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

CAT WARS – ABC’ers weigh in on this war, August 14, 2017

CAT WARS, The Devastating Consequences of a Cuddly Killer, has been a science best-seller. It is by Peter P. Marra, head of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and coauthor of the authoritative Birds of Two Worlds: The Ecology and Evolution of Migration, and by prolific nature writer Chris Santella, author of Fifty Places to Go Birding Before You Die, etc.

Another vision of Cat Wars

At the beginning of the discussion of CAT WARS, Kay Pullen started us out by asking how many of us had cats, and about half said yes, and all of us have had experience with cats.

Kay enthuses about our book discussion

ABC book discussion circle

Points discussed included Donna La Casse on how her cat Stoney, whom many of us know, is able to go birding with her and have a half-outdoor life with leashes, enclosures, and of course her famous backpack. Other similar ideas such as “catios” and enclosed runs were mentioned.  Videos were shown of cats trained to leash, including a how-to.  These are easily found on YouTube.

Faye introduced the topic of how our culture has changed with regards to dogs, which are now largely controlled, whereas when we were young they were running loose everywhere. Ideas about how to similarly change the culture in the same way with regard to cats were discussed. Ed Pullen discussed toxoplasmosis with his experience as a doctor, so letting the public know more about this underreported, but serious illness for both humans and animals, might help. Kay Pullen pointed out how public sentiment CAN change the culture, using MADD as an excellent example.

Diane mentioned how the cat-loving public needs to be approached as our doing something for the cats, and then Eric Dudley, our resident veterinarian, affirmed that outdoor cats live usually no more than 5 years, whereas indoor cats usually around 15 years. He said that the injuries he sees in his practice to outdoor cats do not seem to convince their owners to keep them indoors, however.  Eric also mentioned that it was true that acetaminophen (Tylenol) is a cat-killing poison that doesn’t seem to affect other animals.  It’s apparently widely used in Australia, where they are serious about getting their cat problem under control.

The cat problem is critical on islands such as Stephens Island, which is the lead story in the book, but also on the Juan Fernandez Islands off Chile which we’ll hear about next month when Prof. Peter Hodum visits us.  Several of us were recently in the island nation of Cuba, and unneutered dogs and cats all run free there, always underfoot and most seemingly unowned.  And we all know the sad story of Hawaiian endemics.  Art Wang talked about that a little with some experiences of his son Alex who is a researcher there and Alex’s cat.  Six of us wore T-shirts with the few remaining Hawaiian endemics pictured.

Hawaiian Endemics group — Birds in danger from cats

T-N-R (Trap-Neuter-Release) groups are growing in power, even since the book came out, as a number of major cities (Chicago, New York, etc.) are promoting it as a rat-control system and as a “green” method compared to poison. Some of these jurisdictions are actually moving feral cat colonies purposely into neighborhoods with rat problems. The TNR people really know how to promote their point of view, and this is very scary.

Sheri from PAWS said that the PAWS group she works with in Lynnwood (Donna volunteers there, also) does not endorse TNR and is very concerned with protecting wildlife. She said that may not be the case with all PAWS facilities.

Websites for items mentioned tonight:
Here Kitty, Kitty,” the movie made about the Wisconsin cat war several years ago is not readily available on video, but excerpts are shown during this interview with the movie maker:

Here, Kitty Kitty movie poster

Print the brochure from the OTHER ABC (American Bird Conservancy). It has tips on how to turn an outdoor cat into an indoor cat and why — for the cat itself, as well as for wildlife:

American Bird Conservancy also has lots of other good stuff on their site.  Check out their T-N-R (Trap-Neuter-Release) page about why it’s so bad for birds (and for those cats):


October 11, 2017, 7:15 PM (NOTE later time) – University Place Library:  ED DEAL presents SEATTLE’S ADAPTABLE URBAN COOPER’S HAWKS.

