Upcoming Events and Field Trips

Events & Field Trips

Chapter Meeting: Jeff Kozma - The Life and Times of the Gray Flycatcher

October 25 (Thursday), 7pm – Yakima Area Arboretum Office, 1401 Arboretum Dr., Yakima, WA

Come join us for a presentation by YVAS member Jeff Kozma on his research into the Gray Flycatcher and its breeding biology. And no that is not a flycatcher he is holding in the photo in this article. It is a White headed Woodpecker, another species Jeff has studied extensively in recent years.

Image - Jeff Kozma poses with a Woodpecker
Jeff Kozma poses with a Woodpecker

The Gray Flycatcher breeds in a variety of habitats in the arid and semi-arid regions of the western United States. Detailed information on their breeding biology is lacking, especially in the northern portion of their range where they nest in ponderosa pine forests. During May through July of both 2014 and 2015, Jeff Kozma monitored Gray Flycatcher nests and measured vegetation at nest sites. He and his co-authors found predation accounted for 90% of failed nests. Also they found evidence of a positive association between daily nest survival and both nest height and distance of nest substrate to the nearest tree. No support for other habitat variables was found but evidence documented that period survival rate was higher during the nest building stage than the incubation and nestling stages. Higher nests may be less exposed to terrestrial predators and nests in trees that are farther from other trees may be less ex-posed to arboreal predators such as jays and squirrels that may search for nests in patches with connected canopies. In addition to nest survival, Jeff will also present summaries of nest site characteristics and demographic variables (e.g., clutch size, number of fledglings, etc.).

Jeff works as a Wildlife Biologist in the Timber Fish and Wildlife Program within the Department of Fisheries Resources Management of the Yakama Nation. His education in wildlife biology and ecology includes a BS in Environ-mental Forest Biology from the State University of NY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and a MS in Wildlife Science from Texas Tech University. His main research interests focus on the life history and reproductive biology of birds and how habitat characteristics influence nest survival. He has worked in a variety of different habitats including the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico, sagebrush/shrub-steppe on the US Army’s Yakima Training Center, and currently in managed ponderosa pine forests where he has been studying the reproductive biology of the White-headed Woodpecker and other cavity-nesting birds for the last 15 years.

Editor’s Note: The first Gray Flycatcher documented in Washington State was found by L. J. Larrison at the Wenas Campground on May 31, 1970. At the campground in May of 1972, he photographed a Gray Flycatcher and its nest containing two eggs. The following year, he found two more nests and ten flycatchers in the surrounding area. Jeff’s research has documented the continuing population rise of this species and added much to the bird’s life history.


Oct 30, 8:30a to 2:00p - Youth Environmental Summit

Every two years, the Yakima County Solid Waste sponsors an Environmental Summit at the convention center for youth in our area. Students from middle, junior and high schools attend. As well as listening to presentations by nationally recognized experts, the students share proj ects they plan or have accomplished in their own local schools. Students visit the booths set up by local groups such as Audubon. Here they learn about environmental issues and projects going on in our area.

This year’s guest speakers are Dylan D’Haeze, and Roger Williams. Dylan, at 14 years of age, was the director of Kids Can Save the Planet, a three-part series of award-winning documentaries. Roger is an award-winning director, producer and cinematographer of the film, River Blue.

At previous environmental summits, I have been very impressed with the students who attended and their involvement. Not only did I learn from the presentations, I felt privileged to be able to add Audubon’s voice to their program. You are invited to help with the Yakima Valley Audubon booth on October 30th. We need help setting up, and for any or all of the day. Please contact Ellen Stepniewski to help volunteer or if you have any questions email her at steppie@nnwinfo.net (509-731-6805).


Annual Christmas Silent Auction - First Call

Thursday December 6th is the date we all have been waiting for. Yes, it’s the return of the Audubon Christmas Auction™ (tm)! Oh, we will have an amazing potluck and a surprise speaker. However the highlight will once again be the Audubon Christmas Auction (tm). We need to start collecting auction items and your donated treasures are welcomed and needed. Bird related items seem the most popular. 

In past years we have had an increase in members donating hosted dinners and even fishing trips. These are much appreciated by the chapter and by the members who purchase them. It’s also a great chance to show off your garden/bird sanctuary. Large items are sold in the silent auction. We will also have a “bargain table” for smaller items like books.

The Audubon Christmas Auction™ is the second largest fundraiser for the chapter. We have been able to earmark all the proceeds for education and conservation.

So please contact Bill Drenguis™ at 965-5808 or bdrenguis@gmail.com. I can pick up items before the auction. It helps to get the items early so they can be labeled. See you at the Audubon Christmas Auction™. (Does anyone know how to apply for a trademark?)


Field Trips

Nov 17 (Saturday) – Vantage. Leader - Scott Downes.

Vantage and the Columbia River are the focus of this trip. We’ll travel through the Yakima Canyon and Vantage Highway on route to Vantage and keep an eye out for raptors. Later fall can be impressive at Vantage for waterfowl with numbers in the hundreds to thousands and often unusual diving ducks/ loons are seen at this time of year including scoters, possibly long-tailed duck and Pacific loon, plus sometimes a good collection of gulls. The parks along the river also usually host a nice variety of wintering passerines. Field trip will leave Yakima at 7:00 am. Expect a return to Yakima around 5:00 pm. Bring lunch, water and dress for varied weather conditions. We could get nice weather near 60 degrees or it could be near freezing at Vantage. Scope is helpful, but not required, to attend. We’ll be carpooling; we’ll stop at several places that need a Discover Pass so drivers should plan on having one. Contact leader Scott Downes for meeting location, downess@charter.net.

Dec 15 (Saturday) — Toppenish NWR CBC.

Andy Stepniewski comes out of semi-retirement to reprise his role as compiler of the Toppenish NWR Christmas Bird Count.

Dec 29 (Saturday) — Yakima Valley CBC.

Denny Granstrand is the compiler for the 49th Yakima Valley Christmas Bird Count. See the November Calliope Crier for more information on both counts.