Attack of the Giant Green Anemone!

Anemones living in caves are not as bright green as those living in sunnier areas.

This could be a somewhat believable title for a cheesy horror movie. After all, Giant Green Anemones are carnivorous. Not to worry! The sting is harmless to humans.

These beautiful flower-shaped creatures feed on small fish, newly molted crabs, sea urchins, detached mussels, and bits of marine plants. Some fish have developed protection against the anemone’s sting by covering themselves with mucus.

Little Giants

Even though Giant Green Anemones carry the name ‘Giant’ most only measure between seven and 12-inches.

They live a solitary life, and sometimes congregate in small groups (less than 14). These small groups create what looks to be a beautiful underwater floral arrangement. They will change color depending on the amount of light they receive. Different types of anemones will have other colors.

A Deadly Crown

Giant Green Anemones sport an oval crown of six or more rows of tentacles. These tentacles have stinging cells that help protect the anemone from predators. The tentacles also stun prey and help pull the prey into the anemone’s mouth.

Predators include seastars, snails, sea spiders, and fish. Some predators feed on the tentacles and others feed on the column.

Finding Them

Giant Green Anemones stay in the same location most of their lives. They can slowly walk around and swim to escape predators or when detached. These little giants are found in intertidal zones from Alaska south potentially as far as Panama.

Intertidal zones are areas that are above the water level during low tide. Anemones prefer areas where water is present most of the day such as tidepools and relatively shallow harbors.

Low tide will sometimes expose Anemones clinging to pilings and rocks, or even on the beach. When exposed, the anemone will ‘droop’ or close up into its green and brown stem while waiting for the incoming tide.

The fragile, yet harsh Intertidal zones are a challenging place to live but does provide some predation protection. Water conditions can be challenging. While the tide is regular, the shore may not pool the water. The water may be salty one day and diluted by fresh rain the next, and hard wave action can carry one out to sea. Still, many species, like the Giant Green Anemone, thrive there.

Amazing Factoid: A compound from the Giant Green Anemone is used by the pharmaceutical industry to create a beneficial heart stimulant for humans.

–Wikipedia Anthopleura xanthogrammica and Intertidal zones (
–About Giant Green Anemone, Monterey Bay Aquarium (

There is a nest nearby. I can’t see it, but I know it is tucked high in the tall Douglas-fir overlooking the river.  

Photo from Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

Most Bald Eagle nests are within one-half mile of a body of water. After all fish is one of their favorite foods. The water, in this case, is a coastal shoreline and the Coquille River. Bald Eagles will also nest near bays, lakes, farm ponds, especially if they can find large trees, an unobstructed view of the water, and few humans.

Their shadows smoothly slide across the grass. Today they hunt.

Bald Eagles will hunt over large areas soaring up to 10,000 feet. In addition to fish, they will also take other animals such as birds, turtles, and mammals (like rabbits and rodents). They are not particularly fond of mammals, but will take them or mammal carrions.

Carrion, particularly in the winter, is frequently scavenged. They are considered to be an opportunistic predator meaning that they hunt when necessary and scavenge carrion when possible.

Every once in a while, they fly back to the nest clutching a large and noticeably heavy fish. Makes a weird shadow. Scares the little birds.

These large raptors are scary. They can sport a wingspan of up to 8 feet! Their body is just a few inches short of a yard. Adult birds can weigh upwards of 14 lbs. As with many birds, the females are larger than the males.

Bald Eagles will hunt other birds (such as geese and gulls). They are known to harass other eagles and Ospreys in an attempt to steal food from them. They are also known to occasionally steal food from other mammals and occasionally humans.

Big birds need big nests.

Bald Eagles build some of the largest nests of any bird. The size will depend on the supporting tree but are often 5-6 feet in diameter and 2-4 feet tall. The nest can weigh upwards of a ton! The largest recorded Bald Eagle nest was found in St. Petersburg, Florida. It measured nearly 9 ½ feet in diameter and just over 20 feet tall.

Building a nest is serious business and can take up to three months to build. These nests may be used over many years with additional materials being added each year. Sometimes ground nests, on cliff sides may be built.

One glance and you know what the little birds see.

Feathers of the adult Bald Eagle are quite distinctive with the white head and tail, brown body, with yellow beak, eyes, and feet. The distinctive color appears when the bird reaches four to five years of age. Both sexes have similar plumages.