A Coopers’ Hawk couple followed by Ed Deal

25 years ago Cooper’s Hawks began colonizing urban & suburban landscapes throughout the US, evolving a tolerance for living in proximity to humans. Ed Deal, from the Seattle Cooper’s Hawk Project, will provide insights into these common but elusive raptors, covering the breeding season with photos and videos. The study, one of several in large US cities (e.g., Tucson, Milwaukee, Albuquerque), is monitoring the Seattle population nesting density and annual productivity. In addition, a color ID banding program looks at fledgling dispersal, longevity, and adult breeding and winter site fidelity. The results include annual increases in productivity, little evidence of migration, strong site fidelity and (mostly) short natal dispersal distances.

ABOUT ED DEAL: You would think someone born in Cooper Hospital and raised in Audubon, NJ, would be a child prodigy birder. But Ed’s mid-life conversion involved taking Bud Anderson’s Hawk ID class in 1991. He went on to volunteer on Fall Migration hawk banding projects in the Goshutes Mtn, NV, Florida Keys and Cape May, NJ, in addition to Diamond Head, Chelan Ridge and Entiat Ridge in WA. He volunteered on Falcon Research Group’s 17-year study of nesting Peregrine Falcons in the San Juan Islands and just completed his 24th year monitoring nesting Peregrines in the Seattle area. For the last 6 years he has worked with a group of volunteers studying the expanding urban population of Cooper’s Hawks in Seattle. He holds a Federal Master Raptor Banding Permit. He is a graduate of the Seattle Audubon Master Birder Program and a recovering lister.

READ MORE:  Lessons about Seattle from the Cooper’s Hawk:

Lessons about Seattle from the Cooper’s hawk

Feral cats, blackberries, and rats, oh my! Conserving the threatened bird community of the Juan Fernandez Islands, Chile

COMING: September 12, 2017, 6:45 PM, UPS Thompson Hall room 175. Suggested donation $10.

Prof Peter Hodum returns to ABC to bring us up to date on his conservation efforts on the Juan Fernandez islands.

Peter Hodum in the Juan Fernandez Islands

The Juan Fernandez Islands, Chile, are considered to be a globally significant and highly threatened biodiversity region. Our long-term conservation program in the islands focuses on conserving critically endangered and threatened bird species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world, controlling invasive species, restoring native habitat and building capacity, awareness and engagement in the local community.  In this talk, Peter Hodum will provide an update on recent projects led by Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge/Univ. of Puget Sound to advance community-based conservation and restoration in these uniquely special islands.

Peter Hodum originally spoke to Tahoma Audubon about this project several years ago, and we are anxious to hear the latest.  He also spoke to ABC recently about his work on seabirds off the Washington coast.

ABC’er makes the Cornell news – Living Bird, June 26, 2017

Melissa Sherwood’s now-famous Junco nestbox story that she told ABC about last year has now gone national.  This week, Cornell’s Living Bird Magazine, June 26, 2017, ran the article from their NestWatch program about it.

Melissa knew right away that something was different when she saw Juncos using one of the nestboxes on her Gig Harbor property, and she immediately let the NestWatch people know.  They coached her into getting more photos including the successful fledglings.  So add House Juncos to the list that includes House Finch, House Sparrow, and House Wren!

Read all about it in your copy of Living Bird or go directly to their NestWatch link here:

Cornell has announced that this will be published in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology in the near future, and we’ll let you know when that happens.

In the meantime, pay attention to ordinary birds doing extraordinary things!

Thanks to Ed Pullen for noticing this publication.

ABC READS 2017: CAT WARS — Discussion August 14, 2017

Come to our book discussion, August 14, 2017, 6:45 PM at the University Place Library.  Read the book or just come to find out what all the fuss is about.  This will be the third book that ABC has read together in the summer, and previous discussions have been fun and informative.

Cat Wars

Named one of’s 10 Best Conservation and Environment Books of 2016, CAT WARS was written by Peter Marra, head of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and coauthor of the authoritative Birds of Two Worlds: The Ecology and Evolution of Migration, and by prolific nature writer Chris Santella, author of Fifty Places to Go Birding Before You Die, etc.

