The Flyway - Quarterly newsletter for Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Washington. Published by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS).
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The Flyway Fall 2020 Quarterly newsletter for Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually and Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuges Contents The Miracle of Migration............... 1 On the Wing ......... 3 Fall Migration Arrivals to expect .............. 3 Become a citizen scientist! ............... 4 Nisqually Watershed Virtual Festival 2020: ................... 4 Hunting on National Wildlife Refuges.... 5 Red-tailed Hawk Ramblings............. 6 Friends of Nisqually NWRC................... 7 Save the date! Virtual Nisqually Watershed Festival Sept. 26, 2020 The Miraculous Journey of Migration By Lynn Corliss If you look up at the sky in the fall you may be lucky enough to see a large flock of geese or a hawk migrating south. Migration is a miraculous journey of endurance and strength. Approximately 40% or 4,000 species of birds migrate every year. For some species it is a test of endurance. Those that do complete the journey get a chance to mate and pass on their genes. Giffon vulture was seen at 37,000 feet or over 7 miles above sea level in 1975. Migrating birds will use wind currents and even storms to aid them in their journey. While there are plenty of storms and wind in both the spring and fall, the fall migration is the hardest. Unlike their spring migration where they are traveling from the tropics where food is The most plentiful, extreme in the fall examples of birds have migration are raised seen in some Migratory Cackling Geese, photo by John Whitehead. their young of the most unand do not have as many reserves. likely species of birds. For example, the If that is not enough, birds must also Northern Wheatear, a Eurasian songmolt in order to obtain new feathers in bird, travels 9,000 miles between the preparation for migration. Molting is an Arctic and Africa. The Arctic Tern can energy expensive event. In order to get travel 49,700 miles in a year between enough energy for all this, they go into the Arctic and Antartica. The Bar-tailed a state known as hyperphagia where Godwit can travel 7,000 miles without they gorge themselves with food. After stopping. The snipe, a bulky looking nesting and molting their bodies go bird, flies 4,200 miles and can reach through many changes in preparation flying speeds up to 60 mph. for flight. Not only can birds fly fast and far but Nighttime migrating birds must prepare they can also reach great heights while themselves for being active during both migrating. During most of the year, the day and night during their migramany birds only fly around 500 feet in tion. This happens by changing their elevation. However, while migrating, circadian clock. Normally birds are they will fly around 2,000 to 5,000 feet only active during the day time and are and may even climb to 20,000 feet diurnal. But when they enter a stage into the sky. Bar-headed Geese have of zugunruhe or a state of excitement been known to fly 5 ½ miles over the Himalayan Mountains and the Ruppel’s Continued on next page Migration From previous page (coined by Eberhard Gwinner), they are lengthening their circadian clock in order to be active during the day and the night. When you see birds in this state, you may notice that it looks like they are in a feeding frenzy, flying in large flocks and being more active than normal. This is the energy they tap into in order to be able to migrate at night and be active for longer hours. are stimulated by blue light. When this happens, a radical pair of molecules with unpaired electrons spin and react with the magnetic field. Birds rely on many cues, including their internal compass to make sure they arrive safely at their destination. Hawks, swallows and vultures migrate when there is daylight. At sunrise you might be lucky enough to see a flock of swallows as they rise in a huge column out of the Refuge estuary. As they migrate across the landscape, they travel in a loose flock moving continuously instead of flying back and forth as when they feed. At sunset when they roost for the night, it may look like a colony of bees swarming as they fly up and down until they all settle in for the night. There are benefits to migrating at night. It is safer for smaller species, such as sparrows, flycatchers, warblers and thrushes to migrate at night because there are fewer predators out at night. There is also less Hawks and other raptors wind turbulence, and will migrate individually it is cooler at night for during the day. They fly low migrating. Usually birds in the sky and alternate can rely on land marks between rapid wing beats and stars to guide them Barn Swallow chicks migrate south after only a few short and gliding. Vultures have while migrating, but perfected the efficiency of months at the Refuge. Photo by USFWS with very little light it is gliding and thus using very hard to imagine how they migrate at night. Birds have little energy while flying. Our local Turkey Vultures both magnetite (an iron-based mineral that is magnetic) will gather in large groups and then take off as the sun and cryptochormes (proteins) in their body that act rises and the day time winds begin. Turkey Vultures are as internal compasses that guide the birds while they usually seen alone soaring high