Posted by: atowhee | December 28, 2010


Eric Setterberg has just come with our best bird so far in Count Week Ashland 2010.  And he even supplied a mouth-wateringly great picture for evidence:

Yes, there it is.  A young or female Townsend’s Warbler having at the suet feeder in Eric’s garden on Holly Street, Ashland.

That is a bird not abundant here in winter.  It primarily breeds to the north of here and usually winters along the warmer coast or much further south.  There are small numbers of Townsend’s breeding in our local mountains in dense evergreens, allng with Hermit Warblers and their name-sharing Townsend’s Solitaire.  These birds are usually seen as birds of passage in the Rogue Valley, heading south in fall, north in spring.  This bird lacks the matte black face markings of the mature male, but that golden background color is unmistakable.

The nearby Medford count is at generally lower elevation.  It had one Townsend in this year’s count and zero in 2009.

And John Townsend for whom this bird is named has a rich history in the ornithology of the Pacific Coast.  He spent considerable time at Astoria and along with Thomas Nuttall collected numerous species hitherto unknown to science.  That was in the 1830s when this part of the world was largely controlled by Mexico, Russia and Britain.  There was no American territory yet on the Pacific Coast so they were two brave fellows to come west from Boston with fur traders.  And they walked the whole.  Trains?  Not yet.  You can read more about Townsend here.


We’re well above sixty for the count week total.  While Sooney Viani and I failed to find the one known Harris’s Sparrow in our count area, John and Stephanie Bullock added RN Pheasant, a transplant species we failed to find last January.  Weather promises angst and wind tomorrow, but we will not be swayed, any more than the cottonwoods. 

These are the best birds we could find this morning.  Not unusual, but as beautiful as ever.

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