Posted by: atowhee | October 17, 2021


An adult Golden-crowned Sparrow appeared in our garden this morning. First one here since last April. Last winter none was here regularly, so this one may be en route someplace more to its liking. Our American Goldfinch crowd has thinned. Dozens have departed leaving one dozen behind…for now. Makes feeding easier for the juncos, sparrows, nuthatches, chickadee. “Our” Bushtits have been missing for many days now?

A red-tail sped over the rooftops late this afternon not far from our house. Crows immediately started to bellow from all sides.

954 Ratcliff Drive SE, Marion, Oregon, US
Oct 17, 2021

Eurasian Collared-Dove  1
Steller’s Jay  1
California Scrub-Jay  4
American Crow  X
Black-capped Chickadee  1
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
European Starling  X
American Goldfinch  12
Dark-eyed Junco  10
Golden-crowned Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  2

A Coop, seen by Albert Ryckman at Albany’s Talking Waters:

Speaking of welcome back and in transit…at the same time. La Nina. It’s back. Should be wetter up here in Oregon. Should be good for our weointering waterfowl and may refill some of our depleted reservoirs. Even dryer down in southern California and across nearly all the Sun Belt to Florida. Click here for info and map.

Posted by: atowhee | October 16, 2021


This is a picture of Bass Lake taken by my friend John Bullock. “Lots of Sparrows, a single Red Tail, tons of Meadowlarks, and a few Magpies” he reports. Thei ‘lake” is supposed to be a major stopover for waterfowl in Siskiyou County. It’s in the state-managed Shasta Valley Wildlife Management Area east of Yreka. But no state can manufacture rain or run-off.

Before the current dryness hit, cranes would nest in Shasta Valley. No longer. They cannot feed and raise young in habitat that is hard-baked, dry, and food cannot be dug from the mud with the crane’s beak/shovel. One small example of the stress and change forced on wildlife by climate change. I vote we stake Sen. Manchin out in the Shasta Valley arid plains for awhile. More coal or preserving life on Earth, get it, Senator?

Posted by: atowhee | October 16, 2021


When McMinnville Parc & Rec birding class arrived at Baskett this morning, therer was limited visibiltiy and unlimited ground fog. By 11AM it was mostly blue skies and sunshine.
The south end of the refuge is still dry, enough water at Coville Road Narrows for Mallards in the pond. Period. Only other birds there were blackbirds and Black Phoebe. We had Horned Larks on their usual wintering fields along Livermore Road. The Linc Sparrow was at the trailhead parking lot on Coville. Harvesting starlings thick among the vineyards along Smithfield Road.

No Cacklers visible in any of the fields, didn’t find pipits. Did get songs from meadowlarks and a Bewick’s Wren.

Baskett Slough NWR, Polk, Oregon, US
Oct 16, 2021
16 species

Mallard  30
Great Blue Heron  1
Red-tailed Hawk  2
American Kestrel  3
Black Phoebe  1
Black-capped Chickadee  4
Bewick’s Wren  1
European Starling  500
Dark-eyed Junco  25
Golden-crowned Sparrow  X
Song Sparrow  10
Lincoln’s Sparrow  1
Spotted Towhee  1
Western Meadowlark  X
Red-winged Blackbird  X
Brewer’s Blackbird  X

Livermore Rd., Polk, Oregon, US
Oct 16, 2021
14 species

Cackling Goose  X
Northern Harrier  1
Northern Flicker  1
American Kestrel  3
California Scrub-Jay  2
Horned Lark  20
Bewick’s Wren 1–singing
European Starling  X
American Robin  100
Cedar Waxwing  30
Dark-eyed Junco  X
Golden-crowned Sparrow  X
Brewer’s Blackbird  X
Red-winged Blackbird X

Posted by: atowhee | October 15, 2021


At Capitol Lake this morning I watched over 200 Cackling Geese flying in more than a half dozen V-shaped flocks. They were headed south, or west as they passed by. On the lake itself were 11 Ring-necked Ducks, a Ruddy and 14 coots. Also overhead one Glaucous-winged Gull–all confirming the height of fall. Year-round Oregonians there included a pair of Pied-billed Grebes and a Great Blue Heron.

Two raptors over our garden today–adult Bald Eagle high up, circling slowly. Only thirty feet over our roof a red-tail coasted by, naturally accompanied by a couple yelling crows. Low-flying raptors do not meet the crows recommended standards of behavior so each one is met with stern lectures and sometimes corporal punishment.

Our crabapples are gone, as are the gorging, gorgeous waxwings.

