Frances Wood

Frances posted 69 stories to South Whidbey Record.
Page 1 of 2

WHIDBEY BIRDING | Harvey the hawk is one luck bird

Have you watched the YouTube videos of “Harvey,” the Cooper’s hawk that…

  • Sep 23rd, 2017 6:00am

Whidbey gulls flock during crab season

The minute crabbing season opens, I begin to notice our gulls. My…

  • Jul 22nd, 2017 12:00pm

Springtime on Whidbey brings birdsong, familiar and unfamiliar

As I write this, a bird belts out a song outside my…

  • May 10th, 2017 6:00am

The American white pelican: species rare to Whidbey touches down at Deer Lagoon, Honeymoon Bay

A squadron of about 50 huge, white seabirds has been sighted flying over Whidbey. Observers, including serious birders, are scratching their heads. It’s the American white pelican that has put the birding community in a flutter. If you are familiar with their smaller cousin, the brown pelican, imagine an all-white bird with black feathers along the trailing edges of their wings and a large orange/yellow bill. White pelicans weigh in at around 20 pounds, twice the size of brown pelicans.

  • Aug 2nd, 2016 10:24pm

A South Whidbey avian love story: a pileated woodpecker on finds a mate

Two pileated woodpeckers have landed on separate branches in an old decaying alder tree in our ravine. They call to each other with long staccato tattoos, sometimes alternating, sometimes in duet. The male whacks its strong bill into dead wood and chips scatter. The female hitches up one trunk and flaps to another. Then one takes off, careens through the branches and loops across the lawn, before alighting on a different tree. The other follows.

  • Apr 1st, 2016 11:43pm

WHIDBEY BIRDING | Wisdom: Still soaring after 60 years

Just as she has for over 60 years, she returned. Right on schedule!

  • Dec 9th, 2015 4:31pm

Exciting summer gives way to interesting fall, winter | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Finally, I have time to write after a very busy summer seeking out, enjoying and monitoring birds. And spending time with family.

  • Nov 6th, 2015 11:53pm

Birdhouses: Simple but difficult to get right, and sometimes home to surprises | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Last month my husband and I headed south on a camping trip down through Western Nevada, Southeastern California and into Arizona. We visited wildlife refuges and stopped to bird wherever we saw activity. One destination was Prescott, Ariz., and a highly recommended campground northwest of the town.

  • Apr 21st, 2015 10:30pm

Mystery marsh birds herald arrival of springtime | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Earlier this month the South Whidbey Birding in Neighborhoods group (BINS) spent some time at the marsh off Ewing Road in the Maxwelton Valley. I’d forgotten how delightful March in a marsh could be.

  • Mar 11th, 2015 3:30pm

Unusually warm winter a boon to avians too | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Aren’t these 60-degree February days amazing? As our weather warms, some of our feathered friends are beginning their spring breeding cycle. The resident Anna’s hummingbirds are some of the earliest of our nesting birds. I had several reports of these birds engaged in courtship behavior during our bright, snowy days last month. Resident juncos, chickadees, nuthatches and towhees will be following soon.

  • Feb 24th, 2015 11:40pm

WHIDBEY BIRDING | Counting avian species both scientific, competitive

Counting and listing bird species is an integral part of bird watching, and I think it serves an important purpose. The Whidbey Audubon Society recently conducted two Christmas bird counts, one centered near Oak Harbor and the other on South Whidbey.

  • Jan 23rd, 2015 11:58pm

WHIDBEY BIRDING | Winter is a fabulous time for Whidbey birdwatching

Golly, it’s cold outside as I write this. My friend John asked the other day, “How do the hummingbirds manage? We keep our sugar water feeder thawed the best we can, but how do they survive these cold nights?”

  • Dec 30th, 2014 7:06pm

Smart scrub, Steller’s jays are welcome visitors

The Whidbey Audubon Society rare bird report recently announced that a Western scrub jay had been observed near Clinton, not far from where I live. I’ve kept my bird feeders full and my eyes peeled, but haven’t yet seen this out-of-territory species. I’m watching for a sky blue bird with a grey back, no crest and pale underparts.

