Pigeon Guillemot – Frances Wood, SSGN


Frances Wood, author, artist, naturalist, co-founder of the Salish Sea Guillemot Network (SSGN)

Speaker: Frances Wood, Class of 2001, is an avid naturalist, artist and writer with a focus on helping people engage with the natural world through appreciation of birds and birdwatching. She is the author of five books including Brushed by Feathers: A Year of Birdwatching in the West. She was co-creator and scriptwriter for BirdNote, a daily two-minute radio program on the intriguing ways of birds. Frances is painting a growing collection of bird portraits featuring the common birds of the West. She is represented by the Rob Schouten Gallery in Langley, WA. 

With volunteers from the Whidbey Audubon Society, Frances crafted the Pigeon Guillemot Breeding Survey that now involves numerous community science groups from around Puget Sound. In 2020, a team of Camano SWS began surveys on Port Susan.

Frances Wood was named Jan Holmes Coastal Volunteer of the Year for 2022.

Class Description: This program will introduce you to these entertaining seabirds, describe the research being conducted and explain how you can get involved in this community science project.

Pigeon Guillemots are black and white seabirds with fire engine red feet and mouth linings. Each spring, these chunky and charming birds return to breeding colonies in seaside bluffs throughout the Salish Sea. The Puget Sound Partnership selected this species as one of the birds in the Puget Sound Vital Signs which are indicators of the health of Puget Sound.

For 20+ years, community scientists have been studying these birds, collecting and distributing data on the long-term population trends, breeding success, types of prey delivered to the young, and disturbances to the guillemot colonies. Salish Sea Guillemot Network‘s online training videos teach what data is collected and explain the protocols and the forms. Please enjoy the videos at www.pigeonguillemot.org

Read the reflections of Ellyn Thoreen, Class of 2020, on her quiet time during her first season on the beach with the birds.

To learn more about becoming involved in the survey, contact Lee Badovinus on Whidbey or Ellyn Thoreen on Camano. (Find their contact details in the Member Directory)


Below, Francis Wood explains the importance and value of community science. This was recorded before the Class of 2021 on 4-29-2021.

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