ANNOUNCING FEB 22, 2018, 6:45 PM, UPlace Library: STUMP THE EXPERTS



Feb 22, 2018, 6:45 PM, UPlace Library: Join Ken Brown as we try to figure out some unusual bird photodocumentation. Some of the slides truly need someone to identify them, some Ken knows but is wondering whether WE know, and some are just tricks from “bad” photos.

Trying to ID birds in the fog

Ken says, “The time has come for the battle of the ages.  We will divide into teams and have some fun putting our bird identification skills to the test.  I will attempt to find some easy-to-hard bird slides in order to stump you. I have not come up with an idea to fuel the competition, so suggestions are welcome.  This should be a hoot.  WOS  calls it ‘Stump the Experts,’, but obviously we won’t go there.”

The real meaning is to try to zero in on field marks you might not ordinarily notice because you use the easier ones, which might be missing in these photos and also in the field.

Ken Brown showing leadership skills

Are there prizes? Ask Ken.

January 17, 2018 – ABC CELEBRATES!


Refreshment table on left with Peter talking on right.

Click photos to enlarge.

ABC held our Big Yearly party on Jan 17th, and we had goodies galore, photos galore, and some very interesting Big Year reports. Those presenting were Blair Bernson, Brian Pendleton, Mike Charest, Heather Voboril, Ken Brown, Will Brooks, Peter Wimberger, Bruce LaBar, Brian Hanson, and Ed Pullen. Will Brooks was touted as the guy to beat in 2018, and it was great to see a young birder step up to the competition.

Some of the crowd

Blair Bernson reports his big year (while Chazz knits!)

Brian Pendleton gives his report while Mike Charest (L) looks on and Ryan Wiese handles the photos

Mike’s fond slide of the Brownsville dump

Many of us submitted our 5 best (or favorite) photos from 2017, including some who were unable to attend. Oohs, aahs, guffahs, and applause accompanied these. We were well entertained! It was noted that at least four people submitted photos of the Gyr at JBLM that was found by our own Donna La Casse!

Heather Voboril with one of her super slides

Reports by Bruce LaBar, Will Brooks, and Ed Pullen

Peter Wimberger gives his Big Year report

Happy birders

Refreshments were catered by Karen Gillis and Vera Cragin, and they were ample and delicious! Thanks! The Pullens are downsizing, and they found good homes for many of their bird books at a great price to us (free!).

ABA Bird of the Year shirts worn by Diane, Faye, Art, Laurel

What a fun way to spend a rainy evening! Let’s do it again next year!


Join us on March 21, 2018, 6:45 PM, University Place Library, to hear about New Zealand, especially Kiwis!

Handful of Kiwi

Malcolm Wiley will give a brief description of the conservation efforts for endangered birds undertaken by the Department of Conservation – with a focus on kiwi. He knows our own Laurel Parshall, who helped arrange this.

Kiwi monitoring

Malcolm spent 12 years working as a biodiversity ranger for the New Zealand Department of Conservation. He tells us, “Five of those years I was project manager for a project monitoring the survival and breeding success of a population of Great Spotted Kiwi in a mountain valley in the South Island of New Zealand. I’ve also assisted briefly with kakapo, fernbird, mohua (yellowhead), yellow eyed penguin, albatross, petrel, robin, and blue duck work. The rest of my time with DOC was running invasive species control projects including a couple of island rat eradication projects trying to create safe havens for bird species. I actually studied plant ecology at college, but in New Zealand most conservation work is focused on bird species so the opportunity came along to lead a kiwi project.”

Holding albatross, Enderby, Feb 03

Malcolm is back in the northwest now. “Now I actually work for Seattle Public Utilities in the Wastewater section, and I’m still not sure how I ended up in that line of work.”

ABC announces Hood Canal cruise for March 3, 2018

WHEN: Saturday March 3 12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.

Field Trip:  Hood Canal aboard the Lady Alderbrook

Leaders:  Tahoma Audubon’s Bruce LaBar and Cara Borre, both accomplished spotters for Westport Pelagics

Lady Alderbrook cruising Hood Canal

The Lady Alderbrook cruising Hood Canal

The success of Black Hills Audubon’s Lady Alderbrook birding cruises spread, and this time ABC Club and Tahoma Audubon will partner with them to offer a birding cruise aboard the Lady Alderbrook. We will board the Lady Alderbrook at the Alderbrook Resort at noon and seek birds upon and above the waters of Hood Canal. The Lady Alderbrook has two decks, and if the weather happens to be rainy and cold, one can go inside and look out through picture windows. For a fuller sense of the Lady Alderbrook herself, see; go to “Area&Activities”; select “Lady Alderbrook” on the left-hand side of the page.

