Posted by: atowhee | March 11, 2018


This march is not a military parade such as beloved of certain folks we won’t name.  This march is a month of seasonal change.  The drumming has nothing to do with men in uniform or football games or even rock music.  This is the month the male Red-breasted Sapsucker has resumed his syncopated drumming on trees, to announce his hegemonic intentions.  This guy was making his sounds reverberate across Wennerberg Park this morning:rbs-drumzYesterday I heard the call of the California Quail in our garden.  It is not a bird I am ever likely to see here…no berry thickets, too many dogs and cats and houses, not the right habitat…but there was the call…I turned to see a few starlings high in the tree, one was the mimic…and I suspect they all enjoyed the performance and my reaction.  I told them they’d better be polite to me or I’ll plug up their nest hole above our garage.

I note on these cold mornings the seedeaters arrive long before the insectivores.  The juncos, towhee, any finches around are early arrivals.  Wrens, warblers, et al. come later.
As the days lengthen and we approach the equinox, some birds are definitely in territorial competition.  The two nearby pairs of scrub-jays by our house were both both loudly proclaiming this or that location was theirs…or was lacking…or had terrible views.  The sapsucker’s territorial urges were matched by a wren exploring nest sites inside a dense conifer in our garden, by singing robins and starling…by paired ducks yesterday at Tualatin River NWR.


cac1Cacklers gorging before the long flights northward.cac2IMG_6907rs uppMy first yellow violet of the spring:yvTualatin River NWR–Atfálat’i Unit, Washington, Oregon, US
Mar 10, 2018.  26 species  [I missed the Brant by a few minutes, it had vanished just before we arrived, perhaps into one othe many dense flocks of Cacklers.]

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)  5000
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus)  3
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)  X
Gadwall (Mareca strepera)  X
American Wigeon (Mareca americana)  X
Mallard (Northern) (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos/conboschas)  X
Green-winged Teal (American) (Anas crecca carolinensis)  X
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)  1
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  X
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  X
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)  X
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  X
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  1
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  2
Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius)  1
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
American Coot (Fulica americana)  X
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)  2
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  2
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
American Pipit (Anthus rubescens)  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) (Setophaga coronata coronata)  2
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  XA sad bumper sticker in the parking lot at Tualatin…pathetic that in 2018 science still needs defending against the legions of ignorance and greed.  For those who cling to the myth that climate change ain’t real or can be solved by divine intervention, I urge them to stop using their modern car, their smart phone and computer, all medications discovered since quinine, anything with a battery, and–most of all–stop viewing anything on a video screen.  All that stuff was brought into being using science.scienc

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