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Updated: April 23, 2017.

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2017 BERNERS BAY CRUISES

 APRIL 29 & MAY 13

 

Juneau Audubon Society will sponsor two 2017 cruises to Berners Bay this year.  On Saturday, April 29th at 8:30 a.m and May 13th at 8:30 a.m. All vessels depart Statters Harbor below DeHarts. Boarding begins 15 minutes prior to departure.

 

Steller sea lions, harbor seals, bald eagles, humpback whale, and tens of thousands of gulls are just some of the species observed around this time each year.

 

Tickets for the 4-hour cruise are available at Hearthside Books beginning April 1.

 Adults $70, Students $40 (includes UAS), Children under 12 $25 (must be accompanied by adult).


Juneau Audubon Spring Bird Walks

 

April 29, Saturday, No Bird Walk  

 

Join Juneau Audubon this Saturday on the Berners Bay cruise. 8:15 AM.  Tickets available at Hearthside books.  Volunteer naturalists will be on board: Heidi Pearson, UAS professor - marine mammals; Laurie Craig - ranger extraordinaire; Christina Mounce - fisheries expert; Amy Courtney - bird guide


Text Box: Option 2:
Dates:  April 6, 13, 20, 27
(4 classes)
Day:  Thursday
Time:  7:00 to 8:30pm
Location:  Mendenhall River Community School, Library - 9001 Mendenhall Loop Rd. (back loop)
Class Fee:  $30.00
Instructor:  Patricia Wherry
Just in time for the Spring Migration: Beginning Birding Classes

 

Dates:  April 6, 13, 20, 27 (4 classes)

Day:  Thursday

Time:  7:00 to 8:30pm

Location:  Mendenhall River Community School, Library - 9001 Mendenhall Loop Rd. (back loop)

Class Fee:  $30.00

Instructor:  Patricia Wherry

Sign up for an adult oriented class through Community Schools.  Expect a great deal of fun!


Tree Swallow Nest Box Construction and Update April 2017

By Brenda Wright

Last year we put 40 tree swallow boxes up around Juneau and were happy to find we had 15 successful nests. This year we decided to spend a little more money and find out how many nest boxes could be built for ~$300.

After putting some information in our Raven newsletter, a person contacted me from the Juneau Community Charter School. The middle school students were looking for a construction project for February and March. I was very happy to supply them with most of the wood and hardware. The students seemed to enjoy this project and with the help of some parents, they were able to build 24 new nest boxes.

I can’t thank them all enough for completing this project.

In May, there will be an update on where all the boxes have been placed in 2017. Volunteers are needed to monitor the boxes. Please contact Brenda at programs@juneau-audubon-society.org


JAS Supporting Bird Research and Monitoring

by Gwen Baluss

As an organization JAS has historically been focused on environmental education and conservation in Southeast Alaska, with a focus on birds and wildlife.  This is still true, but we also recognize the importance of monitoring and research, especially of bird population for both our migratory and resident species. Here are a few ways we help.

Text Box: Bob Armstrong

Christmas Bird Count – this is a long-standing, wide range count that Audubon supports.  The data from the CBC is now being used to see how birds’ winter range, distribution and populations have changed over time. Comparing this with climate data we can see how some birds have shifted northwards in the winter.

Other citizen science efforts - we are always encouraging our members to use eBird so their data can be pooled with this great emerging database. Specifically, we try to publicize special count events such as the Great Backyard Bird Count, and the Global Big day. Even our field trips are usually entered in to eBird and make for several fairly consistent springtime “snap shots” of the bird life, with plenty of skilled observers.

Tree Swallow Nest Boxes – as a group aerial insectivores have declined.  It’s hard to believe, but the once common Barn Swallow has dwindled to the point that the species is listed as Threatened in Canada.  Tree swallows face similar feeding challenges to other insectivores. By getting a population occupying boxes annually near Juneau we can initiate further studies.

Arctic Tern Monitoring – New this year, JAS in partnership with US Forest Service plans to sponsor an Intern who will study and help protect Arctic Terns around Mendenhall Lake.

Text Box: Bob Armstrong
Supporting continental scale bird-banding studies – We donate up to $500 annually to the Institute for Bird Populations. The IBP maintains banding stations in both summer and winter throughout North America as well as Central America and the Caribbean. This is now a powerful large scale data set that checks the pulse of many bird species population fluxes, including some of our migratory songbirds.  (For more info see http://www.birdpop.org/)


Moose in Juneau: sometimes it’s not so crazy to hope

By Gwen Baluss

I’ve hung my rain cap here in Juneau for most the time since 1998. Something I always pondered is, where are the moose? It didn’t seem fair that Gustavus and Petersburg would have them, and Juneau didn’t. They were up the Taku and Berners Rivers, but wouldn’t venture in between? I made it a point to bring up my inquiry in conversations with biologists, naturalists, and hunters. Sometimes the answer was "lack of habitat". I never bought this one, as I looked around at plenty of the plants that the browsers enjoy in other parts of Southeast: willow, highbush cranberry, even blueberry.

