Monthly Programs

The Camano Wildlife Habitat Project, sponsored by Friends of Camano Island Parks, hosts public presentations the third Wednesday of the month (except for December) via Zoom. 

If you have suggestions for topics and/or speakers, please email us.

Recent Presentations

"Bring Back the Pollinators"
by Kathryn Owen, Xerces Society volunteer 

May 17th, 2023

Populations of native pollinators are on the decline, in part due to widespread pesticide use. But there’s also good news: Washington recently became the first state in the country to develop a statewide strategy to conserve bumble bees. Join Kathryn Owen, volunteer ambassador for the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, for a conversation about the threats facing pollinators, the valuable roles they play, and most importantly, ways to support pollinators through actions we take in our own backyards and communities. We’ll also discuss the life history of bees and how to support them throughout their life span - and we’ll practice looking at landscapes from the perspective of a bee!

Additional resources mentioned in the program: 

"Native Plants for Climate Resilience"
by Brenda Cunningham, Salal Native Plant Society

Apr 19th, 2023

Come learn about how native plants can help us prepare for a changing climate. Learn about species that are drought resistant and suitable for home landscaping.

Click to Download Native Plant Resources mentioned in the program.

"All About Owls"
Shona Aitken, Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

Mar 15th, 2023

Have you seen or heard an owl? What kind of owl might it have been?

Owls can seem mysterious because they are often active when we’re tucked up in bed, but if you know what to look and listen for, you can find out which owls live near you. Join Shona Aitken, Education Coordinator at Wolf Hollow to find out more about these fascinating birds and discover which owls might be living in your neighborhood.

"Northwest Straits Foundation and Initiative: A Community Approach to Restoration and Protection of the Salish Sea"

 by Lisa Kaufman 

Feb 15th, 2023

Learn how the Northwest Straits Foundation engages at the local level to accomplish nearshore restoration, prevention and removal of derelict fishing gear, and provide stewardship of marine and nearshore habitats and species. Lisa Kaufman, Director of Programs, will also discuss natural solutions shoreline landowners can employ to protect and enhance their properties. 

Also see: &

"Native Plants to Promote Wildlife with Environmental Considerations"

 by Delaney Anderson, Snohomish Conservation District 

Jan 18th, 2023

Native plants are a great tool for fostering wildlife populations and promoting pollinators all while possessing an innate adaptability to local climate regimes. Delaney Anderson, Restoration Project Assistant with the Snohomish Conservation District, will present a coordinated approach to planting that balances the needs of homeowners, the preferences of wildlife, and the potential climate pressures facing our local environment. 

Click to Download:
Delaney's Native Plant Resources slides.
Winter Garden Tips for Beneficial Wildlife 

"Dark Skies and Beyond: Some of the Ecological Consequences of Artificial Light at Night" by Jay Adams

Nov 16th, 2022

Learn about some of the ecological consequences of artificial light at night. Jay Adams, Whidbey Camano Land Trust president, will also discuss what all of us can do to help keep it dark, for all creatures, including us. 

Resources mentioned in the program:

"Ecological Consequences of Artificial Night Lighting" edited by Catherine Rich and Travis Longcore 

"The Circadian Code" by Satchin Panda

"The Swinomish Village Osprey Nest: Life on a Cell Tower"
by John S. Farnsworth, PhD.

Oct 19th, 2022

Skagit Audubon’s new vice president, John Farnsworth, along with SAS member Charles Talman, spent the summer monitoring an osprey nest atop a cell tower near Fisherman’s Dock in the Swinomish Village.  Trying to determine a basic phenology, they spent hours every day observing through spotting scopes from across the channel at the garden club’s butterfly garden, atop the hill in La Conner.  They were amazed at what they discovered, especially in terms of conflicts between eagles, the osprey, and even a peregrine falcon.

John S. Farnsworth, PhD, is Senior Lecturer in Environmental Studies and Sciences, Emeritus, at Santa Clara University.  He is the author of Coves of Departure: Field Notes from the Sea of Cortes, Nature Beyond Solitude: Notes from the Field, and a forthcoming memoir about trying to learn the ecosystems where he currently lives.

"The Mysteries of Mushrooms"
by Scott Chase

Sep 21st, 2022

In addition to the basics of mushroom hunting from his  previous "Stalking the Wild Mushroom" presentation, Scott will cover new information about the inter-dependence of mushrooms with trees and plants, showing how mushrooms not only provide nutrients but also serve as an internet of the forest allowing plants and trees to communicate and signal danger.  He'll also show how to use mushroom spore prints to create a fun activity for the whole family. 

