Friday, October 11, 2019

US Census Bureau Knocking On Doors

The US Census Bureau published this information:

The United States Census Bureau announced that “Neighborhood Address Canvassing” is underway through October 18th. Census employees will knock on doors and ask a few short questions to verify the address and any additional living spaces on the property for inclusion in the 2020 Census. 
Canvassers will at all times introduce themselves as a Census Bureau employee, show their official government ID badge, and explain the purpose of the visit. You may also ask the employee for a picture ID from another source (e.g., their driver’s license) to confirm their identity.  
You do not need to open your door to these employees. You can ask for them to first show you their badge and Census-branded gear through a window. You can also ask for them to more fully explain the reason for their visit. You may also open the door, close it behind you, and talk to them outside. You should only open your door if you feel fully comfortable doing so. 
If someone in your neighborhood is claiming they are a Census employee, but do not have an ID badge, a Census 2020-branded bag or laptop, you do not have to talk to them or open your door for them. You can report them to the Seattle Police Department non-emergency line: (206) 625-5011. 
A complete and accurate Census count is extremely important. Census data determines Congressional and local representation and how more than $675 billion in federal funds are distributed to communities. But, we also want you to feel safe. Know your rights, and be counted!

For more information go here.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

All About Cedar Waxwings At Yesler Swamp

Here is a recent post from the Union Bay Watch Blog published by Larry Hubbell, long-time local photographer and birder. 

Here also is an in-depth article about Larry and his work.

A Frugivoracious Thunger
Cedar Waxwings are frugivores... 

...meaning they eat fruit. This plant is a non-native Cotoneaster. 

Cedar Waxwings will eat insects, but unlike Swallows, insects are not their primary source of food. Did you notice the varied length of the tail feathers? This is a nice example of new feather growth. 

If you zoom in on this photo you will see hundreds of small dark smudges. Each one is an insect. On October 1st, the Waxwings were darting out from the upper branches of this cottonwood and picking insects out of this 'cloud' above Foster Island.

Insectivores love insects and carnivores prefer meat. In each case, the 'vore' portion of the word implies 'prefers to eat'. 

In early September, I found waxwings eating these black berries on a small tree near the western entrance to Yesler Swamp. I was not familiar with this particular type of tree. Luckily, I ran into JP, a Gardner at the Center for Urban Horticulture.

A few days later, JP sent me an email explaining that the small tree is a Chokecherry

A week later, I returned to see how the Waxwings were doing. The tree had been virtually stripped. I found only one cherry left and no Waxwings. They had a voracious appetite for the chokecherries.

In spite of their refined and elegant appearance, waxwings do not always dine in a slow and civilized fashion. This tree is a Chinese Sorbus. The fruit is slightly larger than the fruit of either the Cotoneaster or the Chokecherry.

For the last few weeks, the Waxwings have been descending and feasting on this specific type of Sorbus in the Arboretum. 

Apparently, the fruit is at just the right level of ripeness. I suspect it is the abundance and possibly the size of the fruit which has slowed them from simply stripping these trees bare.

In spite of the name, the fruit of the Chokecherry is small and easy for the Waxwings to swallow. The fruit of this Sorbus being slightly larger creates more of a danger of choking.

To test the fit this waxwing extends its hooked tongue and pulls the fruit into its mouth. This is quite different than a grebe or a heron which throws its head back and lets gravity help pull the fish down.

Here is a side view of the hooked tongue. The rear-facing hook is a highly functional tool.

The bird obviously must be debating whether or not this delicious piece of fruit will satisfy its appetite or stick in its throat and kill it.

A split second later the fruit 'pops' forward. Clearly, the Waxwing was not comfortable with the fit. It mashed the fruit a bit before trying again. This process was repeated over and over by dozens of Waxwings stationed throughout the Sorbus tree.

Occasionally, a piece of fruit would pop completely out of a waxwing's mouth. Sometimes this may have been a rejection due to the size at other times it was accidental. Most of the waxwings would let the fruit fall and simply select another piece. Only once, did I see a waxwing chase a piece of falling fruit. It was a juvenile bird and it flew halfway to the ground before turning back. 

Cedar Waxwings seem to have a universal fear of eating fruit off the ground. Either that or they have very good manners. On the other hand, American Robins, feeding in the same tree, have no problem landing on the ground in search of fallen fruit.

By the way, the mottled look on the chest of a waxwing indicates it is a juvenile. However, this is a very short-lived plumage, by January it will be gone.

By New Year's Day, they will develop a more elegant plumage which is quite similar to what this adult is wearing. 

