Zoo’s brown booby is on loose and taking in sights

  • By Sharon Wootton
  • Friday, September 27, 2013 12:39pm
  • Life

Call it the Great Booby Escape.

Woodland Park’s Zoo brown booby, B.B., took flight Sept. 10 from the penguin exhibit.

Up until then, B.B. had enjoyed the comforts of room and board (live trout in the pool) for a couple of years after being blown to the Washington coast during a storm, rescued by a fisherman and rehabbed.

A brown booby is a large tropical seabird that can range as far north as the Gulf of California. Not only does it not live here but confirmed sightings are unusual, according to the “Birds of Washington: Status and Distribution.”

Those sightings were off Protection Island, off Westport, and when a booby landed on a boat in Puget Sound and hitchhiked a ride into Tacoma.

On Sept. 12, the (presumed) zoo B.B. was spotted near the Ballard Bridge, and seen last weekend sitting on the water west of Sunset Boulevard in Edmonds.

Making it to salt water and being spotted making spectacular dives, probably after herring, is a good thing.

Graceful in the air and graceless on take-offs and landings, booby chicks are not gracious in the nest. The first egg hatches several days before the second egg.

When the second chick emerges, the older one tosses it from the nest. It’s called siblicide.

A congregation of boobies is called a congress, trap or hatch.

Myths and facts: Why are there so many spiders in late summer? Should I put house spiders “back” outside? Does the spider in my bathtub come up from the drain?

Rod Crawford, curator of arachnids at the Burke Museum on the University of Washington campus, answers countless spider questions.

He’s learned that the questions represent an assumed general knowledge about spiders, assumptions that are almost always incorrect.

Crawford, in a section of the Burke Blog, has summarized (and corrected) many myths about spiders, including:

  • Spiders are insects.
  • You an always tell a spider because it has eight legs.
  • All spiders make webs.
  • Spiders are most numerous in late summer.
  • Spiders “suck the juices” of their prey, and do not literally eat it.
  • Spiders don’t stick to their own webs because their feet are oily.

Crawford responds to each myth, including the popular one about spiders coming into our homes because it’s getting cold outside.

Truth is, house spider species are generally not the same species as yard or garden spiders, the expert tell us. Only about 5 percent have ever been outdoors, and only eight of the 170 Seattle-area spiders are found both inside and outside. They’ve adapted to the indoor environment, usually with poor food and water resources.

The spiders we see in the house in the fall are generally sexual mature males searching for females, Crawford writes.

Putting indoor spiders outside is not a kind action. Most will die because they’re not adapted to that environment.

The website (www.burkemuseum.org/spidermyth) is a good read, no matter how you feel about spiders, unless you have full-blown arachnophobia.

Change of plans: Anderson/Watson Lakes Road (Road 1107) will be closed at the Anderson Creek Bridge (milepost 5.3) from Oct. 7 to 11 while a crew replaces timber decking.

Hikers can use the Baker Lake Road (Road 11) to get to Anderson Watson Lakes Trail 611, Anderson Butte Trail 611.1 and Baker Lake Trail 610. For more information, contact the Mount Baker Ranger District at 360-856-5700.

Cleaned up: In the case of ocean beaches, tidied up might be a more accurate summary.

This month more than 100 hardy volunteers participated in the International Coastal Cleanup, spread out from Cape Disappointment to Cape Flattery.

Their efforts prevented hundreds of pounds of plastics, ropes, floats and foam from being pulled out to sea, according to Jon Schmidt, Washington CoastSavers Coordinator.

Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or www.songandword.com.

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