Bird Lore

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 ... »

Bird Lore: Great Blue Heron

Bird Lore: Great Blue Heron

If there is an ambassador from the avian world to the human world, it is the Great Blue Heron. It is widespread and is North America’s largest heron. It is the heron we all notice. LeRoy’s flight photo, taken at the Edmonds marsh, conveys the size and wingspread of this bird. The Great Blue Heron breeds in colonies, typically in trees near water. The nest is a platform of sticks, broug... »

Bird Lore: Least Sandpiper

Bird Lore: Least Sandpiper

The Least Sandpiper, the size of a sparrow, is the smallest shorebird in North America. It breeds across the sub-Arctic latitudes from Alaska to Newfoundland. It migrates along both coasts of North America as well as on inland flyways. Some overwinter in the southern U.S. and Gulf Coast. Others continue on to northern South America. On our Pacific Coast, Least and Western Sandpipers are the most c... »

Bird Lore: Black-capped Chickadee

Bird Lore: Black-capped Chickadee

The Black-capped Chickadee is a small bundle of constant motion, hopping from twig to twig in a variety of trees and bushes as it looks for caterpillars and other insects in summer. It frequently hangs upside down to reach the undersides of branches. You will often see this chickadee in the company of nuthatches, creepers, kinglets, and other small birds. Criss-cross the northern half of the Unite... »

Bird Lore: Cooper’s Hawk

Bird Lore: Cooper’s Hawk

The young Cooper’s Hawk featured in LeRoy’s photo was hunting at the Edmonds Marsh one morning a week or so ago. It perched on the boardwalk railing long enough for close-up photo opportunities. This medium-sized hawk of the genus Accipiter is a year-round resident of the Puget Lowlands and much of the Olympic Peninsula except the higher elevations of Olympic National Park. In both the... »

Bird Lore: Osprey

Bird Lore: Osprey

All of you Seattle Seahawk fans will be thrilled to know that the Osprey inspired the Seahawk name. This fish-catching raptor summers in Edmonds, as it does across most of North America, and then retreats to northern South America for the winter. The Osprey has become dependent upon human structures for its nest sites. Look for nests on specially-constructed platforms, the tops of pole lights, cel... »

Bird Lore: The back story

Bird Lore: The back story

Edmonds is a great town in which to see birds. Those of us who pay attention to species numbers have documented 261 species inside the city limits and along the waterfront. (Washington State has a little more than 500 bird species.) Much credit goes to Ted Peterson and other expert birders whose 20+ years of record-keeping is the foundation for two different lists of bird species. Edmonds has vari... »

Bird Lore: Rufous Hummingbird

Bird Lore: Rufous Hummingbird

The pugnacious little bundle of energy that is the Rufous Hummingbird passes through Edmonds twice a year. In Western Washington the Rufous can start showing up as early as late February, but mid- to late-March is more typical. Its arrival is timed with the emergence of blossoms on red flowering current and salmonberry, two of the earliest red bloomers among our native plants. The timing of its ar... »

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... »

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