Spotted Sandpiper, Tangle River, Denali Highway

Road Trip


WC and Mrs. WC escaped the smokey confines of Interior Alaska on a trip to the east end of the Denali Highway, one of WC’s favorite places on the planet. There was some rain on Friday night and Saturday morning, but otherwise the weather was good to great. The birding and bird photography was very…

Trans-Alaska Pipeline, Black Rapids Canyon

Love-Hate Relationships: Big Oil and Alaska


It’s hard for Outsiders to understand Alaska’s relationship with Big Oil. It’s the kind of love-hate relationship that sends married couples to counseling. But there don’t seem to be counseling services for troubled relationships between ginormus, multi-national corporations and resource-centric states. So, instead, you have the same battles, like dysfunctional spouses, year after year. Which…

Notes on Obergefell v. Hodges


WC was just a bit too young to appreciate the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s as it was happening. WC was just four years old when Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was decided, the case that abolished the doctrine of “separate but equal.” WC was in junior high school when the…

Captive Porcupine, Alaska Wildlife ConservationCenter

The Prickly Problem of Unnatural Photography


Unnatural photography is photos of zoo animals where the photographer let’s the reader assume, or even claims, the photos are of wild animals. A decent photo of  a quill pig. But the problem is that it is a captive animal at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, near Girdwood. It’s not a wild animal; it’s a captive…

Range of the newly created species Pacific Wren. Record from Barrow, Alaska could be this species or (Eastern) Winter Wren (confirmation needed). This species should be watched for east of the mapped range (especially western Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, central Texas, but also farther east). Map based on the Sibley Guides, copyright David Sibley.

By Popular Demand: Bird Range Maps


A few of you, in response to WC’s post on Say’s Phoebes in the White Mountains, asked how it is that range maps get made. Here’s a fairly typical range map. Purple is year-round, orange is summer, blue is winter and yellow is migration. Let’s go back to first principles. First, birds are wild creatures.…