We've received the regional results for the 2024 Annual Swan Count from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife!
The WDFW reports that over the 5-county region (Skagit, Whatcom, Snohomish, Island, San Juan) that the swan numbers were down this year: 10,600 from 16,400 last year.
The Fraser River valley in British Columbia reported only seven total swans. The winter weather played a factor, as it’s likely that the usual swan “haunts” were frozen over and the swans may have moved to other bodies of water where weather was more favorable, and the large snowfall before the count diminished our numbers from more than 50 volunteers to around a dozen who were actually able to get out to monitor their territories. We hope the positive trend from previous years continues again at next year's Count.
In the islands, there were 32 total swans observed. There were 26 swans on San Juan Island across three bodies of water, with Zylstra Lake once again being the main gathering place for the 15 swans that were observed there. For the second consecutive year, there was a Tundra Swan in the flock at Zylstra, which is typically a rarity in the islands. Woods Lake and Wilson Pond also had swans on San Juan Island while Hummel Lake on Lopez Island was the only other place in the archipelago to have swans seen on the day of the count. Six total swans were seen there, including a pair of juveniles.
If there was ever a positive note to take away from this year’s Swan Count, it’s that there were seven total juveniles observed across the archipelago, compared to zero last year. Even with the extreme weather, it’s hopeful to see families of swans hunker down at different locations around the islands.
Of course, none of this would have been possible without our committed corps of volunteer swan-counters!
THANK YOU SO MUCH for being interested in this important community science effort. Even if you weren’t able to get out and monitor this year, it’s wonderful to know we have your support in this work.
We have some fun species-specific events coming up and we hope you can make it!
Spring is an important time for getting out and helping out birds and bugs, or more specifically, the Western Bluebird and the Island Marble Butterfly. It's when we need the most help with these conservation-dependent species.
We have a pair of Gardening for Butterflies events (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) on Wednesday, March 20 on San Juan Island.
These are great opportunities to get involved in the project to restore the world's rarest butterfly, learn more about it, and get out on the land with SJPT staff. A few hours of effort could go a long way in helping the IMB spread its wings into this summer and beyond.
We also have a Western Bluebird Project information session happening on Tuesday, April 2, from 6:30pm to 8pm at Red Mill Farm, where we will be hosting a training and information session for new and existing volunteers of the San Juan Islands Western Bluebird Project.
If you're new to the project, come on out and learn what a bluebird even is, why it's so special, and what you can do to help us help it out. If you're already familiar with the project or want to refine some skills, we will be available to answer questions and help out however we can to ensure you're as prepared as possible to support the bluebirds. We are intentionally having this session open to all people interested so that everyone, even with different degrees of knowledge and experience, can be together to provide various perspectives and connections.
The information session is on the eve of our first Bluebird Blitz of 2024, with the second one happening the following week. These are also great opportunities to join us out on the land and learn about our work with the bluebirds.
For more information and to register for the events, please visit our online calendar (sjpt.org/calendar).
Questions? Comment on this post or email Jack, our Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, at email@example.com.
Going back to our last post, if you didn't know who Father Divine was or which of the islands in the Salish Sea he influenced via the movement he led, we hope this post can help fill in some gaps!
Father Divine, founder of the International Peace Missions Movement, was a religious leader, businessman, and civil rights activist. He was born George Baker in Maryland sometime in 1876 and was viewed by many to be a cult leader. His doctrine was a mix of optimistic thought based on many widely accepted mainstream religions, which included a strict commitment to a celibate lifestyle and abstinence from immoral actions.
Father Divine began receiving widespread public attention when in 1919, he and his first wife and several of his interracial religious followers moved to New York and established a Peace Mission “heaven". These havens were interracial communal living facilities that fostered Divine’s belief in a desegregated society and represented heaven on earth to his followers. In the 1930s, Father Divine’s network of more than 150 Peace Missions spread across the nation and abroad, creating living facilities and jobs for the poor.
Father Divine’s message of racial equality and economic self-sufficiency drew folks from many backgrounds into his following. Under his leadership, the International Peace Missions Movement promoted desegregation and coordinated anti-lynching protests. Around 1940, Divine drafted an anti-lynching petition to Congress, seeking equal protection for all, and trials and convictions for all members of lynch mobs. Although it garnered 250,000 signatures, it failed to gain traction.
At the end of the Depression Era, it was estimated that Father Divine and the Peace Missions Movement had amassed $15 million in assets including Vendovi Island, a small island in the San Juan Islands. This is where a congregation of his followers from the northwest resided for years, at a "Peaceful Paradise" inspired by the teachings of Father Divine.
Who knew such interesting history touched even the shores of our remote islands?
If you're looking for more information, we encourage you to do some internet searching or check out this short history video: