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Nature: Trumpeter Swans

KBCS’s Yuko Kodama and Seward Park Audubon Center Lead Naturalist, Ed Dominguez were at Seattle’s Union Bay Natural Area in the University District, and came across the Trumpeter Swans in the winter of 2019.

Producer: Yuko Kodama and Ed Dominguez

Photo: Ken Schneider

Salmon Run

Late fall is the beginning of the salmon run season in the Pacific Northwest.  It’s the time of year salmon make their end of life journey up the tributaries in our region to spawn as their last gesture before they die.

Naturalist, Ed Dominguez takes you along the banks of Piper’s Creek in Seattle’s Carkeek Park with KBCS’s Yuko Kodama to describe the life cycle and important contributions of the salmon to the ecosystem.

Producers; Jesse Callahan and Yuko Kodama

Image: Ingrid Taylar

Nature: Douglas Fir Trees and Forest Fires

This story first broadcast in January of 2018

In this KBCS nature series segment, Ed Dominguez, Seward Park Audubon Center Lead Naturalist, talks to KBCS’s Yuko Kodama about the benefits of allowing fires burn away the undergrowth. They also discuss how the Douglas Fir tree’s thick bark helps protect it from forest fires and why the intensity of forest fires has increased since modern fire suppression techniques have developed in the past few hundred years.

(more…)

Low Tide

It’s a low tide weekend in the Seattle area. Check out the sea vegetation and sea life in the tidepools with Naturalist, Ed Dominguez at Meadowdale Beach Park in Edmonds, Washington. (more…)

Access Nature – Dark Eyed Junko

The Dark Eyed Junko, the bird that marks the winter to some, sounds like a sewing machine.

 

Nature – Vampire Bats

In observance of Halloween, Ed Dominguez, Lead Naturalist at the Seward Park Audubon Center, and KBCS’s Yuko Kodama talk vampire bats (not local to our region) on the shores of Andrews Bay in Seattle’s Seward Park.

If you have any questions about our local natural flora and fauna, please contact Ed Dominguez and KBCS at news@kbcs.fm

Producer: Yuko Kodama
Photo:

Nature – Cooper’s Hawks

Which birds in our forests have Ewok-like skills in our local forests?  Go for a walk with Seward Park Audubon Center’s Ed Dominguez and KBCS’s Yuko Kodama on the trails of Seward Park.

Producer:  Yuko Kodama

Photo: Virginia Sanderson

Unknown Speaker 0:00
91.3 KBCS music and ideas listener-supported radio from Bellevue College.

Unknown Speaker 0:05
…Good day to hit the trails in Seward Park in Seattle as the Audubon Center’s lead naturalist Ed Dominguez and KBCS’s Yuko Kodama talk Cooper’s Hawks.

Unknown Speaker 0:25
So that’s the sound of one of our four juvenile Cooper’s hawks. So Cooper’s hawks are in a group of hawks that are called accipiterwhen we’re talking about the raptors that we have called hawks, there’s two big groups. The soaring hawks like our common red tail hawk that you’ll see over any of our freeways as you’re driving along that ride the summer thermals in a circle and big loops up in the sky looking for small mammals down on the ground. Those are in the soaring hawk category and they’re calle buteos. These hawks, the Coopers hawks, are in another group called accipiter, and their hunting strategy and their prey is completely different. Cooper’s hawks are songbirds eating hawks. And instead of writing thermals and soaring, their bodies are designed to move through forests like we’re in now with great agility and skill, kind of like in the Star Wars movie where the Ewoks were riding those sleds and they were flying through the forest and not running into anything because they were skilled at maneuvering. Cooper’s hawks have short wings, and long tails that act like a rudder, and so they whip through the forest and will snatch birds, either out of the air or snatch birds as they’re perching. We have a nest right here in Seward Park, and four eggs hatched. And so we have four young Cooper’s hawks, that like all youngsters are constantly begging to be fed….so that squealing sound that you’re hearing is one of the four youngsters saying ‘Mom, dad, bring me something to eat, bring me something to eat’. And so they will bring in one of our songbirds, a song sparrow or a towhee, a junco for the youngsters to eat. They’re a medium size hawk, they’re not nearly as big as the soaring red tail hawk. In size, they’re more crow size, maybe slightly larger than a crow, but they’re not a big animal. They’re small body is what they need to be able to maneuver through the forest, through all these branches and trees and their prey is small – songbirds so they don’t need to be big bodied like an eagle or a red tailed hawk.