  • Nov 8th, 2014 4:00pm

WHIDBEY BIRDING | Reeling in Whidbey’s loons

I recently caught my first salmon of the year. It was a beautiful 6-7 pound silver, which I landed from the beach on the west side of the island. A few years ago my birding buddy, Ann Casey, introduced my sister and me to casting from shore and since then we’ve enjoyed fishing together and reflecting on our childhood summers when we were beach rats at Clinton Beach. Back then we trolled in our dad’s boat with dodgers and herring or an assemblage of spinners called “popcorn.” Now we cast off the beach with a princess pink Buzz Bomb or a lime green rotator.

  • Sep 24th, 2014 10:00pm

From soaring to fluttering, flight helps ID birds | WHIDBEY BIRDING

While having coffee with a friend recently, she suggested, “Why don’t you write about bird flight. I’d like to know what those birds are that make a wave pattern as they fly through my garden.”

  • Aug 19th, 2014 10:14pm

Guillemot surveys are important reminders | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Summer time and the living is easy, well at least for us humans. It’s the most demanding month for our avian friends. Eggs have hatched, babies are begging for food and their predators are looking for their own dinner.

  • Jul 8th, 2014 9:54pm


I’m getting reports of Nature Channel quality sightings of great blue herons at Greenbank farm. The farm’s executive director, Judy Feldman, recently emailed me, “Wow, the heron rookery just came alive! About 30 birds rose up like a plume of prehistoric smoke.” Later she reported seeing 50 of the herons. A heron colony thrives to the west of Highway 525 and the birds fly over the farm to stalk the beaches of Saratoga Passage for food. May and June are the most active months when eggs are hatching and young are being fed.

  • Jun 21st, 2014 4:00pm

California quail: facing a purrrfect threat | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Each morning I look out the window and search for “our” California quails. Usually, two pairs strut out from hiding in a native hedgerow and peck at the birdseed my husband and I scatter for them.

  • May 13th, 2014 11:01pm

Wild about woodpeckers | WHIDBEY BIRDING

A sharp pounding on the metal downspout outside my window practically rattles my teeth. It’s a northern flicker using this hollow sounding board to communicate with other flickers.

  • Apr 4th, 2014 11:17pm

Brighten your day with a little luck | WHIDBEY BIRDING

In my last column I tossed out the invitation for readers to nominate favorite “good luck” birds. I was hoping for suggestions that raise our spirits, put a smile on our faces when we see or hear them and might even be a sighting so special it has turned us into a bird watcher.

  • Mar 12th, 2014 5:19pm

Vermilion flycatcher captures our hearts, imaginations | WHIDBEY BIRDING

My husband and I recently returned from a month of birding in and around the city of Oaxaca, Mexico. It’s in a high, dry valley in South Central Mexico where the native habitat is described as thorn scrub. One of the most common little flycatchers is also a brilliantly colored bird, the aptly named vermilion flycatcher.

  • Feb 8th, 2014 12:27am

The red-tailed hawk elegant, noble & mysterious | WHIDBEY BIRDING

January’s a good time to watch for that other winter raptor, the one that is smaller and browner than the familiar bald eagle. I’m sure you know its name, but can you identify the red-tailed hawk? Especially when it doesn’t have a red tail?

  • Jan 21st, 2014 10:44pm

True love? Then leave the partridge in the tree | WHIDBEY BIRDING

“On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree.”

  • Dec 17th, 2013 9:56pm

More in the mist than meets the eye | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Thick fog, like we’ve recently experienced, puts a real damper on birding. The birds hunker down and avoid flying, making them hard to see. Plus the dampness tends to keep me inside. So when the sun finally broke through around three o’clock a couple weeks ago, I grabbed a fleece jacket and set out for a walk. Within a half-mile I was engulfed in fog. A gray blanket settled around me, colors muted and the Clinton ferry horns sounded. Although I couldn’t see to the treetops and felt cocooned in stillness, I began to notice birds calling.

