[Tweeters] Reduced numbers of birds

mcallisters4 at comcast.net mcallisters4 at comcast.net
Sat Jul 27 16:17:20 PDT 2019

I can’t give any sense of changes in numbers of the more common swallow species. I think it’s safe to say that Purple Martins have been steadily increasing in number for at least 30 years and many more are now nesting in natural cavities, no longer just in nest boxes. They were recently removed from the state’s list of Candidates for listing. That’s a success story. Gary Wiles has been documenting much higher numbers and greater distribution of Bank Swallows in western Washington than ever was described in any ornithological document.

My backyard is alive with dragonflies right now and I don’t live near a wetland, just a neighborhood with lots of flower and vegetable gardens.

Yesterday I searched for several hours for Zerene Fritillaries around the Appaloosa Horse Club property where my wife and I have been members for over 20 years. When we first started spending summer days there, Zerene Fritillaries (Valley Silverspots) were all over, flying through the horse camp, cruising the road corridors through the forest. I took lots of pictures of them, sometimes of several silverspots at a time nectaring on Canada thistle. I was using a Nikon film camera (Nikon FE) in those days and really wanted pictures that did justice to the beautiful silvering on the ventral hindwings. I failed at that but I had plenty of opportunities. What I’ve seen more recently, including yesterday, is zero Zerene Fritillaries in the Capitol Forest. I occasionally see fritillaries flying by that I can’t identify so I can’t rule out that they might be present in small numbers. It’s difficult, though, when dealing with a landscape that is a constantly shifting mosaic, like any of our managed industrial forest lands, to say that a decline has occurred over that entire landscape. It’s possible I just don’t visit the parts of the forest where increases have occurred. I do still see butterflies in the Capitol Forest, good numbers of some species. I would be hard pressed to justify suggesting declines in all species.

I’m also participating in Bumblebee Watch and have been seeking out and catching and photographing bumblebees for a few months. I’m not having any trouble finding bumblebees though species diversity hasn’t been high. I know some species, like our Western Bumblebee are in serious decline. However, it’s likely human transport of diseases that has caused this species-specific problem, not some global collapse of an entire fauna due to an as yet unknown cause.

I’m going to have to see something from rigorously collected datasets before I buy into the idea of a widespread multi-species ecological collapse.

Kelly McAllister

Olympia WA

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