Unknown Speaker 2:32
(Oh ,there it is)

Unknown Speaker 2:36
Yeah, looking out into the field. Yep. Do eagles eat them?

Unknown Speaker 2:43
No, these birds are way too maneuverable for eagles. So eagles primarily will eat fish. They will also eat rodents. Like we’ve got Eastern cotton tail rabbits. The population has exploded this year. -There he goes. But these Cooper’s Hawks are way too maneuverable for a big eagle to try and get ’em to be like I don’t know, a naval analogy. It’d be like a little speedboat, a PT boat, buzzing around in a destroyer a battleship trying to get it that just the eagle can’t move with that kind of agility to get a small bird like this. There it is You see the pale breast. It’s almost white with dark vertical streaks that hang down. We call them teardrops.

Unknown Speaker 3:30
He’s turning his head. It’s dark dark wings. Here he goes.

Unknown Speaker 3:33
(squealing of Cooper’s hawks)

Unknown Speaker 3:36
Striped bands on the underside and the tail.

Unknown Speaker 3:39
uh huh.

Unknown Speaker 3:42
So they’re all sitting around waiting for food..

Unknown Speaker 3:44
Waiting for food. Because although obviously they fledged and so they’re able to fly. It takes a lot of skill to be able to successfully capture prey when you’re a raptor. In the case of these guys, since they feed on songbirds, they have to be able to track a songbird down flying through the forest, or see one that’s perched somewhere, judge the right amount of speed to fly in with, get their talons extended at the right rate and come down and clasp on them. And there’s a lot of mistakes before they finally are successful. So all summer long, they’ll be dependent on their parents to feed them, while they continue trying to hone those skills so that they can make a living on their own.

Unknown Speaker 4:26
Wow! There it goes!

Unknown Speaker 4:26
That was Audubon Center lead naturalist Ed Dominguez with KBCS’s Yuko Kodama

 

Nature – Local Bats

The Yuma Bat, Big Brown Bat and Little Brown Bat share the Puget Sound region with us during the summer months.  In late summer/early fall, the bats migrate to Central Washington to hibernate.  Find out how these small mammals fly, catch their food and take shelter in this special bat series, as Seward Park Audubon Center, Lead Naturalist, Ed Dominguez and KBCS’s Yuko Kodama watch for them on the banks of Andrew’s Bay in Seattle’s Seward Park.

Producers: Yuko Kodama and Jesse Callahan

Photo: Andrew McKinlay

Nature – Juvenile Bald Eagle

Juvenile Bald Eagles are learning to make a living this time of year, while adult eagles feed them.  Follow Seward Park Audubon Center’s Lead Naturalist, Ed Dominguez and KBCS’s Yuko Kodama on a trail in Seattle’s Seward Park as they listen for the young eagles’ calls for food.

Producers: Yuko Kodama and Jesse Callahan

Photo: Juvenile Bald Eagle by Rick Leche Photography

Unknown Speaker 0:00
91.3 KBCS music and ideas-listener supported radio from Bellevue College.

Unknown Speaker 0:06
The KBCS’ s listening to nature series, takes you to local parks and beaches to explore the natural neighbors living among us. Join Seward Park Audubon Center’s Lead Naturalist Ed Dominguez and KBCS’s Yuko Kodama as Juvenile Eagles fledg from their nests in Seattle’s Seward Park.