“Moths – Super Interesting Bird Food!” 

by David Droppers

August 17th, 2022 

By providing a landscape for moths, namely their caterpillars, you're setting the dinner plate for birds and their young.  But the main course is intriguing in its own right!  This presentation is for the beginning moth-er!  What makes moths worthy of study?  How many moths are there?  How do moths do battle with their feathered predators?  And how do I provide a landscape to stage such a show?  This presentation will introduce you to the world of moths and show you why they should matter to us.

Resource Links: 

Click to download the checklist of Moths of Camano Island compiled by Pam Pritzl (updated 8.15.2022)

"The Art of Forest Walking"
by Jane Billinghurst, celebrated local author

July 20th, 2022

Forests are dynamic ecosystems. Jane will describe how to find unexpected treasures hiding in plain sight so that no matter how many times you walk the same forest trail, there will always be something different to discover. 

Jane Billinghurst and German forester Peter Wohlleben collaborated to write Forest Walking: Discovering the Trees and Woodlands of North America.

Photo by Christine Farrow 

"Mosses and Lichens, Our Evergreen Pacific Northwest"
by Deborah Smeltzer, Skagit County Master Gardener

June 15th, 2022 

Deborah Smeltzer will talk about two interesting life forms found in abundance in the Pacific Northwest – Mosses and Lichens.  For each, she will describe their biology and cultural characteristics, show portraits of the life forms, provide “fun facts”, discuss whether they are “friend” or “foe”, talk about how to encourage lush moss lawns or how to control them if needed.

Click to Download:
Deborah's Moss & Lichen Resources document.
Four Springs Bryophytes checklist compiled by Russ Holmes (2018)
hummingbird feeding on Camas

Photo by  Kim Binczewski 

"Native Plants for a Changing Climate"
by Brenda Cunningham 

 April 20th, 2022

As our summers become hotter and drier and winters become wetter and colder, how do we choose plants most likely to survive in our gardens?  Brenda will present the most readily available native plants for your garden, their values to wildlife and pollinators and their tolerance for extreme weather events.  We’ll also talk about sources for buying native plants and a bit about how to propagate them on your own.

Click to Download Native Plant Resources mentioned in the program.

"Birds and Glass Don’t Mix – Protecting Birds from Window Collisions"
by Hanae Bettencourt, Seattle Audubon

 March 16th, 2022

The problem is clear: hundreds of millions of birds die each year due to collisions with glass, making glass one of the greatest human-related impacts that directly kills birds. But there are solutions! Hanae Bettencourt, Education Manager with Seattle Audubon, will explain what makes glass so deadly and what we can do at a personal and community level to make human-centered spaces safer for birds.

Click to Download Window Collision Resources

Shona Aitken

"Baby Season is Almost Here!"
by Shona Aitken

 February 16th, 2022 

Kits, pups, nestlings and fledglings.  The time of year when wild babies are born or hatched is the busiest time of year for wildlife rehabilitation centers because these wild youngsters are vulnerable to all kinds of human impacts.  Join Shona Aitken, Education Coordinator at Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center to find out when different types of wild babies are likely to appear, the main reasons they get injured or orphaned, and what we can all do to reduce our impacts.

Wolf Hollow serves San Juan and Skagit counties, plus northern Whidbey Island.  They have also helped some of our Camano seal pups. 

Our closest wildlife rehab center is Sarvey Wildlife Care Center: 360.435.4817 

Wildlife rehabilitation is costly.  Donations are always appreciated! 

"Creating Habitat & Ecological Connection via Native Plants"
by Mariah Thomson

January 19th, 2022

What makes a landscape an effective wildlife habitat?
Mariah Thomson, Snohomish Conservation District Restoration Project Assistant, will share her perspective on why native plants are ecologically important for wildlife and humans alike, will cover what constitutes wildlife habitat, and provide a sample of native plants for each component. Her goal is to empower us to create a backyard habitat that meets the needs of local wildlife and is personalized to one's interests. Resources for getting started and planning your habitat will be provided. Mariah studied the intersection of conservation and social science and brings us expertise in how to restore habitats, which could include our own yards.

Meet Mariah:

Click to Download Resources Mentioned In The Program, Lawn Reduction

"Parks Aren't Just for People"
by Montana Napier

November 17th, 2021

Join Montana Napier, the Interpretive Specialist at Cama Beach State Park, for a presentation on how parks are more than a place to vacation or recreate. Across the state, parks protect large intact habitats for native wildlife, so it's important to remember that when we're visiting parks, we're visiting animals' homes. Hear stories from the field, the "why" behind certain rules and regulations, and discover a technique you can use to educate your friends and family about Leave No Trace in a positive way. 

Resources mentioned in the program: 

·  Leave No Trace: Authority of the Resource·  Authority of the Resource Technique: How to Communicate Leave No Trace - Video​·  How to Respond to Less Than Leave No Trace Moments·  Law Enforcement and the "Authority of the Resource" - Essay by Dr. George N. Wallace····· 
Photo courtesy of Neil Zimmerman - a Western Screech Owl that nested in Neil's garden. 

