Winging It

The birds of winter

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Blue herons, bald eagles, cormorants, Harlequin ducks, Canada geese, Northern flickers and Anna’s hummingbirds were among the winged wonders I viewed in Whatcom County last weekend, and I wasn’t even on a dedicated birding expedition—unlike a friend who, while on a Sunday field trip to the lower Skagit Valley, also reported seeing short-eared owls, trumpeter swans, Pacific loons, a couple different types of hawk, snow geese, red-winged blackbirds, buffleheads and plenty of other endothermic vertebrates.

Birding adventures and presentations in the Fourth Corner abound this time of year, meaning it’s a prime time to become one with nature. If it’s not already on your radar, the 21st annual Skagit Eagle Festival still has a couple of weekends remaining. On Jan. 19-21 and 26-27, the feathered fun continues with guided nature walks, presentations by guest speakers, eagle-watching stations, photography tours, multimedia presentations, deep forest experiences and much more at Rockport’s Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center at Howard Miller Steelhead Park, and in Concrete, Marblemount, and beyond. Choose your own adventure, and get going. Info: http://www.concrete-wa/com/skagit-eagle-festival

Spend some time inside for a North Cascades Audubon Society Talk with Maria Mudd Ruth at 7pm Tues., Jan. 22 at Whatcom Museum’s Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St. As the author of Rare Bird: Pursuing the Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet, Ruth advocates for the protection of the endangered seabird of the Pacific Northwest, the state forests where it nests, and her local urban forests and wildlife. While putting the fascinating book together, Ruth found herself exploring larger questions. Why does the fate of a single species matter to us? Why and how should we care about the murrelet and the forests where it nests? Do we have a moral obligation to save this bird? (Short answer: Yes.) Info: http://www.whatcommuseum.org

As part of Skagit Valley Birds of Winter experiences taking place throughout early March, the second annual La Conner Birding Showcase happening from 9:30am-3pm Sat., Jan. 26 at the town’s Maple Hall will point both beginner and longtime birders in the right direction. Keynote speaker Dr. Kaeli Swift is a leading researcher on corvids—crows, ravens, jays and magpies—and she’ll share her knowledge with the masses. Vendors from organizations such as Skagit Audubon, Northwest Swan Conservation Association, Skagit Land Trust, and Fine Feathered Friends will also be on hand to dispense details about what they do, and attendees can also find out more about ethical birding practices, field-trip suggestions and more. Whether before the showcase or after, be sure to schedule some time in the great outdoors, as you never know what bird of winter is waiting in the wings. Info: http://www.lovelaconner.com/la-conner-birding-showcase-2019 or www.birdsofwinter.org

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