Posted by: atowhee | June 20, 2021


Tracking avian brain waves during birds’ singing.

Bird songs among songbirds are cultural. Ducks and loons, not so much.

One sparrow species is going for a hip new sound, man. Like wow.

Posted by: atowhee | June 20, 2021


As spring makes way for official summer here in the Willamette, the cherry trees present bounty. In our garden the two varieties intertwine their limbs and compete to be chosen most fruitful. I have given up citruc for now, all my VItamin C is coming from the cherries:

I have apparently always love cherries. I can never recall NOT wanting another cherry.
Not exactly one of my earliest memories, but one of the oldest stories my mother loved to repeat was about my early days in Albion, Michigan, on our small farm. When I was less than three we moved to Missouri so all my own, self-stored early memories came from Rolla or places we visited from there.
Oh, I always liked goats, as well. It was their brash forwardness that suited my toddler self. The photo below is from about 1948 and shows me with a kid and lamb. Back to the cherries…

Our Michigan farm had fruitful cherry trees. I liked to hang out with the goats. We kids all played together. When the cherries ripened I would open the gate and the goats and I would go into the orcha

rd and eat all the fallen cherries. My face and any clothes I wore would be cherry-juice-stained. There were hints that I ate so many cherries there was digestive eruption. None of this I recall, just the narrative about it. My mother would often expound that my goat friends would lead me around and chew off my buttons. At that I was supposed to have laughed. It still makes me laugh, gets my goat.

Posted by: atowhee | June 19, 2021


There has been a major bureaucratic decision that could lead to demolition of four dams on the upper Klamath River and thus help salmon survive. Demolition could begin as early as 2023. The Klamath rises east of the Cascades but flows directly to the sea. The only other stream that manages that is the Columbia.

Down in Santa Cruz County the redwoods of Big Basin State Park are showing how they have survived for millions of years and individuals have lived for 2000, or more. Fire? Phooey.

Back East one conservationist is making a plea to save an island for shorebirds. Might need to ban people, our species not being too trustworthy–remember the recent Bolsa Chica drone disaster?

Posted by: atowhee | June 18, 2021


Many of the names are familiar, but the birds won’t be. Jay, goldfinch, robin, blackbird, various warblers, nuthatch, various woodpeckers. Sounds familiar, but look closely. However, their wren is a close cousin to our Pacific Wren. A Firecrest is related to our kinglets, their tit family has several cousins of our chickadees.

Many if our bird names in English came across with the early Europeans, but the original birds did not accompany those sailing ships so the old names stuck ti new species.

Here’s a website that will get you ready for the ten most common birds in England.

Posted by: atowhee | June 18, 2021


100-degrees Fahrenheit…by 8AM. Now, that’s what I call real weather.

LATE UPDATE: Big Sur wildfire burning along Big Sur Coast. Tassajara Zen center evacuated.

In today’s world marketing rules. The many landfill firms get great publicity while their official numbers cover up their egregious release of climate changing methane into our only atmosphere. Methane is many times worse than mere CO2 when it comes to heating up our planet. Much of what we throw away will produce methane as it rots underground–food, paper, plastic, wood, cotton, wool, leather, dead bodies of all species…stuff which contains, you know, carbon…

The phrase “after the drought” may have no meaning for anybody reading that phrase today.

Aerial images of reservoirs showing California’s severe conditions. And this year the state already has more acres burned than at this time last year! Right now the west is at ten-year high for wild fires.

After the fire, more than ashes remain. Here’s message from Rogue CVallety followugn their devastating but non-lethal fire along Bear Creek last year:

Rogue River Watershed Council Needs Your Help for Almeda Fire Recovery

RRWC and volunteers from the Talent area planted 200 trees and shrubs along the east bank of Bear Creek at the Suncrest Rest Area along I-5 (mile marker 21 in the southbound lane). The Talent Garden Club will tend the plantings during the warm, dry months of 2021, giving them a great chance to contribute to the recovery of the streamside forest alongside naturally regenerating snowberry, sandbar willow, and Oregon ash. While planting, the volunteers noticed numerous blackberry sprouts. If left unchecked, those blackberries will take over the site (overrunning the native plants). If no one makes an effort, the streamside vegetation will be very similar to what it was back on September 7, 2020 (without the overstory of native trees).

We don’t want to see this happen. And you can help us do something about it at this 3.5-acre site.

Please RSVP with us at 541-423-6158 or if you’d like to spend 2 hours (from 9 to 11 to beat the heat) on the morning of June 25 or 26 hand-pulling blackberries. While the terrain at the site is easy to navigate, you will need to be comfortable climbing over a fence on a 5-foot stepladder. If you are interested in helping, we would appreciate receiving your RSVP on or before June 23.

We will provide sturdy leather gloves to protect your hands, water, and a snack. You simply need to bring yourself and a sense of adventure. Please join us!

Brian Barr | Executive Director
Rogue River Watershed Council | 89 Alder Street | Central Point, OR 97502
Phone: 541.423.6187 | Cell: 541.621.7226

Posted by: atowhee | June 18, 2021


My friend and co-author, Peter Thiemann, has been monitoring a next box in Southern Oregon. He got video of the actual fledging moment. Click here for video and details on Peter’s Facebook page.