Posted by: atowhee | October 13, 2021


The local turkey tribe, a matriarchy, is slowly expanding. Weeks ago it was a mom and four teenagers. Then two weeks ago I noticed a sixth. Today I saw what my wife noted yesterday–gang of nine. Still the largest, adult female is the sentinel. When the dog and I walked past she was constantly giving her “I’m watching, don’t panic” call, so the others went on feeding. I found a trio of kids pecking at a fallen apple. This neighborhood is good for apples and pears right now. Speaking of apples–today the waxwings came into our garden for their annual crabapple harvest.

Here is our crabapple, fruited up, inviting to waxwings and a few robins as well. Dots aboe two of the waxwings. Just to the left of the upper one is the ghostly image of a thrd bird in flight, the gold bar at the end of its tail left a vapor trail.

Posted by: atowhee | October 12, 2021


I use the word “obsessive” as a compliment for somebody as smitten as some of my friends and I. OPB did long story on photographer tracking GGOs. The man apparently is unaware of the Jackson County population. Jackson is one of two hotspots for the species in Oregon, the other is northeast of LaGrande. Only twice have I seen a GGO north of Grants Pass and west of the Cascades.

Click here for the OPB story.

Posted by: atowhee | October 12, 2021


Today I noticed a true sign of autumn in our garden. Not the first heavy rains of the season, nor yellow and scarlet leaves floating down from deciduous trees, not the many walnuts a neighbor’s ancient tree bombards onto our back garden, nor the lack of swallows in the sky–no, this is a tiny sign we are past that transition from summer straight-ahead to autumnal reversal and slow-down. There was a peppy Ruby-crowned Kinglet in and about the rose bushes, ignoring the dozens of goldfinches and handful of juncos feedign on the groiund and it the hanging feeders. No hand-outs for this bird, down fro m the mountain forests where kinglets spend their summers hereabouts. Lilley this kinglet or one of the cousins will in and about this garden until April.

Did you know there are only six species of kinglet across the Earth? Two are in North America, two in Eurasia (both of which I have seen–Firecrest and Goldcrest in the British language). The other two are island endemics–one on Taiwan and one in the Canary Islands.

Here’s a glancing shot I got one previous winter day–the kinglet is not known for stasis at any time:

Unlike the ruby-crown, the Golden-crowned Kinglets generally run in flocks when they show up in the winter, sometimes even letting a red-headed relative hang out with their tribe.

954 Ratcliff Drive SE, Marion, Oregon, US
Oct 12, 2021
10 species

Northern Flicker  1
California Scrub-Jay  X
American Crow  X
Black-capped Chickadee  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1     first of season
Red-breasted Nuthatch  1
Bewick’s Wren  1
American Goldfinch  60
Dark-eyed Junco  6
Song Sparrow  1

Posted by: atowhee | October 11, 2021

OCTOBER 10, 2021

Saw about sixty Cackling Geese over our house this morning, heading west toward Willamette River and Minto-Brown.

Saw five juncos in our garden this evening, higher than any summer count. They stay out late because I presume they don’t mind dim light as they often nest on the shadowy forest floor. They have to work around the several dozen American Goldfinches–I did not re-spot the white-corwned one today, I saw two bold Lesser Goldfinch males among the finchy throng.

954 Ratcliff Drive SE, Marion, Oregon, US
Oct 11, 2021
12 species

Cackling Goose  60
Mourning Dove  1
Steller’s Jay  X
California Scrub-Jay  X
American Crow  X
Black-capped Chickadee  1
Red-breasted Nuthatch  1
Cedar Waxwing  10
Lesser Goldfinch  2
American Goldfinch  80
Dark-eyed Junco  5
Song Sparrow  1

Posted by: atowhee | October 10, 2021


Today there was one remarkable American Goldfinch among the dozens in our garden:

Posted by: atowhee | October 10, 2021


There’s little doubt who’s really in charge outdoors in our neighborhood. I never see a cop car. Only rarely do neighbors walk about. There seem to be no bicycle-age or skateboarding kids, old folks and kiddies but nought in between. No bears, foxes, wolves or even coyotes. The squirrels are loud but cowardly, the jays obnoxious as is their wont, but they scatter when I appear too close. We live in Crow Country, Native Americans of the corvid tribe.

What do you see when you look at me, Crow? What is going on behind that bright, knowing eye, Raven? Are you thinking about me thinking about you? Are you, in your own way, enjoying this brief moment of mutual recognition?” —Bird Brains, Candace Savage.

Just yesterday I was walking down our block, a Cooper’s Hawk was atop a bare-topped conifer above a neighbor’s garden that is hung with popular bird feeders. Watching. A crow had seen, landed briefly in a nearby tree, then swooped in to attack and chased the hungry hawk out of the neighborhood, calling victoriously. Every little bird within earshot sighed and went back to low-level alert, again.

Older Posts »


%d bloggers like this: