Bird Lore

Bird Lore: Northern Flicker

Bird Lore: Northern Flicker

It’s spring. You are sitting quietly in your house, perhaps you are even sleeping early in the morning. A metallic, staccato drumming reverberates loudly through your house. It startles you such that you feel like you just slammed into your ceiling. A Northern Flicker is drumming on your gutters or your metal chimney to defend his breeding territory. The Northern Flicker, a member of the woo... »

Bird Lore: Cackling Goose

Bird Lore: Cackling Goose

Up until 2004 any goose with a gray or brown body, black neck, and a black head with white chin straps was called a Canada Goose. In that year the American Ornithological Union concluded that, because of genetic differences, there were really two species lumped into Canada Goose. Of the six or seven subspecies, the AOU assigned four of them to a new species called Cackling Goose. The Cackling Goos... »

Bird Lore: Dark-eyed Junco

Bird Lore: Dark-eyed Junco

  In 1735 Carl Linnaeus proposed a system for organizing the world around us that is still used today. Have you heard the mnemonic “Did King Philip cry out, for gosh sakes!”? That helps recall the ranking of kingdoms, classes, orders, families, genera, and species. Birds are a class in the animal kingdom. With scientific advancements such as DNA studies, bird taxonomy has undergon... »

Bird Lore: Gadwall

Bird Lore: Gadwall

  The Gadwall is another one of the dabbling ducks of the genus Anas. The dabblers prefer shallow or calm waters, mostly eating vegetation and aquatic insects. Often they forage by upending themselves, heads submerged and tails up in the air. In Edmonds look for this species on quiet waters such as the marsh, the Point Edwards pond or Lake Ballinger. At a distance the Gadwall is a rather plai... »

Bird Lore: Hermit Thrush

Bird Lore: Hermit Thrush

The thrush family, in addition to the American Robin, includes several more reclusive birds that have brown backs and spotted chests. The Hermit Thrush is the only one that remains in the U.S. in winter. A Hermit Thrush that winters in the Puget lowlands probably spent its summer in the Cascades or further north in Canada. The species returns to our area mid-October to mid-November, after its cous... »

Bird Lore: Spotted Towhee

Bird Lore: Spotted Towhee

The Spotted Towhee is a large, colorful sparrow with a long tail. It likes to sing from high perches but otherwise keeps a low profile in the understory or in brush. Depending on the population, this species ranges from resident to completely migratory. Our Puget Trough population is primarily resident. The Spotted Towhee is an omnivore. It eats more insects for protein during breeding season. At ... »

Bird Lore: Bewick’s Wren

Bird Lore: Bewick’s Wren

The Bewick’s Wren (pronounced like “Buick”) is a common wren, at lower elevations, of dry thickets and open woods of the western United States. (J.J. Audubon identified this wren in Louisiana in 1821 and named it for his friend Thomas Bewick, a British engraver.) In Edmonds you can find this wren around the marsh, along the edges of open areas in parks, and in your own gardens if... »

Bird Lore: Green-winged Teal

Bird Lore: Green-winged Teal

Some duck species forage for food by dabbling at the surface of water or by upending with their tails up and their heads submerged. These are called dabbling ducks and they all belong to a genus of the Latin name Anas. Think Gadwall, Mallard, Northern Shoveler or American Wigeon for example. The Green-winged Teal is one of the dabbling ducks. The drake has striking multi-colored plumage. He has a ... »

Bird Lore: Pacific Loon

Bird Lore: Pacific Loon

Loons regularly seen in winter on Washington’s marine waters are the Common Loon, the Red-throated Loon, and the Pacific Loon. The most commonly seen on the Edmonds waterfront is the Pacific Loon. Although this loon breeds across northern Canada to Hudson Bay and Baffin Island, it migrates to the Pacific Coast of North America to spend the winter. In Edmonds, Pacific Loons can be found regul... »

Bird Lore: Snowy Owl

Bird Lore: Snowy Owl

Today an invader landed in Edmonds. Well, it’s a Snowy Owl, typically a denizen of Arctic latitudes. But every few years, for reasons that are not necessarily well understood, some Snowy Owls winter in the Lower 48. They are often female or immature birds. Scientists refer to these as irruption years. Many others refer to them as invasion years. Today’s Snowy Owl has been on a roof acr... »

