Posted by: atowhee | August 5, 2020


Albert Ryckman got this image in the sunset’s glow at Albany’s Talking Waters, the world’s most attractive sewage treatment plant:CEDAR WAXWINGS X 5Youngster on far left, fructose beard o male at upper right.

Posted by: atowhee | August 5, 2020


There is an opinion piece in the WaPo questioning the continued use of common (what about Latinizied?) bird names that commemorate white males no longer found admirable by some modern-day standards.  

Posted by: atowhee | August 3, 2020


I think I have drifted it a new fragment of bird listing. Business or retail birds.  I had seen birds in business buildings before–House Sparrows in both the CNN  HQ in Atlanta and an airport on one my business trips somewhere back east.  My first Asian Couckoo (common) was in the courtyard of a Tokyo Hotel. My first East African bird species was a Barn Owl on top of our motel at 5 AM our first morning in Uganda. A big bonus were the several large fruit bats that slept hanging from the walls of the dining area every day. Years ago I blogged the Violet-green Swallows nesting in a broken and hollow cement block on the front of what was then Puck’s Donuts in Ashland.  There was a particular Red-shouldered Hawk who hunted the parking lot of a truck stop in Phoenix, Oregon.  At that time it had open dumpsters, a screaming invitation to lure the neighborhood’s rats.  Red-shoulders are supreme ratters–in San Francisco I only once saw them eating anything else, that time it was a Mourning Dove.  Rock Pigeons are notorious for nesting on business buildings, of course.  Peregrines will nest on nearby high-rises to more easily swoop down onto the pigeons passing beneath.   Birds that I know love buildings include Jackdaws, Black Redstart and all the swifts of Europe and America, Barn & Cliff Swallows, House Martins, BARN Owls, House Finches, House Wrens, European Starlings.  But there is often more to retail that mere stores, there is the luring landscaping.  So in two days I have seen House Sparrow inside a building’s walls, and two finch species bathing in a fountain designed to capture customers’ attention.

First the bathing fountain at Kelly’s Appliances in east Salem–finchnip:IMG_2781

There were several American Goldfinches coming and going, bathing and imbibing, it was over 85 degrees.  Then a female House Sparrow arrive.  “Ah.  That cool water sure tastes good!”  We can relate.  Thirst is a desire that all vertebrates have in common, something else we share beyond a bunch of bones and a tongue.

Speaking of House Sparrows.  As I returned my final UHaul van for this last house move I stood in the Sears parking lot (90%0 of their business is now UHaul in McMinnville) I saw birds go into a hole about twenty feet up in the store’s outer wall.  Look closely–who made those hopes through the stucco (really some form of cement, right?) veneer and the plastic mesh it clings to?  They were feeding young…second, maybe third clutch of the season?  Those sparrows don’t do social distancing, they are bent on making whoopee while the sun shines!sparo hole (2)

I have a friend who compiled a list of birds in baseball parks–this was in San Francisco mainly and there the lights and insects drew in many birds from the Bay.  He even scored Ashy Storm-Petrel over centerfield!  The list included gulls, raptors, corvids, swallows–what you would expect.

I refuse to count those birds lured to ecolodges by feeders–those aren’t business birds. They are semi-domestic.

Posted by: atowhee | August 1, 2020


Our McMinnville Parks birding trip was at Baskett Slough this morning, masks all around, birds all around, nearly no water.  Most abundant were the swallows…but best of all: 2 Black Terns, two bittern fly-overs, a Green Heron posing in good light, seven shorebird species and more Mourning Doves than collared.

Here are three fine tern pics by Albert Ryckman.  One bird is deep into molt:

Here are some of Albert’s other fine photos, including the Green Heron that eBird thinks is rare there:

Above the Spotted Sandpiper still proudly wearing his spots–they will molt away soon. Harrier, Great Egret, some of the hundreds of Violet-greens on the same wire where we later saw robin, waxwing, et al.