     Please dress for the weather and, then, extra warmly, to counter breeze on the water. Bring food and water as needed. Bring binoculars, of course. The trip will cost $25 per person, payable at the dock. Please contact Faye McAdams Hands to sign up for the trip at or 360-275-0553. Limit:  50 people. Since we are partnering, register as quickly as you can; spaces will go fast.

DIRECTIONS: The Alderbrook Resort and Spa is in Union, WA, and is about an hour’s drive from the Tahoma Audubon office at Adriana Hess Wetlands Park in University Place.  There are directions on their website (above), or use any app.  CARPOOLING is encouraged.  COME EARLY!

November 17, 2017 – ABC goes to Africa with James Bradley – report

ABC was happy to welcome James Bradley on November 17th, hosted by UPS/Slater Museum (thanks!), the incredible guide with whom Ed & Kay Pullen and Bruce LaBar toured Kenya a year ago. Now living most of the year in B.C., James still sported his African-English accent acquired during his formative years in Kenya.

James Bradley: Geology, Landscapes, and the Biogeography of the Birds of Kenya

James Bradley addresses avid ABC group

His narrative, entitled “Geology, Landscapes and the Biogeography of the Birds of Kenya,” was more of a class than a travelogue, as he took us through the geography, geology, climatology, biomes, and migration routes across Kenya and east Africa. We learned the geology of the rift valley and that the Arabian Sea and Red Sea are older rifts that eventually reached down to water. Kenya is dotted with dormant or extinct volcanoes of three types, as well. Graphic photos showing dry vs. wet seasons of the same areas showcased the scope of habitats available in what we might have expected to be year-round tropics elsewhere. Besides the famous Lake Victoria, there are may other lakes including saline lakes, some of which are seasonal. Flamingoes love these! Although there are many trees, famously acacias and baobabs, there are few dense forests. Because of less dense forestation, birds are easier to see in Africa in general than in the true jungles of South America, for example, plus there’s all that fabulous big game!

Migration routes to and from Kenya

There are quite a few endemics if you count the entire biome for each, which stretch across surrounding political borders. These 6 main biomes include types of groundcover, soil, trees and forests, as well as salt and fresh water habits, which were explained in detail, as well as threats to each.

Vulture crisis in Kenya, caused mainly by poisoning

Critically endangered Apalis

Yummy Cordon-blue

James’ current work is research in western Kenya, bordering Uganda, Lake Victoria, and Tanzania, where he has been studying a possible new species of cistacola. When asked for photos of the bird, he replied that recordings (which he played for us) are more confirmatory for this group of birds which look mostly alike. James is an ear birder extraordinaire, much preferring to identify birds and other wildlife by their sounds than by sight. In the case of the cistacolas, they are also named by their vocalizations rather than their appearances. James gave us a short quiz to see whether we could match sounds with the appropriately named cistacolas, but he called it off before we finished, hopefully not because of our sluggish responses!

Cisticolas named by voice


James goes to Kenya at least a couple of times a year and has been leading small personalized tours recently, and Bruce, Ed, and Kay were certainly sharing their delight with the tour they went on. He will be going again in March/April and possibly again next November. Since the tours are small, you’d better sign up soon. Details can be found on his website:, and the home page of the site currently features Ed, Kay, and Bruce, with James and other members of last year’s safari.

James Bradley with Willettes in their Africa shirts (Carol, Laurel, Diane)

REUNION: Bruce, Kay, tour leader James Bradley, & Ed

We need a field trip to Africa with James!

Coming Nov 17: “Geology, Landscapes and the Biogeography of the Birds of Kenya”

“Geology, Landscapes and the Biogeography of the Birds of Kenya,” with James Bradley
Friday Nov 17, 6:45 to 8:30 PM, Thompson hall at UPS, room 175, suggested expenses for speaker $10.

Ed Pullen, Kay Pullen, and Bruce LaBar top left. James Bradley, sitting left

The Advanced Birding Club (ABC) and the Slater Museum at the University of Puget Sound present James Bradley. James led the fantastic safari that included ABC’ers Bruce LaBar, Kay and Ed Pullen in November 2016, which they still talk about! See Ed’s report:  James will also mention a bit about the culture of Kenya and what it’s like from the participant point-of-view to go on safari with him.

