News Blog for Seattle's Maple Leaf Neighborhood

 

The Maple Leaf parakeets are back

December 6th, 2011 by Mike

Lynda emails that Maple Leaf’s resident Scarlet-fronted parakeets returned on Monday.

“I heard and then saw three of our Scarlet-fronted parakeets flying over my yard at 12th Avenue Northeast  and Northeast 90th Street about 9:30 this morning.

“Why any bird would want to migrate for the winter to the north and higher elevation (from Seward Park) I don’t know, but I’m glad they still are around to do it.”

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The spiders of October (Part 2)

October 3rd, 2010 by Mike

About that invasion of spiders we’re all seeing – “well, there’s not one.”

An invasion, that is, according to Sue Anderson at the Woodland Park Zoo.

“Every fall we get calls at this time of year about the spider invasion,” mainly from people who are seeing huge orb-weaving spiders hanging everywhere in their gardens.

Anderson, who is an invertebrate keeper at the zoo – “I’m the bug and spider keeper” – says that in truth the spiders have been here all summer. “What becomes visible this time of year is the older female spiders who are so full of eggs they are huge.”

Soon the spiders will drop off and lay their eggs in leaf litter. Then most will die, Anderson said. Next year the eggs  hatch and the process starts again, with tiny spiders weaving tiny webs through the summer.

Then the adult spiders will again become visible. “When they get bigger, they need more space,” she said. “They’re really very beautiful spiders if you can make yourself stop and look at them.” You can see Anderson being interviewed about spiders by KOMO 4 News here.

While we’re on the subject of spiders, Anderson says house spiders – those big black ones – will probably die of the cold if well-intentioned humans carefully pick them up and put them outside. “They are funnel spiders, European spiders who hitched a ride here in the 1900s. They live in caves, houses, old buildings.” If you feel you must put a house spider outside your house, try a garage.

Don’t pick it up with your bare hands, either – while most spiders aren’t dangerous, some people are allergic, Anderson said.

Want to know more about spiders? Rod Crawford, curator of arachnids at Seattle’s Burke Museum, is an acknowledged expert.

He has an entire section of the museum’s website titled The Spider Myths Site, based on his 39 years of working with spiders and answering questions about them.

People’s concerns come from a widespread and surprisingly uniform set of assumptions and “general knowledge” about spiders. And almost all of this widespread information about spiders is false!


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The Scarlet-fronted parakeets of Maple Leaf

September 26th, 2010 by Mike

Scarlet-fronted parakeets, courtesy Dennis Paulson.

It starts, usually, with a cacophonous cackle from a cherry or cedar tree.

Follow the sound and find some brightly colored birds that obviously don’t belong in Maple Leaf. It’s our flock of Scarlet-fronted parakeets, a band of South American birds that routinely migrates all the way south to … Seward Park.

They were spotted (and heard) most recently at Northeast 90th Street and 12th Avenue Northeast on Friday afternoon by Simone Lupson-Cook, a birder and Maple Leaf resident.

The flock has been around for decades, at least since the early 1990s, and possibly got started when bird-lovers discovered their pet parakeets were too loud to keep in the house. Local lore has it that the birds winter in Maple Leaf and spend summer vacations at Seward Park.

The size of the flock varies, but there don’t seem to be as many now as  eight or 10 years ago, when a dozen or more parakeets would descend on the neighborhood. Over time they have been called parrots, Crimson-fronted parakeets, Red-fronted Conures and Mitred conures.

Some years they’re been missing altogether, but were heard last fall, and but three birds showed up here on January 20, as did Dennis Paulson, another Maple Leaf resident and ornithologist who is director emeritus of the Slater Museum of Natural History.

Paulson, who frequently teaches for the Seattle Audubon Society, confirmed his previous identification of those birds as Scarlet-fronted parakeets, Aratinga wagleri.

If you see (or hear) them in your trees, let us know!


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Fine Impressions brings you its 'hot topics'

August 11th, 2010 by master

In honor of the height of summer, Fine Impressions Gallery is putting its artistic spotlight on “hot topics,” such as this “Western Fence Lizard,” portrayed in an aquatint by Stephen McMillan, as well as tropical scenes, flowers and other images that will warm you up when the weather fails to do the trick.

The gallery is also putting an emphasis on its maps section in August:

Have you perused our Map section recently? We have over 200 maps online, and more in the gallery, to take you to any place you want to explore. Or, find a map of a recent trip or a favorite place as a special memento.

Don’t forget, the gallery, located at 8300 Fifth Ave. N.E., has earlier hours in the summer when the barometer surpasses 85 degrees Fahrenheit, opening at 10 a.m. and closing when it simply gets too unbearable. On a hot day, you might want to call 206-784-5270 or e-mail contact@fineimpressionsgallery.com before you visit.

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Why are huge crows attacking my head?