At one point a tern was going after a nearby harrier as it coasted past:harr turn (2)

The action was all screams and feints, the tern never actually touched the slower harrier. Here are some of my other pictures from today–we all know the phrase “cute kid” and today it morphed into a very similar “coot kid”. Our only reptile today was this two-foot, but footless, garter snake:


Eating sun-baked fish corpses?  Old frog parts?  (We heard bullfrogs more than once today.)



Peeps–Western Sandpiper pale and  bigger, Least in back with colorful throat.  Stilt.  Spotty.

JUVIE PIED-BILLED GREBEpbgr yng (2)We did not see a single nutria!

Baskett Slough NWR, Polk, Oregon, US
Aug 1, 2020
40 species

Canada Goose  400
Cinnamon Teal  3     Morgan Lake
Mallard  X
Pied-billed Grebe  15
Eurasian Collared-Dove  X
Mourning Dove  10
American Coot  3
Black-necked Stilt  2     Morgan Lake
Killdeer  10
Least Sandpiper  25
Western Sandpiper  8
Long-billed Dowitcher  4
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Greater Yellowlegs  3
Black Tern  2
American Bittern  1
Great Blue Heron  6
Great Egret  8
Green Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  20
Northern Harrier  2
American Kestrel  1
California Scrub-Jay  2
American Crow  4
Tree Swallow  X
Violet-green Swallow  X
Barn Swallow  X
Cliff Swallow  X
European Starling  X
American Robin  1
Cedar Waxwing  1
House Finch  3
American Goldfinch  40
Savannah Sparrow  8
Song Sparrow  4
Spotted Towhee  1
Yellow-headed Blackbird  1
Red-winged Blackbird  X
Brewer’s Blackbird  X
Common Yellowthroat  1

Posted by: atowhee | July 31, 2020


Yesterday for the first tie I saw Bushtits at our future home in Salem.  They hit the suet block and were gone quickly, typical of Bushtit frenetic genetic doings.

The today I noticed much towhee song.  Maybe it is because my new hearing aids are aides and aiding.  I have been noticing some towhee song around our former home in McMinnville as well.  Perhaps it is the heat that warms up their vocal cords?

Usually all I get out of thew towhees is their irritated buzzing sound from deep within some shrubbery or a berry thicket in the wild.  IO am beginning to really admire their more musical musings, however.

Posted by: atowhee | July 26, 2020


IMG_1662Above: young robins in nest near Amity, Oregon, last week.  Likely a second clutch for the season.  Below: young Great Horned ones looking like gawky teenagers wearing parents’ outfit, Sutro Heights Park, San Francisco.

Below; two leucistic robins.  First is Patches who’s at least 3 years old, next comes one of the off-spring from this year.  These birds are in Wisconsin.

Then this gallery from a natural spring-fed pool near Howard Prairie Lake east of Ashland where mountain birds gather for bathing, a drink and community communication.  It’s at about 4500 feet elevation in Cascades:

Can nyou name ’em all?  Nashville Warbler and Yellow-trumped, young and adult tanager, young Black-headed Grosbeak, wet junco, Chipping Sparrow, young Cassin’s Finchw ith the deeply notched tail, my-my the Lazuli.

Photos, top to bottom, by: young robins by Philippe Pessereau.  Young owls by Tom Kuhn.  Patchy robins by Roger Rigterink.  Cascades gallery by Kirk Gooding.

Posted by: atowhee | July 26, 2020


ADDENDUM:  Just heard from a friend whose son is in early middle age, married, two kids.  He and his wife once worked for MOMA in Manhattan, pretty nice gig.  They moved to Oslo for new jobs.  Their kids will not need masks as they go back to school later this summer.  Norway has pretty much defeated  covid for now, Americans not welcomed to visit. The nation has lost 255 people to covid in a population over 5 million.  Oregon is one of the least lethal states so far and we have more dead than Norway with a million fewer people.

Did I mention Norway’s national health care?  Roads without potholes?  Serious social services sector?  No open carry?  No Confederate statues?  I will admit they have never truly apologized for all those Viking raids some time ago…

oHere’s a heartfelt essay by young first-generation American citizen who sees clearly there are better places to live.