A more persuasive answer was simply "dispersal rate." According to ADF&G reports, moose only started appearing in Southeast Alaska in general in the early twentieth century. The moose simply hadn’t found this habitat that, on geologic terms, is new and still being uncovered as glaciers recede. And the fact that other communities were colonized first had to do with proximity to a direct river from interior Alaska-- and some luck.

There had been a few sightings over the years around Juneau though. I even saw the pellets of a cow that had been reported at, of all places, Moose Lake. I eagerly awaited the day when more moose would show up near the Juneau Road system.

Starting in fall 2013, I noticed tracks and browse around Point Bridget State Park, apparently of a cow and at least one calf. A Juneau Empire story reported sightings "out the road" as well that fall. The following year, I found more tracks and sign. But despite many hours devoted to sneaking around in the rain, never saw even a glimpse. Finally, in fall 2015, I had the incredible luck to see a cow, a grown bull and small bull, all together near Cowee Creek.

And the excitement builds as recently there has been solid evidence of a cow and bull in Mendenhall Valley; also, a cow in the Thunder Mountain bowl and a young bull at Boy Scout Beach.

Where did these moose come from? Perhaps some DNA work will tell us in the years to come. It seems most likely that the animals traveled from Berners Bay. That population there was introduced in 1958 and 1960 with 17 and 11 animals respectively, stock from the Mat-su Valleys. But of course, wildlife dispersal is not always as one would assume.

Moose dispersed into Southeast Alaska from British Columbia. The Anderson subspecies (Alces alces andersoni) colonized different areas in a complex pattern, sometimes established by only a few "founders", but with potential for mixing with subsequent incursions of the larger interior Alaska moose subspecies (Alces alces gigas), especially in the Haines and Yakutat areas. (An interesting write up about this can be found here: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=wildlifenews.view_article&articles_id=602).

What’s going to happen next? A handful of animals is hardly a population yet, but at least we have the right elements to spur the imagination. Juneau will be different if moose become frequent denizens. I wonder about the human and wildlife interactions. Will drivers learn to slow down going out the road in the evenings? Will animals be shot by poachers? How many loose dogs will be stomped if there is a mom and calf roaming the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation area?

Nobody is more eager to see the moose than I, but cringe the community might love the animals to death: naming them, feeding them, approaching too close to get photos. ("Romeo" the wolf comes to mind here). Either way, it’s bound to make our fall walks around Juneau more exciting for a while.

 

Photo by G. Baluss (taken with a zoom lens while hiding, breathless, behind a log).

Moose at Cowee Creek, September 22, 2015.

 


Eagle Feather Collection Permits

To all volunteers who collect eagle feathers under the Juneau Audubon Society US Fish & Wildlife Service permit.  JAS has received a new feather collection permit.

The permits are available by e-mail and paper from Brenda Wright.   Each of our permits are good for three years.

Contact Brenda at: at-large_b@juneau-audubon-society.org


16TH ALASKA BIRD CONFERENCE

by Brenda Wright

The 16th Alaska Bird Conference was held in Juneau, December 9-11, 2014. There were over 40 scientific papers and 20 posters presented at the conference. The conference drew more than 100 students, scientists, educators, and researchers from across the state and the Pacific coast. Included in the conference sessions were climate change, breeding ecology, disease/contaminants, foraging ecology, movement ecology, and populations and distributions.

If you go to the web page

 http://www.alaskabirdconference.org/Alaska_Bird_Conference/Home.html, you can see the full program and also get the abstracts.  A special fund raising event by Juneau Audubon, Audubon Anchorage, and ADF&G enabled us to film the keynote speaker, Gerrit Vyn, for 360 North. If you would like to see this presentation you can enjoy it online at http://www.360north.org/events/alaska-bird-conference-2014-keynote-address-gerrit-vyn/ (You may have to wait for an update on the site, the presentation would not open for me).

A special thanks to the local organizing committee: Anne Sutton, Kelly Nesvacil, Mike Goldstein, and Brenda Wright. The scientific committee reviewed all the abstract submissions and made the schedule of talks, ring leaders were John Pearce, Julie Hagelin, Abby Powell, Debbi Nigro, and Steve Lewis. And also a special thank you to the sponsors for the donations of time, money, and effort: US Forest Service, ADF&G, Audubon Alaska, North Pacific Research Board, Pacific Coast Joint Venture, Ducks Unlimited, ABR, Inc., Juneau Audubon Society, and St. Hubert Research Group


Natural History of Juneau Trails: A Watershed Approach
By Richard Carstensen

Richard Carstensen’s gorgeous new book explores the natural history of the Juneau trail system.  It makes a great gift, and for only a limited time your purchase will directly support Discovery Southeast and Audubon. 

Natural History of Juneau Trails will be available in stores in 2014, but is available now for a limited time as a fundraiser directly from Discovery Southeast.  The price is $24.00.  

To order directly from Discovery Southeast on-line click here.  Use the code “Audubon” and profits from your purchase will be split between Audubon and Discovery Southeast.

A treat for any outdoor enthusiast.  Buy it now to support Audubon and Discovery Southeast!

   

Join the Juneau Audubon Society

Click here for a membership application form

 

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