Surprisingly, only a small percentage of adult Cedar Waxwings develop their namesake waxy-red wingtips, like this bird. The little red dot almost above the leg is a new feather just beginning to grow out. While the red dots that are closer to the tail are on older more fully formed flight feathers.
Their hunger is so strong they often hover while looking for the perfect piece of fruit. Like with hummingbirds, it is surprising that the energy expended is adequately offset by the fruit consumed.

They tend to descend on the trees in flocks and attack the fruit...

 ...from every possible angle.

Sometimes, they hang upside down while searching through the leaves. (Younger birds like this one appear to have smaller and sharper yellow tips on their tail feathers.)

Surprisingly, there are multiple ways to hang upside down.

I suspect the odd looking angles for grasping their prize are all about twisting it free. Maybe if the fruit is properly ripe it just pops loose.

This fruit was being twisted so that the orange underside has been revealed.

Between this photo, and the next one, you can see the range of a single bird's twisting effort.

Their focus displays the intensity of their appetite. I think their desire for fruit is so strong that the term frugivore is an understatement. I suggest we refer to them as being frugivoracious.

Also, I wonder if waxwings distinguish between hunger and thirst. When waxwings are eating fresh fruit do they require any water? Could they be similar to young Bald Eagles - who spend their first few months in a nest without a source of water. This implies to me that for some creatures hunger and thirst may seem like a single appetite or at most slight variations on a single theme. 

For example, I suspect the growth hormone in trees, which causes leaves to reach out and compete for sunshine and oxygen, might be the same hormone that causes the roots to grow and grasp for moisture and nutrients. It seems unlikely to me that nature would develop different systems for doing similar activities unless there was a specific benefit for each unique approach.

Could it be that a bird's desire to consume might be more precisely stated in a single word? For some avian creatures might their thirst and hunger be more properly combined and called...thunger? 

If you ask me to use this new word in a sentence I would say, It appears to me that Cedar Waxwings have a frugivoracious thunger.
By the way, if you have read the new report regarding the serious decline in bird species you will be happy to hear that the Cedar Waxwing population is stable. Click Here to read the section labeled Conservation which reviews the waxwing population.

Do you see the bird in this photo? Is it a Union Bay native?

Brown Creeper: It is a northwest native and can be found around Union Bay year-round. 

This is simply a closeup of the prior photo - in which the bird is in the middle

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

SR520 Lanes Reduced This Week-End

WSDOT published this information about westbound lanes being reduced from three to two lanes:  

From 11 p.m. Friday to Monday, Oct. 14, crews will close westbound SR 520 between 92nd Avenue Northeast on the eastside and Montlake Boulevard in Seattle.

All associated SR 520 on- and off-ramps will close between 92nd Avenue Northeast and Montlake Boulevard.

The SR 520 Trail will also close across Lake Washington between Seattle and the Evergreen Point lid in Medina.

Westbound transit users and drivers should use alternative routes. Crews will close westbound State Route 520 this weekend to reduce westbound lanes from three to two between the floating bridge and Montlake Boulevard. The weekend closure is part of a two-step approach to reduce and shift lanes so crews can create a new work zone in the Montlake area and build new eastbound lanes from Montlake Boulevard to the floating bridge. 
This weekend, the first step in the process, crews will close westbound SR 520 across Lake Washington. The weekend of Oct. 26-27, crews will close eastbound SR 520. Once the process is complete, the highway will be reduced from three lanes to two in each direction between Montlake Boulevard and the floating bridge, creating the new work zone.  
The work is part of the $455 million SR 520 Montlake Project that constructs new eastbound lanes between Montlake Boulevard and the new floating bridge, builds a new Montlake community-connecting lid and transit hub (pdf 9 mb), rebuilds the Montlake Boulevard interchange, and constructs a bike and pedestrian bridge over SR 520. 
During construction, the speed limit will reduce to 40 mph to keep travelers and workers safe through the mile-and-a-half work zone between the floating bridge and Montlake Boulevard . Construction, including various work-zone configurations in the Montlake area, is expected to last until early 2023. 
“We’re asking drivers to slow down and pay attention in this area,” said Dave Becher, SR 520 director of construction. “We know this is an inconvenience now, but when construction is complete, travelers will have three lanes in each direction all the way across Lake Washington and people will have use of a new lid over SR 520 in Seattle.” 
SR 520 will be back to the 2017 lane configuration.  Once the lane-reduction process is complete, SR 520 will have two lanes in each direction between west of the new floating bridge and Montlake Boulevard, with no HOV lanes. This will be the same configuration that existed in 2017 before the new westbound lanes west of the floating bridge opened. 
Besides creating a work zone to build a new lid in Seattle, crews are shifting eastbound traffic onto part of the newly built westbound lanes. This will create room to build the new eastbound lanes. The old eastbound lanes that travel over Lake Washington were built in the 1960s and are vulnerable to earthquakes. The new, higher-capacity eastbound lanes will be wider and have an HOV lane and shoulder, making for a safer and smoother eastbound trip to the Eastside.
For more information go here.  

