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Red Tails May/June 2024

Click below to download a PDF of this issue, complete with photography by our local birders!


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Central Basin Audubon Society . . . 35 Years and Counting!

Audubon Washington was formed in 1981, and eight years later, CBAS history started on January 25, 1989 when a group of twenty-two citizens, interested in conservation and preservation, came together to form Central Basin Audubon Society. The Founding President was Holly Hutsell and joining her were Vice-President Nancy Leonard, Secretary Janice Graff, and Treasurer Frank Harrison. Special guests, Hazel Wolf and Bob Grant of the Seattle chapter, presided over that first meeting. They informed the attendees on what the requirements would be to qualify to be a certified Audubon Chapter with National Audubon Society; this was accomplished within the first year.


The Audubon Refuge Keepers (ARK) school program goes back to 1982 with one third grade class in Othello. Their teacher’s husband was the manager for the CNWR, and she asked him to take her students on a bus tour of the nearby wildlife refuge. By the 1993-94 school year, the program included both Othello & Royal City, but staffing cuts threatened the program. Refuge wildlife biologist, Randy Hill, contacted Jane Grant to help. Jane is credited with saving the program, and 1994 is when our chapter became involved. The program has expanded over the years to include schools from Moses Lake, Connell, and Ephrata, and continues to be a main focus for CBAS.


In 1995 - 1999, our chapter took on the Dodson Road Wildlife Trail Project. Robert Kent proposed the idea on June 13, 1995, and a grant from the Bureau of Reclamation gave matching funds. Working with the WDFW, Desert Wildlife and Nature Trails committees, the Boy Scouts and Job Corps, the trail was completed. The dedication of this massive undertaking was on May 9, 1999.


One of the many ways that CBAS reaches out to Basin citizens, especially children, is by sponsoring Bird Friendly Days at the Moses Lake Museum and Art Center. Another is our yearly support for Othello’s Sandhill Crane Festival since its beginning, by contributing financially, hosting an information table, and leading tours.


The Ron Van Nurden Memorial Scholarship began in 2005 and has awarded thousands of dollars over the years to graduating high school seniors who are planning a career in the field of Environmental Education, Environmental Stewardship or Wildlife Conservation. The scholarship is renewable to these young people, who are our next generation to help protect wildlife and their natural habitats.


CBAS members have dedicated themselves to advocating for protecting our precious wildlife. They attend meetings and conferences, write letters, lead bird walks, and present programs for the Basin citizens with the message that Habitat is the Key to Wildlife. The chapter mission statement remains: “The purpose of the society is to encourage public appreciation of the values of wildlife and natural habitats through education, conservation and recreation and to stimulate action for their protection.” Through the bi-monthly Red Tails newsletter, Facebook page and centralbasinaudubonsociety.org website, members are kept abreast of chapter activities. The public is also encouraged to attend monthly CBAS Board Meetings.


Edited by Gayle Talbot from “Celebrating 30 Years!” by

Margaret Schiffner, Red Tails Volume 29, Issue 4 Special

Edition for July/August 2019


From the Desk of the President

Aren’t you glad it is spring? Our CBAS members had an active impact at the 26th annual Othello Sandhill Crane Festival in March. Thank you to CBAS members Margaret Heming, Lisa Hansen, Paula Zanter-Stout and Shiraz Vira for leading a sold-out bus tour and hike. According to the April 1st report in the Columbia Basin Herald, the bus tour was a favorite activity! Meanwhile, board members Jane Stiger, Margaret Schiffner, and I manned our Audubon chapter’s booth, and John Moody was in another booth, Columbia Basin Development League, next to us.


This year’s festival was reported to be one of the largest in Othello’s history, and the weather and birds did not disappoint! We talked to so many guests and gave out information about backyard habitats, directions on building bird houses and our 2024 issues of the Red Tails newsletter. We also had a scrapbook chronicling our CBAS activities for the past year that people liked looking through. Members from other Audubon chapters stopped by and complimented CBAS on the connection we make with elementary schools in our ARK program (Audubon Refuge Keepers). But our big draw was the free simple bird feeder kits that our chapter members put together, along with a coordinating Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (you had to be there to get the connection). So in case you missed this event, mark your 2025 calendar for March 21 - 23!


Hummingbirds . . . Flying Jewels!

by Margaret Heming


Soon it will be Hummingbird season in Grant County! Such a lovely time of year. It is important that we humans who enjoy watching the birds at the Hummingbird feeders, keep the feeders filled with fresh and correctly made sugar water. Here is the basic recipe.

• ¼ cup white granulated sugar

• 1 cup boiling water

Add sugar to boiling water and mix till sugar is dissolved. Let cool, then fill the clean feeder. Do not add honey or food coloring. Do not use raw or organic sugar. Do not use store bought “nectar.” Do not wait for the feeder to be empty before cleaning it and adding freshly made sugar water. Please clean every 1-3 days.