Bird Lore: Black Scoter

Bird Lore: Black Scoter

Simple elegance in evening dress. The Black Scoter male (drake) always sports his black suit, accented by the yellow nob on his bill. Scoters (Surf, White-winged, and Black) are dark sea ducks that spend most of the year on the ocean in large flocks. On our inland marine waters, Surf Scoters are most abundant and seen most regularly, followed by White-winged Scoters. Black Scoters, seen much less ... »

Bird Lore: Steller’s Jay

Bird Lore: Steller’s Jay

The Steller’s Jay is a persistent pilferer of peanuts. This all-American jay is a chow hound for our all-American nut. Whole peanuts, shelled or unshelled, peanut butter, smooth or chunky, bits of peanuts, organic or conventional. If you enjoy the antics of our local jay, put some form of peanut feeder in your yard and watch the show. A common bird of western forests and well-wooded suburbs,... »

Bird Lore: White-crowned Sparrow

Bird Lore: White-crowned Sparrow

The Puget Sound lowlands host the White-crowned Sparrow throughout the year. Look for this bird in Edmonds parks, in bushy areas along the waterfront parks, and in your own yard if you have shrubs, trees, and perhaps a bird feeder. This sparrow is large, lean and a bit athletic looking. We have two subspecies of White-crowned Sparrow, Puget Sound and Gambell’s. They can be present in roughly... »

Bird Lore: Bonaparte’s Gull

Bird Lore: Bonaparte’s Gull

Nimble, active, and social describe our Bonaparte’s Gull, which is frequently seen on the Edmonds waterfront in fall, winter and spring. This is the smallest gull that is usually seen in North America. It winters along all three coasts of the Lower 48. Its size and delicate flight bring to mind some of our smaller terns rather than other gulls. In coastal regions, where the Bonaparte’s... »

Bird Lore: Pied-billed Grebe

Bird Lore: Pied-billed Grebe

The curmudgeon of the grebe family is the Pied-billed Grebe. This solitary and unsocial little grebe only associates with its own during breeding season. In Edmonds, the Pied-billed Grebe is seen reliably in the protected waters of the marina and at Lake Ballinger. There are other small bodies of protected water in Edmonds where it might be seen on occasion. All grebes are well adapted to water. T... »

Bird Lore: Greater White-fronted Goose

Bird Lore: Greater White-fronted Goose

The Greater White-fronted Goose is usually seen in Edmonds every year but can be hard to find. Typically it is seen when a formation of these geese is flying over the Sound in spring or fall migration but occasionally it is seen on the ground. It flies in wavering lines in contrast to the vee formation of the Canada Goose. It can frequently be seen with Snow Goose flocks. This goose is about two t... »

Bird Lore: Red-necked Grebe

Bird Lore: Red-necked Grebe

The Red-necked Grebe is a silent presence on Puget Sound in winter. You can see them most anywhere along the Edmonds waterfront from October through March. It does not develop its red neck until spring, just before it leaves our marine waters. When it returns in fall, it is a nondescript bird. You can see the differences in LeRoy’s two photos. Pete Dunne, Director of the Cape May (New Jersey... »

Bird Lore: Double-crested Cormorant

Bird Lore: Double-crested Cormorant

  The Double-crested Cormorant is a year-round resident of Washington’s outer coast, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the northern inland marine waters. It is only a winter resident of Edmonds and the lower reaches of Puget Sound because it breeds in summer on the tops of coastal offshore rocks and low islands. This cormorant is large, black, and has orange bare skin at the base of its s... »

Bird Lore: Bushtit

Bird Lore: Bushtit

Togetherness is the way of the Bushtit. It is a long-tailed, drab little bird that is highly gregarious except during nesting season. It has an overall grayish body with a brownish crown. Its eyes are the key to its sex. The female has noticeably yellow eyes and the male has dark eyes. You can see this difference in LeRoy’s two photos. The Bushtit is a resident, nonmigratory bird and is foun... »

Bird Lore: Red-breasted Nuthatch

Bird Lore: Red-breasted Nuthatch

Edmonds is within the year-round range of the Red-breasted Nuthatch, as is much of Washington, including the mountains. Unless you see it at your bird feeders, you may overlook this nuthatch until it wanders down the trunk of a conifer towards the ground. The Red-breasted Nuthatch prefers mature conifer forests for both foraging and nesting. Its signature posture is head first as it works its way ... »

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