Thursday, July 20, 2017

All About The Osprey And Their Nest At Union Bay



Here is a recent post from the Union Bay Watch Blog published by Larry Hubbell, long-time local photographer and birder. 

Here also is an in-depth article about Larry and his work.





Diamonds Are Optional
A lot can happen in a year. Chester and Lacey are now experienced Union Bay breeders. You can read about their unique, potentially first in a hundred years, experience in the post 'Something to Celebrate'. Since then they have separately completed their fall and spring migrations, covering thousands of miles. According to All About Birds osprey may fly as much as ten thousand miles per year. Chester and Lacey have returned to their Union Bay nest site and each other. Plus, Lacey started sitting on eggs around May 15th - just like last year. 

Currently, Lacey spends most of her time in the nest. Occasionally, she takes brief breaks. Sometimes, she flies figure eights around the nest to temporarily escape her maternal confinement. Last week, while Chester guarded the nest, Lacey flew over and snagged another dead branch to continue elevating the exterior of their avian nursery (see the photo above).

This photo was taken last year on July 10th. Given that Lacey began sitting at about the same time this year, we may be able to see the young in the nest sometime in the next week. According to All About Birds their incubation period is between 36 to 42 days. They are almost certainly beyond that time frame.

Most likely the young have already hatched and are simply not yet strong enough to hold their heads above the edge of the ever-rising nest. Clearly, the visibility bar is being raised this year. Notice the growth of the nest between this photo from last year and the current photos.

This year, Chester is once again consistently bringing food to the nest. This photo from last week, is an example of his hard work and willingness to put the family's well-being ahead of his own. He will often deliver food to the nest, then go back out and catch his own food before finally returning to sit nearby and eat.

This morning, Chester delivered a fish as usual. Lacey ate and possiby fed the young. The process was hidden to me. Finally, it appeared that Lacey covered the young to protect them from the early morning chill and seemed to settle in for some quiet time. 

During this time Chester had been watching from a nearby cottonwood tree. He often guards the nest from that elevated position. If Lacey sees a potential threat she will call out sharply and Chester will be the first to take to the air to defend the nest. 

While Lacey was resting quietly, Chester came to life and flew over to the nest. He landed, looked Lacey in the eye, and then picked up the remains of the fish and flew away to feed himself. In someways it was a rather brave maneuver because the female osprey can be as much twice as large as a male. They can also be rather possessive, especially of food intended for their young. Maybe it it is a sign that Lacey trusts Chester and his ability to deliver food. In any case, it is an osprey behavior I have never seen before.

An easy way to tell Lacey and Chester apart is by looking at their chests. Lacey has a dark 'necklace' which is scattered across her upper chest. Chester, in keeping with his name, has a chest of pure white

Chester and Lacey are particularly sensitive to any potential harassment from other predatory birds. Bald eagles, red-tailed hawks and even other osprey are consistently consider a threat.

This week, I watched Chester and Lacey escort a wandering and confused young eagle out of their airspace. I am sure the first-year eagle was much happier when it escaped their frantic attention and finally reached the Laurelhurst neighborhood.

Last October, I watched their daughter Kate chase off a red-tailed hawk, all by herself. Last summer I watched the parents drive off every eagle within eyesight and any other osprey which attempted to fly near the nest.

You can imagine my surprise when last week a third osprey came and landed in the nest. Even more astonishing was the lack of reaction from Chester and Lacey. They did not appear to be at all concerned. The only other osprey I have ever seen in their nest were their own young.

Can you see any differences between the bird above and Chester and Lacey? Personally, I think the neck on this third bird seems a bit more slender. Also, the thin delicate necklace is clearly different. It is much lighter than Lacey's necklace, while also unlike Chester's unmarked chest.

Here is a good view of Chester's chest, just prior to dropping off a delivery of sushi for Lacey's lunch.

The top of the third bird's head is also patterned differently than Chester or Lacey. Last year, Jim Kaiser, the osprey biologist who designed, built, and installed this nesting platform, told me about a study in Europe which demonstrated that osprey can be uniquely identified by the patterns on top of their heads. 

Chester and Lacey's mild-mannered acceptance of this third bird makes me think that it must be one of their offspring. The necklace implies the bird is most likely female. Last year, Chester and Lacey successfully raised three young. They had two males, which we called Wilbur and Orville, and a third sibling, their sister who we call Kate. In the prior year (2015), Chester and Lacey did not complete a nest and did not have any young. 

In Birds of North America (BNA) it says, 'Band returns (Henny and Van Velzen 1972, Poole and Agler 1987, Ewins and Houston 1992) and sightings of individuals on overwintering areas during the northern summer indicate first-year birds remain on overwintering grounds ca. 18 mo, only returning in their third calendar year. Osprey very rarely return to breeding grounds in the spring following their first migration south (AFP; M. McMillian, personal communication).'

