The U.S. will rejoin the Paris Accords, once again officially recognizing the science of climate change. Don’t be Biden your time until you hear any new Cabinet member call for more coal, more CO2. This may be the political cycle when the electric vehicle finally gets boosted into dominance. The Biden energy plans call for more electric cars, more broadband (which could mean even less commuting than we have now), tighter emission controls, clean mass transit.

Biden intends to push the US toward 100% renewable energy. This is an updated version of the rural electrification program or the interstate highway program of a century gone by. HIs biggest hurdle–keeping the Republicans in the Senate from blocking everything he is trying to get done. Biden is NOT promising more tax cuts for the 1% so the elephants may leave the room angry, to try to stomp on all reform. They certainly warn of death and destruction…as Hebert Hoover left office he warned that FDR would destroy American cities and grass would be growing up in the streets.

Today it became clear that the Keystone Pipeline will be stopped.

It is also likely many anti-wildlife orders from departing destroyers will, in turn, get over-turned. Along with all those proposed drilling leases inside national parks and wildlife refuges,

Posted by: atowhee | January 19, 2021

FAUVES COME HOME

Winter gray briefly dispelled. There was an inkling at dawn. I stepped outside before the official sunrise time according to my cell phone. Slanted light was painting the sky and its clouds.

Most days the brightest color is a couple of wet-wilted yellowish roses and the scrub-jays’ blue. Today both goldfinch species appeared with feathers that show showing newness, and bright colors. But the leading Fauve was Mrs. Townsend. The male Townsend’s Warbler with his gaudy black and gold headdress could be likened to a Vegas blazing neon. She, however, is a living Matisse. Any appearance by a Townsend’s this winter comes as a bright spot, there have only been a few, and then the wintering mountain bird vanishes, leaving me to count juncos and await Bushtits drab but cheerful business and busyness.

Notice how naturally the human eye (and another warbler’s eyes as well) go to the bright face on the left side of the frame. The drab little siskin gets easily unlooked, which is beyond overlooked.

The chestnut-back is only here occasionally, same for Downy–but they both showed up for today’s color parade. The male flicker is regular in our garden…whenever the Coop is not about, like today.

After seeing the above chickadee pics, Rusty Scalf, a birde rin the Bay Area, sent me this note: “Remarkable how much brighter chestnut your CB Chickadees are than those here in Berkeley.”
In general I have learned the wetter and darker the climate, the darker plumage on the local breeding birds. Our Song Sparrows are much darker than those breeding in Colorado or Kansas. Ditto Cascades Fox Sparrows vs. those in the Great Basin ranges.

Here are two of the several Golden-crowned Sparrows at Minto-Brown. One was up in a tree eating some winterized cherries:

954 Ratcliff Drive SE, Marion, Oregon, US
Jan 19, 2021
14 species

Downy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
California Scrub-Jay  X
American Crow  X
Black-capped Chickadee  2
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  1
Bewick’s Wren  1
European Starling  X
House Finch  1
Pine Siskin  6
Lesser Goldfinch  3
American Goldfinch  1
Dark-eyed Junco  40
Townsend’s Warbler  1

Minto-Brown Island Park, Marion, Oregon, US
Jan 19, 2021
14 species

Northern Shoveler  4
American Wigeon  2
Mallard  120
Green-winged Teal  200
Bufflehead  15
Anna’s Hummingbird  1
Red-tailed Hawk  2
American Kestrel  1
Peregrine Falcon  1
California Scrub-Jay  1
American Crow  3
Golden-crowned Sparrow  18
Song Sparrow  2
Spotted Towhee  1

Posted by: atowhee | January 18, 2021

SWANS PLUS

A small group of socially distanced birders made a quick visit to Baskett Slough this morning. We also met a photographer there from the McMinnville News-Register paper. They’re planning an article on birding during covid.

A small flock of swans flew right over our heads as birded the pond next to Covill Road. Everybody else we saw were lesser beings. Nicest surprise were two pairs–Hooded Merganser and Cinnamon Teal, both sharing what I think of as the scaup pond. It’s right next to Smithfield Road, easily viewed from car–at the road’s elbow where the Van Duzer entrance road starts uphill from Smithfield.

Black Phoebe seem more widespread this winter than last–saw one at the main parking lot along Covill Road.

