WEST SEATTLE BIRDS: 11 views of your winged neighbors

Thanks for all the great bird photos! Time to spotlight more of them – starting with a leucistic Crow at Alki, photographed by David Hutchinson (above) and James Tilley (below):

Annika Swenson recently photographed a leucistic Hummingbird:

Before the recent smoke cleared, Jerry Simmons captured a hummingbird silhouetted against the sun:

More colorful sightings – two photos of Wilson’s Warblers – first, from Trileigh Tucker:

And from Mark Wangerin, who noted when sending this earlier this month that these birds were “leaving soon for Mexico”:

Another bird with yellow highlights – Mark MacDonald had a backyard visit from this Western Tanager:

For fans of blue birds, Larry Gilpin spotted this California Scrub-Jay today near Schmitz Park:

Twp bird-bath sightings: From Gentle McGaughey, a juvenile Black-headed Grosbeak:

From.Alicia Brown, a hawk:

And Mark Dale photographed this Cedar Waxwing visiting his Gatewood fountain:

Thanks again to everyone for sharing their sightings!

22 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE BIRDS: 11 views of your winged neighbors"

  • Karen Lyons September 20, 2020 (4:36 pm)

    What hummingbird was that? Maybe it’s just the camera, but he looks gray?

    • WSB September 20, 2020 (6:02 pm)

      That’s what leucistic means – partially missing some pigment – (the word is linked to the definition)…

  • Jamie September 20, 2020 (4:43 pm)

    Lovely photos! I especially like the composition in Jerry’s shot of the sillhoutted hummingbird. Way to make lemonade out of the lemons that were brought by the wildfires last week.

    • Jerry Simmons September 21, 2020 (7:42 pm)

      Thanks for the nice compliment Jamie! I was lucky enough to catch many images of this hummingbird in front of the smokey sun and over a two day period and on the exact branch. I will never forget the moment!

  • KM September 20, 2020 (5:00 pm)

    I always love the bird photos! Thanks all for sharing. 

  • Rar September 20, 2020 (5:21 pm)

    Interesting to see these crows and hummingbird. I’ve never seen them this way but about a week into the wildfire smoke my husband and I were discussing the lack of birds and their song outside. He said he had noticed a few crows who appeared to be turning brown in color but he thought it might have been a trick of the smoky light because it seemed so unusual. I had to look up leusistic. Now I’m feeling like the smoke or some other environmental factor present this year and not others must be the cause. I’ve been here for 21 years and never seen a brown crow or white hummingbird for that matter. I can’t help but think of trauma that might turn a person’s hair white prematurely. Poor birds. 

    • Alkibirder September 20, 2020 (8:54 pm)

      Hi!Leucistic crows are actually somewhat common and there have been sightings in Seward Park, North Seattle and here on Alki for at least a decade. I believe we have 2 here; one was part of a group on Lincoln Park, the possible 2nd one (if it’s not her– and I would need to examine photos/video closely which I haven’t done) is a regular around Alki. She, I believe, is now mated, but was severely harassed last fall.I have video of her being chased all around Constellation Park. I actually have photos of her from today and she appeared to be with her mate and wherever he went she followed closely behind; it was a really interesting observation. And I say “her” only based on behavior;it’s very difficult to sex crows unless you know a territorial pair, or you’ve been able to observe nesting season and possibly catch sight of a brood patch on a female. So it’s simply an observation based on behavior and the fact that she’s now been sighted with a possible mate who appears to be more dominant.Regarding the brown hues in Crows: at this point in the year the hatch year crows are brown; they’ve gone through their second molt which is just a partial molt after their prejuvenile molt in the nest and they retain a drab brown color when compared to crows in their second year or beyond. They also still have pink inside their mouths so it’s an easy way to tell a hatch year Crow from a juvenile or an adult. Given the weather we’ve been experiencing and possibly stress over the summer (many successful raptor ness in area) the crows seem to be molting for a longer period of time this season, and they’re still looking pretty raggedy (the way they look right now is how they usually look mid to late August); usually by this time of the year they are nearly finished, but I’ve been studying them for 3+ years and this is the worst I’ve seen them as we are almost in October; so I do believe it has to do with climate issues and possible stress. The trees are also looking absolutely horrid.if you’d like more information on pigmentation in Crows and other songbirds you can check this out:https://corvidresearch.blog/tag/leucistic-crow/#:~:text=Leucism%20is%20a%20complete%20lack,hopefully%20you%20are%20now!)