This book has predictably drawn great praise and great hatred, illuminating the war between pet lovers and bird lovers. It has a definite western and northwest perspective, too, mentioning other such “wars,” such as Spotted Owls vs Barred Owls, as well as Double-crested Cormorants vs. salmon. Some of the best quotes are from noted California birder Rich Stallcup.  On-line reviews range from “great documentation with lots of studies,” to “this is just junk science.”

Sure, I know all about this, you might think. But think again. It’s much worse than previously thought. New information and conservative extrapolations of data are downright scary.

In the near future, ABC will welcome back Dr. Peter Hodum, who has previously spoken to ABC. Besides northwestern pelagics, he also studies birds on small islands off Chile, and he has had experiences with cats’ predation on rare seabirds there. So we expect to hear some first-hand information in connection with this book’s thesis.

The “other” ABC, American Bird Conservancy, also has been campaigning for years to keep your pet cats indoors and has issued at least two helpful brochures in the past. Their current information is here:



HOW TO GET THE BOOK: Although the list price is 24.95, it is readily available cheaper:



AMAZON 3rd PARTY USED: 10.72 + 3.99 S&H

HALF PRICE BOOKS: 9.99 & 3.99 S&H

ALIBRIS – 7.98 + 3.99 S&H

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On June 6, 2017, Joe and Maggie Tieger, both biologists, invited us to enjoy their recent adventure — South Georgia Island in October, spring in the Antarctic. What a surprise to find out that this was part of the UK, thanks to the interesting questions asked by the ABC’ers.

Joe and Maggie Tieger show us the maps

Their group made landfall up and down the east coast of the island via Zodiacs, but on the west coast the terrain was too difficult to land, so they had to be content with having the ship cruise the stunning glaciers and fiords on that side.

ABC’ers cool down with Joe and Maggie

Lacing their personal adventures on a Cheeseman’s cruise with Shackleton’s history made a very interesting story. Among the birders and photographers on board, there were also trekkers wanting to try their stamina on the harsh terrain, sometimes being picked up at a different spot than where they were dropped off, surviving Shackleton-style for a day. The whole shipload visited Shackleton’s grave, returning to luxury accommodations gratefully.

The Kings ignore our staging area with all of our gear in drysacks

Three species of penguins dominated their birding, King, Gentoo, and Chinstrap, with a single specimen of Macaroni, thought to actually be the most numerous. The penguins in general were doing well and increasing in numbers in spite of many predators including Skuas, Giant Petrels, Orcas, and the fearsome Leopard Seals. King Penguins are the king of this penguin kingdom and the second largest Penguin in the world, but it was hard to think of them like royalty once we saw the photos of Kings in molt! It’s amazing they survive since it takes forever and they lose 50% of their weight because they are prevented from going to sea to eat.

Fearsome Leopard Seal looking for fresh Penguin

Other wildlife included the previously endangered Fur Seals and the incredibly huge Elephant Seals. Another new word for me: Weaners! Young Elephant Seals being weaned by their mothers, often against their will, who will cuddle up to anything warm-blooded hoping for some comfort and feeding.

Although the Tiegers didn’t see whales, they’re there. Whaling was only shut down in this area in 1965.

More than just Penguins for the birders.

There are a number of different Albatrosses nesting on the island, but unlike the penguins, their numbers are gradually decreasing. Snowy Sheathbills and Antarctic Terns added to the interesting bird list, as well as the South Georgia Pipit, the ONLY passerine, brought back from the brink of extinction by solving the rat and reindeer problems.

Joe Tieger, looking for Albatross

All the wildlife was tame as far as humans were concerned, which made it a photographer’s paradise. Luckily Joe and Maggie are among the best when it comes to bird photography!

Everything “cute” is not a penguin

I was so surprised they actually came upon the edge of Gondwana, part of the almost mythical first big land mass on earth!

