wonderful spring birds that  use these marshes for breeding in addition to migration stopovers. During similar periods in past years, birds such as Cinnamon and Blue-winged Teal, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, and Wilson’s Phalarope were present on the refuge. In addition to these regular waterfowl and shorebirds, the area has hosted unusual species such as Sandhill Crane and White-faced Ibis. Participants will walk 1-2 miles throughout the wildlife area on roads and trails. The trip will be done by noon. Water, food and bug spray are encouraged. As this is still during COVID, social distancing will be recommended and participants should bring a mask and use it if the need arises. Scope is helpful but not required.. The trip will be limited to 10 individuals, so you must contact the leader to signup.
     Contact leader Scott Downes for meeting location and time,

Zimmerman Farm Field Trip
Saturday, April 24, 2021
     Kerry Turley, Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer, will lead a half day walk at the Yakama Nation Refuge.  Zimmerman Farm has extensive wetlands and riparian areas where we will see  numerous waterfowl and songbirds. 
     Contact Kerry Turley, for details.

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.
Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge Field Trip, 2-27-21
      After a couple weeks of troublesome weather, February 27 was a magnificent day for our first YVAS field trip of the year!  An enthusiastic group of YVAS members and family met at 8:00 AM in the Refuge Lookout parking lot where YVAS Board member and Refuge Volunteer, Kerry Turley, gave an orientation and birding tips about the refuge.  Our group was good-sized, so we split up with half birding along the trail to the Headquarters building while the others viewed from the Lookout.  There were numerous Tundra Swans, Northern Pintail, American Coots, a pair of Wood Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, Gadwall, Canada Geese and Mallards on the Hwy 97 ponds.  The white swans were spectacular in the bright morning sun!  Along the walking trail we saw White-crowned Sparrows, a Bewick‘s Wren, Black-billed Magpies, and an adult and juvenile Bald Eagle in the distant trees. For our convenience, Kerry opened the Refuge Headquarters, and we spent some time viewing ducks together on the nearby pond. At 9:30, we headed down Pumphouse Road making  a couple of stops before Old Goldendale Road to view Toppenish Creek ponds with our spotting scopes and binoculars.  Here there were really large numbers of Northern Pintail (>200), Green-winged Teal, Canada Geese, American Widgeons, and a single, Eurasian Widgeon--an uncommon sighting at the Refuge.  Stopping at Old Goldendale we saw four Northern Shovelers just west of the road and looked for Sagebrush Sparrows, but without luck this time.  Continuing along Pumphouse, we came to the tree on the north side where there has been a Great Horned Owl nest for the last few years. The nest is almost at eye level, located in a tree down the bank from the road.  Last year the owls hatched two chicks in the nest, but at the moment, there are no chicks.  We approached in groups of two vehicles and stopped only briefly to look and take pictures from inside the car so as not to stress her.
       We turned off Pumphouse at Lateral C and stopped just north of the bridge.  This is usually an excellent spot for ducks and swans in the field west of the road and we saw more Northern Pintail, Canada Geese and Tundra Swans in the tall grass at the far side of the field.  There wasn’t much songbird activity in the Cottonwoods and Willow at the Creek, but this should be a good spot in March.  We finished the trip at noon at Zimmerman Farms on Marion Drain where a Belted Kingfisher was working the canal.
      Our next Toppenish Wildlife Refuge trip is March 27 and there is still space available. We will see different waterfowl and hopefully more perching birds!
Sarah Shippen

