Posted by: atowhee | September 25, 2016


The winter bird diversity is starting to take over in Yamhill County.  I did see a couple dozen Barn Swallows today but they’ll soon vanish from view. Aother bird of passage: a coyple of Yellow-rumps. Best of all I saw my first fall Merlin and a fresh shipment of eclipse plumage Shovelers.
Merlins just appeal to my sense of efficiency and purpose. I find falconry (including H is for Hawk) to be morally inexcusable but I did spend some time years ago talking to a lifelong falconer in England.  He told me the ultimate bird in that blood “sport” is the Merlin.  It’s kill rate is much higher than big birds that hover or soar. The deliberate Merlin sits…watches…calculates…then often strikes and kills.  But the Merlin also must hunt and kill daily…in all weather…in all seasons.  Not a bird for the armchair falconer. I also imagine Merlins have an acceleration rare that would be the envy of any drag strip.  Zero to sixty in a couple seconds.  Compact, strong, straight-flying, accurate.  No need to hide or be sneaky like a Sharp-shinned or Cooper’s, no aerial displays like Osprey or buteo or eagle. Sit, fly, eat.  That could be any Merlin’s memoir.
In my garden I am starting to see my winter birds: both Song and White-crowned Sparrows have been through this week.  Neither is a summer bird in my neighborhood.  Cedar Waxwings have also been in the vicinity in their compact flocks, flying around like inland Sanderlings.
American Goldfinches continue to dominate in terms of number, one day last week there were at least three dozen on our feeders and in our trees.
Yamhill Sewage Ponds (restricted access), Yamhill, Oregon, US
Sep 25, 2016 10:50 AM – 11:50 AM.  11 speciesMallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  3
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)  29
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  1
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  3
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
Merlin (Falco columbarius)  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  5
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  27
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)  2
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1

The haws are now ripe at Yamhill Sewer Ponds, ready for the thrushes, waxwings, jays and other berry hungry birds.haws-ripe-1280x960


  1. Nice ode to the merlin!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: