Bird Lore

Bird Lore: Heermann’s Gull

Bird Lore: Heermann’s Gull

The nimble thief is an apt description of the Heermann’s Gull. Pointed long wings on a compact body with a short tail allow this aggressive feeder to make breakneck maneuvers. It is adept at chasing other seabirds to steal their food. Edmonds is privileged to host along the waterfront a summer population of several hundred of these gulls. The Heermann’s Gull is a Pacific species, found... »

Bird Lore: American Goldfinch

Bird Lore: American Goldfinch

Washington is one of three states that has embraced the American Goldfinch as its state bird and did so in 1951. Iowa and New Jersey are the other two states. This goldfinch, one of three North American species of goldfinches, is a widely distributed resident across the U.S. It is found in both Western and Eastern Washington. The American Goldfinch nests relatively late in the season. Nesting is t... »

Bird Lore: Willow Flycatcher

Bird Lore: Willow Flycatcher

Some birds are ambassadors to the human species–Great Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, Roseate Spoonbills. They are big, beautiful birds that get our attention and remind us that the natural world is still with us. Then there are the flycatchers of the genus empidonax–small, drab, often not seen, and when seen, difficult to separate in the field. They can be confounding to new observers. Bird... »

Bird Lore: Orange-crowned Warbler

Bird Lore: Orange-crowned Warbler

Most New World warblers are neotropic migrants. That means they migrate to the U.S. and Canada from Central and South America during the spring months. They breed here and then return to Central or South America in the fall. The Orange-crowned Warbler is one of the few all-(North) American warblers. It has no niche to fill in either Central or South America. It rarely even ventures into Mexico. Ma... »

Bird Lore: Marsh Wren

Bird Lore: Marsh Wren

Mighty is the mouth of the tiny Marsh Wren. Jaunty is the stance of this compact bird, when it isn’t skulking in its favored habitat–the forests of cattails, reeds, and other marsh grasses. The singing male of spring doesn’t just belt out his percussive song. He often assumes a triumphant pose, with one foot grasping one stalk of marsh grass and the other foot grasping another st... »

Bird Lore: Violet-green Swallow

Bird Lore: Violet-green Swallow

Even when it is cool and cloudy, nothing quite says summer like the presence of swallows engaging in aerial acrobatics over the Edmonds marsh, Lake Ballinger, and other sites where flying insects abound. Swallows do not all migrate at once. The Tree Swallow is the earliest migrant, arriving in Washington in early March. That species is followed quickly by the Violet-green and then the Barn Swallow... »

Bird Lore: Eastern Kingbird

Bird Lore: Eastern Kingbird

Despite its name, the Eastern Kingbird is a neotropic migrant that breeds across North America, including Washington. This flycatcher arrives from South America in May and establishes its breeding territory throughout its range, including Eastern Washington. It breeds in small numbers in Western Washington, usually arriving here in June. For many years the Snohomish River, from Snohomish to Everet... »

Bird Lore: Yellow-headed Blackbird

Bird Lore: Yellow-headed Blackbird

The Yellow-headed Blackbird in Washington is mostly a summer resident east of the mountains. There it inhabits fresh-water marshes. It makes regular appearances in Western Washington in very small numbers, mostly in April and May. Every so often, one shows up in the Edmonds marsh, as did this adult female. She was here for about a week in mid-May. The male is striking with his black body, white pa... »

Bird Lore: Spotted Sandpiper

Bird Lore: Spotted Sandpiper

The Spotted Sandpiper in this photo was in the Edmonds marsh last Saturday morning, May 24. In recent years this species has been seen only sporadically in Edmonds, either in the marsh vicinity or along the rocky parts of the beach between the ferry dock and Shell Creek. In earlier years it would be seen in small numbers in the summer and was thought to breed in the marsh. The Spotted Sandpiper is... »

Bird Lore: Cedar Waxwing

Bird Lore: Cedar Waxwing

The Cedar Waxwing is an extremely social bird, found in small flocks to huge gatherings. The collective nouns for a flock of this species are “ear-full” and “museum.” While such specialized collective nouns enrich language, flock is probably the most common collective noun for most bird species. Nomadic is an apt description for the Cedar Waxwing. Its movement has been desc... »