Secretary Bird

Verreaux’s Eagle-owl

James lived in Kenya for 12 years in the 1980’s and 1990’s, developing a lifelong interest in the rich birdlife of the region from an early age. James serves on the Kenya Bird Atlas technical committee, contributes regularly to the regional ornithological journal Scopus, and oversees the review of records for eBird Kenya. He holds an MSc in Conservation Biology, and when not at home in British Columbia, he is likely to be in the field in Kenya, recording bird sounds, exploring an unknown mountain top or searching for a long forgotten subspecies!

Double-toothed Barbet

Common Ostrich!

His knowledge of birds in Kenya is extensive, and his enthusiasm for sharing what he knows is contagious.

Black-smith Lapwings

Will the Snake-eagle or the Spitting Cobra win this one?

Between work, parenting, and birding, James is currently completing an up-to-date text on the birds of Nairobi.

Great Blue Turaco

African Paradise-Flycatcher

Join us for an unforgettable trip to Africa!

James’ website is:

Typical safari schedule:

Oct 11, 2017: Cooper’s Hawks – Ninja Assassins of the Hawk World!

On October 11, 2017, ABC welcomed Ed Deal of the Seattle Cooper’s Hawk Study. Ed is the real deal! He was sucked in by Bud Anderson’s hawk class years ago, a class most of us are familiar with, too. So he started out as an amateur, a hobbyist, an enthusiast, but is certainly a citizen scientist now, with emphasis on “scientist.” The study was started in 2003 by Jack Bettesworth and is now run by Ed Deal and Martin Muller, who do virtually all of the observations and collection of data, as well as banding. This is an all-vounteer, self-funded effort to which Ed devotes more than half his year for almost 24 hours a day! Not coincidentally, this study ramped up at the same time that urban Coops were ramping up, which started in the 1980s and 1990s.

ABC welcomes Ed Deal

This past season they documented 44 nest-building pairs in Seattle! Probably more since they couldn’t be everywhere. Other cities are recording similar upticks. Is population increasing, or are we getting better at finding them? Both, probably. As carrying capacity is approached (and what is that capacity?), will there then be a decline? These are some of the many reasons for studies like this.

Detective tips for finding active nests

Interesting facts are that one-third of young don’t make it to adulthood. The male does all the hunting during incubation and young in the nest. Incubation is noted by the tail tip sticking up out of nest.
Nests do not decrease native songbirds in a measurable way since Cooper’s hawk nests deter crows, squirrels, and other nest predators.
Coops eat more than just birds. This was news to me! Diet is largely Starling, House Sparrow, Robin, Rock Pigeon, Norway Rat, Flicker. So they’re taking advantage of introduced species. There is a recent report of taking a crow! Crows and Pigeons will outweigh a Coop, but the hawks don’t attempt to fly away with large prey, but to butcher it on site.

Let the birds eat the rats safely!

Morbidity and mortality include poisoning via Frounce (trichomoniasis), AKA “Pigeon’s Revenge,” from eating Rock Doves, as well as rodenticides from eating poisoned rodents. The better option to rodenticides is to let the Cooper’s take care of your rodents, not poison both rodents and hawks. Ed has been posting signs in neighborhoods with nests to try to get the word out. The signs are suggested by RATS (Raptors Are The Solution) which has lots more info at


Ed’s sense of humor delighted our group, especially with his deceptive deadpan countenance! He introduced us to a new word that might prove useful in many birding situations: “WOOF: While engaged in a lengthy observation of a perched raptor in hopes of finding its nest, you glance away for a brief second. When you look again, the bird has vanished without a trace. He “woofed” me.”


Why do we have so many Cooper’s in cities? Ed paraphrases Willie Sutton: “That’s where the prey is.”

An adult female with red band on right tarsus, 1 over Z

ID tips: Ruddy cheek on female, gray on male. Females with orange band on right tarsus, male purple band on left. These are just the current Seattle study birds, though! Some elderly birds have blue bands.

Four-year-old male (0 over 3) has fledged 17 young over 4 years. He knows how to bring home the bacon.

Further information given is that urban nests are highly unlikely to be Sharpies. Nests can be in any kind of tree, maybe a third of the way down in a tall tree. Big-leaf Maples and most every other kind of tree we have are used.


Be glad this isn’t happening with Goshawks, as it is in Europe. There are at least 100 known urban Goshawk nests in Berlin alone. This has depleted most other raptors significantly.


Ed’s presentation was peppered with info and great photos of actual Seattle nests and birds whom Ed knows personally, as well as entertaining videos by banding partner Martin Muller.

