Too Exhausting, Need a Nap

An Ancient Owl


Yoda is a Boreal Owl. He’s been in captivity for some 14 years, making him at least 15 years old. An injury damaged his foot; he cannot grip prey and so cannot hunt. He’s retired from a long – very long – career as an educational bird. For scale, this little guy is about ten…

Arctic Warbler, Denali Highway

Birds with the Heavy Metal Blues


Minimata Disease, named after the Japanese village where the symptoms were first reported, isn’t a disease at all. It was methylmercury poisoning inflicted on the Minimata villagers by Chisso Corporation, whose chemical processes dumped the mercury into Minimata Bay. The highly toxic methylmercury bioaccumulated, and poisoned the fish caught and eaten by the villagers. The…

Trumpeter Swan, late August, 2014

Swan Song


Among the last of the migratory birds to leave Alaska in the Fall are the swans. It takes a while for the hatch year birds – the cygnets, to use the precise term – to mature and develop the stamina to carry all that weight all the way to the interior west, where they will…

Sandhill Crane Pair, Wander Lake, Fairbanks

Autumn Cranes


The surest sign of autumn is when the Sandhill Cranes arrive at Creamer’s Refuge, staging for their fall migration to the Southwest U.S. Sure, the leaves are just starting to turn. We haven’t had a really hard frost yet. But the Cranes are staging, and very soon, some morning when the wind is out of…

Whimbrel, Denali Highway

In Defense of Birding


Sunday morning, August 24, 2014, WC will lead a tour of “Birding Hotspots” in Fairbanks, as a part of the annual Sandhill Crane Festival. Yes, it’s a shame they can’t find someone better qualified to lead it, but there it is. Perhaps the birding tour is entrusted to WC’s feeble skills because, really, there aren’t many species in…

Gentoo Penguin on Eggs, Stromness Bay, South Georgia Island, Southern Ocean

Bird Break!


Felons, torture, disasters, hypocrisy. Enough. It’s time for a bird break. The Gentoo Penguin is one of the few birds that apparently wears lipstick. And while WC has referred to Gentoos as Penguin Trailer Trash, they are devoted parents, rugged little birds and are willing to walk a surprisingly long distance to a colony. And…