Talented Kids at Pinewood Elementary

After a recent presentation about birding for kids (creating a bird-friendly backyard, saving old trees for keystone species, places to go birding, etc.) at Pinewood Elementary, the students who attended sent these amazing thank-you cards. Wow! Very talented and creative kids. Thank you so much. I just had to share them with others.


Snohomish Conservation District 75th Anniversary Better Ground Showcase

Lorenzo was invited to be keynote speaker at the 75th Anniversary Better Ground Showcase. Along with his video and slide presentation, he spoke about the importance of backyard habitats and the need to preserve not only living trees, but old and dead trees (snags) that are necessary for nest-cavity birds, such as woodpeckers, sapsuckers, owls, ducks, chickadees, nuthatches, and many others.


This inspirational event honored many individuals and businesses in the region for their impressive conservation leadership. The list of those honored included kids and teens. I was particularly impressed by Val Schroeder, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award. She has been promoting the Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program on Camano Island since 2002 resulting in 866 certified properties on Camano Island. Individuals can make a difference! Read about the others here.

The evening was hosted by the Snohomish Conservation District at the Rosehill Community Center.


If you are unaware of the Snohomish Conservation District, I urge you to check them out at their website:


“Across the United States, nearly 3000 conservation districts offer free help to residents to conserve land, water, forests, wildlife and related natural resources. Their mission, which began after the devastating dust bowl era of the 1930’s, relied on working with farmers and rural landowners on a one-on-one basis.”

I was particularly impressed by their efforts and commitments to backyard habitats that are so vital to the future of birds.

“In response to the critical need for the protection of Puget Sound, a unique and precious feature of northwest Washington, as well as a vast network of salmonid streams and rivers, SCD has developed an urban and suburban program that exemplifies our heritage of working with partners and landowners on land and water resource concerns. Our programs have grown to include low impact development, Firewise communities, backyard wildlife habitat and on-site septic programs and natural yard care.”


Othello Sandhill Crane Festival (19th Annual)

Just got back from our first time attending the Annual Othello Sandhill Crane Festival (March 18-20).

Years ago we were in the Columbia Basin area to find Sandhill Cranes and were fortunate enough to see thousands of them. A few photos from that trip are included in our book, A Kid’s Guide to Birding. The natural landscape there is spectacular on its own, but with huge numbers of cranes, it was like something you would only imagine existing in the earlier days of exploration.

So when an invitation to speak at the festival came from the organizers in Othello, we were more than happy to head back out to the area.

So let me tell you about this festival. It is fantastic! The festival’s organizers put a lot of effort and careful planning into the event. There were regular scheduled buses and vans taking people out to the best wildlife viewing areas (which also included private agricultural areas) as well as areas of geological interest. Breakfast was served on Saturday and there was a Banquet in the evening along with one of the keynote speakers. All the speakers had impressive credentials and did great presentations. There were displays, book sales, and more. But what impressed me the most was the incredible community involvement, with both young and old involved in all sorts of ways. I was beginning to wonder if there was a town ordinance that required everyone to be involved, because it seemed like everyone and every organization had some role in helping the event come together.

So make plans to be there for the next one, the “20th annual” Sandhill Crane Festival in 2017. But book early because when we tried, ever hotel in the area was fully booked!

Here are a few photos from the trip.

Annual Othello Sandhill Crane Festival
Sign on the way into Othello. Nothing better than a community that appreciates its wildlife.





Columbia National Wildlife Refuge
Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, just north of Othello, Washington.
Coyote in Columbia National Wildlife Refuge
Howling Coyote in Columbia National Wildlife Refuge. A little hard to spot, but near the center of the photo.
The Crab Creek road
The Crab Creek road southwest of Othello


It is very quit out in this landscape, apart from bird song, and in this instance the huge sound of thousands of geese.
It is very quiet out in this landscape — apart from bird song, and in this instance, the huge sound of thousands of geese.
Geese, Crab Creek
Large flock of geese flying near the Crab Creek area.
American kestrel
American kestrel
Western Meadowlark
Western meadowlark. This bird has an amazing ability to project sound.
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier — an elegant looking raptor that sometimes flies low and slow while hunting.
Annual Othello Sandhill Crane Festival
Othello Sandhill Crane Festival brochure
Othello Sandhill Crane Festival
Othello Sandhill Crane Festival brochure with the “Kid’s Guide to Birding” announcement.
Porcupine in Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.
A porcupine — normally nocturnal, so this is an unexpected site.
When we arrived, organizer Marie Lotz had arranged a special and unexpected private tour for us by Randy Hill, former USFWS biologist, who had an encyclopedic knowledge of the area and the wildlife.
When we arrived, organizer Marie Lotz had arranged a special and unexpected private tour for us with Randy Hill, former USFWS biologist, who had an encyclopedic knowledge of the area and the wildlife.
Loggerhead Shrike
Loggerhead Shrike. These are wanna-be raptors that are known for impaling their prey on thorns and barbed wire.
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes in corn field. They are almost 3.5ft tall and have a loud and cool Jurassic Park sound that is impressive even when they are only a few of them around. But being a very social bird, they often gather in the thousands.