Bird Lore: Canada Geese

Bird Lore: Canada Geese

Canada Geese are known as the big honkers. They are widespread and abundant throughout Washington. Some subspecies are year-round residents and other subspecies are migrants that overwinter in the state. Those that breed here in the summer are resident birds. Canada Geese used to be symbols of wilderness, their fall and spring migrations once considered as signs of the changing seasons. In the 197... »

Bird Lore: Western Tanagers

Bird Lore: Western Tanagers

Western Tanagers pass through Edmonds at this time of year, on their way to nesting locations in Washington and British Columbia. Most tanager species are permanent residents of the American tropics. The four that summer in North America are neotropic migrants. That phrase refers to all the birds that head north from the tropical zones of the Western Hemisphere to breed and then return to those zo... »

Bird Lore: Horned Grebe

Bird Lore: Horned Grebe

The Horned Grebe is a common winter species along the Edmonds waterfront and throughout the inland marine waters. Most of Washington’s winter population spend the breeding season in British Columbia before returning to Puget Sound in the fall. Small numbers breed in Eastern Washington but they do not favor the salinity of many lakes in that part of the state. In the first photo you see the H... »

Bird Lore: American Coot

Bird Lore: American Coot

The American Coot is a hardy and adaptable waterbird. It is related to the secretive rails, but it swims in the open like a duck and walks on shore, even in exposed areas such as golf courses. This bird has strong legs and big feet. When fighting over territorial boundaries, Coots will rear up and attack with their feet. Although usually found in flocks, the Coot can be aggressive and noisy. The C... »

Bird Lore: Pileated Woodpecker

Bird Lore: Pileated Woodpecker

Woody Woodpecker came to life as a cartoon character in 1940. His popularity resulted in television broadcast of The Woody Woodpecker Show starting in 1957. So many of us became familiar with the Pileated Woodpecker, which Woody most resembles, from those famous cartoons. The Woody Woodpecker show continues to this day in Yost Park and the Willow Creek Hatchery and their surrounding environs. At l... »

Bird Lore: Ring-necked duck

Bird Lore: Ring-necked duck

As with most ducks, the ring-necked duck drake (male) and hen (female) look distinctive because of different feather colors and patterns. The question that troubles many viewers is the name of this duck. Where is the ring around its neck? The drake does have a dark violet band around its neck. It can be seen in some photos but its visibility varies with light. It is well observed by those who have... »

Bird Lore: Brant

Bird Lore: Brant

The Brant is a small, dark, compact goose that rarely ventures far from salt water. Because it breeds throughout the polar region, it is considered circumpolar in its distribution. It can be found in Siberia, Europe, and the North American arctic regions. This species overwinters along both coasts of the United States. Two to three hundred Brants can be seen in Edmonds marine waters during winter.... »

Bird Lore: Anna’s Hummingbird

Bird Lore: Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird has become a common year-round resident in the Puget lowlands, the Washington coast, and the Vancouver area of Clark County. The range of the Anna’s is limited to the West Coast, Arizona, and parts of New Mexico. When a treatise titled The Birds of Washington State was published in 1953, Anna’s was not listed as a species that could be seen in Washington. Now m... »

Bird Lore: House Finch

Bird Lore: House Finch

The House Finch, originally a species native to the American southwest and Mexico, has responded robustly to human alteration of habitat since 1940, often muscling out Purple and Cassin’s Finches. After introduction in the eastern U.S., the House Finch can be found now in all 48 contiguous states and in the southern parts of Canada’s provinces. In Washington, the House Finch thrives in... »

Bird Lore: Barred Owl

Bird Lore: Barred Owl

Even those of us who don’t pay much attention to birds will get excited at the sight of an owl. The Barred Owl, is a recent new-comer to Washington and to Edmonds. It was first recorded in the mountains of Pend Oreille County (northeast Washington) in 1965 and then reached Western Washington in 1973. It now inhabits forested areas through out the state as well as wood lots and urban parks su... »

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