Never-ending Learning Experience
We’re back to a city for a couple of days, now in Portland. Years ago the community asked for a National Wildlife Refuge, and now the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge buffers urban development. With this city part of the Urban Bird Treaty City Program, there are a lot of expectations for how this refuge can lead the way to a more interactive natural area. There’s a Nature Play initiative on one side to attract families, plus the Friends of Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge on the other side trying to diversify visitors. We need to understand how different people value nature to make sure everyone can enjoy it in a sustainable way. No one is wrong as long as they value and respect it.
After a refreshing bird walk in the morning, just 15 minutes away from downtown, we had a city walk with a different emphasis. Cities are growing. We need to be aware about wildlife and human health impacts. One billion birds a year in the United States are estimated to strike building glass, just because of city aesthetics. But not everything is bad news. Green building policy for bird friendly designs is being implemented. We just need developers and cities to join the efforts to help our bird friends.
When a bird has a collision or injury it needs help, which is provided by the Audubon Society of Portland Wildlife Care Center we went to. I saw a Turkey Vulture there that was raised as a pet, and now it can’t be released because of behavioral differences that are disadvantageous. I also saw Ary, a Common Raven that was taken out if its n
est for three weeks, with irreversible effects. Ary has two other raven friends that come visit, but he/she can’t be reintroduced to the wild. My closest encounter with a Bald Eagle was there as well. This one was found on a road after getting injured in a fight. After this eagle was brought to the Center, it was determined that it was also previously shot in a leg. It is sad how much birds can suffer from human behavior, but it is rewarding to know that there are people dedicated to help them.
Condor Breeding Facility
Wow! Even though it is prohibited to see the California Condors in this facility, the fact that we could learn about them and see them through a camera was awesome. From 24 individuals before conservation efforts began, this species has rebounded to approximately 219 individuals in captivity plus in the wild. Shooting, power poles, lead contamination, microtrash, egg and feather collectors, etc. caused this species to decline years ago. A very big thank you to everyone who dedicated their life to preserve our planet and its biodiversity.
A couple weeks ago in the Oregon Dunes I helped with habitat restoration for the Snowy Plover, and, now in Washington, I got to see another site where this little guy nests. Walking the whole day through the site we saw only one mating pair, but many other species were spotted on the way including three or four Horned Larks, a large Dunlin flock, Sanderlings, and peeps. We also reunited with the first Black-bellied Plover since San Diego, this time in breeding plumage. Spending the whole day there I could understand why some birds choose that site as a nesting ground. The calmness and silence, breeze, and ocean make you want to stay there for a while.