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birds

Court Rules Corps Can Continue Killing Cormorants

Sep 1, 2016

A federal district court judge found the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers broke the law in approving a plan to kill cormorants on the Columbia River, but he allowed the plan to go forward.

In his ruling, Judge Michael Simon said the agency failed to consider alternatives before deciding to kill the birds, which prey on juvenile salmon and steelhead. However, he also ruled that the agency can continue killing the birds because it helps threatened and endangered fish.

American white pelicans are conspicuous birds. With their long orange bills and their nine-foot wingspan, they stand out, even at a distance.

Sue Ehler easily spots a squadron of them through her binoculars from over a mile away, coming in for a landing on Puget Sound’s Padilla Bay.

“They’ve got that pure white. It just shines like a bright light out there. More than the other white birds,” Ehler says.

Duncan Evered points out a quick-flying bird of prey at the Malheur Field Station. He squeaks to attract the bird’s attention.

The sharp-shinned hawk doesn’t fall for it.

“I’ve squeaked to that bird before,” Evered said. “She probably knows me better than I know her.”

The story of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge starts with women’s hats - elaborate feathered hats that were part of a fashion craze that was sweeping Europe and the United States in the late 1800s.

The hats were audacious, colorful and sometimes included more than just feathers – picture heads, wings and whole stuffed birds sitting astride the fancy lady’s head.

Warm ocean temps could be starving Alaskan seabirds

Jan 14, 2016
c
Nigel Roddis/Reuters 

An estimated 8,000 black and white seabirds, called murres, were found dead on a beach in Alaska earlier this month.

Their bodies were found floating in the surf and washed ashore in the Prince William Sound community of Whittier. Wildlife ecologist Dan Grear said this is the biggest die off of the common murre in Alaska this season, but not the first.  

"Carcasses started to be noticed this fall in Alaska, and as the winter has progressed into December and early January, observers ... have started to find thousands of dead murres on specific beaches,” Grear said.

Last year several flocks throughout the Northwest were killed off and disposed of, plus many more in the Midwest. Now Washington state agriculture officials are better prepared for high-pathogenic strains of bird flu.

Killing Seabirds To Save Salmon On The Columbia

Aug 26, 2015

It's after 10 p.m. and I'm on a boat at the mouth of the Columbia River.

We're circling around East Sand Island, where thousands of seabirds are nesting in total darkness. I'm pretty sure the captain, Rob Gudgell, thinks I'm nuts.

"Why did you want to come out at night?" he asks.

Downy woodpecker, dark-eyed junco, tufted titmouse. These are just a few of the most popular birds to have been sighted in last year’s Great Backyard Bird Count, when in 2014, bird enthusiasts from 135 countries participated in counting over 4,000 species.

Monday is the final day of the annual count. It’s a chance for researchers at Cornell University’s Ornithology Lab to harness the power of nearly 100,000 citizen scientists over a 4-day period.

Flickr Photo/Ken Slade (CC BY-NC-ND)

Operators of five dams on the Columbia and lower Snake rivers will start killing birds that eat migrating juvenile salmon.

Flickr Photo/TJ Gehling (CC BY-NC-ND)

Steve Scher talks with Dan Roby, wildlife ecology professor at the Oregon State University, about a plan to relocate a colony of salmon-eating Caspian terns from the mouth of the Columbia River.

Being a wildlife biologist in the 21st century increasingly means rescuing rare animals from extinction. Among the success stories is the whooping crane. Seventy years ago there were only about 16 birds left on the planet. Now there are about 600.

Homelessness, Pigeons And Life After Injury

Aug 29, 2013

No Home To Go To: Stories From The Homeless And Poor

As many as 3.5 million people in the United States experience homelessness in a given year. We'll hear a few personal stories about homelessness. In 2007, Steve Scher talked with Lisa Gray-Garcia (aka Tiny), journalist, poet and founder of POOR Magazine and the Poor News Network, Neal Lampi, who was living in a transitional housing program, and Renee Gebre, then living at Seattle Union Gospel Mission’s Women and Children’s Shelter.
 

