Bird Lore: Northern Harrier

The Northern Harrier is a long-winged, long-tailed hawk of open grassland and marshes. It can usually be seen in Edmonds at least once a year and usually hunting over the Edmonds Marsh. But it has also been seen flying over neighborhoods. Unlike most other raptors, each sex of the Northern Harrier looks distinct. The male…

Bird Lore: Snow Goose

October is the Moon of the Snow Goose here in Edmonds. Geese are on the move, migrating south for the winter. They are rarely seen on the water or the ground. They favor sheltered bays and farm fields, which Edmonds lack. But this species often continues south along the Puget Sound shore or out over…

Bird Lore: Mourning Dove

The Mourning Dove is one of the most common and abundant birds native to North America. It is common in open country and along roadsides. It can be found in forest clearings, prairies, deserts, farmlands, and suburbs. There are usually several sightings a year, that we know of, in Edmonds. It is far more common…

Bird Lore: American Kestrel

The American Kestrel is the smallest and most widespread of the five falcons regularly seen in North America. It is a regular along the fields of rural Snohomish County. Even though Edmonds is pretty much built up, the kestrel can be seen from time to time in the city, usually around the marsh. It inhabits…

Bird Lore: Long-billed Dowitcher

The Long-billed Dowitcher, as well as the Short-billed Dowitcher, is a somewhat dumpy sandpiper with shortish legs and a long bill. Both species can be seen at the same time during migration but the Long-billed Dowitcher tends to favor fresh water habitats, whereas the Short-billed Dowitcher favors salt water. In Washington, the Short-billed Dowitcher is…

Bird Lore: Semipalmated Plover

The Semipalmated Plover takes its name from the partial webbing between its toes. It is one of the most common of the migrating small plovers. It migrates from the Arctic to the southern tip of South America, with a number of birds wintering on U.S. coasts south of Washington and south of Pennsylvania. This plover…

Bird Lore: Greater Yellowlegs

The Greater Yellowlegs is a long-legged shorebird that is a resident of the Western Hemisphere. Most birds of this species winter from Mexico to the southern tip of South America. A smaller population winters along the coasts of the contiguous United States. In Edmonds, the best place to see this species is in the marsh…

Bird Lore: Common Yellowthroat

The Common Yellowthroat is a somewhat secretive warbler, frequently heard more than seen. It can be found all over the U.S. during breeding season in swamps, marshes, and wet thickets. Look for it locally in the Edmonds Marsh, which is its best habitat in Edmonds. For many years it was seen less commonly in the…

Bird Lore: Brown Creeper

The Brown Creeper is a tiny forest bird that spends most of its time on the trunk bark of conifer trees. It is a resident species of Edmonds and all of the Puget Trough. Its mottled brown plumage allows it to blend in almost completely with the bark, so is only noticed either by its…

Bird Lore: Rock Pigeon

The Rock Pigeon can be found throughout the Western Hemisphere, including right here in Edmonds. The species was brought to the Americas from Europe in the 1600s. While it is considered an urban bird, it also inhabits the countryside. The Rock Pigeon can crowd streets and public squares in cities. In rural areas, look for…

Bird Lore: Purple Finch

The Purple Finch is a regular but uncommon bird in Edmonds and other areas of the Puget Trough. The male is not really purple. He sports more of a raspberry red on his head and a raspberry wash along the rest of his feathers. His chest lacks the streaks so visible on the male House…

Bird Lore: European Starling

A pest that did not ask to come to the New World, the European Starling was introduced in New York City’s Central Park in the 1890s. A number of clueless individuals got the not-so-bright idea to release into Central Park all bird species mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare. Thus we have the starling….