in thermals, but while migrate in the dark. When the sky is cloudy or there is migrating they will move together. Our local Turkey very little light, scientists have realized that birds rely Vultures are heading to California for the winter. on either the magnetite located in their brain or crypWhile Turkey vultures may not start migrating until tochromes located in their eyes to detect the Earth’s October, there are some species that start migrating as magnetic field. Cryptochormes are proteins that are early as mid-June. Our Pacific Northwest male Rufous sensitive to blue light. There is a chemical reaction that hummingbirds do not stay and help raise the young but occurs in the retina of the eye when the cryptochormes instead start migrating in mid-June to Arizona and then Mexico. The female Rufous hummingbird heads south soon after the young have fledged. Published quarterly by the Friends of Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Phone: 360.753.9467 Fax: 360.534.9302 www.fws.gov/refuge/billy_frank_jr_nisqually www.fws.gov/refuge/grays_harbor Volume 12, Number 3 Editor: Susie Hayes Editorial Advisors: David Clark, Jennifer Cutillo, David True Graphic design: Lee Miller Save trees, think green. To receive The Flyway electronically, email email@example.com 2 In August, the shorebird migration is in full swing in the United States. More than half a million shorebirds stop at Gray’s Harbor, Washington to gain weight before heading south. There you can see groups of dunlin, godwits and sanderlings. The Bar-tailed godwit which was mentioned earlier can increase its body fat by 55%. Some smaller shorebirds can increase their intestine capacity by 100% in preparation for their arduous journey. The peak of fall migration is from mid-August to midOctober. If you want to witness the fall migration in real time, just visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Bird Cast Map at https://birdcast.info/live-migration-maps/ or just go outside and look up at the sky. The Flyway On the Wing By Glynnis Nakai, Refuge Manager As a National Wildlife Refuge, we know the value of getting outdoors. It is rewarding to provide access for the public, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Access to public lands is a priority for the Fish and Wildlife Service. After months of closures, Director Aurelia Skipwith is celebrating re-openings on Refuges throughout the country. Her visit to Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually NWR on July 31st was a private event to conform with state regulations on physical distance and group size. A few of the Refuge partners in attendance for the two hour event included: David Troutt, Director of Natural Resources (Nisqually Indian Tribe); Hanford McCloud, Nisqually Tribal Council member (Nisqually Indian Tribe); Eric Gardner, Director of Wildlife Section (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife); Chip Jenkins, Superintendent (Mt. Rainier National Park); and Sheila McCartan, Board Member (Friends of Nisqually NWRC). The focus was on partnerships, urban refuges, and access to public lands, but it had such a different feel than special events held in the past. The event was held outside in the education amphitheater and included a walk on the boardwalk with our partners. What made this visit different was the inability to show Director Skipwith all the aspects of what makes this urban Refuge special…….our volunteers who are available for that personal attention, whether it’s in the Norm Dicks Visitor Center, through an environmental education program, or as trail rovers. A verbal descrip- tion of our activities is not enough to feel the energy, enthusiasm, and dedication that come from actually seeing the volunteers in action. For that, I’m sorry Aurelia did not experience us at our best but there were benefits. She will have a picture in her mind when she hears or sees the name Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually NWR. She will also remember some of the key points brought to her attention, for example, staffing and budget limitations, and the potential to expand our reach into urban communities, which is one of her priorities. The uncertainty of COVID-19 in our communities still plays a big role in our usual activities as days turn to months. A big change for us is the absence of AmeriCorps members for the 2020-21 season. This was not an easy decision but in light of the challenges posed for teachers and students, and districts moving towards online lessons, AmeriCorps members would not have the same quality experience that is gained from the usual programming. We look forward to returning to our regularly scheduled programming next year. But we look forward to an upcoming event with a twist. Our annual Nisqually Watershed Festival—it’s going virtual! Each day, starting September 21st there will be a short appetizer (pre-recorded or live video) from festival exhibitors and partners leading up to a Saturday event on September 26th (more information can be found on page 4). We hope you can join us! Our communities are important to us—stay safe and stay healthy! Fall Migration Arrivals: Who to Expect and When to Expect Them! Planning a trip to the Refuge this fall and want to know what birds are expected to be arriving around the time of your visit? Our guide to returning birds will help you spot all the new-comers! We’ve divided our fall migration arrivals into two week increments