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Red Tails March/April 2024

Click below to download a PDF of the newsletter, which includes all the photos by local photographers!

Red Tails News Letter Mar Apr 2024
Download PDF • 4.69MB

Othello Sandhill Crane Festival

By Park Ranger Breanna Hild, Columbia National Wildlife Refuge

Head out to Othello, WA, for an incredible weekend celebrating the spring migration of the Sandhill Cranes. This festival offers a variety of events for the whole family to enjoy, including boat tours, bike tours, guided tours by local experts, lectures, children’s activities and much more. The 26th annual Othello Sandhill Crane Festival is set to take place March 22, 23 and 24.

This year’s theme is Wingtip to Wingtip: A Flourish of Feathers. The location of the festival takes place at the Nazarene Church in Othello, McFarland Middle School and an array of outdoor locations in the surrounding area. Topics for the walks and lectures include, but are not limited to, flora and fauna of the area, geology talks, and much more. Online registration is now open and admission tickets only cost $10 this year due to the raise in prices of some of the events and lectures. To learn more about the specific events and pricing please visit See you there!

From the Desk of the President

Spring is the most active season for CBAS! Once again, we are ready for the Sandhill Crane Festival later this month and have members who will be manning our information booth and others leading a tour. We are also looking forward to starting up Bird Walks again in April with Margaret Heming! Another big spring activity will be our ARK program in the elementary schools in May. See articles on all of these activities.

Just a reminder, as the Sandhill Crane Festival approaches, bird watchers and photographers are cautioned to be respectful viewers of the Cranes. This is a general rule at all times for all birds and wildlife, and something we teach the ARK students. Remember that using drone photography may not be allowed in some areas and must also be respectful. WAC 220-413-070 prohibits the use of unmanned aircraft to spot, locate, or report the location of wildlife for the purpose of hunting, as well as to pursue, concentrate, or harass any wild animal or wild bird.

Winter is usually our least active season as a chapter, but we might change that. Thank you Doug Schonewald for having the motivation to give the Christmas Bird Count a trial run, IF we can get enough interest in reviving this activity for our area. See his article for information, and let him or a board member know if you are interested!

Finally, just a reminder that if you know of someone who qualifies for our Ron Van Nurden Scholarship, please let them know that the deadline for applying is April 15th this year! See the forms on our website under Education.

2024 CBAS Saturday Morning Bird Walks

Organized by Margaret Heming

April 27 Audubon Trail, off Dodson Road

May 18 Gloyd Seeps, off Road 11 on Stratford Road

June 29 Northrup Canyon

July 27 Lind Coulee/Chestnut Orchard

August 24 Potholes State Park

September 21 Sun Lakes State Park/Dry Falls

We have six bird walks planned for 2024! Scheduled for 8-10 am. We’re going to revisit two of my favorite places, our Audubon Trail and Potholes State Park. The other four are birding hotspots recommended by some of our experienced birders. The walks will be on either the last or next to last Saturday of the month. Updates and reminders will be in the newsletter, on the website (, and on our Facebook page (Central Basin Audubon Society). There are many purposes for our walks:

• Get out in Nature and learn about our local birds

• Meet people, learn from each other, and have fun

• Get acquainted with birding hotspots throughout Grant County

Our overall purpose as Audubon members is to advocate for protecting our precious wildlife habitats. Habitat is the Key to Wildlife.

CBAS ARK Program Expands!

By Magaret Schiffner, ARK Chair

With spring just around the corner, CBAS-ARK volunteers are making plans to present the 2024 elementary program to five schools this year, which is up from four last year! The month of May is scheduled and we are raring to go!

ARK (Audubon Refuge Keepers) is our signature program that includes a classroom a large group presentation with three discovery tables and, on a following day, a bus tour of the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, near Othello. ARK is a highlight for students, teachers and volunteers!

We hope this training will give an insight to the students of how important the U.S. Refuge System is to help save our nation’s wildlife. Then later, when these young scholars are planning their careers, they will consider the fields of Environmental Education, Environmental Stewardship or Wildlife Conservation. We want future generations to have the pleasure of enjoying wildlife and natural habitats, as we do today.