June 27th, 2010 by Mike

Photos courtesy Simone Lupson-Cook

Ever wonder why the crows in your neighborhood suddenly start frantically cawing at you, dive bombing you and possibly even hitting you in the head as you innocently walk down the block?

Simone Lupson-Cook, a Maple Leaf resident and falconer who has previously written here on local owls, has some answers.

Simone continues:

May and June are important months for our local crows. Their babies are fledging (i.e. coming out of the nest and learning to fly) and are very vulnerable at this stage. The adults are trying to keep predators away from the young as they learn what is and isn’t safe.

Many crows live in family groups. There is a main pair but their offspring from previous years may help raise their younger siblings. This is why you might have more than just two crows yelling at you as you walk down the block.

Some research suggests this is so they are more prepared when their time comes to breed, or perhaps there aren’t enough resources for them to have their own territory until other pairs move on or die.

If you are harassed by crows make note of the location and perhaps try to avoid that part of the block for a couple of weeks. [Read more →]

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Perkins School works to restore Thornton Creek in Maple Leaf

May 11th, 2010 by Mike


Digging out invasive blackberries at Thornton Creek.

A work party from the Perkins School in Maple Leaf descended on Thornton Creek on Tuesday afternoon to remove invasive plants and replace them with natives.

“The things you really want to look for  is this invasive ivy,” teacher Colt Deese told the group of fourth and fifth graders.

Students from the school, at 9005 Roosevelt Way N.E., have been working on the stretch of Thornton Creek’s Park No. 6 for the last three years. “In that time we’ve replanted 30 to 40 native species,” said Deese, the school’s science and environmental teacher. “It’s really cool to be able to say: ‘See this tree? Your brother planted it two years ago.'”

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Sick wildlife alert: Raccoons with distemper

April 17th, 2010 by Mike


A visibly healthy raccoon in a Maple Leaf front yard.

Our news partners at The Seattle Times are citing an Associated Press report that raccoons apparently suffering from canine distemper have been found in Bellevue, Redmond and Renton.

The Seattle-King County Health Department said Friday the disease could spread to dogs if they have not been vaccinated.

Animal Control and state Fish and Wildlife officials say pets should be fed indoors and people should not feed raccoons or allow them to eat pet food or garbage.

Raccoons also present a risk of spreading other diseases, including rabies.

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What should we build in Maple Leaf’s Park No. 6?

April 14th, 2010 by Mike

There’s a huge amount of discussion going on about what the new park on top of the Maple Leaf reservoir should look like. (Don’t forget to attend the meeting next Thursday evening. Here’s a summary of results from the last one.)

Meanwhile, there’s a little-known park to the north where the Maple Leaf beavers and, sometimes, brightly marked wood ducks live. It’s is officially called Thornton Creek Park No. 6 by both the city and the Homewaters Project.

What should we build there? The answer, according to Seattle Parks and Recreation, is “not much.”

“The park will remain a natural area, with passive use,” said Cheryl Eastberg of the parks department. “It really doesn’t have any areas that would support active use” such as a playground, she said.

[Read more →]

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What should we build in Maple Leaf's Park No. 6?

April 14th, 2010 by Mike

There’s a huge amount of discussion going on about what the new park on top of the Maple Leaf reservoir should look like. (Don’t forget to attend the meeting next Thursday evening. Here’s a summary of results from the last one.)

Meanwhile, there’s a little-known park to the north where the Maple Leaf beavers and, sometimes, brightly marked wood ducks live. It’s is officially called Thornton Creek Park No. 6 by both the city and the Homewaters Project.

What should we build there? The answer, according to Seattle Parks and Recreation, is “not much.”

“The park will remain a natural area, with passive use,” said Cheryl Eastberg of the parks department. “It really doesn’t have any areas that would support active use” such as a playground, she said.

[Read more →]

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Wildlife alert: Owls in Maple Leaf!

April 9th, 2010 by Mike


Barred Owl photo courtesy Dennis Paulson

Simone Lupson-Cook, who grew up in Maple Leaf, this week heard an owl in her backyard for the first time ever. Lupson-Cook  is a falconer who, with a collection of associates, also posts at WingTrip.

Here’s her owl report:

Early Monday I awoke to both of my dogs barking at 4:30 a.m. I ignored them and tried to go back to sleep. Soon my mom came in and yelled, waking me up: “There’s a ‘Who Cooks for Me?!’ owl in the backyard!!”

I jumped out of bed and we both went upstairs. Our yard, as are the neighbors’, is filled with Doug fir, hemlock and cedars. Soon the owl began to call. “Who Cooks for Me!? Who Cooks for Youuuu?!”

It was a Barred Owl! We have lived in this house for 23 years and always wondered about owls but this is the first time we have heard one. You can learn more about them AND listen to their call here. Be sure to listen – perhaps you have heard one without even knowing it!

[Read more →]

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