The power of birds, 100 years on
BirdNote began as a project under the auspices of Seattle Audubon, and this year Seattle Audubon is turning 100 years old!
Seattle Audubon believes there’s something magical about birds. No matter who you are, birds reveal something about the beauty and complexity of the natural world. Seattle Audubon harnesses the power of that magic to build a community dedicated to the protection of birds and their habitats across the Seattle area.
Seattle Audubon was founded by a group of dedicated women in 1916, armed at times with little more than strong opera glasses to use in lieu of binoculars. For their debut field trip offering, participants were instructed to take the Seattle city street car to the "end of the line." We have to wonder... How many more species of birds were around then...
Not everyone who joins an Audubon chapter considers themselves to be a “birder,” but sometimes it’s unavoidable. You can try to hide, but you will likely see a bird every day of your life, all year long. It starts with crows, pigeons, and Mallards. Before you realize what’s happening, new ducks, hawks, and woodpeckers have come into your vocabulary. Start tuning in to BirdNote on a regular basis, and you might effortlessly pull songs and calls – like those of chickadees and owls – straight out of the air. Just like that, you’re hooked!
Once you’ve learned to appreciate birds, you’ll yearn to better understand them. Seattle Audubon offers programs for all ages to do just that. From FUN – Finding Urban Nature – in public schools, to Young Birders for high-schoolers, to the Master Birder program for the truly dedicated, there's something for all levels of interest. And it's life-long learning. Field trips, classes, conservation projects, and citizen science programs offer a huge range of engagement.
After "appreciation" and "understanding" comes "protection." Thanks in large part to their focus on birds, Seattle Audubon has the ability to build community in a way that few other conservation organizations can, and they have an astonishing list of achievements to prove it. The chapter’s volunteer-powered efforts helped set aside the initial 800,000 acres of land that became the Olympic National Park. Seattle Auduboners also played a large role in the establishment of the Glacier Peak, Mt. Adams, and Goat Rocks Wilderness Areas. Other Pacific Northwest victories included advocacy for the Nisqually Delta, Whidbey Island’s Crockett Lake, Guemes Island, and the Cedar River Watershed. The Northern Spotted Owl also has Seattle Audubon to thank for the protection of much of its habitat. Today, they continue to fight for the health of Puget Sound, habitat protections for the Marbled Murrelet, and a healthier urban habitat for birds and people alike.
Happy 100th Birthday, Seattle Audubon! And thanks.
Learn more about Seattle Audubon.
2016 volunteers © Tim Boyer
Great Blue Heron courtesy of Reid Gilman Flickr Creative Commons nc/2.0/
Other photos from the Seattle Audubon archive