Posted by: atowhee | April 18, 2013


645 AM I arrive at North Mountain Park. A small cluster of Golden-crowned Sparrows move away from my car toward the edge of the parking lot. There are Starlings on the grass and in the big walnut tree. A male Red-winged Blackbird is in a streetside sapling, singing repeatedly. The Red-wings’ song will be the theme music for this morning’s birding. The males in this singing season also make full use of their colorful epaulets, flashing red and orange stripes for the females to admire. Today I’ll almost never be more than a few yards or a few moments from the next Red-winged singer.
The eastern sky is glowing golden. The sun is just about to top the horizon behind a scrim of white, thin and puffy clouds. Slightly darker clouds top the crest of the Cascades to the north of the park. There is no wind. The temperature is 34. Frost covers the playing field turf.
The Starlings are squawking. A Crow calls from the nearby neighborhood. Scrub-jays appear and snarl throughout my visit. I try not to get distracted. If you start watching those guys they will steal your morning. Sometimes I think they are deliberately trying to distract me from something they think I’ll steal. No hedge fnd manager is more clever at triple-loop thinking than a jay.
An Oak Titmouse is making his repetitive clarion call from near the upper pond. This bird is nervously calling and moving about. Eating, calling, jumping, eating again, calling. He is ubiquitous around the pond. First in this tree, then another. Willow, oak, shrub, cottonwood, clump of grass. Nothing too high nor too low for Oaky’s inquisition. His little crest is erect, his dark eyes intense, his manner presumptive. This is his world this April morn.
Near the ponds I pursue the only Nashville Warbler I see this morning. He is nearly the color of the new leaves, and never still for long.
nawa best (1280x960)
An American Robin sits motionless in the top of a still-leafless oak. He appears frozen like much of the rest of the world this morning. My fingers are frozen, but the camera still works. Two early-rising Tree Swallows are circling in the cold air.
Across the road there are small ponds and a female Common Yellowthroat hangs horizontal from a clump of grass. More Red-wings form a motley chorus around the fringe of the pond. A Purple Finch sings from high in a cottonwood somewhere on the other side of Bear Creek. The creek is running high and clear. It is the time of the mountain snow melt. Water from both Cascades and Siskiyous flow down Bear Creek to join the Rogue River further north.
Along the waterline a small flock of American Goldfinches are eating on the pond scum floats. The males are in their bright butter yellow plumage. These are probably returning migrants. Few American Goldfinches remain here for the winter.
Far up the hill alongside some houses a Collared-dove sits on a wire, and another is in the tree next to the upper parking.
ecd1 (1280x960)
The latest immigrant to claim a home in North America.
As I re-enter the park itself a small gathering of swallows are lined up along the top electrical wire running next to North Mountain Boulevard. The swallows are spaced a few feet apart, all facing the rising sun. Most are Tree, plus a single Northern Tough-winged, his dingy brown coloring sets him apart. At a signal I don’t notice they all take flight at once.
7 AM Around the upper ponds the titmouse continues to be everywhere at once. Two Mallards, a pair of Ring-necked Ducks, Red-wings encircle this water as well. Each male puffing up his puffy sleeves, singing his melodious love song. A female Red-wing perches low in the reeds, enjoying the concert that is supposed to impress her. She has staked out her own breeding territory. Males arrive after the females and try to aggregate as many female territories as possible. An ancient warlord tradition in the Icterid family.
Then back in the willow thicket of the uppermost pond I see a telltale flight. Perch, fly out and up, return to perch. It’s repeated. I move around to get a view of the small, upright bird. Golden-crowned Sparrows scatter as I get too near their patch of grass.
It’s my first Empidonax flycatcher of the year. This one turns out to be a Pacific-slope Hammond’s. The gray head contrasting with body drab and the longish wing projections are best field marks I can see. Can’t get a good picture as he stays way back in the willow branches which prevent my mindless camera from focusing properly.
The first Orange-crowned Warbler of the day moves through the same willows. Did I mention the titmouse was nearby, still calling and fussing about?
Back by the toilet building a nother Orange-crowned lands in a blooming crabapple. Dark red bark, pink flowers, yellow bird. A set of spring tones to set the tone of the day.
I move east along the paved path. The Lincoln’s Sparrows are still about. They stay low in grass and bushes. . Further down the path more Golden-crowned Sparrows, a foraging Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a trio of deer. Their winter coat is now , mangy looking, beginning to shed. This morning they need all the coat they have left. Along the small creek a Spotted Towhee is calling unseen, and when I near he gives out the signature buzzy whine of warning. Far upstream a Flicker rattles loudly. His calls echo through the trees and across the playing fields. The clouds have thickened but not darkened. They cover the sun but let a lot of filtered light through. The clouds dim the light and heat but do not stop it. Along the stream a kinglet sings. Their beautiful short song has been unheard since last spring.
On the playing field a pair of Canada Geese are a double-play at second base.2b geese (1280x960)

