Posted by: atowhee | April 28, 2014


I thought I was pretty much done birding for the day by lunchtime. Three new species for the year, nice pics of a male oriole, Green Heron, momma Wood Duck and ducklings. Not bad, right?
Well, a rumor of a Loggerhead Shrike in Jackson County got me going in late afternoon. No shrike, but…a swing by Calliope Hummingbird territory got me onto Tolman Creek Road, and that got me this:bg male hedAs we drove down the road I noticed this dark chicken alongside the pavement. Stopping I checked in my rearview mirror. The bird is not going away, he is marching aggressively toward our car, then he jumps onto a flatbed trailer alongside the road to give himself height and stature. It is a testosterone-stricken male Sooty [nee Blue] Grouse in mating season. They are known to attack hikers on remote trails. They stand their ground…without a handgun. I stayed right by the car and got some shots before retreating from his murderous glare. Never aggravate the aggressive chicken, that’s my motto.

bg male1

bg male2
Then we pulled into the area of the purported shrike, and a pair of California Quail were scuttling to disappear from view. Got this one shot. Two chickens in ten minutes.
caqu run
No, of course, we didn’t see a Mountain Quail. Three in a row might be illegal anyway. I jest.

So we returned home pretty smug on the day…the grouse makes four new species for the year and all within five miles of our home. And two doors down from us sits and sleeps the local male Screech-Owl. I normally slow down for a view of his box. This time he was preening! With my camera set on burst I have no doubt shot over 2000 separate images of this one owl. Never have I even seen him preen. This afternoon he is preening in full sunlight. I may have to give up birding now, it’ll all be downhill from here. Again, I jest. Especially enjoy how he pulls his chest feathers through his beak for total cleaning and putting-in-order:wso feels good

wso chest preen cu

wso chest preen

wso preen1

wso preen2

wspo chest preen 2wso bends down

Then he takes a well-deserved brief nap: wso at rest

wso at rest2

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