Posted by: atowhee | May 20, 2014


This morning was my first chance to do some scouting for my upcoming field trips as part of the Mountain Bird Festival here in Ashland. Three hours along Dead Indian Memorial Road and the Shale City Road Loop (no Shale City there). I had about forty species, including some that I hope will show up for festival goers.

I hadn’t gotten much past the Ashland Airport when I noticed two, large plank-winged raptors soaring in circles overhead. They were Golden Eagles and one was molting on both wings.


My first walk was just past Milepost 3 on Dead Indian Memorial Road (DIMR) where the cattle chute is. Usual oak savannah birds except for the Bullock’s Orioles so far from cottonwoods and a creek:P2010817 In this meadow the fluting song of the Western Meadowlark was intermittent, punctuated by static from the kingbird, chatter of orioles and even a passing Raven’s broadcasts.

In the tallest old oak: a calling Western Kingbird:weki in oak1 (1280x1048)P2010809 (858x1280) Flowers there in the poor soil and bright sun at about 2700′ were purple vetch, a low-growing clover with soft pink flowers, a dark blue lupine and my first blossoming yellow salsify of the year.
About three miles up Shale City Road from DIMR is a rough dirt road that follows a series of huge utility pylons. Beneath is the usual man-shortened scrub. One of the birds in the blooming wild plum and mountain mahogany there was this Willow Flycatcher.
P2010824 Also present were Lazuli Bunting, a skittish MacGillivray’s Warbler, Spotted Towhee. More than one Hermit Thrush gave out their haunting, beautiful calls from deep in the forest nearby. Here pussy ears, Oregon grape, white iris and other flowers decorated the slope.

Further up Shale City Road I walked into a former clear-cut, now returning to crub and forest. Rock outcropping indicate thin soil in some spots. Here were calling Pygmy-Owls and Mountain Quail. A Cassin’s Vireo sang as I walked around and a Steller’s Jay loudly decried the presence of a Red-tailed Hawk:P2010834 (960x1280) In this meadow camas, bear grass and other moisture lovers bloomed.

Not far from the upper end of Shale City where it re-connects with DIMR, another meadow held this Gray Jay:
g-jay shale

g-jay shale2 I could see the jay but not the thrumming Ruffed Grouse, back in the forest. More camas, wild strawberries and numerous small yellow blooms spread across the field.

The most often seen mammal, even outnumbering humans, was California ground-squirrel…even though it’s in Oregon.
CGS (1280x960)
Fawn lily:
Lupine:LPNE (1280x960)

white iris:
P2010823 (1280x977)


P2010830 (1280x960)

Two of the views down into the valley where lies Ashland.
P2010835 (1280x960)P2010802 (1280x960)

Howard Prairie Circuit, Jackson, US-OR
May 20, 2014 10:10 AM. 27 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) 1
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 2
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) 5
Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) 2
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) 4
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) 2
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) 1
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) 1
Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis) 1
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) 3
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 2
Common Raven (Corvus corax) 1
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) 6
House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) 1 ICE HOUSE LAKE, SINGING
Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana) 2
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) X
California Towhee (Melozone crissalis) 2
Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) 1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) 1
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) 4
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus) 1
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) X
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) 3
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus) 12
Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii) 3
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) 6
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria) 2

Shale City Road, Jackson, US-OR
May 20, 2014 11:40 AM. 19 species

Mountain Quail (Oreortyx pictus) 2 HEARD MALES CALLING
Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) 1 THRUMMING
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) 5
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) 1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) 2
Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii) 1
Cassin’s Vireo (Vireo cassinii) 3
Gray Jay (Perisoreus canadensis) 1
Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) 1
Common Raven (Corvus corax) 2
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) 1
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) 3 SINGING IN VARIOUS LOCATIONS
American Robin (Turdus migratorius) 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler (Geothlypis tolmiei) 1
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) 1
Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) 2
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) 10
Lazuli Bunting (Passerina amoena) 1
The first Mountain Bird Festival will be in Ashland on May 31 and June 1. It is sponsored by Klamath Bird Observatory. Some of the birds we hope to show our guests include Great Gray Owl, White-headed Woodpecker, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Calliope Hummingbird, Dusky and Hammond’s Flycatcher and Hermit Warbler. Details can be found at:

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