WOSNews Issue 187

October – November 2020

Greater Sage Grouse

Wildfires Ravage State Grouse Habitat

By Kim Thorburn

Washington’s shrub-steppe ecosystem is one of the state’s most endangered at 40 percent of its historic extent. Tragically, huge swaths of state-protected areas for Greater Sage-Grouse and Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse in Okanogan, Douglas, and Lincoln Counties were burned in recent wildfires (along with protected areas in three other counties). Kim Thorburn discusses the damage and prospects for recovery….

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Jacob and Faye

WOS Announces 2020 Patrick Sullivan Young Birder Award

By Faye McAdams Hands

Jacob Miller, 15, is the newest winner of the Patrick Sullivan Young Birder award. Jacob, who lives with his family at the Skokomish Valley Farms near Shelton in Mason County, wins praise for his birding skills, projects, and photography, as well as for his volunteering and eBirding prowess….
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From the Board

Moving Forward Through the Pandemic

By Kim Thorburn

Kim thanks departing board members and officers and other contributors who have helped WOS carry on during the pandemic. The board is discussing hopes for next year’s conferece in Astoria, Ore. and possible resumption of field trips as a way of staying in touch. Cinny Burrell and Anisha Shankar are leading the effort to make WOS more inclusive of diverse communities….
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Long Swamp

Birding With a Warped Mind

By Tom Bancroft

Tom takes us along on his trip to Long Swamp in the wilds of Okanogan County, where he hoped to avoid people and record in solitude the sounds of birds and nature. He weathered some scary thoughts, but in the end he woke up to the song of the Olive-sided Flycatcher and some other welcome bird songs….
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Sagebrush Sparrow

Fire and the Shrubsteppe Ecosystem

By Jason Fidorra

Shrubsteppe in Eastern Washington, when it is healthy, typically consists of sagebrush interspersed with perennial bunch grasses, annual wildflowers, and a biotic soil crust of lichens and mosses. Unfortunately, invasive annual grasses like cheat grass have created a thick flammable carpet in the understory of the shrubsteppe. Sagebrush is poorly adapted to fire and it can take many decades for it to recover after a fire. Because of invasive, non-native vegetation, fires now spread farther and occur far more frequently than would otherwise be the case….

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Thick-billed Longspur

More Name Changes Could Be Forthcoming from the AOS

By Andy McCormick

The American Ornithological Society (AOS) decided in August to change the name of McCown’s Longspur to Thick-billed Longspur. This change came after a proposal in 2018 to change the name because the bird was the only North American bird named after a member of the Confederate Army. In response, the AOS issued new guidelines for English bird names, including when they should be changed, and then adopted the new name for the longspur. The new guidelines could presage more name changes to come….

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Election Icon

WOS Election Results Are In

A total of 121 WOS members cast votes in the recent WOS election, electing Jennifer Kauffman as the new WOS President and adopting a proposed change to WOS bylaws. The newly elected officers and board members began their terms October 1, 2020….

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