For more details about birding in the Yakima Valley, visit the Yakima Valley Audubon Society website at www.yakimaaudubon....
The group presents a birding program open to the public at 7 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at the Yakima Area Arboretum.
Dispelling the stereotype of the lone bird watcher ensconced behind binoculars, Kerry Turley this past Monday told the Sunnyside Noon Rotary members there are 47 million bird watchers in the U.S.
About 40 percent of them travel for bird sightings, he said. During Monday’s luncheon meeting, Turley described how he went to Louisiana to see a bird species.
But, he says you don’t have to travel that far to be an intrepid bird watcher. For that matter, you don’t even have to leave the county.
Of the 348 bird species in Washington state, Turley says all but about 50 can be viewed right here in Yakima County.
“We have a very diverse landscape for bird habitat,” he said.
The Toppenish Wildlife Refuge - dubbed the “Serengeti of Washington” for its wetland that seasonally goes dry – is a favored haunt of Sand Hill Cranes.
The pine forest of the Wenas area, Turley adds, is popular with the Western Tanager. “That’s the bird that really got me going,” he said of the bird famed for its bright red and yellow plumage.
“That was my downfall,” Turley smiled.
River or riparian habitat abounds in Yakima County, he says, making it a suitable home for Bullock’s Oriole.
Then again…the habitat of your own back yard could work just fine for birding.
Turley, a member of the Yakima Valley Audubon Society, later noted that all 70 bird species he reviewed for Rotarians in his whirlwind slideshow have visited his Sunnyside yard.
Ranked fifth in Yakima County among bird watchers with 278 species he’s sighted, Turley cautions back yard bird enthusiasts about the ways of nature.
“If you’re going to feed birds you gotta feed them all,” he grinned, noting predators can swoop in on unsuspecting birds dining at back yard feeders.
Turley also touched on birds beneficial to the Yakima Valley. They include Swallows who gobble up pesky mosquitoes, and especially the haunting Barn Owl.
One brood of barn owls can number up to seven chicks, he says. Within six weeks after hatching, each chick will consume up to 10 mice a night.
That’s up to 70 mice every night per barn owl brood…which are plentiful in the valley.
“If you think about it, without the barn owl we’d be swamped with mice,” Turley said.