Quick Links


The publication of Sound to Sage is the culminating moment of an 19-year effort built upon the skill and dedication of over 300 volunteers who contributed breeding bird observations in the four-county area. In recognition, their names and hours are listed here, county by county: Island County, King County, Kitsap County, Kittitas County. We cannot thank them enough.

Observers exhibited a range of styles. Some undertook “saturation” surveys of just one or two blocks, garnering high numbers of confirmed breeding records in dozens (even hundreds) of hours over two or more seasons. Others submitted quantities of cards with one or a few records each, of birds noted quickly while crossing this or that block. In the end, however, individual styles mattered little: every record was an irreplaceable contribution to the project.

Numerous individual achievements stand out. John Gatchet's work on a group of blocks around Auburn and the Green River Valley is a model of completeness, characterized by a high percentage of breeding confirmations. Thais Bock provided comprehensive coverage of the southwestern corner of King County. Hugh Jennings extracted for us the breeding-season records from his several years of systematic record-keeping in and around Bellevue. Scott Downes shared the results of his surveys of Townsend's Warbler and other songbirds in the King County Cascades. Russell Rogers contributed surveys of several Vashon Island blocks and also provided breeding records for species encountered in the ponderosa pine belt of Kittitas County during his White-headed Woodpecker fieldwork. Andy Stepniewski filled a big gap in our knowledge with his investigations of bird distribution on the Yakima Training Center. The atlas benefited greatly from nesting records collected by Dave Lauten and Kathy Castelein in the mid-elevation, dry-forest zones of the Teanaway Valley. Julia Bent hiked deep into wild country to survey roadless blocks in the upper Teanaway and Cle Elum basins. Donna Lacasse submitted records from her backpacking excursions into the high, remote Cascades in both King and Kittitas counties.

A great share (42 percent) of the total effort was contributed by the nine observers who put in 200 or more field hours spread across 50 or more blocks. Their names and numbers are given in Table 1.

Observers Hours Blocks
Hal Opperman 1008 299
Brenda Senturia 741 157
Dave Swayne 725 228
Eugene Hunn 633 226
Lee Barnes 329 72
Steve Gerstle 306 81
JoLynn Edwards 279 120
Phil Mattocks 268 101
Tom Aversa 200 62
Table 1 — Field Observers Contributing ≥200 Total Hours on ≥50 Total Blocks

The four-county atlas project would have been unthinkable without the huge accomplishment of its progenitor, the Washington Breeding Bird Atlas (1987–1996), under the leadership of Project Director Phil Mattocks. With Michael Smith and Kelly Cassidy, Mattocks co-authored the bird volume of the Washington Gap Analysis Final Report (Smith et al. 1997). In this volume predicted distributions of bird species are extrapolated from analysis of BBA data, and other evidence, in relation to vegetation zones and land cover. The authors present their predictions as “hypotheses waiting to be tested” that will “beckon curious ornithologists to their own explorations of Washington during the breeding season,” and go on to “encourage readers to report data that complement or contradict [their] maps or accounts.” These words were our inspiration as we continued along the path laid out by this bold, groundbreaking book.

We recognize below the contributions of many persons, organizations, and agencies to every aspect of the second (four-county) phase of the BBA. The roles of many others in the statewide atlas phase are acknowledged in the earlier publication but not repeated here.

For facilitating our surveys in large areas of restricted public access, we thank Boise Cascade Corporation, Giustina Resources, Plum Creek Timber Company, Weyerhaeuser Company, City of Bremerton Public Works and Utilities (Bill McKinney, Forestry Manager), Seattle Public Utilities (Cedar River and Tolt River Watersheds), Tacoma Public Utilities (Bryan King, Green River Watershed Supervisor), Washington Department of Natural Resources, Bangor Naval Submarine Base (Tom James, Wildlife Biologist), Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, and Yakima Training Center.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife generously permitted us to include breeding records from their Heritage and Spotted Owl databases. Gretchen Blatz, Jim Eby, and Lori Salzer were instrumental in finalizing this agreement and in effectuating the data transfer.

Phil Mattocks and Michael Smith helped assure a seamless transition between the statewide atlas phase and the ensuing four-county effort. We deeply appreciate their support and encouragement. Julie Myers facilitated the data-transfer process by organizing field cards and carefully cross-checking them against the database.

Under contract with the Seattle Audubon Society, Levon Yengoyan and Chris Hansen of TerraLogic GIS created several atlas-specific tools that greatly aided our analytical and data-management tasks. We are grateful to ESRI GIS for granting Seattle Audubon a complimentary copy of their ArcView software for use on the BBA project. Seattle Audubon staff members Matt Mega and Emily Sprong put their GIS skills into service for us on more than one occasion.

As the atlas moved toward publication in 2005–2006, responsibility for bringing it to the Web shifted to Lead Developer Alan Humphrey and a talented, dynamic team of volunteers: Tom Rohrer and Josh Freedman (who created the functional design for the site), Sri Veena Syam Tangirala, and Gayathri Subramonian. Watching them give shape to Sound to Sage has been a joy. During this process, Seattle Audubon Science Associates Adam Sedgley and Margot Stiles provided vital coordination between the content and technical sides. The handsome banner and webpage design are Sedgley's work. Thanks to Paul Bannick for allowing us to use his Mountain Bluebird photograph.

Special thanks to Gretchen Blatz, Joe Buchanan, Scott Downes, Steve Ellis, Chris Maden, Michael Smith, and Dave Swayne for their review of Sound to Sage version 1.0, resulting in numerous corrections and improvements reflected in the next release (version 1.1, September 2006).

The four-county atlas is a project of Seattle Audubon's Science Committee. From field surveying through final publication its welfare has been in the hands of the Breeding Bird Atlas Subcommittee: Tom Aversa, Kelly Cassidy, Steve Gerstle, Eugene Hunn, Hal Opperman, Brenda Senturia, and Frances Wood. Field coordinators for King County were Hunn and Opperman; for Kittitas County, Opperman; for Kitsap County, Gerstle; and for Island County, Wood and Senturia. Overall project coordination and database management were Opperman's responsibility. The species maps were created by Cassidy, as were the maps for the “Measures of Effort” essay. Species accounts were written by Aversa, Opperman, Hunn, and Senturia, with Gerstle supplying preliminary drafts for a group of the passerines. Many accounts borrow from, and comment upon, the “Breeding Status and Distribution” paragraph of the accounts in the bird volume of the Washington Gap Analysis Final Report (Smith et al. 1997). Essays in the “About” section were prepared by Opperman. All members of the Breeding Bird Atlas Subcommittee reviewed, corrected, and improved upon each other's work, so this is truly a joint effort. However, Opperman served as editor and is the appropriate target for any brickbats.