All things considered, my best guess is that the third bird must be Kate. I can think of no other rational explanation for their combined behavior.

This photo was taken on October the 3rd, 2016 it shows a lonely Kate, all by herself. This photo was taken just prior to her migration south. She was the last of the five osprey to leave Union Bay. Possibly her hesitance to leave implies that she has a strong attachment to Union Bay. Maybe a special bond with her birthplace has brought her back. 

Some could argue that the pattern of Kate's coloring looks a bit different this year. I agree. My supposition is that she has completely replaced her juvenile plumage with slightly different patterns and colors. Frankly, I have no way to be positive whether the observed differences between the 2016 version of Kate and this year's third bird are consistent with normal osprey development.

There is however one thing of which I am fairly certain, whether our third bird is Kate or Not-Kate it seems only logical to conclude it is a member of Chester and Lacey's family. Most likely it has returned, in its first year, to the place of its birth (or hatching). If so, then it is, by the BNA definition, a rare bird behavior. 

Have a great day on Union Bay...where with luck you may see Kate in the sky - diamonds are optional!

*****************

Update:


Breaking news just in from Doug Parrott:

Hi Larry,

I was at the Fill this am (Sunday) and there are as least two chicks in the Osprey nest. Their timing is just about right on from last year. By the way another great post. Attached photo from today.

Best,
Doug

Photo by Doug Parrot - July 2nd, 2017
Thank you! Doug


*****************


Have a great day on Union Bay!

Larry


Going Native:

Without a well-funded Environmental Protection Agency, it falls to each of us to be ever more vigilant in protecting our local environments. Native plants and trees encourage the largest diversity of lifeforms because of their long intertwined history with local, native creatures. I have been told that even the microbes in the soil are native to each local landscape. My hope is that we can inspire ourselves, our neighbors and local businesses to plant native flora and to support native wildlife at every opportunity. My intention is to include at least one photo each week and visually challenge us to know the difference between native and non-native lifeforms. 





Garden Loosestrife

This yellow invader is currently blooming in the Union Bay Natural Area. It spreads not just via the flowers but more importantly and invasively via the root system. The folks at the UW Botanical Gardens are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They do not have enough resources to eradicate the weed manually and the only cost effective means of controlling the weed is therefore an herbicide.

Tonight Learn How To Prepare For An Earthquake At Special Meeting



The Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) is holding a special meeting tonight from 7-8pm on Earthquake preparedness at 7pm at the Laurelhurst Community Center in the Fireside Room.

Carl Leon, a representative from the City's Office of Emergency Management, will present an "Expanded SNAP (Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare) Earthquake Preparedness" class, outlining steps on how to prepare for disasters.

The City website says about the SNAP program:

It introduces participants to basic information on personal and family preparedness, including how to develop a disaster plan and an emergency supply kit. In addition, this presentation provides guidance and tools for organizing with neighbors. Participants will become familiar with neighborhood response priorities and strategies for working together with neighbors to ensure an effective neighborhood response.


Neighbor John Temple, has been working with LCC on earthquake preparedness and has started LEAP (Laurelhurst Earthquake Action Preparedness) for neighbors to learn how to prepare households in the case of a large earthquake, when it hits what to do, how to get help, how to help others and how to get the neighborhood ready

John said he is also happy to help with setting up an organized block system or improving one that may already in place.  He said that at the August city-wide block parties, those neighbors involved in coordinating could be a great help getting the neighborhood safer. 

He added that "working together can be fun, getting to know your neighbors better and all. Where to evacuate to if necessary could be important, too.  Neighbors help neighbors.  Once Laurelhurst is organized it will have less effort to maintain."

The information John sent out says:

If the big one comes, we are in trouble. We are not yet organized to be able to take the best care of individual households with their children, disabled people, older adults, pets and more. This can be done.  
It takes more than just having water, food and meds for yourself. We need people at the least to join their individual block groups and better set up within their own households so they are not a drag on the ones who are completely prepared and know their block captain.  
Consequences from a serious earthquake may include utility outages for prolonged periods, significantly delayed fire and police response, houses slipping off foundations, house fires, burst water pipes, broken gas lines, trapped and possibly seriously injured family members and neighbors.

Some authorities recommend that we prepare to live with only our own resources for as long as a month. It's a daunting challenge, but we can take steps now to be more prepared and comfortable if disaster strikes.  
The City has an extensive Emergency Management website listing resources and recommended steps to take to prepare for emergencies.

