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

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Sunday, October 23, 2022

Talaris - Eagles

The Talaris property at 4000 N.E 41st Street, Seattle, WA has been the nest site for a pair of Bald Eagles for more than a decade. I have taken to calling them Talia and Russ because these names, when said in that order, sound similar to Talaris. 

The following sign, facing NE 41st St, informs those who pass by that the property is soon to be subdivided and developed.

The next photo shows the representation of the plan as displayed on the sign. It clearly says the plan may vary. However, nothing I have come across, so far, indicates major changes to the plan. (Note: This is a quick post due to time constraints as mentioned below.)

The Bald Eagle's nest is located in the southwest portion of the property - approximately halfway between the houses numbered 31 and 30. (Specifically, the nest is in the clump of Cottonwood trees immediately above the final "n" in the word "Representation" in the artwork.)

This photo is from the June 16th, 2022, Preliminary Arborist Report. 

On page two of the report it states 226 trees to be removed, i.e. 52% of the 436 trees on the property. (The removal of so many trees is counter to our citizen's best interest and desires. Click Here for proof) 

The red circles, in the photo above, indicate failing or dead trees and the blue circles indicate trees in poor condition. The location of houses (in the prior artwork) to the poor quality trees does not appear to be coincidental. 

Although, as you will see a poor quality tree, from a human perspective, may actually be a very high quality tree from nature's point of view. Today, I am focusing on the Cottonwoods in the lower left, that surround the Bald Eagle nest.

Cottonwood branches are easy to break even when the tree is alive. In fact, all but one of the many dozens of branches I have seen Bald Eagles collect for their nests have been cottonwood branches. 

Generally, the eagles focus on breaking off smaller live branches near the tops of the trees. I do not believe it is simply an issue of easy access as I have seen Bald Eagles breaking off cottonwood branches quite some distance from their nests. I believe their primary motivation is the ease with with the branches break.

Similarly, the majority of Western Washington Bald Eagle nests I have seen have been built in cottonwood trees. The trees tend to branch out near the top third of the trunk creating ideal nest sites. However, this also contributes to the trees more top heavy than many other tall local trees.

It is also important to note that, Populus trees (which include Cottonwoods) are one of the top four genera of trees that support caterpillars in our area. (Click Here to read more about their value.) This makes cottonwoods a keystone species. In other words, the caterpillars that the trees support may be the most important early food source, for the majority of all birds that nest and raise young in the city. 


After writing this post I remembered hearing about how bees utilize cottonwoods trees. A search led me to this interesting website which mentions benefits for bees and humans

Nature is amazing!

Finally, dead cottonwood trees are highly attractive as potential nest sites. If a woodpecker, like a Northern Flicker makes its nest in a Cottonwood snag the next year many different creatures may reuse the nest (although not at the same time). Squirrels and Wood Ducks are great examples. I have even seen a Pileated Woodpecker open up an old Northern Flicker nest, in a Cottonwood, to create a place to sleep during cold weather.

I agree, that Cottonwoods are not great trees to have near your house. From what I have seen around Foster Inland if a cottonwood tree dies, especially if it is girdled by a beaver, the whole tree is likely to fall within a few years. The logs along the far shore are most probably dead cottonwoods.

With all this in mind my suggestion would be to situation new housing in the Talaris property almost any where but the southwest corner - where the Cottonwood grove and the Bald Eagle nest are located. This would be better for the Bald Eagles, Northern Flickers, many secondary nesting creatures, and via supporting caterpillars, virtually all nesting birds in the area. (This last piece of logic would also put a premium on saving the trees in the genus Quercus, Prunus & Betula as they are also extremely supportive for caterpillars.) Plus, this would be the safest approach for the future residents of the property, not to mention being highly beneficial in terms of access to nature. The current approach seems to be unaware or unconcerned with these possibilities. 

In the publicly accessible information on the project, that I found, it barely mentions saving a few of the Cottonwoods. Plus, it seems mostly concerned with the risk associated with disturbing the Bald Eagles. 

It assumes the nesting Bald Eagles are habituated to the noise of traffic on NE 41st St. and so unlikely to take issue with activities beyond 120 feet. Specifically, the Ecology Report, dated August, 9th, 2018, in Appendix C - "Management Recommendations for Bald Eagle Nest" states, 

"In conclusion, the subject Bald Eagle nest is unlikely to be impacted by project activities outside a 120-foot distance buffer as long as the landscape buffer (trees) within this area and the on-site wetland is maintained. However, to satisfy the City of Seattle and shield the applicant, obtaining an Eagle Incident Take permit is highly recommended. No other mitigation, site development alternatives, or ongoing management practices should be necessary." 

In fact, the permit mentioned implies that if the nesting Bald Eagles are disturbed no one has to be concerned or take responsibility. In my opinion, this is not a logical approach. Living in harmony with nature is a responsibility we must all share whether we are developers, neighbors or more remote citizens of Seattle.

