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Posted by: atowhee | December 5, 2017

MY DAY AS A ROAD-RUNNER

 BIRDING INTERSTATE 5

Today I drove from Wheatland Ferry down I-5 to Myrtle Creek and back.  There were many Red-tails, two Bald Eagles, a Harrier in Lynn County and a couple pleasant surprises.

The biggest surprise came at Cow Creek Rest Area (southbound) south of Eugene.  I was walking the dog around the perimeter and I noticed a flock of sparrows at the hedge edge on the other side of the lawn.  One was a Spotted Towhee, flashing his little white tail-lights when he flew.  I walked over to see if the rest were Golden-crowns and maybe a Fox Sparrow?  Behold, the whole flocks was Spotted Towhees!  I have seen family groups but I have never seen a flock of towhees before, of any species.

My second surprise was a Red-shouldered Hawk sitting next to a freeway ramp in north Roseburg.  It was not the freeway noise and proximity that surprised but that this hawk was sitting on a two-foot high metal utility cover watching the grass just bel0ow his perch. Red-shoulders are like Brewer’s Blackbirds and some gulls—they are able to function well amidst the noise and clutter of human congestion.  In San Francisco they populate the city parks, dining well on rats. There was one who hunted almost daily at a truck stop in southern Oregon…rats near the dumpsters, I suspect.

Other highlights: Western Bluebirds on an oak-forested hillside north of Sutherlin.  Bald Eagle in the South Umpqua River, Roseburg.  A flock of Song Sparrows (at east 20) along trail at east end of Wheatland Ferry in Willamette Mission State Park.

Two snipe, a Kestrel and a Red-breasted Sapsucker at Oak Grove Rest Area in Douglas County.  Also in Douglas, a Great Egret south of Milepost 146.  The only gulls were two different flocks of Glaucous-winged, both in the Willamette Valley.

If you drive I-5 as much as I do, you may need my book: Freeway Birding.
More information at freewaybirding.com.  I have some copies for sale as well as Amazonh.

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