Posted by: atowhee | December 18, 2015


Once again today the North Yamhill River is washing across Wennerberg Park and nearby fields.  Once again an adult Bald Eagle is atop the tallest conifer in the park, with a wide view across new wetlands and temporary sloughs.  It must surely be the same bird I saw in exactly the same conditions and location about ten days ago.  Does this mature bird know that floods disorient some ducks or wear them out so they are easier prey?  He hasn’t caught the domestic duck that continues to hide in the thicket around the river’s flooded oxbow in the park.DOM-DUC (1280x960)That’s the eagle at the tip top of the tallest tree in this image. EGL TREES FLOOD-EAGL (1280x960)There are songbirds also flocking to the flooded area.  Blackbirds, Starlings and Robins work the edges of the temporary pools or fan out across the soaked fields.brb on shore (1280x960) BRB2 ON SHOREDespite the good foraging around the flood, no true Robin would resist a few frost-softened haws, fresh off the tree. rbn (1280x960) rbn eats (1280x960) RBN-FIELD shore robins (1280x960)So what’s going on here?  Are the birds finding drowned earthworms?  Well, I checked online and found that it is unlikely there are dead earthworms due to the flooding, but it is during wet times when the worms come up to change location.  Here’s what I found:

Q. Why do worms come onto driveways and sidewalks when it rains?

A. Dr. Dennis Linden, Cindy Hale, and other worm experts say that worms do NOT surface to avoid drowning. In fact, they come to the surface during rains (especially in the spring) so they can move overland. The temporarily wet conditions give worms a chance to move safely to new places. Since worms breathe through their skin, the skin must stay wet in order for the oxygen to pass through it. After rain or during high humidity are safe times for worms to move around without dehydrating. It is true that, without oxygen, worms will suffocate. But earthworms can survive for several weeks under water, providing there is sufficient oxygen in the water to support them.

Q. Do earthworms come to the surface after heavy rains to avoid drowning?

A. Not exactly. Earthworms can survive for several weeks under water providing there is sufficient oxygen in the water to support them. They surface as a response to high relative humidity after rain because they can move around safely without drying out.

This came from this website.

Some other ground dwellers don’t do so well with flooding, from mice to spider.  Plus the water tends to move things around, uncover seed and corm wherever it goes, overturn logs, expose the hidden.  Think of the floodplain under water or just out of the water as an open refrigerator in nature’s kitchen.  Woody Allen was right, “Nature is just one big restaurant.”

 One other sighting: Kestrel trying and succeeding in chasing off a Merlin along French Lane north of McMinnville.  Not much sign of falcon family togetherness.


Wennerberg Park was officially closed today but dogs are notorious scofflaws and so some dog’s bodies like me had to follow the lead canine down to the flooded park from the hilltop where the road was signed.CLOSED1 CLOSED2View of field next to park where about ten of twenty acres are under water. CLOSED3In normal times the river is only found on the right hand side of the bright green levee , now breached in several sections. CLOSED5

Nora, part Labrador, was excited by the flood water and the prospect of sticks in the raging current and even in flotsam clogs along the backwaters.P2590678 (1280x960) P2590680 (1280x960) P2590682 (1280x960)Such is a dog’s life on a wet day.  Fun is where you find it.

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