and used the same data used to create the Refuge’s Wildlife Checklist to provide this quick overview of when our fall migrants are expected to arrive. An * denotes a bird that can be found year-round, but whose numbers are expected to increase at the time listed. First Half of September: Gadwall*, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Mew Gull*, American Kestrel*, Merlin*, Peregrine Falcon*, Ruby-crowned Kinglet**, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Western Meadowlark* Fall 2020 Second Half of September: Greater White-fronted Goose Cackling Goose, American Wigeon*, Northern Shoveler, Hooded Merganser*, Horned Grebe, Townsends Warbler, Fox Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow First Half of October: Common Goldeneye, Common Loon, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Pine Siskin*, Second Half of October: Brant, Eurasian Wigeon, Ringnecked Duck, Common Merganser*, American Coot*, Dunlin*, Northern Shrike, First Half of November: Bonaparte’s Gull* Second Half of November: Varied Thrush Did you spot one of these birds earlier than we predicted? Consider reporting your observation at www.ebird. org or letting us know at info@friendsofnisquallynwrc. org. We’d love to hear from you! 3 Stay-home Stay-healthy got you staying-bored as well? Become a citizen scientist! By Davy Clark As COVID-19 has upended our daily life and normal routines, there is a special study of nature that offers a window into a more reliable world. People of all ages can engage in this study from almost anywhere! It can involve birds, bugs, plants, or any part of the living world. Taking part in this study takes only a few minutes a day, but the rewards and insights offered are boundless. This is the study of Phenology. historic springtime temperatures near Kyoto to better understand climate change today. Farmers have also long used phenological knowledge. If you’ve ever tried to grow corn you may be familiar with the expression “knee-high by the fourth of July”. This is an excellent example of a phenological indicator that lets a farmer know how successful their crop will be. Taking part in phenological record keeping is easier than ever before. With just a notebook, pencil, and wifi you can take part in Citizen Science initiatives like Project Budburst (budPhenology is the study of nature’s burst.org) and Nature’s Notebook calendar. That is to say, the periodic (usanpn.org/natures_notebook). These observation of particular events in amazing tools allow anyone to conthe life cycle of living things that are tribute valuable data that helps land influenced by the seasons. It is about managers, climatologists, and other observing and documenting those natural resource professionals better events, like the first leaves of spring, understand our changing planet. Plus, or the first migrating waterfowl of fall. as you observe individual organisms It helps us to get connected with the over time you may find, like so many seasonal changes around us and to others who take part in the study of better understand some of nature’s big Spring buds photo by i’ina phenology, that you start noticing new questions like, “Do April Showers really and wondrous parts of nature. The act of slowing down bring May flowers?” and developing a habit of returning to the same place The study of phenology is ancient, and people from regularly is sure to ignite a sense of wonder and deepen all over the world have taken part in this study to help your connection with the natural world. From the youngest naturalist just beginning to explore the world them better understand the natural world around them. around them to the life-long student of nature, phenolIn Japan, phenological records on blooming cherry ogy is a great way to stay connected to nature, even blossoms extend from the present day back to the 9th century. These data are being used to help reconstruct during these uncertain times. Nisqually Watershed Festival 2020: A Virtual Celebration! By Ashley Von Essen, Nisqually Watershed Festival Director For the past 30 years, the Nisqually Watershed Festival has been a culmination and celebration of all things Nisqually. From the mountain to the sound, to the people, culture, and environment, this festival has brought together communities and organizations from throughout Puget Sound to celebrate our accomplishments, successes, and growth. And for our 31st anniversary, we’re not going to let a pandemic stop us! Since we can’t be together in person, the festival planning committee has opted to celebrate in a slightly different way. This year’s Nisqually Watershed Festival will still have many of your favorite activities and outreach from non-profits and local organizations, but will have an online format. 