Posted by: atowhee | April 9, 2008

A warbler afternoon, after a jackrabbit start

Dan Elster and I went looking for birds to photograph.  What we mostly found were two jackrabbits, and birds to watch.  The slopes of Roxy Ann, a large hillock east of Medford, were covered with scrubby oaks, a few pine and madrone and scores of migrating Yellow-rumped Warblers.[Photo by Grace Ruth]

They were in the trees, atop bushes, down into the grass, then back into treetops.  Warblers, warblers everywhere and not a one to pose.  They espied the big cyclops lens and took off, went into hiding.  Yet all along the Roxy Ann hillsides you could see their little shapes flitting about, flycatching, perching.  Far off.

There were many Lesser Goldfinches, and we got a good look at a couple Hermit Thrushes.  Two male Downy Woodpeckers played ring around the oak trunk.  And ignored the camera.  But none performed as nobly as the posing jackrabbits at the base of the Roxy Ann Road.  Often alert and quick to flee, these two must have been full of fresh spring saladry and nearly napping on their haunches.  They posed while the camera clicked away.

Here are Dan’s jackrabbits:

and his Hermit Thrush, in between wing flutters:

If you want to see qualtiy, high-res pictures of Oregon and California widlife, check Dan’s website.

 Jackrabbitry summarized:

Here’s a little of what I learned about the Black-tailed Jackrabbit [Lepus californicus] from MAMMALS OF WASHINGTON AND OREGON (Lone Pine Press):  this more southerly hare has the largest ears of any on the Pacific Coast.  Can afford to lose more body heat through those uninsulated ears.  Snowshoe hares need tiny ears to conserve their body heat in a colder climate. Think about this: one-fifth of the local jackrabbit’s body surface is in his thin, evidently translucent ears.

Major predator: coyote.  Can run up to 35 MPH and leap six feet vertically, 20 feet horzontally!!!  His range barely extends north of the Columbia River. 

Garden Birds

 I know it’s been wet and rainy, but a Mallard in the garden?  Here’s proof:

This female Mallard, sure it’s the same one, set down in our garden again on Thursday morning just before 8 A.M.  She then grazed on our weedy lawn and gibbled down some of the spilled grain beneath the handing feeders.  Will she bring companions?

And here’s what I now think of as “Our Robin.”  He’s more patient, less flighty than most of our garden birds, politely taking what he wants with none of the demanding screeches we get from the jays.

   And then a portrait of one of our regular diners:

 Our Juncos should be on their way north soon.  At least most of them.  There will be some nesting in the forest hereabouts.  We are now down to about twenty or so in our yard, less than a third of what we had when the snow covered everything back in January.

Location:     Roxy Ann
Observation date:     4/9/08
Number of species:     14

Turkey Vulture     4
Red-tailed Hawk     1
Downy Woodpecker     2
Northern Flicker     3
Western Scrub-Jay     8
White-breasted Nuthatch     1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet     8
Hermit Thrush     2
Yellow-rumped Warbler     240
Spotted Towhee     2
Golden-crowned Sparrow     8
Western Meadowlark     5
Pine Siskin     2
Lesser Goldfinch     15


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