Aviary population challenged by theft, nature's predators

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In an alarming turn of events, a white peahen at Pioneer Park Aviary was removed from the upper net pond enclosure on the night of June 12, the day before her eggs were due to hatch, said Joanna Lanning, primary caretaker. The netting was slit on the peahen's pen to remove her from her nest.

"She was sighted (several days later) on the Highway 12 guardrail at the Second (Avenue) exit. We tried to find her to no avail. We want her back to reunite with her chicks who have since hatched." But as of July 18, when this column went on the page, she wasn't back.

Equally distressing is a prevalence of small predators that have harmed the bird population by breaching the protective enclosures. River otters have come upstream in the past and, looking at the aviary as a waterfront smorgasbord of sorts, killed some of the birds.

On July 17 there was another predator hit, possibly mink, weasel or possum, which are small enough to get through the double-fenced enclosures. Killed were two quite valuable baby Impeyan pheasants and several peachicks aviary crew had hatched.

"It's getting emotionally draining," Joanna said on July 18. "These kills happen to anyone raising game birds and we're on a waterway. We're seeing raccoons and possums, too."

"I'm getting weary," she added. They had a pen of quail, in which all died. In that case Joanna took some of the other birds home, but she's run out of room.

Depending on what happens to the aviary's funding, the rearing pens are in line to be renovated and could be made more secure. And they are working with a trapper to get the predators.

Joanna works with Dena Krause, who's on duty weekends and when Joanna's on vacation. Longtime volunteer Jean Pennington comes in three times a week to care for the pheasants. They're aided by two backup employees, Tammie Neve and Emily Allen.

As Tammie's returning to Washington State University this fall, a replacement is needed.

Joanna just works parttime, so the crew raises a limited number of offspring. "We try and concentrate on a few of the species that are endangered and/or will sell for a larger amount since the same amount of time, labor and expenses goes into each one," she said.

Fees for the birds begin at $100 and increase from there. They keep some of the birds on site and Joanna also trades with other breeders to bring in new bloodlines.

"Our birds go to other breeders, hobbyists and zoos. I normally have no trouble selling or trading them. We've built an excellent reputation for quality, healthy birds, with many quite tame, depending on species, due to the fact we spoil them."

Joanna said most of the eggs are collected toward the end of the hatching period and placed in an incubator.

This is because the instinct to set and rear young, primarily with the pheasants, has been lost through breeding; the net pond enclosures, particularly the upper pond are pretty close to natural conditions; and the survival rates are very low due to the large fish, turtles and frogs that reside in the pond, she said.

"The small ducklings don't stand much of a chance and it is difficult for the hens to protect them. Additionally if they do live, we don't want them breeding back to their parents -- in many cases we have just one breeding pair of a species -- and we don't want to over-populate the pond."

She said they can't walk through the pond with waders as they could sink in the soft mud. "The water is quite deep in places, so it can be dangerous. I had some ruddy ducklings hatch in the upper pond this spring.

"Fortunately I was able to herd them into the east end where I can walk with waders and successfully caught them before a fish did. It wasn't an ideal situation, but I was happy I could get them."

They are growing and doing very well in the rearing pens.

For more information or to volunteer, contact Joanna at 527-4403.

•••

A boy who once rode horses on his family's Walla Walla wheat and cattle ranch grew up to become the new pastor of Our Saviour's Lutheran Church in Arlington, Wash.

A 1975 Walla Walla High School graduate, the Rev. Scott Summers was born in Clarkston, Wash., to June and Jay Summers, who moved the family around some for Jay's work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The clan settled in Walla Walla in 1967 and Scott attended Jefferson Elementary and Pioneer Junior High. Jay still lives in Walla Walla; June died last year.

Scott earned an agricultural economics degree from Washington State University in 1979, then raised wheat, cattle, horses and alfalfa in Walla Walla until 1986.

While at WSU, he said in a phone interview, "I had a spiritual hunger that it resonated with. I had questions about the meaning of life."

Therefore, post-WSU, he went looking for a church home and found Christ Lutheran in Walla Walla.

"It was my first experience of a Christ community, a positive experience. That year I began studying the teachings of Jesus, which was transformational. It changed the way I began seeing the world and my direction in life," he said.

Christ Lutheran's congregation and the Rev. Ken Carlson were influential in his faith development, he added.

Feeling called to enter pastoral ministry, Scott started in 1986 at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, Calif.

He graduated in June 1990 with master of divinity degree, certified as a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Barely a heartbeat later, Scott found himself in July 1990 with a two-point parish, that is two smaller congregations in Eastern Oregon at St. Paul Lutheran in Ontario near the Idaho border and Grace Lutheran, 17 miles southwest in Vale.

"It was rural and I definitely enjoyed it."

Especially because during that seven-year service, he met Susan Stam, a first-grade teacher in Ontario. They married March 16, 1991, in Adrian, Ore., where Susan came from. Son Joshua, 19, and daughter Rachel, 16, were born in Ontario.

Scott said his son just finished his first year at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, where he's working on a degree in communications with a minor in theology.

The family moved in 1997 to Woodburn, Ore., where Scott served the Immanuel Lutheran Church congregation for 15 years. The kids grew up there, he said, in the town between Salem and Portland.

In an Everett Herald interview, Scott said he was attracted to his new church because of its strong lay leadership and involvement in the community.

It offers a community preschool, a cold-weather shelter for homeless people, is part of the Brown Bag Brigade that prepares sack lunches to distribute at the Arlington Community Food Bank and is involved in Lutheran World Relief projects, the article said.

"My goal is to find out how we can even better meet the needs of the community," he said in the Herald interview.

"The focus of the ministry will be to reach out to attract young people to Our Saviour's. I see lots of potential to connect."

He wants to bring a new generation into the congregation with "the ageless message of Christ," while honoring the church's Scandinavian history. Arlington is northeast of Everett and Marysville, Wash., off I-5.

Scott filled a post that was vacant for nearly five years, the longest it had been empty in its 119-year history, the Everett Herald reported.

Now in his mid-50s, Scott preached his first sermon May 6 in Arlington and was installed on June 3.

He had accepted the call in February and needed time for a healthy closure with his Woodburn congregation. It's also been a process to move his family, he said.

He's looking forward to using the hiking and biking trails, and lot of people in his congregation have horses.

Twenty-year Our Saviour's member Dianne Engelsen told the Everett Herald that "Pastor Scott is a perfect fit for us. He loves sports and the outdoors, and he brings with him a real creativity in his ministry. He was worth waiting for."

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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