>Wildlife Update – 7/25/08


Midshipman Fish. One of the more common fish in the area is the midshipman fish, though seldomly seen. Recently when showing some visitors the beach area during a low tide we lifted some rocks to see what was under them. What we saw were yellow eggs on the underside of the rock and a midshipman fish underneath.

The midshipman is a nocturnal fish that buries itself during the day. During breeding season the male digs out an area under a rock and sends out a 100 hertz humming sound to attach females who them lay their eggs on the underside of the rock. She then moves on and he continues to try and attract more females and also guards the eggs.

When talking with some long time residents they say these fish have always been around and one said they call them croakers because when touched on the head they emit a croaking sound. There is much more on these fish on the internet. Someone reported they are under every bigger rock in Illahee and discovered three fish under one rock. We will try to get some photos for a future update.

Illahee Dock Report. The report from the dock is that it has been a good year for red rock crab. There are also lots of shiner perch (poggies) around and also large schools of small salmon seen swimming by. One poggie fisherman caught a 10 inch Chinook salmon which had its adipose fin cut off indicating it was a hatchery fish. We are beginning to have a better understanding of why the nearshore beach areas are so important for a healthy Puget Sound and for Chinook. Some rock cod have been caught, but no reports of catches of piling perch that used to be common around the dock.

Sediment Depth at the Dock. A check on the amount of mud or sediment at the base of the shore side float revealed the depth of the mud was 30 inches at the south end, and 24 inches at the north end. Not that many years ago divers would collect squid jigs that had gotten caught on the rocks under the floats. The good news for jiggers is that they aren’t losing their lures, but the bad news is sediment is accumulating under the dock at an alarming rate. It is an indication of the amount of sediment that is coming down from Illahee Creek during storm events, and the reason the Port of Illahee is concerned about the creek and the depth of water at the floats.

White Pigeons/Doves? We received several emails regarding the white pigeons/doves, but nothing about who might be raising them or where in Illahee they might reside. We also received a sighting of a parrot that evidently got lose. Here are two of the pigeon/dove responses.

Of course it’s hard to tell without seeing the bird in life, but it looks to me like a white variant of your basic rock dove (Columba livia), which is the bird that hangs around in parks and that everyone calls a pigeon. I found a nice pic of a white pigeon at a University of Hawaii web page: http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/biology101/birds/campus_birds.htm

Another candidate might be the ringneck dove (Streptopelia risoria), which is the kind that’s commonly kept as pets and inappropriately released at weddings or other celebratory events. I can’t be certain from the photo, but the size and shape of what the folks have been seeing at Illahee looks a little more robust than a typical ringneck dove. Here’s a link to a page with a bunch of color variants of S. risoria: http://www.dovepage.com/species/domestic/Ringneck/ringneckcolorlist.html. You can see that most of those individuals look a little daintier than the birds that are in the photo you got from Jim.

The following response was received from a former president of the Seattle Audubon Society.


Varieties of domesticated pigeons are all descendants from the Rock Pigeon Columba livia , (formerly called Rock Dove).

These appear to be a white morph (form) of the Rock Pigeon. You can see many of these morphs just by looking at a flock of “city pigeons”, almost all Rock Pigeons fit into one of these morph patterns. They may have been bred by someone to dominate the white morph. Cornell University has done a great deal of study of Rock Pigeon morphs and these can be seen by Googling their website or other Rock Pigeon websites.

Pigeon Color Morphs


This bird has two black or dark gray stripes or “bars” on each light-gray wing. It has a dark-gray body and shiny, rainbow-like neck feathers.


This bird has two red stripes or “bars” on each light-gray wing. It also has a rusty-red or brown shade to its body.


This bird has one dark color spread all over its body.


This bird has a rusty-red or brown shade to its body and light-gray bars on its wings.


This bird looks a little like a checkerboard. Its wing feathers have checks of light and dark.

pied white

This bird has white as well as other colors on its body. The “pied white flight” has white wing feathers, which are easy to see when the bird is flying.

pied splash

The “pied splash” pigeon has one or more spots of white.


This bird is solid white. This color morph is what some people call a dove of peace.

Keep sending us your reports. We will eventually get them out to the community.

Jim Aho