A University of Washington Bothell student gazes up at thousands of crows flying in to the campus to roost. (Herald file)

A University of Washington Bothell student gazes up at thousands of crows flying in to the campus to roost. (Herald file)

Today’s Pub Night Talk at McMenamins will be all about crows

Like humans attracted to beer and pizza, thousands of black birds descend on Bothell every night.

BOTHELL — It’s the way school should be for adults.

Knowledge served with beer and pizza.

It’s what’s on tap tonight at McMenamins Anderson School.

What’s up with that?

Pub Night Talks.

It’s a joint monthly event by McMenamins and the University of Washington Bothell on topics from ecotourism to the origins of the universe.

The talks are free. The eats aren’t.

There’s a full bar and menu. It’s open to all ages.

Tonight’s talk is full of dark wings. “Cacophony of Caws: The Crows of the Puget Sound” will be led by UW Bothell Professor Doug Wacker.

Thousands of cawing crows nightly descend for a communal roost on the North Creek Wetlands near UW Bothell.

Ever wondered why the crows make this nightly journey? (Uh, no.) And what they do once they arrive? (Never.)

How about where crows congregate to have a cold one? (The Crow Bar … That was a joke.)

Well, now you must be curious about the secret lives of our local crows.

After the talk, there is a Q & A. Or you can see “The Incredibles 2” at the movie theater inside the downtown Bothell venue or swim in the pool at what was once Anderson School, built in 1931, where generations of students learned to read and write. It’s one of a dozen McMenamins in Washington and Oregon. The company, which turns aging institutions into resorts with guestrooms, breweries and restaurants, even has historians on staff.

Tim Hills, McMenamins historian, started the talks at Kennedy School in Portland on a whim.

“I’m a history nerd and I figured some of my other history nerd friends would come,” Hills said. “The original history talk was in a pretty small meeting room and after the first program we had to move it because so many people came.”

Most venues focus on history, but the Bothell locale offered a chance to expand the scope by tapping into the university’s brain pool of academia. From the pub to the school it’s about a mile, as the crow flies.

Marie Blakey, UW Bothell assistant vice chancellor for marketing and communications, rounds up faculty and other local experts on a mix of topics.

“A lot from the local community come every time. They don’t even care what the topic is,” Blakey said.

The most popular talk drew close to 200 people: “We had a professor who actually played the sounds of two black holes colliding. We had her play it like three times.”

Pairing beer with knowledge hits the spot with Herald beer expert Aaron Swaney.

“I’m not sure about everyone else, but I feel like I get smarter the more beers I drink,” Swaney said. “Having a beer with others is inherently social, so adding in some people who actually know what they’re talking about seems like a good idea to me.”

There is no reserved seating. So if you’re one of those people who likes to sit in the front row of the class, you better arrive early.

What’s coming up in What’s Up? Meeting people for dates through Facebook pages that aren’t dating sites. Contact Andrea Brown: abrown@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

Crow trivia

Crows mate for life.

Crows have dozens of distinct calls, with multiple variations in pitch and volume. It’s clear (to them, at least) whether they’re scolding a predator or begging for food.

Proportionally, the brains of some crows are bigger than ours. Relative to its body size, it accounts for 2.7 percent of the bird’s overall weight. By comparison, an adult human’s 3-pound brain represents 1.9 percent of their body weight.

As Kevin J. McGowan, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, put it on his website: Crows are “smarter than many undergraduates, but probably not as smart as ravens.”

Here’s a crow joke from Herald assistant news editor Rikki King:

How do you tell a crow from a raven?

A crow has one less pinion, a sort of wing joint, than a raven. Some people say that’s the difference between them. Other people say it’s just a matter of opinion.

If you go

The talks are held the last Tuesday of each month, except December. Doors open at 6 p.m., with talks from 7 to 8:30 at Haynes’ Hall at McMenamins Anderson School, 18607 Bothell Way NE, Bothell. More at www.uwb.edu/advancement/speakers.

Next up:

July 31: R. Gregory Nokes, author, on the gang of horse thieves that murdered as many as 34 Chinese gold miners in Hells Canyon, Oregon, in 1887

Aug. 28: Judy Rantz Willman, on the book about her 1936 Olympic Gold medalist father, “The Boys in the Boat”

Sept. 25: Amy Lambert, UW Bothell professor, on species-level conservation biology, specifically the Island Marble butterfly

Oct. 30: Cynthia Chang, UW Bothell professor, on plant ecology, including Mount St. Helens restoration

Nov. 27: Amaranth Borsuk, UW Bothell professor, on the history and future of printed books

Talk to us

More in Local News

The site of a new development along May Creek Road next to the entrance of Wallace Falls State Park on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021 in Gold Bar, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Gold Bar considers home parking permits near Wallace Falls

In the past, parking spilled from Wallace Falls State Park into town. Decals could avoid conflicts.

Letter
Oak Harbor legal staff quits over ‘compromised’ relationships

The city attorney and the senior assistant city attorney, who is also the public records officer, both resigned.

Connie L. Bigelow at her store Miniatures & More in Edmonds on Tuesday. (Janice Podsada / The Herald)
Woman pleads guilty to wire fraud in Edmonds doll store fire

Connie Bigelow tried to collect insurance after setting fire to her business. Now she has to pay restitution.

The scene where police from a King County agency shot a man at the end of a car chase Monday afternoon in a Safeway parking lot in Snohomish on September, 27, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Police shoot murder suspect outside Safeway in Clearview

The driver allegedly reversed into an unmarked police vehicle. Officers opened fire. He’s expected to live.

The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office released this image of a possible suspect in a homicide at a gas station at 148th Street SW and Highway 99 near Lynnwood. (Snohomish County Sheriff's Office) 20210926
Detectives investigate homicide at gas station near Lynnwood

One person was killed and a suspect was at large, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said.

Zach Graham stands in front of a newly restored Three Fingers Lookout. (Friends of Three Fingers Lookout)
Volunteers give makeover to precarious Three Fingers Lookout

Up high, with cliffs on all sides, the 90-year-old hut got much-needed new windows, shutters and paint.

Arlington son, 19, charged with slaying his father

Nicholi Melum had been yelling at his son, Garner, when he was killed.

Crews demolish the strip mall at 10th and Broadway, near the Washington State University Everett campus, on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021 in Everett, Washington. Crews started tearing down a strip mall Monday on property that will soon expand Everett Community College’s footprint across Broadway. The Cascade Learning Resource Center project will total 65,000 square feet. It will expand the college’s tutoring resources as well as house the library, writing center and other academic support programs. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Demolition begins to make way for EvCC learning center

The 65,000-square-foot project will expand the college’s tutoring resources. It’s set to open in April 2023.

Marysville man shot in hand during apparent drug robbery

At least two suspects were being sought, and police are seeking surveillance video.

Most Read