Posted by: atowhee | March 28, 2018


March 28, 2018


This just in from the real estate market: housing starts are picking up, construction is becoming visible all around us.  Oh, and the music business is also booming.

No, not people, birds.  Today I watched our garden’s Bewick’s Wren couple taking fuzzy bits to a nest site.  After a little searching I found the nest*.  I had taken the cover plate off our irrigation control panel and leaned it against the house.  It formed a dark, triangular cavern.  “Bingo,” say the Bewick family.  I will not look at the nest again until I hear babies in there calling for food.BW NEST SITEBW NEST2

There were four Tree Swallows checking out nest boxes near the pond at the north end of Merlot. This is my personal earliest sighting of this species in Yamhill.  I had some sightings in early April in previous years.  Paul Sullivan’s detailed record at his home show only year when the Tree Swallow was seen in March and only three Aprils when the bird was present out of 24 years.TS ATRESTAnother bird returning to the valley is the Turkey Vulture, this is one of two who soared overhead this morning:TV FULL ON

In conjunction with locating a home a flicker was drumming loudly on the metal roof gutter of a home along Pinot Noir.  I finally located the drummer but before I could get a picture an irritated Acorn Woodpecker came and drove off the flicker.  Later the bird called from a nearby oak but didn’t drum again while I was within earshot.

Singing birds today include robins, Song Sparrows, House Finches, Red-winged Blackbirds, and California Quail.  There was a White-throated Sparrows among the Golden-crowns at the north end of Pinot Noir. My only other sighting this of species in Yamhill County was in November.  Paul Sullivan and Carol Karlan’s records from their McMinnville home show that this species is a regular wintering bird here.  As I have not seen the bird at this location before I suspect it may have just arrived there where it associates with the Golden-crowned Sparrows.

NN POND-ANN POND-BAbove: ducks on Non Name Pond.  Below: the Red-wings are singing ad very much a presence near marshes right now, female on the left:RWB AT MEALRWB UPPPSS LOOKS UPSS-FRNTMost surprising–this Steller’s Jay flying over a fescue field in broad daylight, leaving the cozy conifers along Baker Creek for more open habitat.SJK PASSED

* This nest is not unusual.  BWs use feathers and soft plant material for lining a cup nest.  I suspect some of those feathers came from the recently departed Collared-Dove consumed not far away from the nest site.  The female will likely lay about a half dozen eggs though up to eleven have been recorded.  The eggs will be mottled with brown and purple but I will not try to take pictures of them.  The female will incubate the eggs about two weeks after the last one is laid, then the successful eggs will hatch. The young will be in the nest about two more weeks before fledging which should be in early May in this case.  Once the chicks are a few days old I will try for a graduation picture…I should be able to hear them inside their slanted cave.  I will almost definitely see parents hauling insects back to the nest as they have to fly through an open gateway to reach the site.
Both parents help feed nestlings and then the fledglings until they can feed themselves.  This pair of wrens may nest a second time if food supply is good.  We keep poisons out of our garden so there are plenty of small insects and spiders.  BTW, I saw my first free-range snail of the year today…and bumble-bees are starting to buzz about.
Merlot Marsh–private land, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Mar 28, 2018. 12 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  2
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  X
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  2
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  4     first of year in Yamhill County for me
Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens)  1     unusual at this location
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) (Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group])  X
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  X
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  6
Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)  4

Pinot Noir Drive NW, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Mar 28, 2018. 19 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
California Quail (Callipepla californica)  X     heard from berry thicket
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  2
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  8
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus [cafer Group])  2     heard calling and seen drumming on roof gutter of house
Steller’s Jay (Coastal) (Cyanocitta stelleri [stelleri Group])  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  4
White-breasted Nuthatch (Pacific) (Sitta carolinensis aculeata/alexandrae)  X
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) (Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group])  6
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  4
White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)  1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  2
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  3
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  X
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  X

No Name Pond, McMinnville, OR, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Mar 28, 2018.  10 species

American Wigeon (Mareca americana)  12
Mallard (Northern) (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos/conboschas)  15
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)  2
Green-winged Teal (American) (Anas crecca carolinensis)  7
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)  25
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  3
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  3
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X


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