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May 17, 2021

Return of Bird of the Week: Opal-crowned Tanager

The Opal-crowned Tanager is a canopy dweller, spending its life in the upper third of mature jungle canopy in the mountain lowlands of Ecuador and Peru. The only times WC has seen it has been in a canopy tower, or on a steep hillside where a road give you a view of the downslope treetops. This view, poor as it is, is one of those hillside glimpses. The bird is unmistakeable, with that opal band around the crown of the head, dark blue-black back and electric blue body. Some ornithologists group this species with its cousin, Opal-rumped Tanager, in a…

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They’re back! Personnel problems

One thing you can say for Alaska – we know how to recycle. We may not do that well with aluminum cans, but politics? That’s another story. RECYCLE! Remember the guy that Gov. Dunleavy nominated to be the Commissioner of Administration and who got a little too creative with his resume and lied to the Senate by claiming that he was a frozen yogurt entrepreneur which he wasn’t, and eventually had to withdraw in shame? Well, he’s back. Jonathan Quick has now shown up as a candidate for the Kenai Borough Assembly. There’s just been a complaint filed with the…

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Return of Bird of the Week: Silver-beaked Tanager

Silver-beaked Tanager, Pantanal, Brazil

Yes, still with the tanagers. After all, there may be as many as 240 different species, although WC has so far photographed only a fraction of them.[^1] But staying with the silvery theme, meet the Silver-beaked Tanager. The bill is indeed bright silver, distinguishing the species from the Silver-backed Tanager and the Silver-throated Tanager. Maybe it’s a failure of naming imagination. It’s also one of the tougher birds to properly expose in a photograph. The silver, in anything but the lowest light, is almost mirror-like and if you drop the exposure enough to get any detail there, all detail in the black…

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When it’s quiet in Juneau…

Any parent of a toddler knows that feeling when you’re going about your business, and suddenly you realize… it’s been quiet for a while. Welcome to this week. We’re in between special sessions 2 and 3 (TBA) and a hush has fallen. Enjoy the quiet because pretty soon we’re going to discover WHY. TAKING IT TO THE PEOPLE Since deciding that the press is mean and fake (wonder where he came up with THAT?) Dunleavy has decided that he’s now going to just deliver the real news to the people directly from the government. That’s how it’s supposed to work…

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The Chosen One, the Unchosen One, and the Recall

TALL TALES from Juneau Eyes on the Dunleavy Disaster THE CHOSEN ONE The unexpected passing of Senator Chris Birch (R-Anchorage) on August 8 left a vacancy in the Alaska State Senate. Literally the next day, one of the Reps in his district, Laddie Shaw (R-Anchorage) was already vying for the seat stating it would be “an honor” to continue the work that Birch began. Only one problem, Shaw and Birch were on opposite sides of “the work.” Birch was an industry guy, and a moderate Republican who showed up in Juneau to do his job during the infamous special session…

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Return of Bird of the Week: Silver-throated Tanager

Silver-throated Tanager, Ecuador

Not to be confused with the Silver-backedTanager or the Silver-beakedTanager, The Silver-throatedTanager is a bird of the highlands of Costa Rica and Panama and the cloud forests of the northern and central Andes in South America. The bird’s plumage is unusual beyond the silver throat. Not many Tangaraspecies – the largest genus of Tanagers – have striping or barring, let alone a black line around  that fancy silvery bib. In  the tropics, where the variety of bird species can be bewildering, this bird is unmistakeable. There’s nothing like it. There are three subspecies; these first two are probably icterocephala, the southernmost….

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Return of the Bird of the Week: Flame-colored Tanager

Male Flame-colored Tanager, Panama

Don’t confuse the Flame-coloredTanager with the Flame-crested Tanagerfeatured a couple of weeks ago. Yes, the names are confusingly similar, but the birds certainly are not. The male is to the left; the badly out-of-focus bird to the right is the female. This tanager is different from the last sixteen or so in a couple of ways. First, this is the first tanager that sometimes occurs in the United States. It’s rare, but it has been seen several times in southern Arizona and west Texas. The regular range is northern Mexico to western Panama. The second difference is that ornithologists are unsure…

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Hey… Where’s this thing going?

Hey… Where is this thing going? As several journalists have pointed out – August is supposed to be a slow news month. But like many other things in Alaska, that’s been turned on its head. The Dunleavy steamroller is juiced up and going full speed. And so is the recall effort. Almost 40,000 signatures have been gathered so far in the first phase of the recall which will draw to a close on September 2. Phase 2 will come after the application is approved, and will require over 70,000 signatures (which looks extremely do-able at this point), and then after…

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Return of Bird of the Week: Lemon-rumped Tanager

Not everyone agrees that the Lemon-rumped Tanager is a species. The International Ornithological Congress does; that’s the world bird list that WC follows. The folks over at Clements think it is a subspecies of the Flame-rumped Tanager. Not to be confused with the Flame-coloredTanager, a completely different species. There was a failure of imagination in the naming of some tanager species. But either way the Lemon-rumped Tanager is a handsome bird. Jet black, with a brilliant lemon yellow rump, it is unmistakeable when you see it. The species – subspecies, if you prefer – ranges from Central America to southern…

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Gov. Mike Dunleavy didn’t come out and call it “fake news” but he may as well have. In his journey down the Trump copycat trail, he’s now blaming the media as a convenient excuse to not have to answer uncomfortable questions. Here’s the headline that got the governor’s nose out of joint. He said it was inaccurate. He would have preferred a headline that read: “The legislature chose that $1600 value of the Permanent Fund Dividend and he decided not to veto it.” And for the want of that awkward headline, he’s decided not to talk to the press anymore….

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