King Penguins with their gold jewelry glowing

When they packed up and boarded ship for the last time, they still weren’t finished, with the odd bird landing on the boat, as well as pretty good pelagic birding, considering they didn’t chum. Maggie was delighted to see up close and on board the usually very elusive South Georgia Diving-Petrel, a very tiny seemingly delicate seabird.

Joe and Maggie logged 2410 nautical miles! And yes, they have more adventures ahead!



All South Georgia Island photos are by Joe and/or Maggie Tieger.

PEREGRINE FLASH MOB, Memorial Day 2017

A flash mob materialized after only 2 days’ notice on the evening of Memorial Day in downtown Tacoma to check on the happy family of peregrines, Murray and Harriet and their four chicks, three males and one female, Jake, Chris, Eeyore, and Hope. The names were picked in a contest drawing by Tahoma Audubon and were assigned after banding revealed the genders of the chicks.

Fergus Hyke, chief observer and photographer of this nest, at left with many of our group.

Lots of you came and were not disappointed! Guests of honor were Fergus Hyke, a professional-level photographer who has been monitoring the birds from his office in their building on behalf of FRG (Falcon Research Group, Bud Anderson’s organization), as well as TAS President Jerry Broadus and local raptor expert Roger Orness who participated in the banding operation.

Murray the Peregrine

This turned out to be one of the first days that the chicks left the nest, “branching” out onto the art-deco ledge of the 17th floor of the Heritage Bank Building, best viewed from various spots on 12th Street looking north. We were treated to Peregrines flying over our heads, negotiating the canyons of skyscrapers expertly, while Rock Pigeons went about their business with an eye to the sky. One of the falcons spent considerable time plucking a pigeon one building east of the nest, feathers snowing down like cottonwood seeds. Soon pieces were brought to the chicks, who were enthusiastic eaters. The parents used the food to lure the chicks ever further from the comfortable and luxurious penthouse provided by falcon lovers.

Jerry tells the group about banding the chicks at the nest (arrow)

This drama will be ongoing, and all of you are urged to look up from this intersection in Tacoma and see what’s happening and tell your friends, but soon!

Raptor expert Roger Orness with Willettes

It is thought that the chicks will fledge within a couple of weeks. This will be a time of vigilance for all of us, as we watch for chicks suddenly appearing on the busy roadway. Jerry says they are approachable and can be picked up at that stage. Take it into the building. The security people can get it to Fergus or someone to put it back in the nest box.


Some of Fergus’ great shots of this family close up, as well as by others who have been able to see these birds head to head are on the Tahoma Audubon website at, as well as on the TAS Facebook page.


More photos by others taken from the ground are on the TAS FLICKR site:

More photos have been added recently by Heather Roskelley, who seems to be specializing in bloody prey shots!!


Downtown Tacoma has been the site of almost continuous Peregrine nesting attempts since the 1990s, first on the Murray Morgan 11th Street bridge, just a stone’s throw from the current nest. In fact, the dad of the current family, “Murray,” was fledged and banded on that bridge 13 years ago, so he’s getting to be an old guy. He’s had many mates over the years and has had great success at the present nest box site for the past several years. Jerry tells us there is another Peregrine family under the highway 509 bridge right now who also have 4 chicks.

Peregrine family eating dinner

Happy Peregrine family shares dinner

Dad Murray goes to work after dinner

What a wonderful adaptation this proud species of raptor has made since coming back from the brink during the DDT years!
Go there! See them!


NEWS FLASH!  Just after this was posted, the Tacoma News Tribune published a story on the Peregrine family:

UPDATE – JUNE 16, 2017:  After Chris’ sad demise, it was heartening today from Jerry & Fergus to hear that Hope was out of rehab after her fledging misadventure.  Roger is also out there, still waiting to see whether she’ll be okay.  A watcher in a nearby building said she was holding her wing a little askew.  X-rays have shown no break.

Yesterday during the Tall Ships’ arrival, a Peregrine was seen flying in the area by Diane and Adam, although they were not very close.

New photos have been posted on both websites above (Tahoma Audubon and FLICKR).