She is Asian-American, a targeted group right now in America, getting hate and venom from the believers in the “Wuhan flu” canard promulgated by Agent Orange and his ilk.  That’s just one more reason she might decide to escape.

Twenty years ago as my two sons settled into life in England I thought our family was an anomaly.   Now I realize it a time of crucial curves we were ahead of the US emigre curve.  My wife and I were in London for four years and might have stayed permanently, or moved to Paris.  Did we stupidly return?  That question haunts us yet.

Our sons are not likely to ever return here to live.  Why would they?

One friend of mine is married to a Swedish woman and they live there.  He wants to travel across Canada, so he will have to use his Swedish passport as Americans are confined to the highways and not allowed into towns…we are infectious.

I know an American woman who took a clerical job in Norway so she could move there and take her aged, sickly mother and get free health care.  That’s how Norway spends all its oil profits–to make life better for people there, not to fund large golf clubs and yachts and multiple mansions for the .1%.

I read of young Americans who flee overseas to avoid ten of thousands of dollars in student loans.  A son of one college friend has settled with wife and children in Belgium.  One of my nieces is a college professor in Netherlands.  A man I worked with in the news biz and his partner are ex-pats who live in southern France and Switzerland depending on the season.  Another former work-mate retired and moved to South Korea with his wife to be near her family.   Healthcare comes with the deal.  Remember int he early phases of covid pandemic when South Korea looked so hard hit?  They worked on containment, not political propaganda.

Souht Korea reports just under 300 deaths…total…for a very urbanized nation with a population well over fifty million, greater than an state in the U.S.  Yet the South Korean covid casualty total puts them between Oregon and Nebraska for total covid deaths.  Both those states are much more rural, with much smaller populations.

Posted by: atowhee | July 25, 2020


Today was the first of three weekly Saturday bird walks sponsored by McMinnville Park and Rec.  We went to Tualatin River NWR…in individual vehicles, bad for planet but necessary because of the pandemic.  No shared scope.  As has been widely reported on OBOL, the south bound shorebird movement has begun though we missed the Pectoral Sandpiper rumored to be about.

There were hundreds of swallows overhead and more than a handful of Vaux’s Swifts out-speeding them. The insect count must be high as the pewees were very busy flycatching as well.   The one eagle we saw was an adult.  The Coop was carrying brunch in his talons–it looked blackbird sized.  Lesser Goldfinches were dining on thistle seeds.  There is little water on the refuge so the ducks, geese and shorebirds were concentrated in the area south of the visitors’ center and not far west of Hwy 99.

At least one pair of Barn Swallows seemed to be feeding nestlings at a nest on the side of a photography blind.  There were multiple families of Mallard ducklings as well.


I am colorblind so my perceptions of beauty are not those generally expressed.  Yellow and blues play to my limited visual strength.  So in my view the blue of the Lazuli Bunting is hard to equal.  So here is the male, my bird of the day:lazl (2)lazl 1 (2)lazl 3 (2)lazl 4 (2)lazl 5 (2)


Here we have Lesser Goldfinch eating seeds of invasive thistle.  Lesser works for greater good.


Note how the yellowlegs closes his eye when he stabs into the water:GY (2)GY2 (2)GY3 (2)GY4 (2)GY5 (2)kd (2)lbd duo (2)lesa on mud (2)lesa on mud2 (2)


Large oak has one of each.  Young heron landed near our trail and ignored us.

Goose family; Hooded Merganser; wood-pewee aloft and aloof.

Warning: the parking lot was full by 850AM, many people needing to get outside.  Even the lower pull-out by Hwy 99 was filling up with cars.  No running water, only porta-potties.