Unknown Speaker 0:22
As you were talking, I heard the Eagles doing the (sounds mimicing eagles) thing. Did you hear it too?

Unknown Speaker 0:27
mm-hmm- These two eagles were hatched late April early May. They’ve been in the nest as youngsters being fed continuously by their parents, and just fledged within the last week. If eagles hatch around the first of May, it takes till mid or late July, before enough feathers grow in on their wings, their primary feathers, as they’re called. And their pectoral muscles become strong enough that they can lift up out of the nest. And so they’ve been kind of lifting off a few inches at a time up in the air for a couple or three weeks now. And now they are able to leave the nest and so they’re hanging out and some tops of some trees like this bleached out white snag we’re looking at, that’s only maybe a quarter of a mile from their nest. They’re waiting for mom and dad to come around and bring them fish. Because even though they can fly, it takes a lot of skill to be able to catch a fish out of the lake. I mean, eagles have great vision, they can be 150 feet in the air and with their eyes see fish down in the water as easily as you and I are looking at one another here on the trail. But to judge the distance down to the water and the fish, to get the right flight speed, to be able to pull up and brake right above the surface of the water and extend their talons at just the right time and get them in the water and successfully nabbed the fish. Well, as you can guess, there’s a lot of misses before they have their first successful catch. So there’ll be dependent on mom and dad to be bringing them fish all summer long. Usually by the time Labor Day rolls around, early September, the adults will stop feeding the eaglets and kind of let them know that it’s time for them to be on their own. And hopefully by that time they’ve developed their hunting skills well enough that they’re able to catch fish and be able to make it through the winter on their own and add to our ever-growing eagle population here in Western Washington.

Unknown Speaker 0:38
And do you get to watch them practice?

Unknown Speaker 2:25
It’s delightful to watch them practice. They come down, wings expanded, talons come out.

(the call of an eagle for food)

I think that means” I’m hungry bring me a fish”, an eagle talk. That’s one of the Juveniles begging for the adult to come in and bring him something to eat. It was just last week, I watched an adult bald eagle one of the parents of these two. And the adult bald eagle saw another fish eating bird called an osprey catch a fish out of the water. And in the bird world. If you can make somebody else give up their fish, you don’t have to worry about catching it yourself. So it was like Snoopy and the Red Baron, a dogfight in the air with the eagle in the ospray turning over one another and flying in tight circles. And finally the eagle got the osprey to drop its fish. The eagle flew down and snatched the fish out of mid-air as it fell down towards the lake and made off towards the nest to feed these youngsters you’re hearing right now. And the poor Osprey had to go back to try to find another meal. So in the bird world, if you can steal someone else’s fish, it’s a lot better than having to fish for yourself.

Unknown Speaker 3:36
And can these birds – they can get back to the nest, okay, right? They’re not just stranded out here until they’re strong enough to go back.

Unknown Speaker 3:45
No, they can get back to the nest easy. In fact, I would say by now they may go back to the nest because it’s been their location for feedings if the adult brings a fish in. But you have to remember that a nest, although we think of it as a place for refuge and nurture. When a bird is in the egg or a bird is very young. A nest is also a target – because all the predators that like to eat eggs or young birds know that there’s a concentrated food supply in that nest. So for all parents, whether it’s Robin’s owls, eagles, any kind of bird, the goal is to get your young out of the nest as soon as possible and disperse. So everybody isn’t all concentrated in one space. So I think these two eagles now that they’re free to be out of the nest will behave like adults, and will just find the evening to perch on a branch of a tree and sleep in the tree -probably in close proximity to one another, these two youngsters. But they won’t be using the nest regularly at all anymore. Also added to that is that, you know the nest, it gets to be a pretty nasty place after several months of these youngsters being fed. So it’s full of fish bones and there can be wing mites.

(the call of an eagle for food)

You know, he wants his dinner.

Unknown Speaker 4:59
These young eagles are they going to stick around Seward Park. Or are they supposed to find their own turf?