Outnumbering even the starlings were the huge flocks of wintering Cackling Geese–most were grazing the pastures.
There is a great deal of open water at Baskett Slough now after this month’s heavy, frequent rains.

Baskett Slough NWR, Polk, Oregon, US
Jan 18, 2021
5.0 mile(s)
24 species

Cackling Goose  6000
Canada Goose  X
Tundra Swan  6
Northern Shoveler  X
Gadwall  X
Mallard  X
Northern Pintail  X
Green-winged Teal  X
Bufflehead  4
Mourning Dove  1
Coot  X
Killdeer  X
Great Blue Heron  1
Great Egret  8
Northern Harrier  1
Red-tailed Hawk  X
American Kestrel  2
Black Phoebe  1     at main parking lot on Covill Road
European Starling  X
American Robin  X
American Pipit  30
Song Sparrow  X
Spotted Towhee  1
Red-winged Blackbird  X

Baskett Slough NWR–Smithfield Rd., Polk, Oregon, US
Jan 18, 2021
20 species

Cinnamon Teal  2     in pond at elbow where the Van Duzer Winery entrance road heads uphill
Northern Shoveler  X
American Wigeon  X
Mallard  X
Ring-necked Duck  1     in pond at elbow where the Van Duzer Winery entrance road heads uphill
Lesser Scaup  6     in pond at elbow where the Van Duzer Winery entrance road heads uphill
Hooded Merganser  2     in pond at elbow where the Van Duzer Winery entrance road heads uphill
Killdeer  20
Great Egret  1
Great Blue Heron 1
Bald Eagle  2     second year bird and a first year bird, far apart
Red-tailed Hawk  4
American Kestrel  1
California Scrub-Jay  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
European Starling  X
American Robin  X
Golden-crowned Sparrow  X
Song Sparrow  X
Spotted Towhee  1

Livermore Rd., Polk, Oregon, US
Jan 18, 2021
19 species

Canada Goose  X
Northern Shoveler  X
Mallard  X
Green-winged Teal  X
Killdeer  X
Great Egret  1
Northern Harrier  3
Red-tailed Hawk  4
Northern Flicker  1
American Kestrel  1
California Scrub-Jay  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
Bewick’s Wren  1
European Starling  X
Golden-crowned Sparrow  X
Savannah Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  2
Spotted Towhee  1
Red-winged Blackbird  X

Posted by: atowhee | January 16, 2021

UNEXPECTED

Maybe it shows how little our mammalian brains can really grok what birds know, and think, and do. I have recorded just over fifty species in our garden so far. There are some birds I would expect to eventually see that are not yet on the list…Varied and Swainson’s Thrushes, GC Kinglets in the conifers, a Rufous Hummer on migration, some more gull species overhead, Yellow-rump and even Yellow Warblers, maybe a passing Nashville or Black-throated Gray, Golden-crowned Sparrow, maybe even a White-throated some winter. There will eventually be a Bald Eagle and an Osprey passing over while I’m out looking, maybe Barred and Great Horned Owls calling. Some out of place but not impossible birds include Pacific Wren, Lazuli Bunting, Evening Grosbeak, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, migrating harrier, merlin or kestrel, befuddled bluebird, even a stray mocker. With imagination, and knowing I won’t be graded, I could possibly stretch my ” yes-to-maybe” list to include what I’ve seen plus those species that seem at least improbable but not impossible. Still, that list would not have ever included a bird which surprised and taunted me this morning. I had gone in front of the house to put peanuts and sunflower seeds on the drive for corvids and juncos. As I did so a bird noisily exploded from beneath the roses where it had been squatting in water-logged grass. It sped in a zig-zag fashion down the length of the garden and somehow continued to accelerate as it passed amazingly through the hanging branches of our spruce. That was the my first, my unanticipated, nearly unbelievable, but real, first Wilson’s Snipe. With over 7 inches of rain this year perhaps he had been flooded out of his usual abodes and settled into our watery but not entirely submerged garden! I must work harder to attain bird brain.

Posted by: atowhee | January 15, 2021

EYE SEE

Click here for imaginative adaptation of J.J. Audubon’s bird drawings…a pastiche of just HIS EYES. And then you roll over each and get his whole drawing…many of the species names have changed. “Hooping Crane!” Good fun when it’s too rainy to go birding.