I have taken on the task to help all of us get organized. If you get contacted by a neighbor to join a group of about 20 blocks, work with them. If you don't have the time or inkling to participate further just get true info and give info so you can be helped.  
Simple things like giving people that are volunteering your info. Things like what are your pet's names, do you have older or disabled people in your house, phones to call you, as a participant that registers you will get a sign to post that you need HELP or are OKAY in your house.  
Volunteers will be coming by to check for registered people with a yellow sign and help if you need it, knowing who is in your house is paramount if your house happens to be one of the one that collapses. People who are registered and doing minimal efforts to organize within their block will be most quickly helped because of known circumstances within.  
Remember there could be no water, no sewer, no electricity, no police or fire services, no cellphone, no internet, and many more issues.   
Learn how to prepare, how to be safe, how to use the Help/OK sign, and know the top three response priorities after any disaster.

Support your neighborhood response team, LEAP. Sign up to be a block captain and/or provide vital information to allow LEAP to better support you and family and pets.    
Your Laurelhurst Community needs you to be prepared and understand how to get help. We want your families to be safe and ready to help others. Let's hope it never happens, but let's all be prepared if it does


For more information, to find out about your block watch and RSVP for the event, email LCCearthquake@outlook.com




Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Have You Seen Stolen Garage Door Openers?

The Laurelhurst Blog received these separate reports of stolen garage door openers:

We live on NE 41st Street and our garage door opener was stolen from our car sometime on the night or early morning of July 15th.  We reported it, and changed the programming on our door.  A reminder to remain vigilant about locking your doors.



Ours garage door opener was stolen on the night of July 15th out of our car on the 3000 block of East Laurelhurst Drive.  


My car was rummaged through and I am missing my garage door opener. I live on the 4100 block of 42nd Avenue NE.


Please email laurelhurstblogger@gmail.com if you have information.
.



June Laurelhurst Real Estate Report


Kim Dales has provided this neighborhood real estate activity monthly report:







June was an interesting month in Laurelhurst as pending and sold were very similar to the neighborhood market in May, but the number of new listings was only two for last month and just nine for May. It's hard to know why there was such a significant decrease.

Regarding the 2 active listings:

  • 4815 NE 44th Street went Pending in 7 days, which implies that the sales price will probably be at asking or higher.
  • 3810 46th Ave NE: sold barely 1 year ago (3/23/16) for $1,268,000. It doesn't appear that any remodeling has occurred to substantiate a price increase of approximately 19%.

Regarding the sold homes: 
  • only 3 sold for over their list price
  • 1 sold at list
  • 4 sold under their original listing prices
Of the two active homes on the market in June,  only one remained by the end of the month.
As homes are listed over the $1,800,000 threshold, buyers become a bit more particular regarding level of upgrades, finishes, location, and outdoor living spaces.
  
And currently on the market (pictured above) is a home at  4545 55th Ave NE, which had a recent price reduction to $1,976,800.  It is a very large 5 bedroom house with gorgeous lake, Mt Rainier views, plus the added bonus of an active eagles nest to watch through the telescope. It has been beautifully remodeled with a rooftop deck.  
Potential sellers ask me frequently " what is the best month to sell my home". Historically, I think we all feel that the spring is the best time as flowers are starting to bloom and the grass is green, making photographs pop with color, although it does get dark much later and the weather is generally not as predictable. I think the "spring is the best time" view should be thrown out the window. Based on our statistics and the number of new buyers flooding the market, if you home is priced, and marketed correctly your home will sell irregardless of what month you are listing it in.  Here is an article describing the current market environment in Seattle.



ACTIVE


List Price
Address
Sq.Ft
Price per/sq.ft
*$1,050,000
4815 NE 44th St
2,660
$394.74
$1,549,990
3810 46th Ave NE
2,940
$527.21
* under contract in June



PENDING


List Price
Address
Sq.Ft.
Price per/sq.ft
DOM
*$1,050,000
4815 NE 44th St
2,660
$394.74
7
$1,495,000
4212 37th Ave NE
3,500
$427.14
44
$1,575,000
5125 NE 42nd St
2,980
$528.52
8
$1,595,000
4540 45th Ave NE
3,340
$477.54
19
$6,750,000
3027 W Laurelhurst Dr NE
5,220
$1,293.10
34





SOLD


List Price
Sold Price
Address
Sq.Ft.
Price p/sq.ft
DOM
$925,000
$1,030,000
4531 49th Ave NE
1,800
$572.22
7
$1,300,000
$1,250,000
5115 NE 55th St
2,890
$432.53
5
$1,425,000
$1,565,000
4406 51st Ave NE
2,850
$549.12
5
$1,850,000
$1,700,000
5156 NE 54th St
3,610
$470.91
63
$1,895,000
$1,895,000
4712 NE 40th St
3,770
$502.65
11
$1,935,000
$1,900,000
3824 49th Ave NE
3,140
$605.10
14
$1,995,000
$1,935,000
4715 NE 39th St
3,300
$586.36
13
$1,995,000
$2,278,000
4547 W Laurel Dr NE
4,600
$495.22
13