Adult Male with purple band on left foot and fluffy white undertail coverts

Next morning several of us were birding together at Theler Wetlands and saw a Coop! We also discussed how much we enjoyed the presentation. Faye said, “Now I know how to tell male from female — by the color bands!” Lisa thought the incidence of extra-pair copulation was a sneaky way to improve genetic diversity. Donna and Lisa both appreciated the distance photos which showed how we’d actually see birds or nests (or not see them) in real life.

Ed Deal is flanked by Diane Y-Q, Carol Smith, Faye McAdams Hands, and Laurel Parshall

Thanks to Jerry and Clarice for taking Ed out to dinner to try to defray his travel costs and pick his brain some more.


Thanks to WOS for reprinting that great article in Crosscut that we had already had the privilege of reading. Read it here or in the current WOS newsletter:


If anyone left a gray-and-white striped Nautica jacket, contact us!


Dr. Peter Hodum of UPS made a return appearance to ABC on September 12, 2017, this time to talk about his work on the Juan Fernandez Islands way off the coast of Chile, which he’s talked about before, besides his presentations on Alcids off the coast of Washington and plastic in our seas. His enthusiasm for these small remote islands could barely be contained, as over the years he’s become acquainted with the population and become part of their family.

Dr. Peter Hodum addresses the ABC group at UPS on 9-12-17

Peter started by showing the map of the islands and then debunked the rumor that Alexander Selkirk, who was in fact left for some time on the island now known as Robinson Crusoe Island, although never set foot on the island now known as Selkirk Island, was actually the model for Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (totally wrong island for the flora, fauna, and geography described in the book). The real history is fascinating in that there were no humans “native” to these islands historically.

As you would expect for such remote islands, the percentage of endemics is very high, although the fight to eradicate the mammals and plants brought by people is constant now, including cats (of course), rabbits, rats, and blackberries! The smallest of the three main islands, Isla Santa Clara, has successfully eradicated rabbits, and the burrow-nesting Pink-footed Shearwaters have bounced back amazingly since then. This bird we often see on pelagic trips off our own coast is actually an endemic nester in the Juan Fernandez Islands! The story of how the rabbits were eradicated is almost funny, as they did it the long way and the hard way rather than the quick and easier way that’s been perfected elsewhere, but they did accomplish it! The two larger islands still have to deal with rabbits, rats, and cats, all of which are being tackled in various ways.

Trail cams catch cats at shearwater colonies. A shearwater is in the dark above the pointer

Peter says he just loves tubenoses! The six seabird species who nest in these islands are all tubenoses, and four are endemic. One of the other endemics that he talked about was de Filippi’s Petrel, a charming looking bird about which virtually nothing was known before Peter’s group started studying them. There were zero studies and zero facts, but that’s changed, of course, and it’s now acknowledged to be highly endangered. Peter has made friends with fishermen, and they’ve become some of his best colleagues in gathering info on seabirds as well as suggesting methods to lower bycatch. One of these friends did a complete survey of one of the northern rocks known as the des Venturadas Islands, way more than the requested survey! One way Peter’s group has “enlisted” fishermen is by giving them instruction in identifying seabirds, including informative calendars.

Educational calendars are handed out to fishermen, helping cement their assistance.

De Filippi’s Petrel. Facts uncovered by Peter Hodum’s group helped list it as Endangered in Chile.

Yes, there are passerines, too. The critically endangered Másafuera Rayadito has now been adopted as a school mascot and embraced by the people since they found out from Peter’s group that it’s endemic and very special and needs their help. They had no idea about any of this before this educational input.

A Rayadito lands on Faye’s shoulder and whispers secrets to her

Vera models the Masfuera Rayadito patch from Selkirk Island

And the hummer! The stunning Juan Fernandez Firecrown is found only on Robinson Crusoe Island and has been declining rapidly. The more widespread and continental Green-backed Firecrown has started to crowd it out as the countryside has become more degraded, and severe storms the past two seasons have devastated them. The hope is that it really was the storms and that they’ll bounce back after a couple of seasons of more normal weather.

Peter Hodum’s last slide of the stunning Firecrown

The amazing native flora of these islands is almost all endemic, including all tree species, but it is rapidly being degraded by exotics. Clearings in these areas have brought back endemic birds rapidly, but it’s hard and constant work.

Peter has forged relationships in these islands, and that has been both personally rewarding to all, but also has advanced the science in ways that might not have been possible otherwise. That’s a great take-away, Peter!

Dr. Peter Hodum recognized the Willettes by their Slater plumage.

