News

Joe Chan

The flocking movements of homing pigeons are governed by a pecking order. Higher-ranked birds have more influence over how the flock moves.

Leading birds change directions first, and followers swiftly copy the leader's movements. And birds at the front of the flock tend to make the navigational decisions.

In other words, the pigeons follow the leader. Or leaders.  

Sharon Drummond - dolmansaxlil / Flickr

 

A trip across the border to Canada could have an added appeal right now with an exchange rate that has turned quite favorable for Americans.

But this cuts two ways. It might also lead to more Canadians staying home, which could hurt retailers in U.S. border counties.

Wikimedia Commons

 

Voters have legalized recreational marijuana in Washington and Oregon, but police continue to find illegal marijuana grows on public lands.

In fact, Washington authorities report an uptick in plant seizures and arrests this year.

BirdNote: Myth Of The Wren

Dec 26, 2014
Jack B. Yeats

December 26th is known in the British Isles and elsewhere as St. Stephen's Day, in honor of the first Christian martyr.

Beginning in the 16th Century, local lads would go forth for a yearly wren hunt. The wren was protected the rest of the year, but the day after Christmas, the "Wren Boys" would catch a wren and parade it around town.

The unfortunate "star" of that celebration - the Eurasian Wren - is a species closely related to the Winter Wren of the Eastern US and Pacific Wren in the Northwest.  

National Library of Norway

Birds are an important part of Christmas in Norway. On Christmas Eve, sheaves of wheat or oats are tied to a post or hung on the door, to feed the birds on Christmas morning.

This bundle of grain, the julenek, has become a symbol of Christmas in Norway, and a julenek hangs on nearly every door, decorated with bows and ready for avian visitors. It's good to remember birds and all wild creatures this season!

Happy Holidays from the whole BirdNote team! And thanks for caring about birds -- today and all year long!  

Blues guitarist and vocalist Elvin Bishop recently stopped by the KPLU performance studios and, as is usual with an Elvin Bishop show, a good time was had by all.  

In the mid-1960s Elvin was a founding member of the highly influential Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Since then Elvin's made a number of recording as a group leader.  

His latest is called "Can't Even Do Wrong Right." In this performance/interview hosted by Mary McCann, Bishop performs that title track as well as another original composition, "Old School." The band also gave us their beautiful rendition of the Percy Mayfield classic, "River's Invitation."

Kent Kanouse

Dr. Gordon Orians, BirdNote science advisor and blackbird expert, believes we should appreciate nature “simply because of its intrinsic wonder.” 

He says, “Often people would ask me, 'What good are blackbirds?’ and I would sometimes answer by saying, 'Well, what good is a symphony orchestra?' It turns us on, you know. For example, birds can navigate using the stars; they can navigate using the earth's magnetic field. So birds have this amazing ability . . . and look how exciting and wonderful they are.”  

daisy.r / Flickr

During the years she was the Seattle Times restaurant critic, Nancy Leson was often told she had the perfect job. Go out to eat every night on the boss's dime — that ain't workin'. 

But it wasn't all honey for nothin' and tips for free. As Nancy asked me back then: "How'd you like to go back to a restaurant you didn't like? Twice? After all, any restaurant can have a bad night. And that's what you have to do if you're going to give a fair review."

Courtesy of University of Puget Sound

The strings of bright lights that hang all around us during the holidays provide cheer for many people in the depths of winter.

But imagine a time when only the very wealthy could afford them and Christmas trees were lit up with candles. An exhibit at the University of Puget Sound explores the history and the future of electric power. 

Courtesy of Erik Wood

During the holidays, many of us may spend more time behind the wheel. And as we sit in traffic, it may be tempting to pick up the phone and send a quick text, but that message could cost you.

Malcolm Griffes / KPLU

The Food and Drug Administration FDA is proposing ending the lifetime ban on gay blood donors. But even if such is the case, there would still be restrictions. And that disappoints activists who’ve been pushing for change.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing has announced a deal with Kuwait Airways that could allay some concerns about its ability to sell enough of its current 777 wide-body jet. 

The Kuwaiti airline has finalized an order for ten 777-300ERs, the current version of Boeing's popular twin-engine, long-haul jet.

The 18th Annual KPLU Christmas Jam, 88.5 KPLU’s much-anticipated FREE holiday concert, features jazz vocalist Gail Pettis and her trio--Thursday, December 11, 2014 from noon to 1 p.m. at Lagerquist Hall in the Mary Baker Russell Music Center on the Pacific Lutheran University campus.  

vintage card

To celebrate the season, Nancy Rumbel, who composed and played the BirdNote theme music, performs "Carol of the Birds."

This version was arranged by Nancy herself, with the accompaniment of Pine Siskins, Black-capped Chickadees, a Red-winged Blackbird, Song Sparrow, House Finch, American Goldfinch, and Mourning Dove.

Nancy plays the ocarina, oboe, bell, and harmonium. You can visit her website at nancyrumbel.com. Happy Holidays from all of us at BirdNote!

Courtesy of Rika Manabe

When Junko Mine gets ready to bake, she starts with a big glass jar.

She fills it with water, then adds something for flavor: maybe a few raspberries, some Douglas fir needles or a whole apple, skin and all.

She seals the jar tightly, then waits. For five to seven days.

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