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Dec 28 2012

Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: Birds of Bothell, Plus Something Bizarre

It’s all juncos all the time around here in the winter, it seems. Well, crows, too, especially at dusk, when the place starts to look like a set for The Birds. I grabbed a pic for junco aficionados, and Trebuchet has a truly lovely little one he’d like to confirm his ID on:

UFD I

UFD I

He said, “I’m pretty sure this is a ‘leucistic’ dark-eyed junco but it would be interesting to see if anyone else has a better identification.” And so I leave it in your capable hands, my darlings.

Then, just in case you thought I was being too easy on you, I’m going to have you identify this nest:

UFD II

UFD II

That is a nest, right? So what’s it doing in the whippy branches of a weeping willow where it can get tossed about by every passing breeze?

It’s very dark, I know. Let me work my photo-editing magic, which isn’t as good as it is for those who use Gimp, but I’m too damned lazy to learn.

UFD III

UFD III

Weird. Anyway. Here is an adorable dark-eyed junco.

Dark-eyed junco I

Dark-eyed junco I

Then, as I was bopping home from seeing fungi and rhodies and mad juncos everywhere, I came across this heron sitting on the walkway rail at the new water treatment plant, pulling a Vanna White with this bizarre purple piece of equipment.

Blue heron with bizarre purple thingy

Blue heron with bizarre purple thingy

Maybe it’s just a sculpture, but I didn’t see any reason why such a sculpture would be installed at the back of the plant. Perhaps one of you will know what it is.

Also, has anyone else in the Seattle area noticed a sudden uptick in the heron population? I swear I’ve seen more of them this year than I’ve seen any other year.

11 comments

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  1. 1
    rq

    Going to confirm on the leucistic dark-eyed junco. Judging from this page, the leucism can present in a myriad of different ways.
    Still out on the nest, but I think I’m close to something useful. But I’m 99% it’s an oriole, either Bullock’s or Baltimore. A bit hard to tell without the bird itself.

    1. 1.1
      azportsider

      I’ll sign up with rq on Trebuchet’s junco. Looks like it’s a male ‘Oregon’ type. The nest looks like any oriole’s nest I’d ever hope to see. If you took this locally in the PNW, Dana, then Bullock’s is the likely suspect.

      1. heliconia

        Ditto. Are Baltimore’s and Bullock’s separate species these days? It seems to change with every edition of the bird book. If this nest is from the PNW it would have to be a Bullock’s.

        1. azportsider

          Still separate, heliconia. The AOU Checklist Committee seems to comprise mostly splitters these days, so I’d expect that status to continue for awhile.

  2. 2
    rq

    In moderation again. Poo. ALl I had was three measly bird links. Ah well! :)

  3. 3
    Owlmirror

    I suspect that the purple tube things are the pieces of a sculpture, which are simply being stored there until all the parts are ready, and the final installation location is prepared.

    I would guess that the hollow in the cement piece on the right hides a water jet. So — further guessing — it’s some sort of water sculpture, so site preparation includes water pipes and a depression with a drain at the bottom. Water is supposed to jet from the cement part, and (more guessing) go into the purple tube of a piece next to it, and flow down the tube and out. The cement-tube pieces will number at least six when complete, and be arranged in a regular polygon shape, and will at least some of the time jet water simultaneously, each to the next closest purple tube.

    And (STILL MOAR GUESSING) the piece will be titled “Water Cycle”. Come summer heat, no doubt small children will run shrieking through the water jets.

  4. 4
    felicis

    In Portland, perhaps in all of Oregon, commercial (and government) buildings are required to include art as a fraction (1%, I have heard, but that seems a bit much) of their total cost. It could be the same up in Seattle. I’m not sure of the details of the law, but I am half-glad for it. On the plus side, we have a lot of public art – which is nice. On the minus side, it seems like sometimes the ‘art’ is chosen at random, so we have quite a bit of ugly and bad public art. I think, on the whole, we are ahead, but I wish the building industry would take a couple of art appreciation classes so they can choose some better sculpture for us…

  5. 5
    Trebuchet

    Thanks for the junco confirmation!

    A water sculpture at the sewage plant is slightly alarming somehow.

  6. 6
    Owlmirror

    How embarrassing. I prayed to Google for answers {[bothell water treatment], and then following up on the pages that mentioned art works at the site}, and it looks like all of my guesses were almost entirely wrong. Yes, the things are from a sculpture/art piece.

    But it’s not in progress; it appears to be complete. There are no water jets; the hole in the cement part goes straight through, and something that looks like a hose is passed through them when they line up. The purple tubes are supposed to be connected, as a pipeline. Water does go through the pipeline, though.

    It’s called Bio Boulevard, by Buster Simpson.

    http://www.bustersimpson.net/bioboulevard/

    Maybe the artist miscalculated the amount of available space, so the two pieces in the photo in the OP are just extra?

    A water sculpture at the sewage plant is slightly alarming somehow.

    The pipes have “RECYCLED WATER DO NOT DRINK” stenciled right on them where the water outflows.

  7. 7
    Crudely Wrott

    Re the bird’s nest:

    So what’s it doing in the whippy branches of a weeping willow where it can get tossed about by every passing breeze?

    I agree with rq that it seems to be an oriole’s nest. As to what it’s doing there, well. It’s a hangy-downy kind of a nest and a weeping willow is a hangy-downy kind of a tree . . .

    Don’t forget, hangy-downy kinds of things laugh at raucous breezes, snicker at precocious zephyrs and just bear down and hang on in gales. They are that flexible. Nature is clever enough to bend so as to avoid breaking.

  8. 8
    Susannah

    I love your leucistic junco! And as to herons, I think you’ve got ours. I haven’t seen any along the ditches or in the fields here in ages; just a few at the beach.

    Do you think you could spare a moment to look at some beach rocks for me? They’re on my blog, here.. There’s one, especially, that intrigues me, with all kinds of weird “carvings” on it, and a “potato” stone drizzled with marble. How does that happen, I wonder?

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