Posted by: atowhee | June 2, 2010

Avian Act: Part Spike Jones, Part Diva

I blogged last year about the “music” of the Yellow-breasted Chat. With a voice bigger than all the other wood warblers combined, a repertoire of a wren, the volume of a thrasher and the vestments of a showman, I present you the YBC:

This guy was annoyed by our presence near his nest site at Page Springs.  Here’s how he spent much of his time tailing us “surreptitiously.”

Page Springs is a BLM campground south of the Malheur NWR.  It’s about three miles southeast of P Ranch and the hamlet of Frenchglen at the foot of the Steens Mountains.  Page Springs is at 4200′ elevation.  And it’s paradisical.  Several moderate-sized springs feed into the Donner und Blitzen Wild and Scenic River. A trailhead for the Blitzen River Trail is located within the campground.  Pines, juniper, cottonwood, marsh, rocky mountain side.  After lunch we birded about an hour. Bullock’s Oriole, breeding Cedar Waxwings, Pewee, Willow Flycatcher, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Yellow Warblers, Yellowthroat, Western Tanager,  Vesper Sparrow, Brewer’s Blackbird, Common Nighthawk, Forster’s Tern over the river, House Wren, Lazuli Bunting, Robin.

Several of the thirty campsites were empty.  The tenor was that of a quiet fishing hole.  Many campers are there for the fly-fishing a short walk from the tents.  Other come for birds, bikes, hikes or simply relaxation.  One birder camped there had a list of about 3 dozen species he’d seen, including Rock Wren which we didn’t pursue.

Here’s a website for the Page Springs Campground. For a long-time Californian it seems impossible that such a gorgeous spot would not be filled on Memorial Day weekend.  We arrive at noon and got to use a two-table covered picnic site.  No crowding, no competition.

The Blitzen River is one of the main streams feeding water into the Malheur Basin which has not outlet.


  1. Hey, I’m impressed. That’s one of your best pictures yet.

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