Bald Eagles live a long time.

The oldest recorded wild bird, killed by a car in 2015, was at least 38 years old. Birds in captivity are known to live even longer.

Want to know more?

The Bald Eagle is one of the most studied North American birds and is the only sea-eagle found throughout North America. To learn more, visit the following references:
–Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, My ODFW “Raptors” (
–All About Birds, The Cornell Lab (…)
–Oregon Wild (
–USDI, Fish and Wildlife Service “Bald Eagle” (

The great wanderer

Peregrine Falcon (Photo courtesy of ODFW)

The word “peregrine” means wanderer or pilgrim. Peregrine is a perfect name for this falcon that lives on several oceanic islands and every continent except Antarctica.

Humans and Peregrine falcons have history. Humans have trained falcons as a hunting partners for thousands of years.

This knowledge and experience became critical between 1950-1970 when populations were wiped out by DDT poisoning. Populations in captivity and handling techniques were used to help re-establish populations and save this species.

After significant recovery efforts, Peregrine Falcon populations have rebounded with an estimated global breeding population of around 140,000.  They are now regularly seen in many large cities and coastal areas, reside in Oregon, and the species was removed from the Endangered Species List in 1999.

Super Bird

Peregrine falcons have such amazing skills they dwarf comic book super heros. To start with they are, without a doubt, the fastest bird alive.

SPEED: General traveling flight is only around 25-34 mph, In pursuit, these numbers dramatically change to nearly 69 mph, with spectacular skydives reaching speeds of 240 mph.

These skydives, called stoops, begin 300–3,000 feet above their prey. The falcon tucks its pointy wings tightly to the body to maximize speed. It then either strikes or grabs the prey hard enough to stun or kill.

Peregrine falcon hunting (royalty free Unsplash)

HUNTING TECHNIQUES: Other hunting techniques include selecting birds out of a large flock, level pursuit, and ground hunting. If you see a sudden eruption of a peaceful flock, a Peregrine is most likely nearby. Some of the flock may be trying to mob the Peregrine and drive it off.

FLEXIBLE DIET: Prey predominantly includes primarily birds, but can include bats, rodents, fish and prey pirated from other raptors.  Falcons consume over 450 North American species. Worldwide diet choices can run upward of 2,000 choices worldwide.

This can include birds ranging from a large Sandhill Crane to a tiny hummingbird. More typical prey species include shorebirds, ptarmigan, ducks, gulls, pigeons, and songbirds.

FEW PREDATORS: Predators include eagles, Great Horned owls, Gyrfalcons, and other peregrines.

SHARED CHARACTERISTICS: All falcons have some shared characteristics that includes: a conspicuously toothed and notched bill, a nasal cone, and pointed wings which may span over 44 inches.


It is not unusual to find a 24/7 camera poised on a Peregrine falcon nest perched on a tall building in the city.  Peregrines will perch and nest on any open tall structure such as a skyscraper, water tower, power structures, bridges, rim of the Grand Canyon, in trees on steep slopes, and more.

They typically create a nest about one-third down the cliff face anywhere from 25 to 1,300 feet high. The nest itself is pretty minimal ‘scrape’ about nine inches across and two inches deep. 

In a pinch, falcons will select abandoned nests created by other birds such as, Bald Eagles, Osprey, Red-tailed Hawk.

Superstar Chicks

At birth, this baby is entirely helpless with closed eyes. Yet, the tiny falcon chick will work up to 36 hours to peck free of it shell. This amazingly, difficult process has been the focus of many morning  falcon-cam programs. 

Juveniles have many vertical bars on their breasts. Adults also have the barred under breast, with blue-gray feathers above and a dark head with thick sideburns. This barred look is standard across all ages and geographic variation.

Where to find them

Peregrines inhabit open landscapes from tundra to deserts when not nesting. Areas include coastlines, barrier islands, lake edges, mudflats, and cliff sides. They may also be found near concentrations of prey, such as Rock Pigeons.

Peregrines in the Arctic tundra will migrate to South American earning their high mileage discount by covering as much as 15,500 miles in one year.  Their sharp homing instinct will lead them back to favored nesting spots which may have been in continuous use for hundreds of years, by successive falcon generations. 

JUST FOR FUN! Take an amazing virtual ride on the back of a trained falcon named Genghis at

–Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, raptors (
–All About Birds, Cornell (