Seattle, USFWS Set To Sign ‘Urban Bird Treaty’

Lest I suffer a stroke, about this time of year I have to remind myself that our Departments of Fish and Wildlife have a bit more on their plate than salmon and elk.

A few Aprils ago now I was shocked to receive a press release that declared “At WDFW, every day is Earth Day.” That one sent me off on a deadline-destroying tangent.

This morning it was a Facebook note informing me that WDFW was part of an Urban Bird Treaty Ceremony coming up near me in Seattle.

An Urban Bird WHAT?!?! was my immediate reaction — at least with a few select words edited out for family consumption.


Are we like making a deal with the seagulls in return for less freelance fertilization of our streets and buildings?

Does it give pigeons patrolling for food scraps priority over spots to park our vehicles on Capitol Hill?

Will it mean more or fewer featherbrains in government?!?!

No on all counts, it turns out.

The Urban Bird Treaty is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service program that aims to “conserve birds in urban areas through habitat conservation, hazard reduction, citizen science, and education and outreach.”

Annually, perhaps as many as a billion birds — primarily songbirds — bounce off our windows with broken necks, and with all that glass and residents, urban areas are a pretty good spot to start making more bird-friendly, not to mention befriend more birders.

So, WDFW’s teaming up with USFWS, the city, Seattle Audubon and other organizations for the signing on May 5 at Lincoln Park, on the way to the Fauntleroy Ferry.

The idea is that as Seattle is part of the Pacific Flyway, this will provide a linkage between other cities that have signed the treaty along it, including Anchorage, Portland and San Fran.

It also attempts to connect city kids with nature, and that’s not a bad thing, done right.

A few years ago I blogged about a study that showed birdwatchers were just as strong conservationists as sportsmen. True, the former folks don’t pay the freight like we have for decades, and that’s a problem. But drawing them into the fold has the potential to be a win.

“Diversified strategies that include programs to encourage both hunting and birdwatching are likely to bring about long-term gains for conservation,” wrote that study’s authors.

Amy and I long ago signed an urban bird treaty, per se, enrolling our property in the backyard wildlife habitat program.

Still no sign of wolverines, but last night a pair of robins were out at dusk noisily calling back and forth in search of dinner, while a crow flew off with something to line its nest, possibly in the big hemlock on our fence line.

A few weeks back we had as many as six bandtail pigeons scouting out the ‘hood, and other recent visitors have included a bandtail pigeon hawk (inside joke), Stellar’s jays, flickers, plus the usual collection of little brown birds.

And I regularly see ducks homing on Barb and Tom Witkowski’s Fly Inn in North Seattle.

No, I won’t be attending the Urban Bird Treaty Ceremony, as I’ve made my peace with the flockers, but it could be interesting for those who do attend.

Just please don’t sign away any more parking spots in Seattle. That would be, er, for the birds.

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