Unknown Speaker 5:05
Many times they will stick around. The two young eagles that were fledged last year have still been hanging around and you can see him regularly around the park. So these will probably hang around with their parents and kind of an extended family group all through the winter and into next spring and through probably a lot of next summer. And usually by then they’ll start to move off and be interested in finding their own territory and finding their own mates.

Unknown Speaker 5:32
Hope he gets dinner soon.

Unknown Speaker 5:40
That was Seward Park Audubon Center’s Lead Naturalist Ed Dominguez on the trails of Seward Park for any questions for Ed contact KBCS at news@kbcs.fm.

 

Nature: Red Winged Blackbirds in the Cattails

What kind of habitat do cattails on our water’s edges provide for the red winged blackbird?  Seward Park Audubon Center Lead Naturalist, Ed Dominguez and KBCS’s Yuko Kodama talk about this habitat and this talkative bird at the Union Bay Natural Area near Seattle’s University District.

uko Kodama 0:00

91.3 KBCS music and ideas listener supported radio from Bellevue College

 

Greg Delia 0:05

who’s hiding in those cat tails along the water’s edge. Next up Audubon Center lead naturalist Ed Dominguez shares the story with 91.3s, Yuko Kodama.

 

Unknown Speaker 0:18

We’ve got a big grove of large water plants called cattails along the shore. This is a native plant, so we’re glad to have them. And cattail has a long blade of leaf and then the cattail itself, of course is on a tall stock and kind of looks like, I’m not sure like a corn dog on a stick. But that corn dog is actually thousands of seeds that are encased in in a large corn dog shaped capsule. And when you can see some of those capsules are breaking open, each of the little seeds has a feathery tuft that it’s attached to and the wind will blow and those seeds will fly into the air on those tufts for wind dispersal. So that’s how this plant propagates itself is through wind dispersal. The wind blows the seeds on the little feathery tufts and you get a large grove of these along the shore, which provide great habitat for many birds that like to kind of stay under cover along the water’s edge. And so I’m sure we’re looking at at this great field of cattails. But if we could somehow have X ray vision, we would probably see a variety of different water birds in there everything from green herons to Virginia rails to to sora to bitterns to all kinds of birds that might be here in the wetlands area using these cattails for cover. And of course the the seeds themselves provide protein and food for birds. So cattails are a nice, nice plant to have along the shore. And of course, many times they’re used in plant decorations. So florists, will use cattail as the centerpiece of a large floral decoration.

 

Yuko Kodama 2:04

I hear the… (bird calling)

 

Ed Dominguez 2:07

Yeah, red winged blackbirds, let’s see if we can get him again. (bird calling)So that’s the sound of a bird that almost exclusively uses cat tails for its home. That’s the Red Wing Blackbird. It makes a very distinctive vocalization, kawee konk (bird calling). Just like that. It’s nice when they come on cue for you. Red winged blackbirds inhabit these cattail marshes like we have here. The females will build their nests down inside these dense blades of the cat tail leaves and so there’s great protection and camouflage. And the male red winged blackbirds, (Bird calling) singing like that are claiming this area as his territory. So that warns other males that, “don’t come over here thinking you can establish yourself because this is my area.” And then of course you get males that are maybe be 100 yards away, and that male will sing, “Oh yeah, well, this is my area. What’s it to you?” So particularly, even though it’s winter, we’re hearing a bit in the spring you’ll just hear multiple red winged blackbirds all calling back and forth, saying that this is my territory and I claim it and also all of you female red winged blackbirds come over and check me out because I would be a great partner to raise your family. So it’s a really neat call, kawee konk, and whenever you’re near cattails or marshy areas you’re going to hear red winged blackbirds because this is what they use for their habitat.

 

Greg Delia 3:38

That was Audubon Center lead naturalist Ed Dominguez walking with KBCS’s Yuko Kodama in the Union Bay natural area in Seattle’s University district for our access to urban nature series.