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Conservation News

Conservation News – The conservation committee is committed to providing up-to-date conservation news for our members and visitors to our website.


Drawing Meaning from Death, One Seabird at a Time

Article taken from Hakai Magazine (Coastal Science and Societies)

COASST volunteers Bob Phreaner, Sue Nattinger, and Coleman Byrnes patrol Shi Shi Beach in Washington State for dead seabirds, including this Laysan albatross. In the background is Point of Arches, a National Natural Landmark. Photo by Larry Pynn

Three dedicated OPAS members, Bob Phreaner, Coleman Byrnes, and Sue Nattinger walk the beaches in search of beached birds as volunteers of the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) citizen science program. The volunteers help researchers track long-term trends influenced by human or natural causes, and the results are critical for comparison against the number of birds by species associated with, say, a natural die-off, an El Niño climate event, or an oil spill. Click on the article to see photos of the volunteers and read more about this valuable program. OPAS extends a big thank you for their dedication to science and seabirds on our North Olympic coasts. Read more.


OPAS Comments on the Marbled Murrelet LTCS, March 9, 2017

Read our comments that we submitted to the Washington Department of Natural Resources on the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Marbled Murrelet  Long Term Conservation Strategy (LTCS).

Read more information about the Marbled Murrelet LTCS here.


OPAS Comments on the Sustainable Harvest Calculation, March 9, 2017

Read our comments that we submitted to the Washington Depatrment of Natural Resources on the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Sustainable Harvest Calculation.

Read more information about the Sustainable Harvest Calculation here.


Western Bluebird Watch Program for 2017

western-bluebirdThe Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society’s Western Bluebird Watch Program is seeking volunteers to participate in the second phase of National Audubon’s Climate Watch Program that focuses on bluebirds.

Audubon’s Climate Watch was developed as followup to the 2014 Audubon Birds and Climate Change report that highlighted the risks climate change poses to birds across North America

The program focuses on areas of predicted change for bluebirds within each chapter’s territory and highlights areas of expected range expansion and contraction. Maps of the chapter’s territory overlaid with a grid of 10-kilometer squares that show predictions for change based on the climate models have been provided to the coordinator of each participating chapter.

Volunteers will conduct 5 minute surveys in assigned points within each square.  Though the focus is bluebirds, the volunteer is asked to record all bird species viewed within the 5 minute period.

For more information about the OPAS Western Bluebird Watch Program and National Audubon’s Climate Watch please contact Joyce Volmut at joyce.volmut@gmail.com or call 785-554-6379


Swan Study Preliminary Data Results – November, 2016

OPAS swan study volunteers have participated in a citizen science project to count swans each winter for the last 6 years.

Bob Boekelheide, OPAS Bird Sightings Chair, has compiled the preliminary data from these swan surveys, showing how numbers of swans change through each season and the areas they occupy when they are here.

OPAS extends its appreciation to its volunteers for making the swan project a success.

Click here to view Bob’s November, 2016 presentation of our SwanStudy Data Results.

Trumpeter Swans in Sequim Field Photo by Dow Lambert

Trumpeter Swans in Sequim Field
Photo by Dow Lambert


2016 OPAS Conservation Award

Each year the Conservation Committee considers nominations of both members and others in our community who have made invaluable contributions to conserve and protect our natural environment.

This year, the award was presented at our September meeting to Bob Phreaner by Mary Porter-Solberg, OPAS Conservation Co-Chair

Click on the certificate below to read about Bob’s conservation stewardship.


Click on award to enlarge







Bob Phreaner & Mary Porter-Solberg

Bob Phreaner & Mary Porter-Solberg
















Providing a Safer Yard for Birds

Hanging birdfeeders, providing birdbaths, and growing native plants are among the best ways to provide food, water, and shelter to birds as they migrate across an increasingly developed continent. If homeowners want to attract and provide refuge for birds, they must also safeguard their yards against threats such as windows, toxins, and cats.

Let’s talk primarily about window collisions and ways to prevent them. Window strikes at people’s homes kill at least 150 million birds each year in the U.S. Reflections of vegetation or landscape attract birds to collide with glass. Birds tend to collide with windows in rural yards with trees and birdfeeders—the very picture of bird-friendly habitat. Many people hang birdfeeders in a tree close to their house so they can easily watch the birds from a window. This is the worst place to put them. It draws birds close to windows while also giving them space to gain the necessary flying speed to hurt themselves. Place feeders and birdbaths within three feet of the nearest window so that birds don’t hurt themselves upon liftoff; or place them more than 30 feet away so that feeding birds …..Read more


OPAS Commented on USFWS draft Eagle Take Rule

OPAS recently commented on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service draft of an eagle-management plan that could weaken protections for eagles, including the issuing of 30-year permits to wind energy and other companies that could allow the “take” (or harm) of eagles. Read our comments.


Changes in Sequim-Dungeness Bird Populations and Behavior

Bob Boekelheide, OPAS Co-Vice President, and Ken Wiersema, OPAS President, were recently interviewed by the Sequim Gazette about observed changes in bird populations and behavior as a result of over 40 years of recorded Christmas Bird Count data in the Sequim-Dungeness area.

Some noticeable trends have emerged, including a general decline in the number of seabirds, such as Western Grebes, White-winged Scoters and Common Loons.

You can read about these changes and what may be causing them by clicking on the following links:

Sequim Gazette link

PDF link, then scroll down the page to the “Birders” article.


Notice: Partners of Planning for Climate Change on the North Olympic Peninsula Project

We are pleased to share with you the final “Climate Change Preparedness Plan for the North Olympic Peninsula” report! This report and its many appendices and supplementary information are the culmination of all the input from participants throughout the project, as well as the expert research, writing, and process flow from consultants of Adaptation International and Washington Sea Grant.


Important Notice! What to do if you encounter aircraft disturbance at Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge.

By FAA regulation, aircraft, including fixed wing, helicopter, drone, powered or unpowered are required to maintain a safe non-disturbance distance from wildlife. Should our members note what they believe is an aircraft disturbing wildlife they should contact:

FAA’s Flight Standards District Office (FDSO Seattle)
1601 Lind Avenue SW
Renton, Wa 98057

Phone: (425) 227-2813 or (800) 354-1940 Fax: (425) 227-1810


Wildlife disturbance on or near the DNWR should also be reported to Refuge Law Enforcement, David Falzetti (David_Falzetti@fws.gov or 360-457-8451). However, without detailed information including a tail number, date, time, and detailed wildlife disturbance behavior information he can do little. It is highly recommended that reports include photos of the tail number and type of wildlife disturbance. Understandably, these details can be very difficult to get, but the effort is important for follow-up.


Audubon’s Birds and Climate Change Report – 314 Species on the Brink

Shrinking and shifting ranges could imperil nearly half of U.S. birds within this century. Read the Audubon Climate Report.