Tag Archives: Northern Pygmy Owl

The 2023 Christmas Bird Count

The Cortes Island Museum has been sponsoring two birding events every year for the past two decades.* 2,873 birds were seen during the 2023 Christmas Bird Count, but this number would have been much higher if there were more participants. 

“We can only go to a certain number of places where we know there will be birds, and that’s mostly along the coastline,” explained Laurel Bohart, a keen birder as well as co-curator of Wild Cortes.

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The Taxidermist behind Wild Cortes

Laurel Bohart has volunteered her time to mount or prepare the study skins of 100 birds, fish and mammals for the Cortes Island Museum. She is a member of the Board and one of the co-curators of Wild Cortes in the Linnaea Farm Education Centre. Bohart is also a professional taxidermist, whose interest can be traced back to her parent’s missionary years in Nigeria during the mid 1960s.

The first words she used to describe taxidermy were, “It’s fun.”

To which she added, “It’s a form of sculpture when you mount a bird or a mammal. It’s better than a photograph, which is two dimensional. These are three dimensional.”   

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Earth Day 2023: Wild Cortes Displays (P 1 – the Mother Tree)

Wild Cortes celebrated Earth Day, on Saturday April 22, with the opening of the new Mother Tree Exhibit. One of the advantages of being among the first to arrive, is that the facility was not too crowded. There were only half a dozen people when Wild Cortes opened at noon. Local biologist Sabina Leader-Mense agreed to give Cortes Currents a walk through.

She was making some last minute touches to the exhibit when I asked some of the first viewers, ‘What’s your impression of the exhibit?’  

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Success: The search for Western Screech Owls on Cortes Island

Up until now, there have not been any reports of Western Screech Owls on Cortes Island since 2017. That just changed a few weeks ago in the island’s more remote northern forest. 

Field biologist Sabina Leader Mense reports, “I was sitting in the skiff with my husband Dennis, under an unbelievably brilliant sky of stars. It was the last station of the night, pushing midnight, and in the 16th minute of that 17 minute call playback sequence, I heard something. I remember pivoting around in the boat. The sound was behind me and you do what owls do, you turn around.  I think your ears and the muscles and your ears cup and you’re just straining to hear something. Then I heard the call again. It was very distant, but I recognized it was an owl. I began analyzing the audio disks in my head going, ‘is it a Northern Pygmy Owl? Is it a Northern Saw-Whet Owl?’ As I was doing this, it called the third time and I recognized it was a Western Screech Owl.”  

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Cortes Island’s Spring 2022 Bird Count

A total of 92 species are listed in Cortes Island’s Spring 2022 Bird count. More than 20 birders participated, including local naturalist George Sirk who started the day off as a guide on board the Misty Isles. This year’s count was expanded to include Mitlenatch island, where Sirk served as a naturalist in 1969 and 71.

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