• 70-84 degrees…Clean every 3 days

• 85-87 degrees…Clean every 2 days

• 88-99 degrees…Clean every single day


Nectar can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. Never let your feeder become cloudy or moldy. Never use Vaseline or oil- based products on or around the feeder, ground or hooks. If you don’t have time to keep feeders clean and fresh, just plant flowers.


Flowers that attract Hummingbirds include Salvia, Bee Balm, Fuchsia, Petunias, Honeysuckle, Hollyhocks, Sage, Foxglove, Trumpet Vine and many more. Our Red Chestnut Tree usually blooms in May and is often abuzz with Hummingbirds!


Rufous, Calliope, and Black-chinned Hummingbirds have all been to my feeders. We live SE of Moses Lake. Some residents of the area also see Anna’s Hummingbirds. Anna’s are the only species that overwinters in Washington State, over on the westside. Hummingbirds do not exist in Europe, Africa or Asia. In South America, there are 338 species of Hummingbirds. Move north to Central America, and you’ll find 120 species. In Mexico, there are 32 species of Hummingbirds. In the United States, there are 16 species of Hummingbirds, and only one species of Hummingbird east of the Mississippi. That is the Ruby-throated.


Hummingbirds can beat their wings 72 times a second! Hummingbirds also eat mosquitoes, gnats, and midges. The Hummingbird heart beats 1280 times a minute. They mate two or three times a season. And they live about three years.


If you’d like to learn more, I recommend The Glitter in the Green: In Search of Hummingbirds. Traveling the full length of the Hummingbirds’ range, from the cusp of the Arctic Circle to near- Antarctic islands, acclaimed nature writer Jon Dunn encounters birders, scientists, and storytellers in his quest to find these beguiling creatures, immersing us in the world of one of Earth’s most charismatic bird families.


Sources: USDA, The Hummingbird Whisperer, Audubon App, Amazon


Othello Sandhill Crane Festival Bird Tour and Hike

by Margaret Heming


On Sunday, March 24th, four of us CBAS members led a fun event for thirty participants from across our state and neighboring states. Our event was sold out at $30 per person! Lisa Hansen, Paula Zanter-Stout, and I met up with the bus and our thirty bird enthusiasts before 8:00 a.m., at Othello’s McFarland Middle School. We took the tour on a circular drive, designed to showcase as much of the landscape between Othello and the Potholes Reservoir as possible. Along the drive, I shared information about the history and geography of the area, as well as about our Audubon Refuge Keepers (ARK) program.


We took Highway 17 north out of Othello then headed west on Highway 262. Our first stop was at the Blythe Public Access area, where Shiraz Vira had his birding scope already set up for people to use. Everyone was excited to see the Bald Eagles and their nest through the scope. There were quite a few waterfowl and other birds to identify, then we hopped back on the bus and continued to Potholes State Park.


At the State Park, we split into two groups. Paula and I led people along the .9-mile Frenchman Hills Trail and the Frenchman Hills Wasteway. Lisa and Shiraz led people through the State Park and made sure everyone saw the Great Horned Owl. Then we switched groups and did it again. We ended up seeing or hearing at least 35 species of birds, including 10,000 rafting Snow Geese, Canada Geese, Coots, 3 Downy Woodpeckers, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Bewick’s Wrens, American Goldfinch, Juncos, White-crowned Sparrows, a Spotted Towhee, Red-winged Blackbirds, Ravens, Song Sparrows, Flickers, Ring-necked Pheasants, Meadowlarks, Say’s Phoebes, Mallards, Greater and Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Horned Grebe, and Killdeer. The weather was great for bird watching!


At about 11:15 a.m., we boarded our bus and headed back to Othello, via H Road SE, up over the hill. We took one side road hoping to see Sandhill Cranes on our drive back, but no such luck. We had a beautiful view of the reservoir and of the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge from the hill though. We passed out CNWR brochures to all participants and arrived back at the middle school close to noon.


It was a long morning, but we all enjoyed sharing our beautiful birds and landscapes with other bird lovers. Shiraz, Lisa and Paula did fantastic jobs talking to people and answering their questions. I really appreciated having such knowledgeable birders to help with this event. Their presence enhanced the experience so much for our attendees! Thank you!


Thank You So Much!

by Margaret Schiffner


Thank you to the dedicated members who renewed their memberships! They include: Robert Kent, Bishop Spray Service, Barbara Guilland, Gayle Talbot, Lisa Hansen, and Roy & Judy Warnick; all of Moses Lake. We also thank Jane Grant of Othello. CBAS is pleased to welcome a new member, Dee Caputo of Warden.


Central Basin Audubon members want to thank the following for supporting the Ron Van Nurden Memorial Scholarship program: Smart Payables, Schwab Charitable, John Moody and Give Lively Foundation. We will celebrate our Scholarship recipients at our Annual Meeting in June!

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