Seven years ago Peter got pictures of an owlet newly fledged. This time the kiddo climbed onto a fallen log and cuddled up with its mom. The older sibling had earlier left the nest and vanished, down some predator’s gullet no doubt. Mom left the fuzz-ball on the log and flew off. Peter supposed she was going to get food from the male. Instead she circled around and flew at Peter’s head from behind. A gentle scraping of the hat was her message. Peter took the hint and left the scene. A month later we re-found the owlet, starting to grow real owl feathers and following dad through the canopy.

Posted by: atowhee | June 18, 2021


My speculation n nesting juncos in the Valley–they may have lost breeding habitat to last year’s fires which would make food and nesting sites with good cover less available in mountains. They often nest at low elevation but good cover and a food supply are necessary.

Posted by: atowhee | June 17, 2021


Heat, jays, the moments of the season and some birdy happenings.

It has long been known by those who pay attention–corvids are great gardeners. Now a study in Britain shows just how important jays are to forest replanting. Perhaps better than people with shovels. For deeper understanding of jays and wild gardens I recommend the superb book, The Landscaping Ideas of Jays. It was published in 2007 but the wisdom of the jays is fresh today as is the author’s careful observations of the birds’ behavior. I think jays love oaks as much as I do so it is easy for me to feel we are in league together.

SALEM: Our two cherry trees are fruitful right now. Speaking of jays I have not seen them collecting fruit yet. Perhaps there is so much ripening fruit now the jays are overwhelmed. A neighbor’s cherry is dropping ripe ones into the street. One if our apple trees threatens an avalanche of fruit later this summer. Pears are already bigger than golf balls but I think I can depend on the squirrels to, again, beat me to the harvest. Our blueberries are ripening and our small planter of potatoes had been overgrown with branches four-feet long. As ever, nature insists.

Our local rainy spell is over. The blue sky, bleached by bright sunlight, returns. Occasional feathery wisps of white float pass, high in the heaven. Near Clark Creek–lined with cottonwood–other feathery white wisps float past at eye level, columnar bits of cottonwool with embedded seeds.

On a door jamb I note a resting daddy-long-legs spider, still a favorite more than seventy years since I picked up the first one I noticed. In those humid Ozarks summers they were among the most abundant small animals, not omnipresent like barn flies or ants, but often as common as June bugs or ticks. And weightless and harmless and so endearingly gangly–not like the black widows, various wasps, chiggers, ticks, mosquitoes, grasshoppers that bite, fleas jumping from dog or cat, horse flies attacking the milk cow while I sat with a half-filled bucket clamped between my knees. That would often lead to a tail swat into my eye, or worst, a kick and spilled milk. It was fair to smile at a daddy-long-legs as a friend just getting on.

We have a variety of bees in our roses. Our daughter’s garden in Portland, too, is abuzz with bees of many kinds. Is this age of extinction, it is a relief to type those words. Buzz on, my fuzzy little neighbors. Back in May our rose buds were crawling with aphids, then the ladybug brigade–adults and their larvae hit. Now it is hard to find an aphid. I just hope our six-footed allies find enough to eat.

Among the fledglings that have come into our garden are Bushtits, Lesser Goldfinch, House Finch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch. At Fairview Marsh I’ve see young of the year–Canada Geese, Mallard, Killdeer, nutria. I hear bullfrogs calls so I can expect tadpoles at some point and later there will be young swallows with their parents.


In the third Barn Swallow image there is a blur to the right of the perched birds–a passing Cliff Swallow, at speed. Siprea in bloom. Killdeer bathing. Lupine nurturing bumblebee.


Neighbors say there are nestlings aboard. They are nit visible yet. In last two images father is on Doug fir across the street from nest and having fish snack. He later took part of the fish to the nestlings. Mother Osprey made some quick frays to some food source nearby to the north and came back with small fish or large frogs. It seemed like she was gone less than a minute each time,



Barbara Rumer got these shots in central Oregon. Wow!

Two more fine fotos from Albert Ryckman’s recent trip to northern Washington State for nesting Common Loon photos:

Photos from recent visit by Kirk Gooding:

Canyon Wren and two glamoruous icterids–Bobolink male and Yellow-headed Blackbird male.


The earth is trapping ever more heat.

Speaking of heat...records being set in the US West with days more of swelter forthcoming, Hot and nasty.

And in California Oroville Lake is so low electricity generation will stop.

Albert Ryckman took these photos in northeastern Washington State where loons do nest. To get the full feeling if this adventure, be sure to pay the loons’ wild yoddling calls in the background.

Posted by: atowhee | June 15, 2021


While we get rain here in the Willamette Valley, much of the west is getting record heat.

On a Salem Audubon field trip this morning we watched both adult birds carrying food to the hilltop Osprey nest at the Audubon Nature Reserve in West Salem. The mist abundant bird there seemed to be Spotted Towhee.

In your next life, want to be an acrobat?

At the feeders: Redd-breasted Nuthatch, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinches. The fruit is (correction) black twinberry, and I have seen robins, waxwings, Spotted Towhee and Swainson’s Thrush all enjoying this spring treat.

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