2014 Puget Sound Bird Fest is this weekend

2014 Puget Sound Bird Fest

 Yost Park Guided Walk for Kids and Families: Saturday, 5:30-6:30 PM
FREE, No registration required, meet in the parking lot at Yost Park.

Join Lorenzo Rohani, photographer and author of A Kid’s Guide to Birding, along with a guide from Pilchuck Audubon for an afternoon birding walk through the woods and along the stream that meanders through Yost Park.  Learn about the habitat that supports the resident and migratory species of birds found in the park.  Practice your skills looking and listening for birds and experience the joy of identifying each species observed on the walk.  Yost Park is 5 minutes away from the Frances Anderson Center, at 9535 Bowdoin Way, so you can easily get there in time for the walk after the last presentation of the day

Dinosaurs Into Birds

If you want to better understand how Dinosaurs Shrunk Into Birds check out this Video

“Arms into feathered wings; bones hollowing out; morphology minimizing: The lineage of modern day birds includes the Tyrannosaurus and the Velociraptor, dating back over 50 million years. Common traits from Neotheropoda to Archaeopteryx”

http://www.livescience.com/47125-dinosaurs-shrinkage-into-birds-explained-video.htmlDinosaurs’ 'Shrinkage' Into Birds Explained

Acorn Woodpeckers!

The Acorn Woodpecker is one of the world’s most interesting birds. It lives in groups and has developed an unusual practice of storing thousands of acorns in holes they specially drill in the bark and dead limbs of trees—called “granary” trees. As the acorns age, they shrink, so the woodpeckers check them and occasionally relocate them to tighter holes to prevent them from falling out. These birds live in groups so they can keep an eye out for acorn thieves, such as squirrels. It has a distinctive parrot-like call.

The Acorn Woodpecker has been on our wish list for years. It’s range reaches a few hundred miles south of our usual birding locations, so we needed to do a bit of traveling to find them. This winter, while visiting Southern California we got some helpful tips for finding them from a park ranger and were able to make our first sightings in the Santa Monica Mountains. Here are some photos of this amazing bird and the granaries they create.

Puget Sound Bird Fest (Edmonds, WA)

Pudget Sound Bird FestPuget Sound Bird Fest is coming up!

A Kid’s Guide to Birding: Saturday, 4:00-5:00 PM (Room:  302)
Lorenzo Rohani of Edmonds is an award-winning photographer and co-author A Kid’s Guide to Birding.  He started birding at age 5 and took up wildlife photography at age 9.  Lorenzo’s presentation focuses on how to get started birding in your backyard and the importance of creating a backyard bird habitat, as well as highlighting interesting birds that are common in the Northwest. With photos and video clips from some of his own birding adventures to the ocean, the mountains, and beyond, Lorenzo will demonstrate how much fun it can be to travel to new destinations and discover and add new birds to your life list!
Yost Park Guided Walk for TEENS: Saturday, 5:30-6:30 PM
FREE, No registration required, meet in the parking lot at Yost Park.
Lorenzo will lead a walk especially for teens who want to bird with other kids their age. This walk will coincide with the Yost Park Guided Walk for Kids and Families described above. The two walks will start and end in the same place, and visit different habitats in the park separately. Bring binoculars if you have them!

For more details: http://www.pugetsoundbirdfest.com/about-the-event

Darwin’s Birds Get New Look

“Scientists are following Darwin’s example by using the birds to find clues to the way evolution works in general.”


Researchers have found that mutations in pigeon DNA can control a variety of traits, including the directions of their feathers grow, like in this Jacobin pigeon. Charles Darwin raised pigeons and was interested in their breeding as an extreme example of domestic selection. (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/05/science/pigeons-a-darwin-favorite-carry-new-clues-to-evolution.html?hp)