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League of Women Voters
of Snohomish County
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News / Articles

Birdsong at Risk

Joan Smith | Published on 11/1/2023

Varied Thrush
Thirty percent of the diverse bird population of North America has disappeared! Brian Zinke, director of the Pilchuck Audubon Society for Snohomish and parts of Island County shared that dismal statistic.  Local declines included the colorful and musical Varied Thrush by 73% and black throated warbler by 53%. Four major reasons for the decline in our bird population: loss of habitat, climate change, cats, and window collisions. Nonnative urban landscapes lack the original berries, seeds, and insects that the native wildlife depend on to feed their chicks.  For example, a native oak bears 557 caterpillars while a ginko tree has only five species.  A baby chickadee consumes about 390-570 caterpillars daily.  

Outdoor cats kill a billion to 3.5 billion birds per year.  Window collisions pose danger, too.  Zinke recommends keeping cats in the house or having catios, and outdoor enclosure for cats.  For windows, he suggests drawing drapes or using stickers.  Artificial lights at night disorient birds. Birds need food and water, shelter, and safe passages.  Some Pilchuck Audubon groups have proposed adding bird-friendly building codes. Pilchuck Audubon offers educational programs to get the public to do its part. About two-thirds of our bird population is currently at risk!  View this colorful and exciting presentation at LWVSC YouTube, Natural Resources, October 2023. 

Committee Reports:  

Citizens Climate Alliance – Jim Bloss proposed reworking our issues around an ecology theme.  He is writing another letter to the editor.  He related that preparation for the Comprehensive Climate Exchange of 2028 has revealed how far away we are from initial targets! 

Transportation - Steve Trautwein found issues for Transportation and Natural Resources to overlap. He shared Julie Winchell’s notes on a KUOW program that named Arlington Airport as the second worst polluter of leaded gasoline to the atmosphere.  

Tree Campaign - Kate Lunceford reinforced the need for support for the Urban Tree Canopy Policy and mature forests before the Planning Commission, October 24th, 5:30 p.m. and also for a letter to protect mature forests in the County, drafted by Megan Dunn.

Edmonds Marsh Estuary Advocacy
- Marjie Fields that this group is planning an open house to promote the marsh and its storm water retention capacity.  Further, Edmonds Alliance for
the Environment is lobbying the Edmonds Council for a Climate Action Manager. 

Zoom Presentations - Nancy Johnson’s written report promoted a series of educational Zoom presentations: “Electrifying Everything in Your Home.”  The introduction was October 19th.  More to follow in January.  She also encouraged participation in Sno-Isle’s effort to bring “Kicking Gas Whidbey” to Snohomish County.  

NEXT MEETING:  November 17th, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., Zoom.  Our guest speaker will be David Killingstad and staff, who will update us on the revisions to Comprehensive Plan 2024 since public input.