Bird Lore

Bird Lore: Barn Swallow

Bird Lore: Barn Swallow

The flowing, graceful flight of the Barn Swallow, with its long forked tail, is a hallmark of summer. Many enjoy watching it feed over water and open areas. In summer the Barn Swallow is widespread across North America, Europe and Asia. It winters in South America and southern Africa. Look for it in Edmonds around the marsh, along the waterfront, Lake Ballinger and at any open play fields. The Bar... »

Bird Lore: Mobbing and nest protection

Bird Lore: Mobbing and nest protection

Smaller birds will often mob birds of prey to protect themselves or their nests. Birds of prey are meat-eating predators such as hawks, falcons, eagles, owls, and shrikes. Even a single bird will chase a bird of prey away from its nest. In LeRoy’s first photo, taken last spring, one of the resident Bald Eagles was flying over the marsh at a time when a pair of Canada Geese was nesting in the... »

Bird Lore: Red-tailed Hawk

Bird Lore: Red-tailed Hawk

A raptor perches high on a pole or tree, scanning the ground for prey. Only when it spots the vole does it spread its wings and swoop downward, talons outstretched, for the kill. This is the Red-tailed Hawk, a patient hunter that conserves its energy until dinner is served. It is a hawk of open country: plains, farms, grasslands, deserts, urban parks, tidal marshes, roadsides and interstates. It i... »

Bird Lore: Barrow’s Goldeneye

Bird Lore: Barrow’s Goldeneye

Barrow’s Goldeneye, another diving duck of the genus Bucephala, can be seen in small numbers on the Edmonds waterfront in winter. Its world population is not as abundant nor as widespread as that of the Common Goldeneye. Barrow’s is found in northwest North America, with small populations also located in eastern Canada and Iceland. Both goldeneyes migrate late in fall and early in spri... »

Bird Lore: Common Goldeneye

Bird Lore: Common Goldeneye

The Common Goldeneye is a circumpolar diving duck. Take a summer trip to Scandinavia or Russia and you may see this same species that you see on the Edmonds waterfront in winter. It is a duck that prefers forested lakes and rivers, but in winter it frequents salt water bays and sea coasts. The Common Goldeneye is more numerous than the Barrow’s Goldeneye, which is also a winter resident of t... »

Bird Lore: Wood Duck

Bird Lore: Wood Duck

How can anyone dressed to the nines be so shy and retiring? If the Wood Duck drake could talk, perhaps he would explain himself. You can see in LeRoy’s first photo that the male shows off deeply saturated, multicolored plumage. He is difficult to miss when he is in the open. The hen’s plumage is more subdued but still is colorful if you look twice. Although it is common across North Am... »

Bird Lore: Hairy Woodpecker

Bird Lore: Hairy Woodpecker

Woodpeckers appeal to most of us, perhaps because we don’t see them often and they are distinctive. Even the most hard-core birder, accustomed to all sorts of birds, thrills at the sight of a woodpecker. We can laugh at the clownish looks of the Acorn Woodpecker, we can be wowed by the stunning red head and breast of the Red-breasted Sapsucker, we can pursue the White-headed Woodpecker throu... »

Bird Lore: Hooded Merganser

Bird Lore: Hooded Merganser

The Hooded Merganser is a diving duck. It is the smallest of the three mergansers that are native to North America. It spends most of its time on freshwater ponds, lakes, and streams. In Edmonds this duck can be found around the marsh and Willow Creek, the Point Edwards pond, and perhaps on the ponds in Pine Ridge Park. It is a year-round resident of Western Washington. The drake is built to strut... »

Bird Lore: Sanderling

Bird Lore: Sanderling

The Sanderling is like an omni-directional wind-up toy on wheels. At least it seems that way when you watch one in winter, scurrying every which way on a sandy ocean beach, playing tag with the waves. Its legs blur as you watch its never-ending motion. Author Pete Dunne describes the behavior of this species: “Up the incline of the beach and down. Chasing retreating waves. Angling their tail... »

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 ... »

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