Potholes-Moses Lake Christmas Bird Count

By Doug Schonewald


Hello, fellow birders. My name is Doug Schonewald. I have lived in Moses Lake for nearly 40 years. For many years, I was a member of Central Basin Audubon and an avid birder throughout Washington State (but primarily in the Central Washington counties). I held a variety of offices and duties for CBAS, including Field Trip Chair and Christmas Bird Count Chair. Outside of Central Basin Audubon, I also led field trips for WOS, Seattle Audubon, Sandhill Crane Festival, and a variety of other groups on the west side. I was a member of WOS Bird Records Committee and co-authored the Washington section of rare bird reports for the North American Birding magazine. I was also co-author on the first birder-generated treatise on the identification of Cackling Geese vs. Canada Geese.

Christmas Bird Count Story:

For years, the Central Basin Audubon had an official Christmas Bird Count. Christmas bird counts are sanctioned by the National Audubon Society. As such, certain protocols must be followed by those who organize, and run, a Christmas Bird Count. This includes fielding a certain number of participants, establishing a count circle (which cannot change), having the count on the date every year, and having a dedicated Christmas Bird Count Chairperson. To restart a suspended Christmas Bird Count, or start a new count, requires the approval of the National Audubon Society.

In the past, dwindling numbers of members in Central Basin Audubon eventually made fielding 10 people difficult, if not impossible; the count circle made it difficult to entice members from out of town; and the timing of the count coincided with many other counts in central Washington, further making it difficult to entice folks from out of the area. Unfortunately, we had to suspend the Christmas Bird Count in 2010 when we could no longer meet the minimum of 10 participants.

Fast forward to 2023. I began to think that having a Christmas Bird Count in the Moses Lake area might be a viable option. Furthermore, I believed it was important to do so from a Citizen Science point of view. Since I was the compiler for the count from the 1990’s to 2010, I began to peruse data to determine what might be changed to start a new Christmas Bird Count in the Moses Lake area and meet the minimum participant requirements.

The first thing I realized is the count circle was drawn poorly to entice people to come and participate. Much of the circle was in town and much of the circle outside of town included minimal habitat to hold birds. As a result of this revelation, I endeavored to redraw the count circle (see photo). The new count circle would encompass 90% of Potholes Reservoir, Potholes State Park, all of Job Corp Dike (also known as North Potholes Reserve), some of the north end of CNWR, and some productive parts of Lind Coulee. The new circle would still contain most of Moses Lake proper but would eliminate most of the unproductive ground to the north including Grant County International Airport. The new Christmas Bird Count would be known as Potholes-Moses Lake Christmas Bird Count.

The second most important facet of a Christmas Bird Count is timing. The count MUST happen between December 14th and January 4th and at this same time each year. The old count coincided with too many counts on the east side of the state. I am proposing to change the time so that more outside people will be enticed to come to the count. At this time, I don’t have a finite time set, but I am working on it.

While not a done deal, we are now in the position of petitioning NAS to sanction a new Christmas Bird Count for the Potholes-Moses Lake area. If we are successful, our first count would be a test run in the winter of 2024.

Spotlight on Angela Davis - Nature Photographer

by Gayle Talbot

CBAS member Angela Davis, is a bird, wildlife and nature photographer, as well as a school teacher, WSU Cougar fan, pianist and proud grandma. She has always taken photos, but just in the last three years has become serious with her art. She sometimes takes the long way home from work through the CNWR, Perch Point and Mardon areas, and these photos are from those drives to unwind. See her artistic photos posted on our website, Facebook and in this issue!

Thank You So Much!

By Margaret Schiffner, Treasurer

A bouquet of thank yous goes to the following for renewing their CBAS memberships: Doug & Barb Schonewald; Jackie Chase; MarDon Resort; Karen Schafer; Chris Braunwart; Kathleen Morton; Justin & Naomi Hanvey; Daniel & Johanna Talbot.

Thank you to the following trust funds for selecting CBAS for their donations. Their gifts were placed in the Ron Van Nurden Memorial Scholarship fund. Smart Payables; J.P. Morgan Charitable Giving Fund; Renaissance Charitable; and Give Lively Foundation Inc.

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