Posted by: atowhee | January 15, 2021

ENGLAND MAY BE DOOMED

Brexit has its problems and ill effects, but now comes dread news that one of the the necessary ravens assigned to protect the Tower of London, and thence the nation, is gone!
The legend says there needs to be at least six in the Tower at all times. With Merlina gone, there are no only seven left.

There are very few places in United Kingdom (more disunited than it’s been in some time) where you actually see wild ravens.

Posted by: atowhee | January 14, 2021

PIED BLUE-TAIL EVERY DAY

One of the six scrub-jays that dominate our garden is a “pied blue-tail.” The bird is a mildly leucistic jay with junco-like tail stripes of pure white. When I first noticed the bird last fall it was probably immature and was often driven off by more self-assured jays in the gang. Now blue-tail comes quickly when there are peanuts and positions his/herself on the fringe of the peanut cluster, safer. Today’s pick and run:

Even though the Coop was seen by me this afternoon, in the morning the small birds seemed to feel safe:

At Clark Creek Park the sun was out, a bit of faux spring:

The fuzzy guy was an adult Bald Eagle. The many-trunked hazelnut is a passel of tassel. Some heedless person laid this sidewalk over a natural seep spring. Many years and many inches of rain later nature has won. Water was gushing out of a crack in the middle of the sidewalk and the little stream flowed rapidly along the pavement toward the creek.

RED-TALES
Two very different stories from Buteo-land this week. There was a take-off, and what could be called a crash landing. The take off was at a private marsh south of the airport–taken from roadside. The other scene came from Fairview which may explain why I have seen no red-tail there since Monday.

THE WET VIEW AT FAIRVIEW

I really enjoyed studying the sequence of Canada Geese landing, their legs extended (landing gear superb), how they shape their wings to slow the fall, then finally splashdown!

Posted by: atowhee | January 14, 2021

WE’RE SOON LEAVING THAT BEHIND

2020 is officially over but we still have its pandemic abroad in the land. If that weren’t enough–we know learn that it was also a record hot year, tying 2016 as worst on record. Of course, we all know there plenty of forest fires last year. Click here for grueling summary of last years wildfires, led by California with over 5-million acres burned.
Click here to see the current drought map for US–not good west of Omaha.

Conservation groups are suing to over-turn the Trumpian decision to take USA gray wolves off endangered species list.

And the Trump Administration took one last shot at the endangered Spotted Owl–reducing its protected habitat. Log, baby, log.

Posted by: atowhee | January 13, 2021

WARBLER WEDNESDAY

There were Yellow-rumped Warblers at Fairview Wetlands today. It was the first time I’d seen them there. Maybe they responded to the sunlight? Another first, was a glimpse of Marsh wren moving from grass clump to grass clump, just a couple inches off the water.

Fairview Wetlands, Marion, Oregon, US
Jan 13, 2021
18 species

Cackling Goose  300
Canada Goose  11
Northern Shoveler  60
Mallard  X
Northern Pintail  X
Green-winged Teal  100
Bufflehead  10
American Coot  10
Black Phoebe  1
California Scrub-Jay  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
Marsh Wren  1
European Starling  X
Purple Finch  1
Golden-crowned Sparrow  6
Song Sparrow  2
Lincoln’s Sparrow  2
Yellow-rumped Warbler  8

Posted by: atowhee | January 12, 2021

MY, WHAT A BIG MOUTH YOU HAVE

Here is one of the most popular birds in Australia, according to one survey…that is, popular among people, not among the moths it eats at night. Its common name is Tawny Frogmouth. Large males can be up to 20 inches long and weigh as much as 1.5 pounds. Wingspan can approach three feet–all their family member shave long, pointy wings and ared strong fliers, hunting insects in the air. Their near relatives include nightjars, oilbirds in Latin America. potoos, owlet-nightjars.

Here is what John Bullock wrote me when he sent this image: “This from my good friend in Australia. The bird was perched in his Plumeria tree. As you know, that would be a most unlikely place to spot this bird, as they, being masters of camouflage, are usually found perched in a flattened position on a horizontal branch in Paperbark trees, where they are almost impossible to spot.”

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