On Friday, November 2nd, 2018, Dan and Ginger Poleschook returned to the Highland Wonders education series to update our community on how our local loons have fared in the seven years since the Poleschook’s last presentation in Tonasket. They shared stories of our local loons — where they hatched, adventures they have experienced, obstacles they have overcome, and which loons at which lakes are related to each other. Some stories reflected loons as being highly intelligent, beyond their basic survival skills and genetic influences, and provided examples of loons having long-term memories of places and people. We learned ways in which people have helped loons survive, and what we can do to increase and protect future populations of the common loon.

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On Friday, January 6th, 2017, award-winning photographer Paul Bannick returned to Highland Wonders with a presentation based on his new book, Owl: A Year in the Lives of North American Owls. In Owl, Paul uses his intimate yet dramatic images to follow North American owls through the course of one year and in their distinct habitats.

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Crows are mischievous, playful, social, and passionate. They have brains that are huge for their body size and exhibit an avian kind of eloquence. They mate for life and associate with relatives and neighbors for years. And because they often live near people, they are also keenly aware of our peculiarities, quickly learning to recognize and approach those who care for them, even giving numerous, oddly touching gifts in return. The characteristics of crows that allow this symbiotic relationship are language, delinquency, frolic, passion, wrath, risk-taking, and awareness—seven traits that humans find strangely familiar.

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The Highland Wonders educational series kicked off 2016 with an opportunity to learn about the world of grouse breeding behavior, with an inside perspective on grouse mating systems Dr. Michael Schroeder. Mike has a Ph.D. in wildlife biology and is the upland bird research scientist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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Renowned biologist, birder, and author Dick Cannings brought his vast knowledge of birds to Highland Wonders on Friday, February 6, 2015. In his inspiring presentation, “The World Needs More Birders,” Cannings demonstrated how going out to enjoy and watch birds can also generate valuable information about the abundance and distribution of bird species in our region. Drawing on a long career as a professional biologist, Cannings conveyed anecdotes, stories, and experiences that underscore the need for citizen science programs. Through coordinated efforts, the public can be actively involved in turning bird watching into a collective database of bird breeding, bird behavior, and migration.

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Not only are Great Gray Owls the largest owl in North America with the largest wingspan, their stature and countenance spark a sense of wonder. With alternate names such as “Great Grey Ghost” and “Phantom of the North,” they inspire awe and pique our curiosity. From unique adaptations for locating prey, to behaviors for defending their nests, to strategies for successful breeding, these masters of silent flight capture our interest.

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Ken at Lost Lake (Photo by Teri Pieper)

On February 7th, 2014, wildlife biologist Ken Bevis, who is also a singer/songwriter, provided an entertaining evening of stories, photos, songs and science, aiming for a closer understanding of some of Washington’s fish and wildlife… sometimes from the viewpoint of the critters themselves! This family-friendly program was fun for all ages! Species featured in the “Saga of Washington’s Fish and Wildlife” presentation included: sandhill crane, bull trout, chinook salmon, hummingbirds, black bear, and more…

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On Friday, Feb 1st, 2013, Dr. Michael Schroeder brought his wealth of experience with, “Grouse of the Okanogan.” We learned that Okanogan County is home to seven species of grouse, more than any other county in the US. Okanogan County is home to: Sage Grouse, White-Tailed Ptarmigan, Sharp-Tailed Grouse, Spruce Grouse, Ruffed Grouse, Dusky Grouse, and Sooty Grouse. There are 12 species in total across the United States.

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