      • pelicans September 21, 2020 (8:23 am)

        Thank you Alki Birder for all that crow info. I’ve been studying crows, too.  The step-daugher of my original crow is a mother of two this year. She’s definitely looking raggedy-er, and later too, than previous years. But what is a breeding patch? I’ve never heard of that.

        • Alkibirder September 22, 2020 (3:46 am)

          You’re welcome!A brood patch develops in most female birds who incubate and some males if they share duty.It is a featherless patch that, from my direct observations on crows, can appear bright pink/red and somewhat swollen. It allows for greater heat transfer between parent and egg since feathers are insulating.I have been lucky to observe 2 studied mamas with the patch; it can been seen in flight or if perched on a wire, but timing is everything & the patch is not always apparent! I’ve not been able to ID or yet find in literature how long before incubation the feathers are lost; in most birds they fall out due to hormone regulation, some, I understand, are plucked!Male crows don’t incubate, but they are heavily involved parent & do a lot of the rearing and will protect nest if female needs to leave eggs.If you or anyone here is on Nextdoor app, you can join a local birding group, Hooked on Nature to share & learn more! 

      • Sunflower September 21, 2020 (11:05 am)

        Thanks for sharing this crow info, and hope you share your photos too. Sad to hear about the harassment of this crow, but glad to hear she’s mated and has that protection now. So sweet.

        The leucistic crow photographed above is beautiful, especially in James photo, her softness of appearance as a crow is so unique. Very cool.

        Love seeing all the bird photos, thanks everyone. :)

  • onion September 20, 2020 (5:39 pm)

    A hearty thank you to all of the photographers. Thank you for seeing and sharing.

  • Jeannie September 20, 2020 (5:45 pm)

    Thank you for the fantastic bird photos! I’ve been worried about them because of the smoke and lack of rain. Those bird baths look very refreshing.

  • annika September 20, 2020 (6:17 pm)

    Wonderful photos, thanks for sharing them everyone!

  • waikikigirl September 20, 2020 (6:55 pm)

    I love the “bird” pics too, they’re always be u tee full!I was worried for the birds too and left plenty of clean water and very fresh syrup for the hummer and as of yesterday the hummers are back in full force…as I speak we have 6 on one feeder!!!!

  • Bea Metzelaar September 20, 2020 (7:35 pm)

    West Seattle turkey is absent from those pictured!

    • WSB September 20, 2020 (7:38 pm)

      Pretty sure The Turkey is very long gone. Last seen in south King County in late April – at least, the last sighting that was called to our attention.

  • Matt P September 21, 2020 (11:17 am)

    Interesting that the Black headed grosbeak juvenile looks a lot like a white-crowned sparrow adult. I had to look it up to be sure.

    • WSB September 21, 2020 (12:55 pm)

      I generally defer to the photographer’s ID unless I absolutely know otherwise, which in most cases I don’t. This is why for example the hawk photo is simply labeled a “hawk.”

      • Matt P September 21, 2020 (3:10 pm)

        I agree that it’s definitely a grosbeak based on the feather length and beak shape, it just threw me when I first saw it because the juvenile looks so different from the adult.  

      • Alkibirder September 22, 2020 (3:25 am)

        The hawk shown in her photo is  a Juvenile Cooper’s Hawk. There were at least 2 successful nests I know of here in W. Sea producing 7 offspring. The Juvies are distinguished by streaky brown & white chest feathers as opposed to the adult who takes on a reddish color. The young are quite gregarious and their interactions with the hatch year and young crows are pretty fascinating! Urban Raptor Conservancy has great info on our local raptors! 

  • Janna September 21, 2020 (2:07 pm)

    That crow was in my back yard, and I thought I was loosing my mind! A brown crow?!?  Fascinating!!

  • anonyme September 21, 2020 (6:13 pm)

    The birds are still washing like crazy.  I noticed that the rainwater collected in containers the last few days is sooty.  Wonderful to see these photos.  Sharing space with these beautiful creatures is such a privilege.

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