Posted by: atowhee | December 13, 2012


The range maps in field guides are often out-dated by real birds in the real world. No field guide has kept up wth the rapid spread of the Eurasian Collared-Dove across North America. You can see this species regularly in eastern Oregon, for example. And if you believe what you read, the White-throated Sparrow is a rare winter bird in Oregon. NOT SO.
wts--bad light I took this picture in terrible light near the entrance gate to Ashland Pond yesterday.
For several years there’s been at least one at Ashland Pond all winter. Last spring two males were competing in song there for weeks. This fall Barbara Massey reports seeing six in a single walk. Nearby Pepper trail had three along the Bear Creek Greenway. One is being seen regularly this year at Noth Mountain Park. How many can there be along the Bear Creek riparian corridor altogether? Perhaps dozens if we could scour all the berry tangles between Emigrant Lake and the Rogue River. And the one that showed up in my garden this month has “friends.” I now hear of individual White-throated Sparrows sighted near others’ feeders, far from Bear Creek.
WTS LEANS A second picture where the bird’s white throat is visible.
Here’s a comment from OBOL after I posted my White-throated Sparrow musings there: I have four White-throated Sparrows at my feeder so far this year. I had one or two for quite a few years. I have had up to 6 in recent years.–Barbara Combs, Lane County, OR
And then this comprehensive posting on OBOL:The range maps in the most recently published field guides have been updated. Going back at least as far as the first Sibley (published in 2000), more recently published versions and new guides all show a narrow strip of blue down the Pacific Coast from sw. B.C. through California. White-throated Sparrow should now be (and are) considered a very uncommon to uncommon wintering species on the westsides of Washington, Oregon, and California (west of the Cascades and the Sierra Nevada).

About a decade ago (I really can’t believe it has been that long ago), I made a concerted effort to collect reports for all the White-throated Sparrows seen in Oregon over two consecutive winters. I posted requests on OBOL encouraging folks to send me feeder counts and reports of any encounters. During the winter of 2002-2003, I collected reports of no fewer than 310 White-throated Sparrows in Oregon. All but four birds were west of the Cascades, with Lane (72 birds) and Coos (63) battling it out to see which county could produce the most reports. As I recall, Benton County yielded over 50, with high counts in Multnomah and Marion as well. That year the Medford CBC reported something 26 birds, even though only a few other reports came Jackson County otherwise. I was a bit confounded by the report after following up with the count compiler because most of the birds had been reported by one party that had not listed any White-crowned Sparrows. I was always a bit skeptical about this one report, but it may well have been accurate.
At any rate, White-throated Sparrows have been a very uncommon to uncommon wintering species in the w. Oregon lowlands for some time now. With the creation of eBird, we now have better ways to look at the distribution of species like White-throated Sparrow. My compilation was informal and produced exceptionally high outlier seasonal tallies because the effort that I made to collect data during those two years was so much greater than the collection effort in prior years or subsequent years, when I was not keeping a count. –Dave Irons, Portland, OR

[click on large image for full-screen view]
egret ashore (1280x960) Egret, Hooded Mergansers on log, Mallard male, American Coot.
ergret plus (1280x960) < This Great Egret was hunting the margin of the pond. Look closely to see the blurred image of the lone female Bufflehead speeding past. On the diagonal between the Bufflehead and egret is a female Hooded Merganser with her head in the water.
TREEGRET1 (1280x960) Two egrets resting after a game of chase. Taken early this week.
HOME QUINTET (1280x960) Here are five of the eleven female Hoodies that were in the pond. Here’s one of the males, handsome is as handsome does:home beauty (1280x960)
P1370708 (1280x960) American Wigeon pair.

Ashland Pond, Jackson, US-OR. Dec 12, 2012 3:30 PM. 19 species
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) 50 on Billings Ranch pastures
American Wigeon (Anas americana) 2
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 18 mostly fly overs
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) 2
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) 1 lone female
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) 13 only two males
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) 5
Great Egret (Ardea alba) 1
American Coot (Fulica americana) 6
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) 4
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) 2
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 5
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) 3
Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca) 1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) 1
White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) 1 near the entrance gate
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla) 6
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) 12
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) 1

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