  • Nov 6th, 2013 7:13pm

Look who’s visiting Whidbey’s trees: Great Horned Owls | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Note to readers: With this column I begin a collaboration with one of Whidbey Island’s best bird photographers, Craig Johnson. Please let us know what you think of the results. A couple weeks ago I returned from the East coast and awakened very early, a result of jet lag. I pulled on a warm robe and stepped outside in the dark and listened. Through the still air I heard a Great Horned Owl calling, hoo, hoo-hoo, hoo, hooo sometimes interpreted as “Who’s awake, me too.”

  • Oct 13th, 2013 7:00pm

Who claims biggest bird title on Whidbey? | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Recently a five-year-old friend asked me, “What’s the biggest bird?” and I was reminded of our fascination with the biggest. To him biggest equated to best.

  • Jun 28th, 2013 10:26pm

County recycling decision is against the birds | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Last month I had the opportunity to visit family in New York. On the day of my return flight, the morning news announced that New York’s already extensive curbside recycle program would soon expand to accept some previously excluded items like shampoo bottles and other difficult-to-recycle plastics. I rejoiced along with local newscasters who praised the city for broadening its commitment to recycling.

  • May 17th, 2013 10:27pm

Give our nesting avian friends a helping hand | WHIDBEY BIRDING

A pair of spunky brown Bewick’s wrens is building a nest just outside our front door. Quietly and furtively they sneak through the low shrubs near the side of our house, beaks stuffed with dry grass, and disappear into their dwelling, a plain wooden birdhouse about 4 feet off the porch.

  • Apr 19th, 2013 10:03pm

The flailing flicker and other indoor bird tales | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Recently, while waiting for the Whidbey SeaTac Shuttle in the tall, glass-walled section of the airport terminal near baggage claim, I noticed a woven wire enclosure tucked behind the large display of granite boulders.

  • Mar 29th, 2013 10:12pm

Surprising discoveries in picking a bird’s brain | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Most February mornings I begin my cup of coffee before dawn, when the sky offers only a soft whisper of morning light.

  • Feb 7th, 2013 7:00pm

‘Harvey’ makes history in Saratoga Passage | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Some call him Harvey, others prefer the more exotic Da Vinci, but we’re not even sure it’s a “he.”

  • Jan 17th, 2013 8:00pm

Exploring for birds at our beach parks | WHIDBEY BIRDING

November has arrived and so have the hundreds of ducks, geese and seabirds that winter in the waters around our island.

  • Nov 17th, 2012 12:02am

Feathered friends abound at Greenbank Farm | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Looking for good bird watching with pie or a glass of wine awaiting you when you finish? Try Greenbank Farm, my second recommendation for birding on South Whidbey.

  • Sep 15th, 2012 1:16am

On the trail of Whidbey’s best birding spots | WHIDBEY BIRDING

The Audubon Society recently published a Bird Trail Map of the Puget Sound Loop, which includes several birding locations on Whidbey Island. This is part of a national project to encourage birders to explore different regions of the country and help them locate birding hotspots.

  • Aug 11th, 2012 8:00pm

Mourning Doves make room for a newcomer | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Have you noticed a strange looking dove at your feeder or sitting on a power line? If so, you’ve seen the latest bird species to establish itself on Whidbey Island, the Eurasian Collared-dove.

  • Jul 6th, 2012 9:51pm

Going solo is more dangerous than staying with the flock | WHIDBEY BIRDING

As birds flock together this time of year I get drilled with questions on the topic and evidently last month’s article didn’t answer all the questions. Whether it’s a congregation of crows, a swarm of shorebirds or a gaggle of geese, we want to know why birds flock.

  • Dec 27th, 2011 3:21pm

Let’s be generous and share our space with the flock | WHIDBEY BIRDING

While waiting at the Clinton Ferry dock, I caught sight of a large bird swishing in the strong wind just off the unused loading dock. At first glance the bird looked like a Bald Eagle, but the flight pattern was odd and erratic.