Bird Lore: California Quail

The handsome California Quail inhabits a mostly coastal range from Baja California in Mexico to southern British Columbia. It is an introduced species in the Pacific Northwest. There are inland populations in Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon, and the panhandle of Idaho through the southwest part of that state. It adapts well to coastal scrub, parks,…

Bird Lore: Brewer’s Blackbird

The Brewer’s Blackbird is common in towns as well as open habitat throughout the North American West. In rural areas it is usually found in large mixed flocks of blackbird species and starlings, frequently around dairy farms. In cities and towns, it can be found foraging on the ground in grocery store or drive-in parking…

Bird Lore: Greater Scaup

The Greater Scaup is a diving duck that can be seen around Puget Sound in winter. Look for it making an occasional appearance along the Edmonds waterfront. Mostly it flies by in small- to medium-sized flocks, but every so often it can be seen swimming either alone or with other duck species. It is a…

Bird Lore: Eurasian Wigeon

The Eurasian Wigeon is an uncommon winter visitor to the West Coast of North America. It associates with flocks of American Wigeon. Although still uncommon, Eurasian Wigeon numbers have been slowly increasing over the years and it can be seen in or around Edmonds usually each year. If you don’t have the means to see…

Bird Lore: Lincoln’s Sparrow

The Lincoln’s Sparrow is “[a] neater, trimmer, finer, more gentrified Song Sparrow,” according to nature writer Pete Dunne, “with a buffy whisker and buffy wash across the chest.” It is more compact than the common Song Sparrow. Lincoln’s Sparrow can be seen in Edmonds and other parts of the Puget Lowlands from late September to…

Bird Lore: American Crow

The American Crow is one of the bad boys of the avian world. This highly intelligent trickster is a bandit, a bully, a beggar, and a thief. It is a successful generalist, living well on its own or adapting to the easy life of cities and towns. Also a sanitation worker, this crow helps keep…

Bird Lore: Pacific Wren

The Pacific Wren is a fairly common, often noisy, but secretive woodland bird. It is a year-round resident of forests along the Pacific Coast from Alaska to California. It favors thick understory such as sword ferns, salal, fallen logs and brush piles. Look or listen for this wren in any of the forested parks of…

Bird Lore: Hermit Thrush

There are six spot-breasted thrushes that summer in the United States. The Hermit Thrush is the only one that also winters here. It can be found throughout the year in Washington’s mountains: the Olympics, the Cascades, the Selkirks in the northeast, and the Blues in the southeast. Some birds migrate in late fall to the…

Bird Lore: Palm Warbler

The Palm Warbler is a bird seen on occasion in Western Washington in winter. There are only three records of this species in Edmonds in the last thirty years: 2004, 2013, and 2016 continuing to now. I have avoided featuring rare birds in this column for two reasons. First, rare birds in Edmonds usually don’t…

Bird Lore: Band-tailed Pigeon

With extinction of the Passenger Pigeon in the early 20th century, the Band-tailed Pigeon is the only native pigeon remaining in the U.S. It is a bird of the Western States that breeds in the mountains up to 1000 feet. It can be seen in forested parks and neighborhoods of Edmonds, especially in winter. As…

Bird Lore: Common Raven

The Common Raven is a circumpolar bird of the Northern Hemisphere. It also goes by the common name Northern Raven in Europe. This largest member of the Corvid family can be found in nearly any habitat except the open Great Plains and eastern forests. While this species is successful around human populations, it is usually…

Bird Lore: Common Loon

The Common Loon is a symbol of wilderness. Many feel the stirring of the wild when they hear its rich yodeling or mournful tremolos in the north woods. It can be seen from time to time along the Edmonds waterfront, mostly fall through spring when it is silent. Its basic plumage, as seen in winter…

Bird Lore: Red-breasted Sapsucker

The Red-breasted Sapsucker is a resident woodpecker of Edmonds. It is seen more frequently in some years than in others. It prefers conifer forests with a mix of deciduous trees. Over-ripe fruit, left on an apple tree through winter, will attract this sapsucker. It can be found in most Edmonds parks and wooded neighborhoods. It…