Posted by: atowhee | February 22, 2008

American Babbler in the cattails; Cooper’s on call


Pair of Common Merganser by Louise Won, female on the left. 

There is only one Wrentit.  Rich Stallcup has joked that he wants to write a coffee table book to go along with Herons of the World, or Owls of the World.  His entry in the big book competition would be Wrentits of the WorldPerhaps it would run to eight pages, with lots of close-up shots of defiant Wrentits scowling at intruders into their brush.  The pages would be big, just not many of them.

Much research on Wrentits has been done by Point Reyes Bird Observatory,  and they have projected how habitat change could lower the population there in coastal California.  “Wrentits, associated with dense low-growing cover, have increased dramatically, possibly benefiting from the cover supplied by both young Douglas-firs and denser coastal scrub.

“Without disturbance such as fire, or direct habitat management (which could include fire), eventually a tall fir forest will replace the coastal scrub, diminishing Wrentit nesting habitat and bringing a community of tree-associated bird species, with most scrub-associated species lost.”

Oregon Wrentits

The Wrentits in this part of Oregon, the Rogue River Basin, are not living in coastal scrub as they do around Point Reyes.  Here they are a wetland and riparian species.  I see them regularly along the Bear Creek Greenway.  Just yesterday there was one flitting about in the bent-over cattail stalks left from last summer.  This was in an overflow pond between Bear and Ashland Creek, not far from the Ashland Sewer Treatment Plant.

The sedentary Wrentit will be in that area year-round, breeding should begin next month.  So perhaps Stallcup will have to add another paragraph to his short book, talking about how out local Oregon population is not a scrub dweller but is into the cattails, literally.  Also nesting nearby in that stretch of Greenway will be Red-winged Blackbirds, Song Sparrows, Bushtits and Bewick’s Wren.

The Wrentit we now know is the only babbler species in the New World.  I believe the bird being neither wren, nor tit (chickadees in British), the name should be more appropriate.  We have already the American Crow, American Robin, American Coot, American Dipper.  Time now for “American Babbler.”

Coop calling

There was a Cooper’s Hawk perched along lower Ashland Creek yesterday.  And that may have been one reaosn I saw no Juncos, two sparrows, few finches, no kinglets.

This morning another Coop was uphill from the rock quarry above Glenview.  This is sougtheast of the Lithia Park swimming hole where there was a hunter’s dozen (11) female Commen Mergansers.  First time this winter I’ve seen them in that sub-acre pond.  They are regular on larger streams and large Emigrant Lake with its hundreds of acres, but a fishing holle-sized pool?

Interestingly the mergansers seem to be divided into gender groups at this season.  Monday when Kate and I were at Emgrant Lake nearly all the mergansers there were male.  The Wood Ducks, however, that were on the swimming pond this morning were definitely a mated pair.

This morning’s vocal Coop was typically hidden.  But there were three loud call seqeunces over a period of a few minutes.  The accipiter was silent, or had flown over the ridge toward Mount Ashland.  In my experience the Coop is usually a silent bird unless disturbed or beginning courtship.  The latter most likely the cause of this morning’s outburst.

Location:     Bear Valley Greenway–Ashland
Observation date:     2/20/08
Number of species:     25

Wood Duck     82
Mallard     55
Hooded Merganser     1
Great Blue Heron     1
Cooper’s Hawk     1
Red-tailed Hawk     1
Rock Pigeon     3
Mourning Dove     5
Downy Woodpecker     1
Northern Flicker     3
Western Scrub-Jay     18
American Crow     5
American Robin     23
Wrentit     1
European Starling     40
Yellow-rumped Warbler     3
Spotted Towhee     4
Fox Sparrow     1
Golden-crowned Sparrow     1
Red-winged Blackbird     8
Brewer’s Blackbird     65
Purple Finch     2
Lesser Goldfinch     5
American Goldfinch     2
House Sparrow     7

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

Location:     Glenview Drive–Ashland
Observation date:     2/21/08
Number of species:     10

Wood Duck     X
Common Merganser     X
Cooper’s Hawk     X
Red-tailed Hawk     X
Anna’s Hummingbird     X
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)     X
Steller’s Jay     X
Hermit Thrush     X
American Robin     X
Fox Sparrow     X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

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