Posted by: atowhee | January 14, 2013

WHITHER THE WAXWINGS

In my experience Waxwings are closely related to that mythical beast, the Will-of-the-Wisp. Here today, who knows where tomorrow? I’ve seen them clear a twenty foot holly tree of all its many berries in less than half an hour then swirl away toward heaven, bellies full and bound for the next promised land. The Boho Waxwings were NOT found at Running Y yesterday and none were found by Peter Thiemann and myself around Siksiyou Pass this morning. Robins and Solitaires aplenty however. For your Waxwing fix, check out Frank Lospalluto’s great pics on flicker. Click here.TOSO LOW IN SNO This Townsend’s Solitaire was on the snow along Old Siskiyou Highway just past mile marker 9, on the southern slope where the junipers are part of the forest mix. It is their berries that the thrushes and waxwings eat in winter.
The Solitaire is the “Other Bird” named for naturalist Dr. John Kirk Townsend. As a young man we came west with Thomas Nuttall in the 1830 then stayed for a couple years around the mouth of the Columbia River and collected bird specimens. Townsend was the first American-born and trained naturalist to spend any time on the Pacific Coast of North America. Even Nuttall was English as was David Douglas of fir fame and the various physicians on exploration vessels under Capt. Cook, Vancouver, Beechey, La Perouse and Rezanov. In Townsend’s NARRATIVE OF A JOURNEY… he lists the many bird species he and Nuttall found in crossing the continent on foot. Numerous were new to science: MacGillivray’s, Hermit, Black-throated Gray and Townsend’s Warbler, Vaux’s Swift, Black Oystercatcher, Western Gull (how had previous visitors missed this one?), Green-tailed Towhee, Black-footed Albatross (probably found on voyage to Hawaii from Oregon Territory), Bushtit, Chesnut-backed Chickadee, Lark Bunting, Chestnut-collared Longspur, Sage Thrasher, Mountain Plover. Several of these discovered as they came up the Missouri River with a company of Boston-backed fur trappers. There’s more on Townsend at this link.

THRUSHES ALL AROUND In addition to Solitaire and Robin in the mountains, there were more thrush family members at Emigrant Lake. Western Bouebird in the mistlesnow (mistletoe covered with snow), Varied Thrush in the brush and a couple Hermit Thrushes on the ground. Here’s my pic of one:HETH PATH3 (1280x960) Peter tried to stalk the thrush for a picture in good light. In gthe nextpicture you can see the bird on the path before him. In the final picture the bird is flying off.
PETER AND HETH (1280x960)
PEDTER HETH FLY (1280x960) So we left Emigrant Lake without Peter’s thrudh pic. When we pulled into my drive at home a Hermit Thrush was in our crabapple tree, eyeing the fruit. Peter rolled down the window and got some good shots. All’s well with the worldof thrushes.


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