For more info on Peter Hodum’s group, Oikonos, go to:

Summer 2017 Peninsula Osprey Survey

After being gone for most of the early summer, I returned in late July to find fledging happening among local Osprey. The big disappointment still is the loss the Osprey nest at Purdy (2nd year without a nest) and seeing bird deterrents being attached to Tacoma Power’s towers in and around Henderson Bay, although they seem to be doing this to the towers that the Eagles favor. They’re supposedly going to put up a platform to mitigate removing these towers within the next year. The date is constantly changing, but you can read their current predictions here:

The Osprey tower at Victor, 7-27-17

Speaking of mitigation platforms, they previously did this at Victor, and that nest is a success. However, they put up one platform, but removed two nests as well as the small interesting Heronry on the power towers in North Bay.

Osprey on tower at Victor, 7-27-17

The pitiful nest observed last year on the Key Peninsula cell tower near the stoplight for W302 has been improved greatly this year, and three birds were observed on it on July 27th.

7-27-17 – Key Center Osprey

7-27-27 – 3 Osprey at nest on Key Peninsula tower

John Riegsecker tells me that probably two Osprey chicks fledged from the power tower on north Peacock Hill Road in Gig Harbor this season, but I was too late to see them.

7-30-17 – The Inn at Gig Harbor. Nest on left, adult on right.

The cell tower complex at the Inn at Gig Harbor was another great success this season. When Adam and I went there and had lunch at the Tanglewood Grill on July 30th, there were two young in the nest on the western cell tower and one adult watching over them from the eastern tower. Again, I am so surprised how successful this nest is, since it is so far from water.

7-30-17 – Adult Osprey on adjacent tower to nest at the Inn at Gig Harbor

7-30-17 – Two young flap in nest at the Inn at Gig Harbor

A look at the Wollochet Bay nest on August 3rd showed probable success with one bird in the nest, although the WDFW camera on this nest was reported to be out of order, and I wonder if anything has been done about that since it recorded a dead young Osprey in the otherwise deserted nest last year.

Wollochet Bay platform 8-3-17

A high spot this year was seeing a new nest (new to me) reported by Carol Smith at the tennis courts at Gig Harbor High School. Although I have some anxiety about this nest since it’s on a light standard (after what happened to the nest that burned up on a light standard at the Little League park in Gig Harbor), it’s a different style of light standard. The Osprey were using it as a multi-room house, having put nesting material in at least two of the “rooms” and maybe three. Two young were observed in the nest complex while an adult was dissecting a fish on a different light pole across the upper field. She eventually came in and gave them some morsels.

8-3-17 – Gig Harbor High School

Gig Harbor High School 8-3-17

Last year’s Osprey report can be read here:

ABC’ers enjoy the Great American Eclipse, 8-21-17

10:24 a.m. at Durkee, OR (DY-Q)

Personal eclipse stories are flying about like birds right now.  When Adam Trent and I returned from Oregon, there were already lots of stories and photos awaiting us!  We went to Durkee, OR, which was not as welcoming as Baker, where we stayed.  In fact they called out the National Guard to handle the unwelcome hordes!  The eclipse was fabulous from that site, though!

Durkee, OR, setup: Diane has filters on binoculars and scope, as well as eyes.

Diane is disguised by little eclipses

Heather Voboril and Melissa Sherwood both went to the Oregon mountaintops where they actually met each other for the first time.  Melissa says they had a lot of birds up there, too, which Durkee didn’t have.   Melissa’s family video is here:

Here’s Heather’s eclipse series (Click to enlarge):

Heather Voboril caught the entire sequence (click to enlarge)

Donna La Casse writes: “Enjoyed it from up high seeing Mt Hood and Adams in the Ochoco National Forest. Met these astronomy geeks with their equipment! I did not take but one picture but liked the solar flares and sunspots.  Took 1 photo from the eve with the fellows, and you see the moon shadow in the distance leaving our area.”

D La Casse’s Ochoco Natl Forest site with astronomy geeks.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, everyone who couldn’t get away still had a great time, if you can believe these photos!

Ed, Kay, Ken & Rachel hit the jackpot at Sehmel Homestead Park

Ken and Rachel receiving alien messages during eclipse

Laurel celebrates at work

Faye wears cool glasses and cool raptors at Belfair

Carol wears cool glasses and cool raptors


And of course you can make your own eclipse!  At Stonehenge on the way home, Adam and I celebrated with Moon Pies!

Archeological evidence from ancient observatory at Stonehenge on the Columbia

Make your own eclipse with a Moon Pie at Stonehenge-on-the Columbia