"Attracting Birds to Your Yard"
by Neil Zimmerman

Oct 20, 2021

Join Neil Zimmerman, Seattle Audubon Outreach Chair and Master Birder, to learn how to attract and care for birds in your yard through plant selection, gardening practices and use of water features.  Power Point photos, many from Neil’s yard, will be used to illustrate that gardening and birding are a natural fit.  

Resources mentioned in the program: 

"Holistic Gardening: Healthy Soil, Native Plants, Clean Water" by Gwendolyn Hannam

Sep 15th, 2021

A beautiful garden that thrives in challenging conditions and provides food and shelter for birds and bees is possible, but must be approached holistically.  Learn how to create such a garden and how it can provide benefits even to the health of Puget Sound.  Join Gwendolyn Hannam, environmental biologist and Natural Resource Planner for the Whidbey Island Conservation District, for an engaging webinar and get inspired to start planning your garden!  

Download Resources Mentioned In The Program

Aug 18th, 2021

Peggy Wendel interviewed Pat and posted this
Stanwood-Camano News article: "Bald eagles soaring back" on  Aug 10, 2021 

Learn about the life cycle of Bald Eagles through education and storytelling with Pat Holmes.

Pat Holmes began studying Bald Eagles in 2014 on Camano Island as a hobby.  After spending hours under their nests at Camano Island and Cama Beach State Parks, she developed a passion for the eagles.  In her presentations, she enthusiastically shares her close up and personal experiences.

"Turning Your Property into a Wildlife Lover’s Paradise" by Val Schroeder

July 21st, 2021

Resources mentioned in the program: Suggested Native Plants, Layering, Our three native Oregon Grapes, Snohomish Conservation District Plant guide, WA Native Plant Society Plant Lists, The Gardener's Guide to Global Warming.

Download our Application for Certification or you can certify online on at the NWF site.

Imagine turning your garden into a year-round haven for birds, butterflies, pollinators, Douglas squirrels and a host of other delightful creatures.  It's easier than you might think to put out the welcome mat for the birds and animals you want to entertain in your garden – no matter where you live or what size garden you have.  Val Schroeder, Camano Wildlife Habitat Project coordinator, will show you how to create a garden that's as inviting to wildlife as it is beautiful with simple techniques that benefit wildlife and help preserve and protect our natural resources.  You'll learn the four basic habitat requirements needed to sustain wildlife and how to provide them in your garden.  You'll also find out how to join a growing movement of folks in the Puget Sound region that are taking steps to become wildlife-friendly – one yard at a time!

Val Schroeder, Habitat Steward Host, is coordinator of the Camano Wildlife Habitat Project, the 10th Community Habitat in the nation certified by the National Wildlife Federation.  Camano has more than 1,000 certified wildlife habitats, hosts monthly education programs on environmental issues, maintains public demonstration gardens, and participates in critical areas preservation and restoration efforts on the Island. Val received the National Wildlife Federation Volunteer of the Year Award in 2006 and is the author of Exploring Camano Island:  A History and Guide.

  June 17th, 2021

From Heidi's website (which also has info about prey diversity from the Whidbey Island River Otter Research project):Scat Collection and Otter Spotting Volunteers Needed!If you have otters in your area, please report them to the WIRS Citizen Scientist Otter Reporting Website. For the truly industrious and committed, I have specimen collection kits prepared for those who have active latrines along their property. Please contact me if you would like one.  Further, if you have “problem” river otters occupying your decks, boats, or boathouses, please do not hesitate to contact me, I am interested in finding a solution for you and the otters. I would also be happy to plant an infrared camera in locations of heavy otter traffic – I share all images with the property owner.

Coastal river otters, like the ones that inhabit the Salish Sea, forage in both marine and freshwater environments and use the watershed and effluviant to the Sound to feed, travel, mate, and socialize.  As otters move between these ecotones, they are exposed to pollution and environmental contaminants (e.g., brominated flame retardants).  Through an understanding of the Puget Sound's coastal river otter diet, distribution, health and behavior, we have a better sense of the overall ecological health of our habitat.  Dr. Island will discuss the natural history of otters, the local populations and how Island County's otters are serving as a comparator population for captive and rescued river otters.

Dr. Island is a Professor of Comparative Animal Behavior and Neuroscience at Pacific University in Oregon and a Senior Research Associate for the Oregon Zoo. She is the Principal Investigator in a 4-year longitudinal study of Whidbey Island's North American river otters. Her interests concern the welfare of captive and wild otter populations found in the Pacific Northwest (North American River otter and Sea Otters). 

Read about her otter research on her blog.

See our YouTube channel for recordings of earlier programs!