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Taped call lets birder ‘spot’ Virginia rail by ear

Trying to spot a Virginia rail in the open expanses of a Spencer Island marsh is not exactly a fool’s errand, but it’s not a good bet, either.

Date: 06/26/2016 | Life

Good reads about the outdoors

I’ve talked to several serious mountaineers over the years and one thing that they had in common was that the level of enthusiasm for the next climb seemed to be as high as for the last climb.

Date: 06/05/2016 | Life

Annual seabird survey collects meaningful data

Everywhere you turn, it seems there are birders participating in citizen-science projects, following scientific protocols, logging what they see, turning in the data and watching the trends.

Date: 05/29/2016 | Life

If you get up early, the birdsong is your reward

I am an owl, not a lark, so it takes a huge temptation to get up before the crack of dawn. A few weeks ago that temptation came along during the Olympic Peninsula BirdFest — birdsong savvy Bob Boekelheide’s Dawn Chorus outing at Railroad Bridge Park in Sequim.

Date: 05/01/2016 | Life

Crow magnum

As thousands darken the sky, researchers descend on Bothell

Date: 05/01/2016 | Local News

Flock of humans descends on Peninsula’s BirdFest

Two crows sat in a tree watching the behavior of flocking humans, who were armed with binoculars and spotting scopes and watching seabirds during the 13th Olympic Peninsula BirdFest. The humans were a varied lot: male and female, older and younger, one in an electric...

Date: 04/24/2016 | Life

Volunteers help study little-known guillemots

I enjoy birdwatching and the challenge of identifying a bird. But the act of identifying birds usually doesn’t take very long. Eventually, seeing a chickadee and hearing its name in your brain are almost simultaneous.

Date: 04/10/2016 | Life

Get a free nest box, attract birds to your yard

A fire sale of nest boxes is being held in Mill Creek. The cost is not exorbitant — they're free.An Auburn man had been spending much of his retirement time making bird boxes. He's given away hundreds over the years, including a large share to the Mill Creek office of...

Date: 04/03/2016 | Life

Idaho’s Treasure Valley is a paradise for birders

BOISE, Idaho — You don’t need to recognize the birds by their song, like Terry Rich.You don’t need to wow your friends with a 1-second identification of a fast-moving duck, like Kathy McCoy.You don’t need $2,000 binoculars or a $1,000 camera.

Date: 03/26/2016 | Life

The surprising reason Hollywood gets birds all wrong

Birders know not to expect much from Hollywood. The costumes may be historically accurate. The actors’ accents might be impeccable. But the birds? The birds will be wrong.

Date: 03/20/2016 | Life

Nature groups devote their websites to Northwest birds

Last week’s column featured national websites with nature content. This week, let’s look at Washington state-oriented sites.

Date: 03/06/2016 | Life


3 easy walks that make great day trips

Date: 03/05/2016 | Life

Internet redeemed by websites devoted to nature and science

As much as I complain about technology, the time spent on it, or dealing with its glitches, there's no denying that the Internet has opened a world of information.It's also unleashed a pack of trolls, negatively affected political discourse and filled many heads with...

Date: 02/28/2016 | Life

Nature authors cause us to marvel at wild creatures

“Bats: A World of Science and Mystery” (Chicago Press).

Date: 02/21/2016 | Life

Beaking news

A preview of the Port Susan Snow Goose and Birding Festival

Date: 02/21/2016 | Life

Open house ... for birds

Bird boxes, gourds re-installed at Port Susan preserve

Date: 02/18/2016 | Local News

Owls have special eyes and neck to help with night hunting

I almost ran over it. At first it was just a lump in the road, then the head slowly turned (with something in its bill) and I hit the brakes, stopping just in time. As I slowly started to back up, the barred owl took wing, landing 30 feet away.

Date: 02/07/2016 | Life

Get the scoop on Backyard Bird Count

If you would like to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count Feb. 12 to 15 but might be feeling a little unsure of yourself, Pilchuck Audubon Society makes it easy to find your comfort zone.PAS offers free two-hour training sessions that cover why the count is...

Date: 01/31/2016 | Life

Hidden treasure

Heirman park is fun to explore for kids and adults

Date: 01/31/2016 | Explore NW

Five new findings about the bird world

Food fights, moonlight, migration decisions, hormones, and house finches have been on researchers’ radar. Here’s a look at recent findings:

Date: 01/24/2016 | Life

Cornell website’s a must-see for birders

It’s good to have a comfort zone — a website where you can go to learn about birds, trust to be accurate and also find learning opportunities, valuable information and enjoyment.

Date: 01/17/2016 | Life

Help count birds with Audubon on Jan. 2

Pilchuck Audubon Society's Chrismas Count could use a few more volunteers to spend some time watching and recording what they see at their feeders or backyards on Jan. 2. To volunteer or for more information on the CBC, email

Date: 12/29/2015 | Explore NW

Affordable classes will make you a better birdwatcher in 2016

Countless New Year's resolutions are made and broken each year. You've been there, done that; so have I.One idea I've found useful is to sign up for a class that relates to your goal. For beginning birdwatchers resolving to learn more about birds, Candy Brown offers an...

Date: 12/27/2015 | Life

Two nature books will delight adults and kids alike

I’ve found the antidote to stressing over finding a last-minute gift for your nature-loving friend or family member: “Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts & Pieces of the Natural World” (Julia Rothman) and “The Curious Nature Guide: Exploring the Natural Wonders All Around You” (Clare Walker...