  • Nov 25th, 2011 7:38am

Let’s not lose count of the things we cherish | WHIDBEY BIRDING

I recently enjoyed a dazzling day of birding at Deer Lagoon and Crockett Lake. Shorebirds danced on the tide flats, ducks and wild fowl floated on the lake and bay while sparrows skulked in the shrubs. A few late-migrating Violet-green, Barn and Tree Swallows swooped overhead.

  • Oct 25th, 2011 6:00pm

Taking time to connect to a wild world above ourselves | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Have you noticed those large stick nests atop tall phone poles along Highway 525? There are two between Freeland and Greenbank. Each time I drive by, I crane my neck to pick out the occupants, large birds of prey called Ospreys. They are dark chocolate brown birds with white breasts and smallish white heads.

  • Oct 4th, 2011 4:47pm

Some babies make their parents look quite small | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Last week’s full moon pulled me outside around 10. While absorbing the warmish evening and shimmering light across Possession Sound, I heard the hooting of a Great Horned Owl. Interrupting those soft, melodious hoots was the squawking, demanding call of a juvenile owl begging for food.

  • Aug 26th, 2011 2:47pm

When a Merlin calls, a neighborhood takes notice | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Last fall while out in the garden, my husband saw a dark flash dart past him, flying low to the ground and land on a fence post. He called me out to identify the bird and we marked the first sighting of a Merlin for our yard list.

  • Jul 29th, 2011 2:44pm

Skylarks capture the imagination with their happy music | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Last week on one of those rare sunny afternoons, I was chatting with a friend who is new to Whidbey. She’d just explored Ebey’s Landing, taken in some live music and was awash in the wonder of our island. Out popped, “I’m happy as a lark!”

  • Jun 17th, 2011 2:17pm

These colorful and chunky little fellows are filled with song | WHIDBEY BIRDING

We’ve got red ones, yellow ones, purple ones and, at higher elevations, even rosy ones. Their bright, cheery songs fill our neighborhoods and their bouncy undulating flights carry them over the treetops.

  • May 31st, 2011 2:41pm

It’s hard to doubt this expert witness | WHIDBEY BIRDING

The (golden) eagle has landed! Yep, I’m not kidding. For a few stalwart birders who have braved our cold, rainy spring, the reward has been the sighting of a Golden Eagle right here on South Whidbey.

  • Apr 22nd, 2011 4:00pm

Visit to preserve leaves me wanting to protect our nest | WHIDBEY BIRDING

I recently returned from a short trip to Arizona, and found my suet feeders empty. My feathered friends evidently took notice as I put out new suet cakes, for as soon as I returned inside to my desk, they swarmed toward the fatty buffet.

  • Feb 22nd, 2011 3:55pm

Midwinter songs from the woods are a wonderful wake-up call | WHIDBEY BIRDING

I recently picked up a phone message from a friend who exclaimed, “For three mornings I’ve heard a bird singing. Not the usual chirps or calls, but a real song. What is that bird?”

  • Jan 26th, 2011 7:17pm

Anna’s Hummingbirds are our year-round residents | WHIDBEY BIRDING

During our recent snowstorm, someone sent me a photo of an iridescent green-and-red hummingbird sitting forlornly at a frozen hummingbird feeder.

  • Dec 13th, 2010 5:00pm

Good luck or bad, birds have feathered the nests of many myths | WHIDBEY BIRDING

The days are getting shorter and the evenings colder and rainier. We’re slipping into the dark time of year and Halloween can’t be far away.

  • Oct 19th, 2010 11:31pm

Eat or be eaten: A great reason for far-flung trips | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Whidbey Island in September is only one tiny, micro-spot on the southbound…

  • Sep 20th, 2010 4:07pm

Simple sightings that last a lifetime | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Last week I opened the door of my potting shed and heard…

  • Aug 13th, 2010 11:35pm