>From Portland Tribune, May 14, 2002, p A1
Just passing through, with a song
Event celebrates the annual migration of birds through city
By BEN JACKLET, The Tribune
This is the time of year when C.L. Swatland dons her bird costume and
dances to Latin music with similarly feathered children.
Swatland is special projects manager for Wolftree, a Portland-based
nonprofit organization promoting science education. She helped enliven
the festivities at the ninth annual Songbird Celebration on Saturday
at the Wildwood Recreation Site, 25 miles east of the city.
The kid-friendly event celebrated the 350 species of birds either
passing through or nesting in the region after having spent the winter
in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The annual infusion of songbirds doesn't just lift spring spirits. It
also helps keep less melodious species in check. That's because birds
eat insects, including tree-destroying bugs such as the western spruce
budworm and the Douglas fir tussock moth.
The sun shone invitingly on Saturday's celebration. Local bands such
as Grupo Kultural welcomed the birds back with music, while
binocular-toting biologists guided visitors through the woods to
search for elusive rufous hummingbirds, western tanagers and
Children glued bird costumes together and played name that tune with
bird songs, while adults enjoyed shade-grown coffee from Portland
Shade-grown coffee means that rather than cutting down trees to make
way for a plantation, Latin American farmers plant their crops in
harmony with the trees and bushes that serve as winter habitat for
Making the connection between saving trees to the south and the
annual return of the birds was a priority of festival organizers,
including Swatland and Bill Aubrecht of Wolftree.
Aubrecht spent three weeks at the site of the celebration, teaching
kids about the amazing journey these birds make up the Pacific Flyway
and the endangered rain forests they fly up from.
There's plenty to be done on this end of the flyway to help out the
songbirds as well. Festival organizers suggest:
- East back on the lawn chemicals.
- Reconsider your lawn. Birds like lots of different plants rather
than a monoculture of grass.
- Put out a birdbath and a hummingbird feeder.
- Try a feeder near the window. That can slow down those birdbrains
that crash into the reflecting glass during mating season.
- Keep the cat in the house or slow it down with a big, noisy bell.
Cats kill hundreds of millions of migratory songbirds each year.
The Songbird Celebration grew out of the 1990 founding of an
international coalition called Partners in Flight
(www.partnersinflight.org). The group of government agencies and
conservation organizations works to protect neotropical migratory
birds on both ends of their journeys.
Posted as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler