Author Archives: Marc Hoffman

Full Bloom

Black-Capped Chickadee on Oregon Grape

“Spring is finally here!” To that declaration I often add “Can winter be far behind?” In the Pacific Northwest we have to make the most of every good-weather day, as things can change quickly and unpredictably for the worse. Yesterday I had to travel across Lake Washington into Seattle. So I took the opportunity to […]

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The Hummingbird’s Miraculous Tongue

I came across this remarkable video about recent research on how the Hummingbird’s tongue helps it to feed. Once thought to soak up nectar using capillary action, the tongue is now known to work by a far more complex mechanism. The video the clip is from the Illustra Media DVD FLIGHT: The Genius of Birds. […]

Posted in Bird Talk, Research | Leave a comment

The Long-tailed Weasel American Mink

[Well, I’ve been corrected by several readers as to the identification of this mammal. Having read regular reports of Short-tailed Weasels at this location, and not having heard of a Mink being sighted there, I made a wrong assumption. My thanks to the folks who set me straight. -Marc Hoffman] I had a fun surprise […]

Posted in Environmental Awareness, Unusual Sightings | 6 Responses

Lock-Picking Cockatoos

(from Devorah Bennu, PhD, “GrrlScientist,” at Follow the link above for an amazing story of how Cockatoos in an animal-behavior lab were shown learning to pick a series of 5 locking devices in a specific order so as to get a reward. Or was the challenge itself the reward? Share

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A Day on the Slough

 The Sammamish Slough connects Lake Sammamish with Lake Washington. It borders Marymoor Park in Redmond, a park well-known for good birding and also for its expansive off-leash dog exercise area. Last Friday, I spent 5 hours kayaking up and down a 1-mile stretch, watching both the many birds and the dogs whose owners had brought […]

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Harbor Seal Pup

Driving around Alki Beach in West Seattle, yesterday, I noticed a portion of the waterfront was cordoned off with orange safety tape, and a few folks were standing nearby with a long-lens camera and a spotting scope. I parked and walked down to meet Robin Lindsey of Seal Sitters, a volunteer-run affiliate of the Marine […]

Posted in Environmental Awareness, Rescue & Rehabilitation, Unusual Sightings | Leave a comment

First of Season: Varied Thrush

We had our first frost a few days ago. I remember my wife Tina remarking, “We should be seeing Varied Thrushes any day now.” Sure enough, this morning I noticed one, then two, then a small flock, in our backyard. They were feeding on apples that dropped from our trees. Like many migrating birds, the […]

Posted in Bird Talk, Seasons | 1 Response

Peregrine Falcons of Lake Washington

  Recently, there was been word on our regional birders email list, Tweeters, of a pair of Peregrine Falcons roosting on the eastern shore of Lake Washington. Seems they’ve been watching preparations for building the new SR 520 Bridge from a tall, lone evergreen overlooking the construction site. Today, Tina (my wife) and I drove […]

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Seattle is a city of crows. And they have a nasty reputation. Folks here know them as picnic terrorists, garden plunderers, and (on garbage-collection days) maniacal strewers of trash. We know them also as destroyers of nests (they eat eggs and baby birds) and as ruthless mobbers of hawks, owls, and eagles. Crows are also […]

Posted in Bird Talk, Environmental Awareness, Philosophy | 3 Responses

Cavity-Nesting Birds

Birds choose to lay their eggs in a phenomenal variety of places—from bare rocks and ground to twig platforms to hanging baskets sewn together with spider silk. In forested areas, another option is the cavity nest. Around 85 North American bird species raise their young in tree cavities. In some cases, the bird itself makes […]

Posted in Bird Talk, Environmental Awareness, Nesting | 1 Response