4 For this year’s theme, “From Mountain to Sound,” we’ll take you on a virtual tour through the Nisqually watershed, starting at the top of Mount Rainier and ending in the Nisqually River estuary. Join us as we visit Northwest Trek, take flight through the Ohop Valley, and learn about southern resident Orca Whales and other critters that reside in the Puget Sound. We’ll also take you to meet wolves, aquatic insects, and a vast array of reptiles with Mr. Lizard and his mobile zoo. We’ll even show you how to make your own nature prints and salmon kites at home! With so many activities planned, we knew we couldn’t fit it all into one day, so we’re going to celebrate all week long! Programming will begin Monday, September 21st, and will culminate with a “Mainstage” on Saturday, September 26th. For more information and to view our line-up of virtual events, visit us at: http://nisquallyriver.org/festival/ or find our event on Facebook! The Flyway Hunting on National Wildlife Refuges By Mike McMinn Why is waterfowl hunting or any hunting allowed on National Wildlife Refuges? I mean they are ‘refuges’ so how can you kill anything in a ‘refuge’? First, we need to look at some abbreviated historical information. Efforts to protect some areas and certain species began in mid-1800’s. This included establishing biological agencies and setting aside areas that would later become parts of the National Park System. At the urging of both consumptive users such as hunters and non-consumptive users such as birding groups, President Theodore Roosevelt established the first Federal Bird Reservation in 1903 called Pelican Island in Florida. A chain of these Reservations was established around the country to protect nongame birds and other wildlife. In 1918 the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was passed which afforded protections to species of birds that crossed international borders and established coordinated protections. In 1929 the Migratory Bird Conservation Act was passed which set forth the National Wildlife Refuge System, set rules for how and when waterfowl may be hunted and ended commercial market hunting of birds as food. This effort was to protect wildlife resources for the use of all Americans. In 1934 the National Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act was passed that required anyone hunting waterfowl to buy a Federal Duck Stamp. This stamp looks like a postage stamp but is only for the right to hunt waterfowl. This Act requires 100% of the collected funds to be set aside for the purchase of land for waterfowl. Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually NWR was mostly purchased with these Duck Stamp dollars. So, you can see that many groups have been instrumental over the years in desire to preserve and protect our wildlife resources. These groups can be broken down into two basics categories, consumptive and non-consumptive. So back to the initial question, why allow hunting. The refuge system is made up of over 500 units with each with a specific stated reason why it was established. It may be to protect one or more endangered species, or to protect waterfowl habitat, or even more generic to just protect wildlife habitat. Some are closed to the public; some are open or partially open to the public. Many had long histories of sport hunting. With all the demands, needs, and wants of a diverse public the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge System needed to state plainly what its overall mission was. That was spelled out in 1997 in the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act. One of those mission statements outlined was, “Foster understanding and instill appreciation of fish, wildlife, and plants, and their conservation, by providing the public with safe, high-quality, and compatible wildlife-dependent public Fall 2020 use. Such use includes hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and interpretation.” But how can hunting be allowed, is it not damaging to animal populations? Is it moral? I will not try and answer the morality of hunting here, that would take a book, and then it still would be just an opinion. But as to the first question I think I can use science to answer that. First, we must understand some concepts of population dynamics. Most species of animal produce far more young then can possibly survive, this is called the harvestable surplus. This surplus, if not removed each year, would cause the population to grow uncontrollably until there was not enough food, water, or shelter for survival, and the population would crash with individuals perishing agonizing deaths. So, what does happen to this surplus? One primary purpose it serves is to repopulate areas decimated by disasters. Another is to insure diversity of genetic material for adaptions. But if there is no disaster or radical change to conditions where do these animals go? Predation is major source of loss along with severe weather, drought, famine, disease, and competition for other resources like nesting sites. Each year this surplus must be removed one way or another. Managed hunting is just such a method. Like the farmer who must remove domestic animals from their farm each year to maintain a healthy population, wildlife managers monitor game populations to limit the number of animals removed to ensure a healthy sustainable population for generations to come. Natural causes can control populations. But in many areas, predation is not possible due to the lack of predators and the impossibility of reintroduction of enough predators. Starvation is not a great tool either. Sport and subsistence hunting and gathering can be a useful tool in the practice of wildlife management. Granted as our society becomes more and more urban and we lose our rural roots and traditions the numbers of hunters have dropped. “New figures from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service show that the number of hunters 16 and older declined by 10 percent between 1996 and 2006—from 14 million to about 12.5 million. The drop was most acute in New England, the Rocky Mountains, and the Pacific states, which lost 400,000 hunters in that span.” CBS News 2007. In conclusion, properly managed hunting does not threaten wildlife populations, is no crueler than ways that wildlife die naturally, and can and often does increase the health of the population and protects the habitat for many other species. 