While what is anathema to a birder is enjoyable to a hunter, it’s legal to hunt in season as it is to go birding every day. That translates into a need for responsibility by those who handle weapons and a bit of caution by those who handle binoculars.
The odds of a birder being shot by a hunter are nearly nil, so there’s no need to pack away your binoculars.
One protective measure is to wear hunter-orange clothing, at least an orange bib in the field.
“It’s not a legal requirement for bird watchers,” said Bill Tweit, a state Department of Fish and Wildlife policy analyst and avid birder.
“But it only makes sense to let hunters know where you are when you’re sharing the same area, since we are partners in outdoor recreation.”
Yes, partners share at least one common goal, to preserve waterfowl breeding habitat.
While the immediate goals of Audubon societies and hunting groups are polar opposites in terms of immediate goals they are not so far apart when it comes to lobbying and raising money for habitat preservation.
Over the years, Ducks Unlimited has been a huge factor in preserving waterfowl breeding habitat.
The goal of its Rescue the Duck Factory campaign is to permanently protect an additional 300,000 acres of productive breeding habitat on the Upper Plains prairies before they are plowed under.
It’s hard to argue with that.
Fall birding: Here come the migrants. It’s prime viewing time for birdwatchers looking for swans, geese, ducks and other waterfowl.
The Vancouver-area lowlands’ bird life includes seven subspecies of Canada geese ranging from common cacklers to less-common Aleutian geese.
Western Washington is prime territory for large numbers of snow geese, particularly in the Skagit Valley. It’s the best location for seeing large flocks.
About 80,000 snow geese winter in Western Washington each year, most of them congregate in the valley from mid-October through early May.
This year, birders have spotted blue geese in the flocks, a rare visitor to this area, as well as cackling geese and a juvenile white-fronted goose.
Study your bird identification books so it will be easier to find them among thousands of birds in a flock. They usually form a tight group within the flock, and this year’s numbers might surprise birders.
A rare bird, the black-tailed gull, has been seen since mid-October on Tacoma’s Commencement Bay. Try the pullout near the 5000 block of Marine View Drive on the east side of the bay and start looking at a log boom.
Don’t overlook sewage plants as close-to-home birding meccas.
Birders recently working the Hoquiam Sewage Treatment Plant have seen an orchard oriole, chestnut-collared longspur, kinglets and Hutton’s vireo.
A heads-up: It’s not too early to think about the 110th annual Christmas Bird Count, held nationwide. It’s citizen-science in action Dec. 14-Jan. 5.
Enter your own data with the National Audubon Society or participate in the Black Hills Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Count on Dec. 20.
For local information, call 360-352-7299 and leave a message; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speaking of BHAS: The organization is having what should be a most interesting membership (but open to the public) meeting Nov. 19.
The program is on falconry, presented by Cliff and Janna Kellogg. For more information, check the Web site www.blackhillsaudubon.com.
Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or www.songandword.com.