Vashon Audubon: Taking action to support birds at-risk

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On October 10, the National Audubon Society reported that two-thirds of North American birds are at risk of extinction due to climate change.

“The Audubon report is an alarming field guide to the future of North American birds,” said Julie Burman, Vashon Audubon president. “We must amplify our efforts to make lasting change. Engaging the Vashon community, and kids in particular, is especially important as we take action to support our island birds and their native habitat.”

Birds in the report are classified in four categories: high, moderate, and low vulnerability species, as well as stable species. With a warming scenario of 1.5 degrees C, six birds in King County are highly vulnerable, and 70 are moderately vulnerable. With an increase of 3.0 degrees C, 50 birds in the county are highly vulnerable, and 58 moderately vulnerable.
On Vashon moderately vulnerable bird species include Rufous Hummingbirds, Buffleheads, Violet-green Swallows, Swainson’s Thrush, and Western Tanagers.

In November, Vashon Audubon offers two ways for island residents to learn about and support birds: the launch of the 2020 Birds of Vashon-Maury Island calendar on First Friday, Nov. 1, 6-9 p.m. at the Land Trust, and a program on November 14, 7:00 pm at the Land Trust, to learn how to participate in the annual Christmas Bird Count, which occurs on January 5th, 2020.

The calendar features photographs taken by local residents of all ages, and includes birds identified as endangered in the report.  Visitors can view a continually looping projection of all the photographs submitted, and copies of the National Audubon Society report, Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink will be available. Calendars will also be available for purchase online at https://vashonaudubon.org

Christmas Bird Count Coordinator Ezra Parker will lead the session on the 14th, providing results from past bird counts and describing how to participate in the full-day count. This citizen science effort provides annual census data of bird populations in America.
To learn about endangered birds without leaving home, islanders can use National Audubon’s new interactive tool, the Birds and Climate Visualizer, to see individual pictures of birds at risk in every county across America in scenarios of 1.5, 2.0, and 3.0 degrees C increases in global temperatures.  Go to www.audubon.com to read the report and explore the scenarios.

“Next year, we’ll team up with community partners to conduct Climate Watch research, showcase native plant gardens, learn from climate experts, attend Lobby Day in Olympia, lead a Vashon species parade, and watch the bird mural take flight,” Burman said.
“Birds can’t fight climate change,” she added. “But we can.”

In its newly released report, Audubon has identified five steps every person can take to mitigate the risks to birds:
1.    Reduce your use of energy at home and ask your elected officials to support energy-saving policies that reduce the overall demand for electricity and that save consumers money. (Note:  In January, Vashon Audubon members joined members from around the state to advocate for environmental legislation. The Legislature passed the 100% Clean Electricity bill (SB5116) —the strongest clean-electricity bill in the nation.)
2.    Ask your elected officials to expand consumer-driven clean energy development that grows jobs in your community, like solar or wind power.
3.    Reduce the amount of carbon pollution released into the atmosphere. In order to drive down carbon emissions, we will need innovative economy-wide solutions that address every sector of the economy—like a fee on carbon. Another option is to address carbon emissions one sector at a time, like setting a clean energy standard for electricity generation.
4.    Advocate for natural solutions, from increasing wetlands along coasts and rivers that absorb soaking rains to protecting forests and grasslands that are homes to birds and serve as carbon storage banks, and putting native plants everywhere to help birds adapt to climate change.
5.    Ask elected leaders to be climate and conservation champions.
—From Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink, www.audubon.org