5 Red-tailed Hawk Ramblings By David True It’s amazing how finding the same things year after year can convey such feelings of comfort and joy. This could be a favorite place to stop for a bite to eat, or perhaps a beautiful view filled with flowers and trees that brighten up your day. For me, one of the things that always give me peace of mind is observing one of the many Red-tailed Hawks that are often perched on a sign or a treetop along the numerous highways in this region. These big hawks are easy to view and study for anyone that has the time to do so. tailed Hawk you find. Watch how it hunts while soaring in the sky or perched on a roadside sign. These hawks have fantastic eyesight that allows them to find small creatures even when flying high above. When the hawk finds something that could potentially be good to catch, the bird will pounce quietly from above, using its talons to dispatch its prey. Their favorite foods are small mammals such as mice and voles, but they will occasionally catch animals the size of squirrels and rabbits as well. They also enjoy munching on snakes, frogs and large insects. Red-tailed Hawks might eat a bird if they can catch them, but many birds are too fast and agile for this species of hawk to pursue. These hawks are also The Red-tailed Hawk famous in Hollywood (Buteo jamaicensis) as well. Have you is related to a group ever watched a movie of hawks known as that shows a Bald Buteos, which are Eagle calling with a characterized as havloud “KEeeeaarrr” ing long, stocky wings call? Well, that isn’t and somewhat short entirely correct. That square tails, although sound comes from each species is a tad the Red-tailed Hawk! bit different in their In fact, if you go to an shape. Most of these area where Red-tailed hawks are known for Hawks are nesting, soaring effortlessly there is a good chance in the sky, riding the you might hear this sun’s heat rising back wild call overhead. from the earth known As long as there is as thermals. There are some open country quite a few of these around, a Red-tailed types of hawks found Red-tailed hawk calling from a Douglas fir. Photo by David True Hawk could be spotthroughout the state of ted soaring or perched in a tree. I’ve found Red-tailed Washington, particularly east of the Cascades. Around Hawks in wetlands, deserts and the edges of thick Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually NWR, an occasional Redforests, but they also can be common around city shouldered or Rough-legged Hawk may pop up near the parks and suburban areas. All they need is a place to open grassy and wet areas of the Refuge, particularly in find food and for nesting birds, a large tree or platform the colder times of the year. But neither of these hawks where they can build a large stick nest. Most have one is anywhere near as prevalent as the Red-tailed Hawk. to five nestlings during a given season. These hawks So, is it easy to identify a Red-tailed Hawk? Not always! mate for life, although if one of the spouses were to die, Although these hawks have a distinctive shape and they may find another mate. profile, the tail isn’t always red. Young birds never have The next time you travel or visit the Refuge, look along a red tail, and a few types of Red-tailed Hawks around the road, watch the treetops in the distance or check the country never acquire a reddish tail even as they for birds flying overhead to find out what the local redage. Plumage can be remarkably different as well. Just tailed hawks are doing. These adaptable hawks bring taking a short drive along a country highway could prome a feeling of serenity nearly every time that I observe vide the opportunity to find Red-tailed Hawks that are them, and I hope that they do for you as well! white below and brownish above, totally black all over, or perhaps some shades in-between. Some hawks can Friends of Nisqually NWR Complex is a almost be all whitish in color with a thick belly band, but others can nearly be void of stripes. I’m not sure if 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 1998 there is another common wild bird in this region that to promote conservation of the natural and cultural can have so many variants of their plumage! resources and fund educational Yet even as common as they are, they are definitely not boring! For instance, take a good look at the next Red- 6 and outreach programs at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The Flyway New and Renewing Friends Members/Fall Flyway 2020 Student/Senior—$15 Individual—$25 Margery Beeler Jean Davis Karol Erickson Joseph Geldmacher James Kenney Diane Kerlin Karen Olson Miho and Chuck Pell Glen Simmelink Kathleen Treece Susan Wineke € Mary Brasseaux M. Cleaver Cori Halverson George Haroutunian, Jr. M. 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OFFICE USE Rec’d__________ Mo___________ New______ Renew______ Ent____________ Mld___________ Fall 2020 7 Friends of Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge 100 Brown Farm Road Olympia WA 98516 Non-Profit Org US Postage PAID Olympia WA Permit #206 Return Service Requested ... conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people...