Mission: To promote the appreciation of wildlife and increase harmony between humanity and nature.

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Best of 2012

The most popular stories of 2012 were about the 520 Eaglets, the Portage Bay Peregrine 69Z and the recovery of the Capitol Hill Snowy Owl. In the case of the eaglets the stories progressed from the first eaglet sighting, early in June, 
through the youngest eaglet learning to fly and leaving the nest in late August. In a sense one could say the eagle story actually started a year earlier when Eddie the Eagle, their mother's previous spouse, met his demise. 

There was only one Portage Bay Peregrine post, but the story linked to information that covered at least a year and a half.

The Snowy Owl coverage started with the Magical Snowy story in mid November and ended with the Capitol Hill Snowy's release in early December. 
Thank you to Doug Schurman and to all the various photographers that contributed to stories this year. Thank you to Barbara Deihl for inspiring additional follow up on the Capitol Hill Snowy Owl. If Barbara and Kestral, from Sarvey Wildlife Care Center, are successful in their bid to find and identify the Capitol Hill Snowy in the wild, there may be another chapter to the story in 2013.

There are however multiple ways of determining the the best of 2012. One of the rarest birds photographed in Washington State in 2012 was the McKays Bunting. It is one of only a couple thousand birds in the world. 
Normally these birds are only found on two small islands off the coast of Alaska this lonely bird was found at Ocean Shores.  

The Tufted Duck spotted on Union Bay is also an unusual vistor to Washington state. 
The tuft is that tiny bit of feathers sticking out behind its head.

The Akohekohe photographed in the Waikamoi Preserve on Maui in July is also extremely rare and endangered.

Another take on the best of 2012 is to select the best photos. Realizing this is personal preference here are my choices as the best of the UBW photos published each month.

January - The Trumpeter Swans:
There could be a Tundra Swan in the mix but it is not easily determined from this photo. Learn more here.

February - The McKay Bunting:

March - The Cooper's Hawk Eyeing its Prey:
Can you tell the difference between the Cooper's Hawk and the Sharp Shinned? Learn more here.

April - The Gosling in The Mirror:

May - The Osprey & The Crow:

June - Albert & The Gull:

July - A Pair of Endangered Hawaiian Nene:

August - Eaglet on the Edge of Fledging:

September - The Green Heron Grooming:

October - A Wood Duck (Male):

November - A Snowy Owl at Rest:

December - The Pileated Woodpecker (Male):

This year has been a great learning experience and a tremendous amount of fun. Thank you all for your interest and participation. Looking to the future, I hope to once again see sunshine in Seattle, crisp clean photos of wildlife and an increasing harmony between humanity and nature around Union Bay.

Feel free to leave a comment if you thought another story or photo belonged in the Best of 2012.

All the best to you and yours in 2013,


Skeletal Update:

Birds do have knees that bend just like humans. In a story earlier this month I mistakenly said that bird knees bend backwards. 
A number of better educated folks have pointed out this is not the case and here is the link to demonstrate were birds hide their knees. So if that is not a knee bending backwards, Which joint is it?

In other news, starting next Wednesday, The Seattle Times will begin partnering with Union Bay Watch in hopes of bringing our stories to the greater Seattle audience.


  1. Great photos and well chosen.

  2. I love this recap and agree with Diann. The last time I was in Hawaii, I wasn't doing much bird photography (too long ago) and I look forward to someday seeing these species in person. In the meantime, vicarious joy is always a bonus. Thanks for your great blog, Larry.

    1. Thank you! I appreciate your kind comments and I hope you really do get the chance to visit Hawaii and their unique & special birds. Happy 2013.