Birding in Seattle – Stone, Metal, and Terra Cotta

Seattle is well known for its abundant bald eagle population, with nearly two dozen nests in and around the city. The nests are generally in large green spaces, such as parks and greenbelts, but you can also find many eagles in downtown Seattle. In fact, there are more eagles downtown than any place else. And they are not alone. Several other species are found in the urban canyons.

Although none are real—they are terra cotta, metal, and carved stone—they are fun to find and see. Below are photographs of some of the several dozen eagles, as well as a few other species, a set of duck tracks, and one bird outside of downtown. Please let me know if you know of others.

Former Eagles Auditorium, now ACT Theater
Former Eagles Auditorium, now ACT Theater
Eagle, Pelican, Gull (real) at 215 Columbia. There is also duck and another pelican on this frieze.
Eagle(?), Pelican, Gull (real) at 215 Columbia.
Another pelican at 215 Columbia. Can also see a duck on the frieze.
Another pelican at 215 Columbia.
A duck in the frieze.
A duck in the frieze.
And nearby the duck left its tracks.
And nearby the duck left its tracks.
Former Seattle Times HQ on Olive between 4th and 5th
Former Seattle Times HQ on Olive between Fourth and Fifth
Former Eagles Auditorium, Union St on 7th
Former Eagles Auditorium, Union St on Seventh
Eagles atop the Washington Athletic Club
Eagles atop the Washington Athletic Club
Small metal adornment First between Spring and Seneca
Small metal adornment, First between Spring and Seneca
Stylized cormorant (?) on water meter covers
Water meter covers – Two friends think it’s a stylized cormorant. I think it looks more like a green heron or bittern. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Eagle and sun at 1411 Fourth
Eagle and sun at 1411 Fourth.
Plaza of Norton Building on Second between Marion and Columbia
Plaza of Norton Building on Second between Marion and Columbia. By artist Philip McCracken.
South side of new Federal Building on Marion
South side of new Federal Building on Marion. Also by Philip McCracken.
One of two owls on Tenth Avenue East at East Galer Street
One of two owls on Tenth Avenue East at East Galer Street. The surrounding area used to be known as Owl Hollow.

 

Locks Centennial

Today begins a 17-month-long commemoration of one of the great events in Seattle history. On July 4, 1917, the Lake Washington Ship Canal and Locks officially opened. It was the culmination of a multi-year project to connect Puget Sound to Lake Washington via Salmon Bay and Lake Union. I have written previously about this endeavor but would like to highlight one of the more significant, early construction milestones.

On February 2, 1916, fresh water from Salmon Bay entered the bigger of the two locks in the canal system. The lock was filled in 32 minutes with enough water so that it was equal to the level of Salmon Bay. As you can see from the second photo, there was enough pressure on the lock gate from Salmon Bay to push the gate open slightly. The February 3, 1916, Seattle Times called the event “the opening of the world’s greatest tidal basin.” (As you can see from the photo, snow covered the ground from one of the biggest snowstorms in Seattle history.)

Courtesy Army Corps of Engineers
Courtesy Army Corps of Engineers
Courtesy Army Corps of Engineers
Courtesy Army Corps of Engineers

After filling the locks, the Army Corps of Engineers opened the gates completely. This then became the route for tidal water to flow into Salmon Bay. At high tide, salt water would enter the bay and flood it. At low tide, water would drain out, exposing several acres of tide flats.

Prior to February 2, tidal salt water had entered Salmon Bay on the south side of the locks, where the present day spill gates are located. With the gates open, the Corps closed off the south side route and began to build the spill gate system, which is basically a dam helping to keep Salmon Bay at a constant level between 20 and 22 feet above sea level.

On February 3, the first boat, the Orcas, entered the locks and passed through to Salmon Bay. The locks would remain open until July 12, 1916, when the dam/spill gate was finished, and the Corps began to flood Salmon Bay with water from Lake Union. Salmon Bay would soon become the reservoir we now know.

Courtesy Army Corps of Engineers
Courtesy Army Corps of Engineers