Posted by: atowhee | October 20, 2017


October 20, Friday

It’s been raining off and on for 36 hours.  Good.  Water: good.  Wash out those memories of forest fire smoke.  Amen.

But this rain is confining for man and dog alike, birds as well.  Only a few hardy birds came to the feeders during the dawn rain.  And two squirrels, whose defining characteristic would fit them for Wall Street—greed in all seasons, in any weather.  So when the rain faltered around 10:15AM, Nora and I hit the streets.  Though the sky did not clear it became evident there was still a burning star out there beyond the upper clouds.  A hint of solar warmth could be sensed.  Robins fluttered up in straggly groups from where they’d sheltered in treetops, oaks and conifers which offer the best protection.  A ball of wax(wings) barreled across the sky toward some real or imagine tree full of fruit.  Then a septet of Canada Geese headed west toward the golf course lake.  They sounded like a junior high woodwind section warming up before rehearsal.  Off key, lack of rhythm, plenty of breath and volume.  Ten seconds after they passed, along came an eighth goose.  Alone and flapping as hard as a goose ever flaps.  Often they seem relaxed in the air, even when motoring forward. Those big wings make them look at ease aloft.  This trailing soul was late for rehearsal and trying to make up the distance.  Silent, no extra air for tuning up.

When the rains resumed, of course, I saw a low-flying Red-tail go over our garden.  I can only imagine how disheartened such a bird can be on such a day.  There will be few small mammals out, so little to eat.  It is wet and the feathers will get heavier, flight harder.  Sitting around all day in a dense tree with no smart phone and no laptop would be reallllly boring.  Nothing to do but watch the rain fall.

Just before noon “our” Bewick’s Wren came to a suet feeder. This is not a common occurrence.  This wren and mate nest somewhere near our house.  Usually a sighting is a brown blur in motion trailed by a long tail.  This family of birds are often stealthy, even when singing beautifully and loudly.  You can often hear a Pacific or Bewick’s Wren’s song in winter though you may never see the singer.  I rarely see the Bewick’s here more than twice a month and he has nothing to do with the sunflower seeds.  In that way he resembles the Bushtits.

He stayed on the suet log for over a minute.  In pic #4 he finally reveals that delicately barred tail.  Photo #9 captures the wren with his tiny bit of suet, still in beak. Last wren-shot shows

There are “public wrens” that I have met. The House Wren is often nesting under an eave or in a garden shed or old mailbox and will sing to the humans around, even follow to see if some insects are driven into the open by the gardener.  Still more of a show-bird is the Cactus Wren.  If you bird in the American southwest this large, loud wren can often be seen atop a saguaro or century plant.  He may sing at you, letting you know that he is charge and you are interloper non grata.

Here is image of one siskin and the remaining American Goldfinch on feeder, the two looks at a Sing Sparrows yesterday who was giving me some looks in return:2fnchSS LOOKSSS LOOKS2Note the raindrops making streaks across the background in sparrow images.
Two late October flowers.  Why would a blackberry bush bloom now?  Some kind of hormonal miscarriage?IMG_0350IMG_0351
820 NW 19th Street, McMinnville, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Oct 20, 2017.  12 species

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  3
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  1
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  1
Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens)  2
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) (Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group])  6
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  1
Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)  2
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  1
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  6

McMinnville, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Oct 20, 2017.  6 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  8
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  3
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  12
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  10
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  4

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