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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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….

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…

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….

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,…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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,…