    Are you feeling “cooped up”? Are you looking for something fun to do outdoors - something that will help bluebirds? Please consider joining us for the annual cleanout of the bluebird boxes along the Vredenburgh Trail. This year (weather permitting) we will clean out the boxes on April second or thirdmaybe both days.
     This is a fun activity that anyone can help with. If you have not participated before, we will be happy to show you how to clean a Bluebird box (using COVID protocols). Once you know how to clean a box, it will be easy to be socially distant as the boxes are way more than six feet apart. The main precaution is that we will not be able to carpool.
     We will be meeting at the end of the pavement on North Wenas Road at 9:00 AM. If you have not been there before, there is a small area there where we can park and gather before the clean out. You will need to bring some type of work gloves (i.e. garden gloves), wear shoes or boots that are somewhat sturdy, and dress for weather that can change quickly. It’s also a good idea to bring snacks and water. We will supply scrapers and a list of boxes for you to monitor. We normally meet at the Umptanum Falls Parking lot at the end for lunch and to turn in our sheets but, with COVID, a lunch gathering is not advised. We can eat in our vehicles or you can just head home afterward.
     If you are interested or have questions, please contact Richard Repp ( or Karen Zook (, so that we know how many people to expect and who to contact in the event that we need to change or cancel our plans. If you have a specific day that you can participate, please let us know that as well.
     We hope to see some of you there!
Join the (COVID-Safe) Spring Migration Count
     This year YVAS is planning to hold the usual migration count on the weekend of May 7-10. This will be a county-wide bird count, as we try to tally species from different sectors in the county. Sector leaders will cover all of the best areas to bird around Yakima including the White Pass, Chinook Pass, Lower Valley, Ahtanum, Yakima Training Center, and the Toppenish and Wenas areas (depending on what lands are open at that time). Some teams start before dawn with owling, while most teams go all or most of the day.
     With the current social distancing of COVID-19, we are not encouraging members to join these team leaders this year. Instead, in addition to cheering on teams on their long journeys around the various habitats of the county, you can contribute, wherever you are! If you see an unusual species while out birding, from the 7th through the 10th of May, email Scott Downes (  to have your unusual species added to the team effort. If you're not sure how unusual the species is, please send the sighting to Scott, as even some relatively common species do get missed by the teams! You can also submit a trip list of your birding excursion to eBird, which Scott can add to the data
Goose Prairie Solar Project (east of Moxee)
     Traveling the American Southwest this January and February, Ellen and I took note of the significant tracts of desert habitat converted to either wind or solar power farms. Some of these projects are on a large scale, covering or altering thousands of acres of desert ecosystems. Though it will take many, many more such projects to entirely convert these deserts, other human development has already eliminated huge swaths of Southwest ecosystems, namely urbanization, "ranchettes,"  irrigated farmland, and mining. Combined, it's quite evident the vast open spaces of the Southwest deserts I recall from my youth growing up in southern California have disappeared in a mere 50 years.
     Switching to the Pacific Northwest, wind power made its appearance here in a big way less than 20 years ago. East of the Cascades, in particular, open land now hosts many wind power "farms," many encompassing thousands of acres. While a number of these wind farms lie over dryland wheat country, other lie directly over quality shrub-steppe habitat. Similar to the deserts mentioned above, the native shrub-steppe habitat has been significantly reduced by many kinds of development.
     Solar power projects have been slower to appear in eastern Washington, perhaps because this region lies in more northern latitudes from the Southwest (as much as 15 degrees of latitude) and incoming solar radiation is therefore significantly less than in the Southwest. Apparently, energy production by such facilities has not made economic sense or public incentives have been lacking until recently because there are now a number of projects in various stages of development in eastern Washington.
     On Yakima's east side, One Energy, a solar power development company, is in the project development phase of planning a large solar farm east of Moxee dubbed the "Goose Prairie Solar Project" project (nothing to do with Goose Prairie near Bumping Lake). This project is north of State Route 24 and would affect approximately 810 acres of privately owned land. Approximately 60% of the project area is in Conservation Reserve lands, about 25% in shrub-steppe, 11% in "eastside grasslands," and the balance in crop and pasture land.
      In November 2020, I reported on solar energy in the Audubon Crier, recommending siting criteria to minimize resource damage. I made a case for erecting these projects on lands already converted to agriculture (especially dryland wheat). Fortunately, Washington State, since the early 1970s, regulates these energy projects and recognition of resource values is now a consideration in proposed projects. Before certain energy facilities can be sited, constructed, or operated in Washington, an application must be submitted to the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (Council or EFSEC). The Council was created to provide a one-stop licensing agency for non-hydro energy projects. EFSEC is composed of a Washington State board with a Chair appointed by the Governor and representatives from 5 state agencies, including the Departments of Wildlife and Natural Resources.
Energy One has engaged an environmental consulting firm to assess this project's impacts, especially on threatened and endangered species. Their findings reveal significant numbers of Townsend's ground squirrels on this landscape, sightings of Long-billed Curlews, Loggerhead Shrikes and Sagebrush Sparrows, all Washington-state listed species or species of concern.
       A public meeting (virtual) March 16 allows Yakima Audubon to voice its concerns over environmental issues raised by this proposal. Part of this meeting will be devoted to determining whether an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) should be required. This decision will be made based on the probable project impacts identified in the information presented in the meeting.  A threshold determination of non-significance (DNS) may be issued if the SEPA responsible official (EFSEC Manager) determines there will be no probable significant adverse environmental impacts. An EIS is not required if a DNS is issued. I plan to make Yakima Audubon's concerns known to EFSEC. This project will likely eliminate habitat for the four listed species noted on the Goose Prairie project area and likely a host of other flora and fauna.

     —Andy Stepniewski
Making Your Own Zen Curtain
      I have had occasional window strikes by birds on two of the windows adjacent to my bird feeding area. Mostly these are just glances off the window where the birds fly off. However, I have found a stunned Sharp-shinned Hawk and a stunned Pine Siskin, both of which recovered and flew off.
     I knew there were various options to keep birds from hitting windows. This past fall, I decided to make my own following what Kevin Lucas did to his windows…. I made my own “Zen curtains”. I purchased parachute chord (brown) from Home Depot. I measured the width of my window and cut a length of chord to fit. I divided that into 4–5-inch-wide sections, figured out how many sections there were, then measured the length of my window and cut pieces to length for the vertical lines. I then tied those lengths to the horizontal piece at the 4–5-inch intervals. For each segment, I burned each end so that the inner part of the chord would not fray and unravel. Next, I attached 3M command strips with a hook (see photos) to the top of the window frame at each side of the window and then tied the horizontal piece of chord to each hook.
     Since I have hung the Zen curtains on my two problem windows (one window and my patio sliding door), I have only observed one window strike and the bird flew off just fine.  The 4-5-inch space is just narrow enough that birds won’t fly through it and the vertical lines allow the birds to see them before they hit the glass.  These curtains must be hung on the outside of the window.  These are cheap, inexpensive, very easy to make, and really prevent birds from hitting my windows. 
—Jeff Kozma

Sustainable Landscapes
The Yakima County Heritage Garden program, sponsored by the Washington State Department of Ecology and the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan, would like to invite you to participate in our Spring 2021 Heritage Garden Webinar - Sustainable Landscapes.
  • When:   Saturday, April 17th, 2021
  • Where:  Your Computer
  • Time:     9am - 12pm
Register on-line HERE. This webinar is free! For more information contact Ann Autrey,

Signs of Spring
 Check out this video of the resident Peregrine Falcon on the PGE building in Portland laying her first egg of the year!
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