As a citizen of Seattle, I believe my (and our) only option left is to state our preferences. The online link where we can file public comments regarding this project will only accept input until: 

October 26th, 2022. 

Please let the City know what you think.   The Record Number is : 3030811-LU


Update, 10-28-2022: 

This link appears to still be working for making comments:

and it also works to view previous comments. View them for additional inspiration, as needed.

Disregard, 10-28-2022

I am suggesting we disregard these next three links, but leaving them here just in case the new link stops working. The system seems to be unreliable.

(For some unknown reason the link above seems to have stopped functioning properly. The alternative I have found is a bit more cumbersome but seems to work. Use the following link::

Change the search by to Record Number enter the number, 3030811-LU, and proceed.)

(This link also seems to have stopped functioning.)


Unfortunately, the signage on the property has not been properly updated to show the October 26th extension of the public comment period. Perhaps another extension would be in order.

Have a great day on Union Bay...where nature lives in the city and Black Birders are welcome!


Going Native:

Each of us, who breathes the air, drinks water, and eats food should be helping to protect our environment. Local efforts are most effective and sustainable. Native plants and trees encourage the largest diversity of lifeforms because of their long intertwined history with our local environment and native creatures. Even the microbes in the soil are native to each local landscape. 

I hope we can inspire ourselves, our neighbors, and local businesses to respect native flora and support native wildlife at every opportunity. I have learned that our most logical approach to native trees and plants (in order of priority) should be to:

1) Learn and leave established native flora undisturbed.
2) Remove invasive species and then wait to see if native plants begin to grow without assistance. (When native plants start on their own, then these plants or trees are likely the most appropriate flora for the habitat.)
3) Scatter seeds from nearby native plants in a similar habitat.
4) If you feel you must add a new plant then select a native plant while considering how the plant fits with the specific habitat and understanding the plant's logical place in the normal succession of native plants. 


My friend Elaine Chuang shared several resources (that were new to me) from the January 2022 Washington Ornithological Society meeting. By the way, Elaine credits Vicki King for researching and supplying this information. Keystone native plants are an important new idea. Douglas Tallamy in the book "Nature's Best Hope " explains that caterpillars supply more energy to birds than any other plant eater. He also mentions that 14% of our native plants, i.e. Keystone Plants, provide food for 90% of our caterpillars. This unique subset of native plants and trees enables critical moths, butterflies, and caterpillars that in turn provide food for the great majority of birds, especially during the breeding season. 

Here are the top two relevant links.

A video all about native keystone plants for wildlife:


New! Updated resources for adding keystone native plants to your yard. 


This updated collection includes a variety of new and different books, perspectives, and interactions between plants, birds, and insects. Thank you to Vicki King for continuing to collect all of these exceptionally helpful works. Also, thank you to each of the individuals who contributed.


In the area below it is my intention to display at least one photo each week to help challenge us to know the difference between native and non-native lifeforms.  (Due to time constraints this is the following is the same photo from last week. Although, it might be interesting to see if you remember the plant.)

What plant is this? Is it native to our area?

Scroll down for the answer.


Black Twin Berry: The same native plant mentioned at the beginning of (last week's) post. The flowers were hidden in the previous version of the photo but are shown now so you can see both the flower and the fruit, along with the leaves.


The Email Challenge:

Over the years, I have had many readers tell me that Google is no longer sending them email announcements. As of 2021,
 Google has discontinued the service.

In response, I have set up my own email list. With each post, I will manually send out an announcement. If you would like to be added to my personal email list please send me an email requesting to be added. Something like:

                Larry, I want to see more of nature. Please add me to your personal email list. 

Thank you for your patience and interest!

My email address is:  



The Comment Challenge:

Another common issue is losing your input while attempting to leave a comment on this blog. Often everything functions fine, however, sometimes people are unable to make it past the 
robot-detection challenge or maybe it is the lack of a Google account. I am uncertain about the precise issue. Sadly, a person can lose their comment with no recovery recourse. 

Bottom Line: 

If you write a long comment, please, copy it before hitting enter. Then, if the comment function fails to record your information, you can send the comment directly to me using email.

My email address is:  




  1. Thank you so much for posting this crucial information and the link to the city's webpage for this project. But I don't see *where* or *how* to put in a comment. What am I missing? Thank you!

    1. Brianna, The response from the city's website has been spotty at best. Some folks report having successfully commented and others have not been able to get through with the links in my post. Currently, I get a Thank You message but am unable to get through. If anyone successfully gets through and comments, in the future, I suggest adding a a request for a comment extension due to these issues. Larry

    2. For some unknown reason the link i provided seems to have stopped functioning properly. The alternative I have found is a bit more cumbersome but seems to work. Use the following link::


      Change the search by to Record Number and enter the number, 3030811-LU, and proceed.)

      Thank you for pointing this out!!