Birders love company, regardless of the weather. On March 15, 2015, a soggy,raining Sunday, a group of enthusiastic bird lovers shared stories over bottomless cups of coffee and pan fried bacon at C.J.’s Beach House overlooking Birch Bay. The group enjoyed their delicious breakfast while delighting in a presentation and showing of the film “Birds, Back Yard Habitat and Beyond”, an incredible documentary on the diversity and wonder of our own neighborhood wildlife by featured speakers Craig and Joy Johnson. Invigorated by the sights and sounds of the video and powered by an ample breakfast much of the group joined renowned bird expert Paul Woodcock for a stroll around the local Birch Bay and Terrell Creek wetlands, forests and marshes looking, listening and observing birds of all kinds.
Many of these hardy bird enthusiasts came in from the weather and joined Whatcom Conservation Districts Education Coordinator, Aneka Sweeney, at the new BP Heron Center in Birch Bay State Park for a workshop on “Inviting Nature into your Backyard”. The group reflected on the weekends activities, recounted the diversity of people and wildlife they encountered, described lessons learned, then explored their own relationship with the protection and enhancement of wildlife habitat. Aneka motivated the group with stories of success by the Chums of Terrell Creek, with over 60 landowners making habitat improvements on their property including over 35 acres of newly planted riparian habitat, 3,900 feet of instream habitat restored and thousands of native tree and shrub species planted to provide shelter, food and to restore ecosystem function. The group shared what sort of habitat they currently live in so they could explore all the different ways bird and wildlife needs could be enhanced regardless of the space they have in their backyard. The workshop guided attendees through a step-by-step site analysis and action plan for creating and sustaining habitat in small and large spaces. The Whatcom Conservation District can help in many ways and with the 22nd Annual Native Plant Sale in just a few weeks the timing couldn’t have been better.
Whether we live in an apartment or a 20 acre farm, we can all make a difference, at home and in our communities to improve existing habitat and do what we can to build new and sustainable corridors for our winged friends. The benefits are not just for the birds, our society needs a connection to the land, connection to your neighbors, healthy time spent outdoors, clean air, fresh water, healthy soil and commitment to understanding our relationship with nature and role in protecting it. At the end of this busy day young and old alike relished in their new appreciation for local wildlife and felt empowered to do what they could protect and enhance habitat in their backyard and beyond.