WIN conducted its first event for the public on June 17. Birding enthusiasts from around the Flathead Valley, and as far away as New Jersey, participated in the Backyard Birding Workshop. WIN Director of Research Lisa Bate, and her husband Julian Cunningham hosted the Workshop at their super bird-friendly backyard (Swallow Crest Farm) just south of Creston.
The WIN team rotated through presentations about setting up and maintaining a birdy area in a variety of backyard habitats. Lisa led the group on a tour of Swallow Crest’s birding trail that included dozens of active nest boxes, water features, feeding stations, and mature landscape features that were planted primarily to attract birds. Julian demonstrated how he designs, manufactures, and strategically places custom nest boxes, feeders, and birdbaths.
WIN Chief Naturalist Josh Covill shared his expertise on how best to find and ID birds – visually and audibly. Fortunately, Swallow Crest Farm attracted so many birds that when Josh wanted to make a point, he could just look around and find an accommodating bird to cite as an example. The Workshop concluded with a stimulating and entertaining slide presentation by WIN Director of Photography, Dick Walker.
Several participants shared their personal challenges in trying to set up a backyard that attracts lots ofbirds. Some even suggested that WIN provide a bird-inspired landscaping / nest box service. The conversations also addressed various means to deal with squirrels and an over-abundance of introduced species (House Sparrows and European Starlings), avoiding window strikes by birds, and cat predation.
It appeared that all participants found the workshop helpful and enjoyable. One of the participants shared a particularly warm tribute on his post-event survey form:
“I have joined [WIN] and would love to take an active part in your organization. I was very impressed with your leadership, overall mission and attitude of the board members. Thanks so much for providing this opportunity.”