Upcoming Events and Field Trips

Events & Field Trips

Chapter Meeting: Wolves In Washington State with Ben Maletzke

April 25 (Thursday), 7pm - Yakima Area Arboretum Office, 1401 Arboretum Dr., Yakima, WA

After years of bounties and persecution, wolves were extirpated from Washington State by the 1930’s. Wolves have returned on their own by dispersing in from neighboring states and provinces. The lookout pack, which was the first known pack in 80 years, settled in northcentral Washington. Since that time, wolves have steadily recolonized parts of northeast, the Blue mountains in the southeast, and are working their way south down the Cascades in the central western portions of Washington. For those interested, biologist, Ben Maletzke, will give a presentation on ecology and current status of wolves in Washington.
Ben Maletzke graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin and shortly thereafter moved to Washington State. From 2002 - 2010, he completed his MS and PhD at Washington State University, researching habitat selection of lynx and the effects of hunting on cougar spatial organization in Washington. Since the completion of his graduate work, Ben has worked as a Wildlife Biologist with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife conducting research and management on black bear, cougar, lynx and wolves. He currently serves as the Statewide Wolf Specialist for Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Future Programs

Field Trips

April 26 (Friday). Sunnyside Wildlife Area.

Sunnyside Wildlife Area has graciously offered a tour of the headquarters unit. During this tour you will get to experience the unique marsh habitats and the wonderful spring birds that both use these marshes for breeding in addition to migration stopovers. During similar periods last year, birds such as Cinnamon and Blue-winged Teal, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet and Wilson’s Phalarope were present on the refuge. In addition to these regular waterfowl and shorebirds, the refuge also hosted unusual species such as Sandhill Crane and White-faced Ibis. Participants should be prepared for a mixture of driving and walking and will need to carpool in a minimum number of vehicles for the tour. Water, food and bug spray are encouraged. Scope is helpful but not required. The trip will be limited to 15 individuals, so you must contact the leader to signup. To sign-up contact Denny Granstrand (dgranstrand@gmail.com)

April 28 (Sunday). Xupnish (formerly Zimmerman Ponds) — South Lateral A Road and Toppenish Marion Drain Rd. field trip.

Each spring, snow-melt in the Cascades rushes down Toppenish Creek filling ponds and flooding valley bottoms, creating a bonanza for water and marsh birds. The marshes, fields, and riparian patches in the lower valley rise to their birding peak in late April. We’ll look (and listen) for American Bittern, Black-necked Stilts, American Avocets, Cinnamon Teal, Virginia Rails, Sora and Yellow-headed Blackbirds. The Zimmerman Farm was restored by the Yakima Nation and is closed to the public except by special permit. This is a great half day field trip and with the refuge visitors center opening at noon there will be birding opportunities close by for those who want to extend the day. Meet at 7:30 am at the Valley Mall parking lot north of Sears (old IHOP location) to carpool. To sign-up contact Kerry Turley (509-840-0980 or email him at kdturley@embarqmail.com).

May 31-June 2 - Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Burns, OR

Our journey in 2012 to Malheur was so memorable we’ve decided to head there again. Since our visit to this iconic refuge in the northern Great Basin, a sad chapter in our nation’s history occurred two years ago when armed militia tried to take this incredible place away from the American people. Luckily, their occupation of the refuge was short-lived and Malheur National Wildlife Refuge has returned to welcoming birders and naturalists.

We leave Friday morning, May 31 and plan on three nights in Burns Oregon (May 31-June 2), We’ll have two full days to explore Malheur’s lakes, marshes, riparian habitats and its vast shrub-steppe. On our last trip, we tallied 148 species! We’ll seek Great Basin waterbird specialties such as White-faced Ibis, Franklin’s Gull, Forster’s Tern, and Wilson’s Phalarope as well as raptors such as Ferruginous Hawk and Golden Eagle. Shrub-steppe species present include Black-throated and Sagebrush Sparrows. Too, this trip coincides with spring migration of landbirds and we’ll be sure to check out the lush plantings at refuge headquarters where “lost” eastern birds are attracted to the tall trees. En route, we’ll make stops in pine forests where we’ll “pad the list” with mountain species such as woodpeckers, finches, and sparrows such as smartly attired Green-tailed Towhee.

We plan to stay at the Best Western in Burns/Hines. You are welcome to stay at another motel in Burns, or camp, but it appears that rates increase toward the date, so making reser- vations soon is advised.

Contact leader Bill Drenguis (509-965-5808, 509-731-8632, bdrenguis@gmail.com) if you’re interested in another trek to one of America’s most fabulous wildlife preserves, noted not only for its birdlife, but also for its astounding Great Basin geology, desert vegetation, and wild, dramatic vistas, emblematic of the Basin and Range Province.

May 3-6 (Friday-Monday)- Yakima County Migration Count

YVAS’s annual “Birdathon” will be a county-wide bird count, as we try to tally species from different sectors in the county. Scott Downes will be putting teams together to cover all of the best areas to bird around Yakima including the White Pass, Chinook Pass, Lower Valley, Ahtanum, Yakima Training Center, Toppenish and Wenas areas. Some teams start before dawn with owling, while most teams go all or most of the day. In addition to cheering on teams on their long journeys around the various habitats of the county, you can contribute as well! If you see an unusual species of bird while out birding during the 3rd-6th of May, email Scott Downes, downess@charter.net to have your unusual species added to the team effort. You can also contribute by helping YVAS to raise money for important conservation actions in the chapter. See the article in this Crier on how to contribute a donation to the birdathon effort.

May 11 (Saturday)- Migratory Bird Day at Toppenish NWR

Coordinated by Kerry Turley. Come celebrate International Migratory Bird Day at Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Activities will include bird banding, guided bird walks, live raptor program, children’s games, and hay rides. See article in this Crier for more information or contact Kerry Turley at: kdturley@embarqmail.com

May 18 (Saturday)- Sportsman State Park half-day trip

Karen and Joe Zook. Join Joe and Karen Zook for a morning trip to Sportsman State Park on Saturday, May 18. We will be looking (and listening) for whatever birds are there. Birds we have found there in the past include Yellow-headed and Red-winged Blackbirds, Virginia Rail, Sora, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Wood Duck, Downy Woodpecker, Golden and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Great Horned Owl, swallows, and House Wren, to name a few. If you have never heard a Yellow-headed Blackbird sing, you may be in for a crazy treat! Like any birding trip, you never know what you are going to see or hear. This time of year, we may see migrating birds such as Wilson’s and Townsend’s Warblers, and perhaps a hummingbird or two. Please contact the Zooks via email: gadzooks7@charter.net (preferred) or phone 509-225-9494 (this number does not accept text messages) for meeting time and place. Bring binoculars, scopes if you have them and maybe a light snack. Insect repellent is advised.

May 24-27 (Friday-Monday)-Memorial Day Wenas Campout

The annual Memorial Day weekend Wenas Audubon Campout. Located at the Wenas Creek Campground on Audubon Road. Birding field trips and flower walks abound at this casual and friendly gathering. In past campouts, activities have included field sketching, bat and owl prowls, and much more. You do not need to be an Audubon member to attend, but a Discover Pass is required. Drive up for a day or camp. All are welcome.

SPECIAL NOTE: YVAS member Jeff Kozma will be the featured speaker at the Saturday evening campfire gathering. Program starts at 7 pm with Jeff talking on his research on White-headed Woodpeckers. The Wenas committee has reorganized and the website has been updated with many improvements. Visit the Wenas Audubon website (http://www.wenasaudubon.org) for directions and complete information.