Pigeons: Rats With Wings Or Symbols Of Peace?

The pigeon used to be considered a symbol of peace and fertility. The birds were also a critical component of wartime communication. Yet, now people often consider them rats with wings. Steve Scher talks with Andrew Blechman, an award-winning journalist and author of “Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the World’s Most Revered and Reviled Bird,” as well as Dave Cheney from National Bird Control.

Life After Injury: Stories From American Soldiers

Thousands of American soldiers have served in Iraq and Afghanistan during the last decade. Many suffered physical injury as a result. Today we hear first hand stories from members of our military. Steve Scher talked with Lt. John Arthur, Capt. Jeremy McGuffey and Sgt. Christopher Hoyt about life after injury and coming home from war.

Crows may be smart, but they are not beloved. Seattleites reported they would spend money to see fewer of them.
Flickr Photo/Lucina M

The Crow: A Common, Uncommon Bird

They’re big, noisy and everywhere. But crows are much more than cackling flocks. They recognize people, they mate for life and they pant like dogs when they’re hot. A commonly seen bird, maybe – but crows are not common in their abilities. Steve Scher talks with John M. Marzluff, professor of Wildlife Science at the University of Washington, and Tony Angell, a freelance artist and writer about their collaborative book, “In the Company of Crows and Ravens” and the wonders of these mysterious birds.

Steve Earle Makes Protest Music With A 21st Century Twang

Musician Steve Earle was raised in Texas. Earle’s music isn’t afraid to take on politics, and it does so with a 21st century attitude. Steve Earle joined us in 2007.

Punk Rock Founder: Patti Smith

Two young twenty-somethings with no money and a lot of ambition moved to New York City. They wanted to be artists, but they weren't sure what kind. She was his muse. He was hers. She was Patti Smith. She went on to become one of the founders of punk rock. He was Robert Mapplethorpe. He became a famous photographer. He died of AIDS in 1989. Patti Smith tells the story of their 20-year relationship in her new book "Just Kids." Steve Scher talked with Patti Smith in 2010.

The Big Bang, Brian Kimberling, And Less Work With More Rewards

Apr 29, 2013

The Sound Of The Big Bang
What does the Big Bang sound like? That question inspired Dr. John Cramer, physicist at the University of Washington, to try and recreate the sound emanating through space after the Big Bang. Using data and a complex computer program, Dr. Cramer was able to synthesize a 100-second recording representing the first 760,000 years of the evolution of the universe.

Brian Kimberling: Author Of "Snapper"
In 13 connected tales, Brian Kimberling tells the story of Nathan Lochmueller, an aimless college grad who wanders through his early 20s and into the world of songbird research. Kimberling himself spent two years as a professional bird watcher in southern Indiana. He joins us to talk about his debut novel, "Snapper."

A Future Of Less Work With More Rewards
Traditional retirement may not be in the future for many workers, but neither is the notion of a 40-hour work week at unloved jobs. Planning for a transition to important but less time-consuming work is a growing business. It's creating new jobs and offering new pathways for people who plan on working well beyond the current retirement age.

Olympia, Human Trafficking, And Birds

Apr 29, 2013
Washington state capitol
Flickr Photo/Alan Cordova (CC-BY-NC-ND)

This Week In Olympia
With the end of the legislative session nigh, will lawmakers be able to wrap up their work or will there be a special session? Jerry Cornfield, reporter and political columnist for the Everett Herald, is waiting for answers along with the rest of us.

Breaking The Cycle Of Human Trafficking
In Kolkata, India’s red-light district, the New Light Foundation runs two centers that provide poor and abandoned girls with health care, meals, tutoring and in the case of 40 children, a roof over their head. Urmi Basu, founder and director of New Light, is now in the process of establishing a home for young boys so that they too can leave the red-light district.

The Beauty Of Endangered Birds
There are 590 bird species that are endangered or critically endangered. Some only live in captivity. Around the world there are places where only old nests and the memories of their songs remain. Photographer Tim Laman and ornithologist Ed Scholes bring us the story of endangered birds.

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