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Items Found On Boulevard, Possibly From Car Prowl

The Laurelhurst Blog received this information from a neighbor:

I found what looks like the unwanted remains of a car prowl on Friday morning, 10/4.  
The items are: one pair gray gym shoes, miscellaneous small shampoo bottles, swim goggles, a lock, an OSU stocking cap, one pair black ankle sox, and a yellow tape measure.  
The ittems were found on the parking strip near the SW corner of intersection 43rd Avenue NE and NE 41st Street.

Please contact for more information.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Children's Hospital Construction Activity This Week


Children's Hospital has begun construction activity in preparation for the new Building Care, Forest B, Phase 2 of the expansion, planned to open in Spring of 2022.

The 310,000 square-foot addition will add an eight-story building and will includes diagnostic and treatment facilities, primarily out-patient cancer and others) labs, new state-of-the-art operating rooms, 20 inpatient beds, and a lobby. There will be two floors of underground parking and sterile processing. This will bring SCH bed total to 409, up from 200 before its expansion 2012 plan.

The helicopter landing pad has already moved temporarily to the roof of Forest A (176’), now known as Friends of Costco Building, Phase 1 of the expansion. The landing pad will be active for the next four years, until Building Care is completed Noise is expected to be louder than the former ground-based helipad. When Forest B is complete, the helistop will moves to its permanent location on top of the Friends of Costco Building (same height).

The Hospital posted this information on their Construction Blog about specific construction activity this week: 
    •  Beginning Wednesday, crews will begin work to widen the existing fire lane on Seattle Children’s property from NE 45th Street (the fire lane roughly aligns with 42nd Avenue NE). 
    • Other fire lane expansion activities near NE 45th Street: install site fence; cut and cap existing electrical and irrigation lines; remove existing landscaping. This work is expected to last through late November. 
    • The sidewalk on the north side of NE 45th Street will be closed between 8-4:30 p.m. during construction. 
    • The vehicular travel lanes within NE 45th Street will be shifted, but 2  lanes of travel will be maintained. 
    • Neighbors south of NE 45th Street will experience some noise and moderate vibrations during construction. 
    • Activities south of Forest A (near the loading dock and 40th Avenue NE): demolish old electrical equipment; install striping and curbs; restore landscaping
    • Install rebar and pour concrete for walls, footings, columns, and slabs
    • Install metal panels on exterior mock-up
    • Strip concrete
    • Set stairs in underground area
    • Excavation and backfill
    • Install underground conduits
    • Set Seattle City Light transformer vaults (Oct. 12)
    • Activities on River level 7: frame and install walls and doors at skybridge connection point
    • Internal activities: reconfigure existing fire equipment on Forest A level 1
Call 206-987-8000 or email with questions.

Friday, October 4, 2019

August Neighborhood Crime Report

Below are two separate reports for August crime activity in the neighborhood.

The first is the Neighborhood Private Security Patrol activity report (subscribe here) provided by the Laurelhurst Community Club.

The second is the Seattle Police Department crime report.

The Neighborhood Private Security Patrol activity report: 

9/21 Removed teens from the park  Multiple reports of car prowls of unlocked cars during the night

Seattle Police reports for August crime activity in the neighborhood: 

8/1   4:09am  4300 block of NE 55th Street

8/7  1:00am    3500 block of NE 41st Street

8/7    4:26pm  3800 block of 49th Avenue NE

8/13    5:21pm   5100 block of 45th Avenue NE

8/13   11:38pm   4700 block of 38th Avenue NE

8/14  10:25am  4200 block of Mary Gates Drive

8/16   6:40am   3000 block of West Laurelhurst Drive NE

8/16   11:59am   3600 block of NE 45th Street

8/16   5:31am   4500 block of 37th Avenue NE

8/16   11:32pm   5500 block of 36th Avenue NE

8/17   8:11am   4700 block of 49th Avenue NE
8/23   7:29am   4400 block of 43rd Avenue NE

8/24  1:02am  NE 45th Street and Marg Gates Drive

8/25   4:21pm    5500 block of 38th Avenue NE

8/25  6:04pm   4500 block of 47th Avenue NE

8/30   4300 block of 43rd Avenue NE   4:44pm