In far left field a Robin gets to worming in the grass. Behind me a Downy is drumming, then he quickly moves to a tree nearby on my left. He drums. I fail to locate him visually. Up the small stream near the power station a small flock of Lesser Goldfinches are feeding. The males are singing.

740 AM Back at the Visitors Center a single White-crowned Sparrow is on the grass with numerous Golden-crowned. A kinglet flits past them. Starlings are coming and going from their nest hole in the nearby fruit tree.
I walk out to the far end of the playing fields. A Robin is in centerfield. Sparrows gather on the right field line. A Hermit Thrush is hiding in brush in foul territory.heth along pth (1280x960)
Down in the small creek a Robin takes a cold morning bath. A lone, honking Canada Goose flies overhead. A Meadowlark is singing from the same place where we heard the song five days ago. I again fail to spot the bird.
In the creek alongside the power station a flock of bright American Goldfinches lights up the willows, then lands on the creekside to gold.1`
At the far end of the park a Lincoln’s Sparrow moves along the sunny edge of the berry patch. A Crow passes lazily over the park. More urgent in manner, a Great Blue Heron flies downstream. Two male Song Sparrows have a musical dual across Bear Creek. Perhaps their unsigned treaty uses the stream as a territorial border. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet ignores me, landing nearby in a small tree and begins to hunt for food, limb to limb. The two second base geese fly low over my head, honking like a traffic jammed taxi. The two great Blue Herons fly overhead, heading downstream after the earlier one. Back near the upper ponds the Pacific-slope Hammond’s Flycatcher has moved out into the oaks. I chase him with my camera. PS PERFCT (1280x960) PS ON ROK


PSF INSUN (1280x960)


APRIL 18, 2013
The White-breasted Nuthatch is feeding on an oak trunk then goes to check out the nest hole in another oak.
Just before I leave there are a dozen or more Tree Swallows flycatching over the upper ponds. The Red-wings and Oak Titmouse are both still singing. The sun is still hidden but insistent on its right to warm the day. The temperature has risen to near 40 degrees. Spring moves ahead one second at a time.

bvr trees (1280x960) Beaver trees along Bear Creek.
North Mountain Park, Jackson, US-OR. Apr 18, 2013 6:40 AM.31 species.

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) 4
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 2
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) 2
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) 3
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) 2
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) 1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) 1
Hammond’s Flycatcher (Empidonax hammondii) 1
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) 5
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) 1
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) 15
Oak Titmouse (Baeolophus inornatus) 1
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) 3
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) 1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius) 4
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 12
Orange-crowned Warbler (Oreothlypis celata) 4
Nashville Warbler (Oreothlypis ruficapilla) 1
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) 2
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) 1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) 2
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) 4
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla) 25
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) 20
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) 1
Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus) 3
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria) 4
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) 30
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) 2


  1. Harry… have you ever thought of leading a “birding by ear” walk? Would love it if you did one at Ashland Pond but where ever would be good. Saw first White-throated sparrow at Ashland Pond this morning… yay!

    • Yes, I got a mediocre phot of him yesterday, will try to blog later today. I have done some birding by ear classes but shouldod one for Ashand Parks…have to wait until next spring I’m afraid.

  2. Harry, good meeting you finally at the Audubon meeting here in Klamath. I am still looking for my first Pac-slope Fly so this post caught my attention. When I looked at the photos I immediately thought Hammond’s. Can you help me determine what eliminates Hammond’s on this bird? The photos also seem not to match well with confirmed Pac-slopes I see in guides and on the web. Thanks for any help.

    • I have corrected my earlier mis-ID on the Empid.Having images to study helps a lot.

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