Field Frame Friday: Bird Bling!

When we catch adult white-crowned sparrows they get some extra jewelry. In addition to a metal band with a unique ID number, they get a unique combination of color bands so that we can identify individuals from a distance using binoculars. [Photo and caption by Carly Hawkins] Carly studies how bird songs influence mating strategies…

Creature Feature: Golden-crowned Sparrow

Once upon a time, in a land far from people, a tiny egg cracked in its nest. Slowly, a small beak pushed through, delicately casting pieces of eggshell aside. It was followed by dark grey bulges that were closed eyes, and finally a floppy, mostly featherless and helpless body that weighed only 3 grams [1]….

Creature Feature: Coastal Cutthroat Trout

Fog rolls in one drizzly May morning on the Olympic Peninsula of northwestern Washington. The precipitation is somewhere between mist and rain, decreasing visibility to about a hundred feet in the temperate rainforest. The river is high, but still clear, and there is only one other car in the boat launch parking lot. May is…

Field Frame Friday: Eating away an ecosystem

Kelp-craving purple urchins (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) are contributing to an underwater housing crisis! Kelp are considered ecosystem engineers because they provide food and shelter for many marine species. Due to several disturbances in the kelp forest, this underwater ecosystem in Northern California has been thrown off balance. Without predators to keep purple urchin populations in check…

Field Frame Friday: It’s for science, baby.

At 6-days old I take measurements of nestling White-crowned sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys). Each nestling is affixed with a small metal band around its leg, this band has a unique ID number so if it is ever caught anywhere in the world, we’ll know exactly where it is from. [Photo and caption by Carly Hawkins] Carly…

Field Frame Friday: Can you hear me now?

A male white-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) on his song perch. It is important for my research to try to record a sample from every male’s song throughout the season. [Photo and caption by Carly Hawkins] Carly studies how bird songs influence mating strategies in white-crowned sparrows. She is interested in how traffic noise can impede…

Field Notes: Do You Prefer Your Salmon Hot or Iced?

If you’ve been following the information stream on climate change, you have likely heard of global warming. And, if you happen to be interested in fish or marine life (like yours truly), you also probably know that this means many of the world’s water systems are projected to increase in temperature . Even at face…

Creature Feature: Sea Cucumbers

What animal has no face, is named after fresh produce, resembles a flaccid turd, and can turn their bodies inside out when threatened? Well, if you guessed sea cucumbers (Class: Holothuroidea) you must be a fellow aficionado or… perhaps the title was a dead giveaway. Either way, these squishy marine invertebrates are unsung heroes of…

Field Frame Friday: Let’s all do the waggle dance!

Honey bees (Apis mellifera) need lots of nectar to make stored honey for the winter. When one bee finds a good patch of flowers she will tell her colony mates where the food is through a waggle dance, which communicates both the direction and distance to the food. It’s similar to how seeing one ant…

Field Frame Friday: Share the shore!

Pinnipeds (i.e. seals, sea lions, and walruses) are considered amphibious marine mammals, meaning they spend significant parts of their life on land. For example, this elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris), hauled out on a popular beach in Point Reyes National Seashore during mating season (which has begun on the coast of California). These animals spend a…