Frances Wood

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.

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!”

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.

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.

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.

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?”

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.

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.

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 bird migration map. Some shorebirds, swallows, warblers, even the diminutive Rufous Hummingbird fly… Continue reading

Simple sightings that last a lifetime | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Last week I opened the door of my potting shed and heard fluttering in one corner, down below the shelves. I spoke softly, bent down… Continue reading

Second chance sometimes not enough for little Barn Swallows | WHIDBEY BIRDING

It’s been a sad week for baby Barn Swallows.My friend Linda Bainbridge has Barn Swallow nestlings that she’s been watching. Two of the young ones… Continue reading

Nest building begins, but head to Brackenwood for a closer look | WHIDBEY BIRDING

May is the month when the miracles of avian life are most abundantly on display. One way to step outside of our worries and strivings… Continue reading

Be thoughtful when feeding our wild Whidbey birds | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers are taking turns at my suet feeder, chickadees are voicing their soft fee-bee-bee spring song and the first buttercup yellow goldfinches… Continue reading

Look-alikes are more common than the rare, wayward bird | WHIDBEY BIRDING

I recall with a mixture of chuckles and embarrassment some of the “cool”bird sightings I thought I’d notched when I started birding. Over the years,… Continue reading

Earliest Whidbey bird to nest? Not Eagles, Swallows or Mallards | WHIDBEY BIRDING

Recently an eager bird watcher asked, “What’s the earliest bird to nest here on Whidbey?” I could tell her that the early bird gets the worm and swallows are harbingers of spring, but found I had to do some research. Any guesses who the contenders might be? In spring the drive to reproduce becomes every adult bird’s raison d’etre. Migrants fly thousands of miles to breeding territories. Some males molt into elaborate plumage and engage in energy-consuming displays. They sing at the top of their little thoraxes to attract a mate.

WHIDBEY BIRDING | Wearing white is a smart choice for our winter visitors

Earlier this week I was showing off Whidbey to an out-of-town writer friend. While driving west from Coupeville out across the open farmland, she spotted… Continue reading

WHIDBEY BIRDING | Wayfaring stragglers provide plenty of entertainment

While birding last week at Deer Lagoon with a group of friends, I was surprised to see an Osprey perched on a bare tree branch… Continue reading

WHIDBEY BIRDING | Duck hunting puts migrating shorebirds at risk

“What has happened to the birds?” A caller asks.I’m not alarmed. September is a quiet month for bird activity in the Puget Sound region. Summer… Continue reading

WHIDBEY BIRDING | Haida Gwaii guillemots are frequent ferry riders

Last month I fulfilled a lifelong dream to visit the Queen Charlotte Islands, also called Haida Gwaii. Cast about 70 miles off British Columbia’s coast… Continue reading