Frances Wood

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?”

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.

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

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?”

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!”

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 | Sing a song for sixpence? No, birds would rather chirp about real estate

Have you listened to the birds singing? Within the past month, our songbirds have unleashed their breeding songs with gusto.Here’s a list of the species… 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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

ISLAND BIRDING | Islanders should speak up now to protect important bird habitat areas

Yesterday I watched a cloud of several thousand shorebirds swirl and dance in the morning sunshine above Deer Lagoon.At one point, while standing on the… Continue reading

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.

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.