Tualatin River NWR–Atfálat’i Unit, Washington, Oregon, US
Jul 25, 2020
Checklist Comments:     hundreds of swallows in the air
37 species

Canada Goose  X
Mallard  X
Hooded Merganser  1
Pied-billed Grebe  4
Vaux’s Swift  20
Anna’s Hummingbird  2
Killdeer  12
Least Sandpiper  1
Long-billed Dowitcher  2
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Greater Yellowlegs  1
Great Blue Heron  6
Great Egret  2
Turkey Vulture  7
Cooper’s Hawk  1     seen carrying avian prey in its talons, heading from marsh to large oaks near visitors’ center
Bald Eagle  1
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Pileated Woodpecker  1     heard only, along the river
American Kestrel  1
Western Wood-Pewee  4
American Crow  15
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  X
Violet-green Swallow  X
Barn Swallow  X
Cliff Swallow  X
European Starling  X
American Robin  2
Cedar Waxwing  2
House Finch  1
Lesser Goldfinch  5
American Goldfinch  1
Dark-eyed Junco  3
Song Sparrow  2
Spotted Towhee  1
Red-winged Blackbird  4
Common Yellowthroat  2
Lazuli Bunting  1

Posted by: atowhee | July 24, 2020


Today the dog and I were travelling out Baker Creek Road, from town to country for a morning walk.  As we sped along one field I noticed a gathering of Turkey Vultures. I naturally slowed, then stopped, then photographed.  I could not tell what had attracted their attention.  They are the heroes of a pandemic, the everlasting roadkill pandemic.  Without these heroes, eating remains that might sicken some, our roadsides would become a series of linear abattoir.  Festering flesh gone to waste.  With TVs around it mostly goes to waist, should they have such a body part.


In our garden today birds large and small—American Goldfinch up to flicker.  For many species breeding season is over and it is time to live on the fat of the summer.  Today I saw a family of Canada Geese fly over—two parents, four teenagers now freely flying like grown-ups. Just like  getting your first driver’s license but higher in altitude if not attitude.

field heron (2)Field heron near Hopewell. And then exiting, sky right.field heron2 (2)grdn flikr (2)Male flicker studying our suet feeders. Below: pewee at Granfell Park, along Baker Creek.gren-pwee (2)hopper (2)Hopper in the road.  Scruffy jay cleans up his act.jay preen (2)jay top (2)wl osprey (2)Osprey on nest above Marion County end of the Wheatland Ferry.


Yesterday I was at our future home in Salem.  I had my first ten-species day there.  The local avian twitter accounts must be spreading the news of feeders and birdbaths.  In addition there are fruiting trees, shrubs and two twelve-foot tall blooming buddleia. It is a shrub now banned from sale in Oregon but those that arrived earlier are beloved of hummers nectar-dining insects.  A pair of Anna’s were feuding over control of one buddleia yesterday.  It is a competition that will not end peacefully, or soon, lasting until the the last of the buddleia buds.

Baker Creek Road, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jul 24, 2020
10 species–also saw chipmunk there for the first time ever

Eurasian Collared-Dove  1
Turkey Vulture  5
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Western Wood-Pewee  1
Steller’s Jay  1
California Scrub-Jay  1
Tree Swallow  X
Swainson’s Thrush  1     heard singing at Grenfell Park near Baker Creek
American Robin  4
Song Sparrow  1

954 Ratcliff Drive SE, Marion, Oregon, US
Jul 23, 2020
10 species

Eurasian Collared-Dove  1
Mourning Dove  1
Vaux’s Swift  3
Anna’s Hummingbird  2
Red-breasted Sapsucker  1
California Scrub-Jay  2
American Crow  X
Black-capped Chickadee  1
American Robin  1
Spotted Towhee  X

Posted by: atowhee | July 23, 2020

This just in from our South Korean correspodent, Greg DeRego:
IMG-6992 (1)
It is a Little Egret, close cousin of America’s Snowy Egret. To science this is Egretta garzetta.  Our snowy is in the same genus.  Here is Greg’s brief note: “Spotted this guy in a stream that bisects downtown Seoul near the palaces … my wife says it’s rare to see these in the city .. she noted the many fish in that stream. 백로 Baenglo ( Baen-Gno ) in Korean.”

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