The Seven Swallow Species of Whidbey Island Program on April 14

Posted in Community, Community News

April 6, 2016

Vickie Anderson, a wildlife photojournalist, is the featured speaker at Whidbey Audubon’s monthly public program at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 14 with a talk about Swallows. Swallows are one of the harbingers of spring, traveling from their winter grounds in neotropical areas to nest and eat lots of bugs here on Whidbey Island. They fly with the precision of fighter pilots as they scan the sky for insects. The program will convene at the Coupeville Recreation Hall. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the program begins at 7:30 p.m. and is free of charge.

Anderson has a vast knowledge about the local swallow species. She will begins the program with the basic identification features of the seven species in the swallow family while making comparisons between the species. She also discusses the nesting requirements, including typical sites and material compositions, as well as, basic information about the incubation and nesting cycles of several swallow species. She addresses the best way to attract swallows to settle, including specific nest box requirements for Violet-green and Tree Swallows in particular.

Anderson’s awareness of birds began when she was two or three years old after her mother tried to save some babies in a swallow nest that had fallen from the house eaves. She says, “Those babies died, but my interest continues to this day, more than 60 years later.”

By the age of eleven or twelve, she was keeping written records and logs of the birds on the property where her family lived. “Every day I would go out and check on every nest I had found. No one in my family or the small community where I lived knew very much about birds so I gave many of them my own names, such as half-and-half swallow for the Cliff Swallows since they appeared to be half-way between the Barn Swallows and the Violet-green Swallows.”

Her family sold the property in 1967 and it is now Anderson Lake State Park.
She remembers the exact month and year that the Starlings first arrived on the property—April of 1965. With them also came an influx of bird mites.

She saved up for several years to finally have the money to buy her first field guide, the Roger Tory Peterson Field Guide to Western Birds. She says, “I paid $4.10 for that first special book.”
She took an ornithology class at Washington State University. In 1990, . In 1990, she was able to photograph a male Brambling that visited and remained on her mother’s place south of Olympia. Now with her own property, she strives to maintain the optimal environment to attract as many species as possible.Vickie Anderson has photographed approximately 205 species of birds found in Washington and Oregon. She exhibits a wide variety of original wildlife photographs on her website,

Whidbey Audubon Society presents nine monthly public programs each year. Five of the events take place in Coupeville and four in Freeland. Program meetings for April, May and June are in Coupeville. For more information about Whidbey Audubon Society visit its Facebook page or its website, The monthly newsletter, Shorelines, is posted there, as well as regular field trip announcements and unusual bird sightings.

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