Date: 12/20/2015 | Life

Join a bird count, for fun and for science

Christmas Bird Counts (2014) in the U.S.: 1,888.In Canada: 460.In Latin America, Caribbean, Pacific Islands: 114.In Snohomish County: 2.Number of volunteers: as many as possible! Don't be shy about raising your binoculars and joining the...

Date: 12/13/2015 | Life

Swans are home

Where to see them and a new hotline to protect them (gallery)

Date: 12/13/2015 | Life

Where to see bald eagles up close right now

The Skagit River and the surrounding watershed — or more specifically the salmon that thrive there — attract one of the largest populations of bald eagles in the lower 48 states. Each winter, the eagles arrive to feast on salmon.

Date: 12/08/2015 | Explore NW

The birds keep her hopping, even in retirement

Phyllis Cooper has 10 Christmas balls hanging from one of her windows, hardly a surprise in December. The neighbors might notice that they'll still be there in April.The Everett resident put them up in self-defense, or at least in defense for a downy woodpecker who has,...

Date: 12/06/2015 | Life

How to fend off a bird attacking your window

Can a bird go insane? That’s the question posed by reader Connie Reid, who was at the end of her rope dealing with a sparrow that spent nine days (and counting) attacking her sliding door.

Date: 11/29/2015 | Life

Volunteer as an eagle watcher this winter; applications due soon

The Forest Service is looking for volunteers for the Eagle Watchers Program along the Skagit River.

Date: 11/08/2015 | Explore NW

Walking on water

Boardwalk at North Creek Park refurbished

Date: 11/05/2015 | Local News

Local woman’s study helps understand fox sparrow behavior

A discussion six years ago at the Puget Sound Birding Festival brought Cindy Easterson into the bird-banding community.No training for would-be bird banders was available locally, so Easterson, who lives near Mill Creek, went to the Rocky...

Date: 11/01/2015 | Life

Birds of an unusual color are challenging to classify

When a white or almost white bird lands in your backyard, it's tempting to automatically say that it's an albino — once you've ruled out the unlikely great egret or snowy owl.For avian color oddities, it's a little more complicated than that.Melanins and...

Date: 10/25/2015 | Life

Why the Everett wastewater treatment plant is totally worth a visit

My mother is in town visiting.So I took her to the wastewater treatment plant.I really know how to show my guests a good time.

Date: 10/20/2015 | Explore NW

Get a thorough nature education thanks to web cams

Sharon Nelson once discovered the tiny embryo of a great blue heron left in her bird bath by a crow who had presumably opened the egg. Nelson also has seen just-out-of-the-nest robins flapping around in her yard and discovered that some chicks' poop comes out in little sacks that...

Date: 10/18/2015 | Life

Now’s a good time to visit a wildlife refuge

Florida's three-acre Tiny Pelican Island holds a special place in the history of America's national wildlife refuges. When President Theodore Roosevelt designated as a refuge, it was the first time that the federal government had set aside land for the sake of wildlife.

Date: 10/04/2015 | Life

Rare albatross dies despite rehab efforts

LYNNWOOD — A short-tailed albatross that died while undergoing rehabilitation here is being used to further research on the rare species. Three fishermen rescued the large seabird last month in Neah Bay on the northwest coast of Washington.

Date: 09/19/2015 | Local News

Get a close look at beetles in gorgeous new book

If you're a producer looking to film a horror movie with an oversized star, don't rely on remakes of mutant squids, softball-size ticks, huge tarantulas, Frankenfish or (please, not again) King Kong.Look no further than the beetle kingdom. There are candidates that, if they...

Date: 09/13/2015 | Life

A standout visitor

With migration starting, watch for interesting birds

Date: 09/13/2015 | Life

Migrating Vaux’s swifts returning to Monroe

MONROE — Thousands of Vaux’s swifts are expected to return to the Wagner Center chimney here Saturday as they migrate south for the winter. Monroe Swift Night Out will be held from 4 p.m. until dusk Saturday at the Wagner Center, 639 West Main Street. Admission and parking are free.

Date: 09/11/2015 | Local News

See Vaux's swifts put on a show, visit Puget Sound Bird Fest

Imagine a thousand people jammed on a stage and ask them to quickly move around and then sleep while jammed up against each other, feet on the floor. Imagine the chaos, the jostling, the sleepless night. Imagine thousands of Vaux's swifts at dusk, circling a chimney opening...

Date: 09/06/2015 | Life

Birders get a treat, spot rare booby in Edmonds

It's extremely rare to see a brown booby along the coast of Washington state. It's even rarer to see one hitchhiking on the top of a mast of a sailboat entering the Edmonds marina.Lynnwood birder Josh Adams joined birder Joe Sweeney at the marina on Aug. 21. Adams has seen...

Date: 09/02/2015 | Life

Getting a band on a bird is trickier than it sounds

A bird in the hand is worth two in the mist net, especially if it's a chickadee whose sole purpose, other than escape, is to peck the hand that's trying to untangle it. Make that my hand, trying to free the bird from the net but not let it go. It needed to be banded, aged, weighed and...

Date: 08/30/2015 | Life

Doing it for the birds

Volunteers needed for October Audubon count

Date: 08/28/2015 | Local News

King County to drivers: Avoid seagulls at Seattle parking garage

SEATTLE — King County is deferring to some protective seagull parents and asking drivers who use a parking garage on Sixth Avenue in downtown Seattle to consider the ninth floor off limits until the seagulls’ chicks are able to fly.

Date: 07/17/2015 | Northwest

Learn about Lecque Island work on Friday

The Pilchuck Audubon Society's July meeting is from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Stanwood Library, 9701 271st NW, Stanwood. (A new location for this month only.)

Date: 07/09/2015 | Explore NW

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