The Salish Sea Ecosystem

I am Raven
Welcome!  I am Raven, Kaẃqs, and I created this magical place.  I stole the sun from a greedy old chief and placed it in the sky to light this world.  I found man in a clam shell and offered this world to him as my gift.  I provided everything he needed and taught him the skills necessary for a good life.  You are welcome here as long as you respect my creation.  All of my creatures and gardens are precious to me.  Be free to observe, study and learn from them.   You may harvest food when and where that is permitted.  You may take photographs and gather empty shells, but otherwise, please allow my creatures and plants to survive undisturbed. Ck'wálidxw (thank you).  From stories told long before Europeans arrived in the Pacific Northwest.

The Salish Sea
The Salish Sea Ecosystem:  This great inland sea is named for the Salishan language family of its first inhabitants.  Local native people called it khWuhlch or Whulge which is Lushootseed for “salt water.”  Spanning two countries and dozens of nations, it includes the Strait of Georgia, Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound.  Warmed by Pacific currents and sheltered by mountain ranges, the climate is unusually mild for its latitude.  It is fed by several major river systems including the Fraser, Skagit, Stillaguamish and Nisqually.  This continuous infusion of fresh water makes it less salty than the ocean.  Despite more than six million human inhabitants, it remains one of the most diverse biological ecosystems in North America.

Fidalgo Weather is a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.  In addition, we also hold Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary certification from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.  These programs encourage homeowners to create neighborhood havens attractive to wildlife.  The essential elements for a healthy and sustainable habitat include food, water, cover, places for raising young and resource conservation.  More than 35,000 acres of wildlife habitat have been lost to development in Washington.  These programs help to offset the loss.

We are also members of Washington Shore Stewards.  We learn 10 habitat-friendly guidelines and voluntarily apply as many as we can when caring for our beaches, bluffs, gardens and homes.  We seek to create healthier waters and shores for birds, fish, wildlife and humans alike.

South Fidalgo Wildlife Communities

In the Air:  This region is a mecca for bird watching.  The Great Washington State Birding Trail includes several sites on and near Fidalgo Island.  The famous Wrangel Island flock of snow geese from the Siberian Arctic winters in the Skagit Delta nearby.  Also famous are the gangs of bald eagles seen on Skagit River float trips.  Western Washington has one of the largest concentrations of bald eagles in the lower 48 United States.  Because we have seaside locations, our life lists also include shore birds and migratory sea birds.  The following document is a collection of casual sightings along the South Fidalgo shoreline between Similk Bay and Deception Pass.  Most were observed in or from my yard:

South Fidalgo Bird List »

On the Land:  When I first saw this property, it was wooded with a trail leading down to the beach.  A Douglas' Squirrel voiced his displeasure at my presence.  He was accompanied by a chorus of bird calls from the trees while a Pileated Woodpecker offered percussion.  A startled Heron added a short baritone solo to the concert.  A pair of Flickers danced at the top of a dead tree.  I knew immediately this piece of creation was home.  The trail turned out to be a deer trail.  After building, landscaping and more than twenty years, the deer still follow the same route to the beach.  I left the mature Douglas' Firs in place and added a koi pond to complete my little habitat.  The Herons don't allow me to keep fish, but the Pacific Chorus Frogs come every spring for their courtship music festival.

By the Sea:  The shoreline ecotone is a transition zone between land and sea, and an incredibly rich wildlife area.  Ravens nest here and Herons and Kingfishers gather lunch.  Sandpipers never stray from the beach.  I have watched a family of Otters playing king-of-the-mountain on floating driftwood.  Deer come for a little salt and Harbor Seals drop off their young for daycare.  I find Dungeness Crab legs in my yard, the scraps of some unknown fisherman.  Even a small Humpy was left on my lawn one morning, probably the lost treasure of squabbling Eagles.  My garden includes beds of Eel Grass, a nursery for fish and crustaceans of all sorts.  One of these days, if I am very lucky, I will spot a pod of Orcas playing in the bay.

For much more about local wildlife, be sure to visit our companion blog at Wild Fidalgo.

Wildlife Photo Gallery

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