The second event of the 2020 Wetland Workshop Series was in partnership with Seattle Audubon. Titled Fall in Love with 25 Seattle Birds, this event took place on February 16 at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. A total of 135 attendees were present. The emphasis of this event was on educating the community about common birds seen in Seattle, major threats to these species, and the importance of community-involved science, particularly to DNDA’s wetland project on 23rd Ave SW and SW Findlay Street.
Community science is an approach to research and monitoring that puts value in the place-based knowledge and relationships that come from residing in and being a part of a local community. Giving a community the tools to drive research forward and have ownership and involvement in the scientific process and project development aims to improve the sustainability and social governance of ecological and social systems. Through this workshop event, DNDA provided an opportunity for collective action and empowerment in not only observation and data collection at the Delridge Wetland Park, but also the design, function, and amenities of this natural area in the community. This will be facilitated through the app eBird, where DNDA will use data collected to monitor the efforts towards restoration of a degraded wetland site by having examples of increased habitat use by local bird species. Participants were encouraged to download the birdwatching app eBird to facilitate active involvement in community-engaged research.
Fall in Love with 25 Seattle Birds began with a brief introduction by DNDA Environmental Education Coordinator Bri Castilleja, thanking everyone for their attendance, introducing the Delridge Wetland Park project, and the importance of the involvement of community-driven science in monitoring the health and impacts of the wetland. After this introduction, Seattle Audubon Urban Environmental Educator Anna Murphy gave the first half of the presentation. She focused on increasing attendees’ familiarity with 25 of Seattle’s most common birds by discussing and showing examples of species’ size and shape, identifying colors and patterns, behavior, and habitat. Her presentation was animated and comical while maintaining a professional and informative presence. Audience participation was high. Seattle Audubon brought in examples of taxidermy bird species that served as a powerful teaching tool. Some of the species highlighted were Bewick’s Wren, Red-winged Blackbird, Spotted Towhee, Cooper’s hawk, and Anna’s hummingbird.
Anna Murphy’s presentation was followed by Seattle Audubon Associate Education Manager Hanae Bettencourt. During her presentation, Hanae covered the implications of birds in an increasingly human world. She discussed and showed declining population trends of birds worldwide, common and prevailing hazards, and solutions to those problems. Cats, window glass, rodenticides, and habitat loss were cited as the largest and most immediate hazards to bird populations. Nearly a billion birds a year in the US are killed upon impact of glass windows. An easy solution provided was to apply window stickers to make windows more visible to birdlife. Both presenters from Seattle Audubon self-identified as cat lovers, knowing that discussing the severity of feline impacts can be a polarizing and sensitive subject. They graciously answered attendees’ questions and concerns while maintaining a strong emphasis on the ecological and safety benefits of keeping domesticated cats indoors.
After the second half of the presentation, the workshop moved outdoors to the Youngstown parking lot for a walkthrough on how to use the eBird app. During this time Anna Murphy helped participants spot and log two crows on the app and answered any questions that came up. The photographer, Will Green, and DNDA’s Americorp, Christina Bjarvin interviewed participants in an effort to capture narratives and responses to the workshop. These clips were then strung together and edited to create a short informational video.
The turnout for this event was incredible – 127 adults and 8 children were present. While there was some last minute clamoring for seating to make sure everyone had a spot, we did our best with the space provided. This event served a majority of people from West Seattle zip codes. Community members described the event as “very welcoming,” “cool and informative,” and said they learned “statistics about threats to local bird life, and what I can do to make a difference,” and “that cats are killers (and) there needs to be more conservation for birds, and to restore habitat.”
Links to window treatments and other resources for helping to reduce human-related impacts on local bird life can be found below.