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Chances to see, learn about migratory birds

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By Sharon Wootton
Herald columnist
Every spring and fall birds from Mexico, Central America and the United States pass through our area between their winter and summer homes.
International Migratory Bird Day on Saturday celebrates those journeys. Locally, Pilchuck Audubon Society sponsors the bird day with trips and classes.
Here's the lineup. For details, go to
  • An all-day field trip to Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge and the Mima Mounds led by Terry Nightingale, who is accomplished at identifying bird species by song.
  • 9 a.m. bird walks (bring binoculars) to the Edmonds Marsh, led by bird photographer Bill Anderson; North Creek Park, led by Bill Davey, who has traveled extensively on birding trips; and Langus Riverfront Park and Spencer Island, lead by Virginia Clark, who has been leading trips for years.
  • A beginning backyard birding class starts at 10:30 a.m. in Mukilteo, led by Alan and Bonnie Mearns. Learn to use binoculars and field guides, set up feeders, and identify common birds.
  • A docent will be available for the 8 p.m. Vaux's Swift Watch in Monroe. The small, acrobatic birds use the chimney at the Wagner Center during spring and fall migration.
Bring a blanket or lawn chairs and watch as the birds circle above the chimney at dusk and then plunge into the flue. Bring binoculars.
All events are free and families are welcome. For more information, call 425-252-0926.
Birding, another view:
An interactive birding with technology class offers training for birders interested in using technology at 6 p.m. Friday at the Pilchuck Audubon Society meeting.
Terry Nightingale will cover the basics of birding with your smartphone, including using field guides, finding birds near you, and recording and submitting your observations.
At 7 p.m. author Constance Sidles will read from her essays, "Second Nature: Tales from the Montlake Fill."
The essays focus on the relationships of human nature to wild nature.
The meeting is at the Everett Firefighter's Hall, 2411 Hewitt Ave.
Who's in your backyard? For Martin Messing, it was a pileated woodpecker that came several times to his suet feeder. That was a first for the Edmonds resident. It must have been quite a sight, given the size of a pileated.
These large woodpeckers are less likely to be seen than hairy, downy and flickers, especially in your backyard, but as Messing proved, with photographs, good luck does happen.
Pileateds are seen in Edmonds' Yost Park, Edmonds Marsh and Point Edwards; and dozens of other sites in Snohomish County, including Warm Beach, Kayak Point County Park, Spencer Island and Monroe.
If you see dead trees with very large holes in them, and the bark stripped around the hole, think pileated woodpecker.
A large dead tree with a dead center and one large hole usually indicates a roosting or nesting spot. Depending on the stage of the forest, territory size ranges from 1,000 to 4,000 acres, and is defended year-round.
On the bookshelf: The Alan and Marypat 5Kesselheim family had a tradition. When each of their three children turned 13, the family took a canoe trip down the 'birth river' of that child. Each of the three had experienced that river when Marypat was pregnant.
The father's excellent storytelling skills re-create the adventures in "Let them Paddle: Coming of Age on the Water" ($20), of trips that cover hundreds of miles and several weeks, of polar bears and sandstorms, natural history and a family life with minimal financial security and a bank full of memories that money can't buy.
This is how a book on adventure days gone by should read, and readers do not need to have even stepped into a canoe to be caught up in the magic.
Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or
Story tags » Go See DoBird-watching

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