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Pacific Northwest

In the Field with Wildlife Biologist, Dan Varland

From 1949 to the 1970s, tons of DDT were discharged into ocean waters off the Southern California coast. Even now, decades later, California sea lions that have eaten pesticide-laden prey migrate north as far as British Columbia. Some die and wash up on the beaches of Washington State. There they... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion, science

Celebrating 50 Years and One Rare Bird at Wenas

The song of a Western Meadowlark rings out across the eastern slope of Washington’s Cascade Mountains. Come Memorial Day weekend, members of Audubon and friends will celebrate 50 years of gathering at the Wenas Campground to welcome the birds and wildflowers of spring. Two hundred and fifty-seven... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birding, festival, humor

Monitoring the Health of Coastal Raptors

Since 1995, biologist Dan Varland, Executive Director of Coastal Raptors, has been monitoring the health of raptors on the Washington coast, where Peregrine Falcons stoop on shorebirds feeding along the tideline. He’s looking for mercury and DDT in the birds’ blood systems. Though it has been... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion, science

Bad Pictures of Good Birds

I stared out the window, trying to quell my anxiety. Bald Eagles held sentry over every field, and rain was imminent. Sodden gray clouds made it impossible to tell that the North Cascades arched just to the east. Chasing vagrant birds makes me anxious. read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birding

The Skinny on Dippers

Brendan McGarry reflects on an aquatic songbird, the American Dipper. read more »

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Topics & Themes:  reflection

The Spectacle at Point No Point

Twice each day, the tide surges past Point No Point on Washington State's Olympic Peninsula, causing the upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water. These nutrients support clouds of tiny plankton that feed vast schools of herring and sand lance. They in turn attract fish-eating birds, which flock... read more »

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Owls Vocalizing in Fall

Why do owls ramp up their territorial calls during fall while most songbirds have already ramped down? read more »

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Great Missoula Flood - Scablands and Plunge Pools

During the last ice age, a lobe of the ice sheet covering western Canada dammed the Clark Fork River, creating a vast lake in what is now northwestern Montana. Several times during the past 15,000 years, the ice dam broke, sending hundreds of cubic miles of water roaring across the inland... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

What the Pacific Wren Hears

What does the Pacific Wren hear in a song? It's a long story. What we hear as a blur of sound, the bird hears as a precise sequence of sounds, the visual equivalent of seeing a movie as a series of still pictures. That birds can hear the fine structure of song so acutely allows them to convey... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Eagles on the Elwha River

Salmon once battled their way up the Elwha River to spawn. And every fall, hundreds of eagles feasted on the spent fish. But a century ago, two dams were built on the river, and they reduced the river's salmon population by more than 90 per cent. After nearly 40 years of negotiation, the largest... read more »

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