Bird Stories: Relaxed summer birding

<I>KEVIN HEIMBIGNER photo</I><BR>Brown pelicans, a rare sight in our area until a decade ago, are now a frequent sight on both the ocean and Columbia.

Seems to be a quiet time for bird sightings - at least not too many reported. An eagle was spotted recently near the beach in Long Beach, and wrens were observed nesting in a brush pile on 64th Street.

Observers have commented on the rich diversity of bird activity that can be seen in the Long Beach neighborhood. Starting back in the grassy areas, species like wrens and meadowlarks can be seen; as you approach the beach another, different kind of bird population can be seen, and then, of course, there's a whole 'nother batch of bird types to be seen on the beach. If you're new to birding, the space between downtown Long Beach and the ocean is a good place to start.

Wondering where the best places are around here to watch birds, and which kinds of birds are around during this time of year? The best source for this kind of info is the book produced by the local Audubon chapter titled "Guide to Birding in Pacific County Washington." You can obtain a copy in South Bend at the Pacific County Historical Museum, in Nahcotta at the Port of Peninsula; in Ocean Park at the Chamber of Commerce, and in Ilwaco at Don's Port Side Café and Independent Books. You can also order by email: contact macy.hallin@gmail.com.

This time of year there are many young birds fledging. As they learn to fly they are using the beaches as their launch pad. (It has been reported that driving on the beach over 25 miles per hour does cause "deadly bird accidents"!) A lot of Caspian Terns and gulls are currently practicing their flight skills.

Sharnelle Fee, director of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, reports that the double-crested cormorants have, since 1999, been contracting a virus which is specific to them, and it seems to affect mostly the young birds. It is a neurological virus and is not contagious to humans. If you see a young cormorant with a wing, leg, etc. not working properly, most likely it has the virus.

If you would like to learn more about the Rehab Center and the wonderful work they do with injured animals, call Sharnelle at 503-338-0331. Watch for the open house announcement for their new hospital!

Habitat conservationEver think about how cutting trees affects bird habitat? Besides the obvious loss of nesting places, the continuous removal of trees from our area is breaking up the overhead canopy that birds and other animals require for migration and local movement. It diminishes their ability to forage and reproduce, and is a contributing factor to the diminishing bird population. We need to look at our trees more as being part of a larger picture - a forest - and not just as individual trees.

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program offers financial incentives to landowners for providing riparian buffers for fish habitat, and this often involves the preservation of trees. Find out more about their program by calling the USDA Service Center at 360-748-0083.

Audubon newsThe Audubon Society meeting on Aug. 13 was almost entirely taken up with a presentation by Glenn Lamb and Eric Allen of the Columbia Land Trust. The Land Trust is responsible for the preservation of the timber lands recently donated by the Glenn family. Eric identified for us the area being preserved and described how important the timber lands are, not only for wildlife but for all of us living on the Peninsula. Turns out the water we drink comes from an aquifer replenished by the rain, which in turn is collected, cleaned, and channeled into the wetlands by these forested areas. Without them, the water would be at greater risk of pollution and our fresh water would be at risk of becoming tainted by rising levels of salt water.

The Columbia Land Trust has many opportunities for those that want to help conserve and protect our beautiful environment. You can learn more by contacting them at 360-696-0131 (www.columbialandtrust.org).

The Nature Walk Beautification project at the fish hatchery in Chinook continues. Work crews are always needed with garden tools. The first phase of the nature walk is to restore a path bordering a small creek, making it an ideal place to enjoy nature and watch birds. Remember this is a project under the guidelines of the National Wildlife Federation's Certified Wildlife Habitat program. Get involved and feel the satisfaction that comes from being a part of such a noteworthy cause. To volunteer please call 642-1310.

The next birdwatching field trip is planned for Sept. 29. Travel east towards Portland on Highway 26 (south of Seaside, Ore.) We will meet at Camp 18 Restaurant, on the right hand side of Highway 26. We will arrive at 10 a.m. This is 18 miles east of Highway 101. There should be plenty of birds to see as they have lots birdfeeders out. See you there!

Monthly Meetings of the Discovery Coast Audubon Society are held on the second Monday of each month (except December) at 7 p.m. at the PUD building on Sandridge Road. For further information please contact Patricia at 642 1310. You can also look us up on the web at (www.discoverycoastaudubon.com).

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