Posted by: atowhee | March 31, 2018


I awoke this morning to a vision of radical alteration.  The dozens of siskins were on, around and beneath the feeders…as they have been for days. One of our scrub-jays came screaming in.  Bushtits, Spotted Towhee, Golden-crowned Sparrow came and fluttered off. Not a single junco.  No farewell, no thank you note, no posting on our Air BnB site.  Yesterday there were at least 20, today zero.  Did some lengthening daylight span trigger a hormonal shift?  Did the 12th warm day of March push them into moving north or upslope?  Was last night an especially good night to be flying?  Did some junco major-general commend the troop to move out?  I shall never know.  There may be one pair around this summer but the gang is gone.

Nature is always now.  Yesterday, tomorrow and other abstract concepts mean nothing.  Today “our” former juncos are elsewhere, feeding on the ground and not caring about our feeders, not wishing they had our cracked sunflowers seeds all around them, not missing our clean bird baths.

For now the lively action in our garden depends on the siskins though I know, they, too, will soon depart and leave behind only sunflower husks and their tiny feces.DRINKINGDRINKING2

I walked over to Pinot Noir and the No Name Pond today.  There some of the ducks lifted up, flew circuits and set back down.  Was this an exercise?  Need to keep those wings in shape before the impending two thousand mile migration that will take place later this spring.  Surely no migratory ducks can paddle around all winter and then lift off for such a long flight.  Gotta keep in shape, right?NO NAMEPintail: three turns and a return.PINT IN AIRPINT LANDINGPINT LANDING2PINT LANDING3PINT LANDING4Wigeon left, Ring-necked Ducks else…DUKSSThere were more than ducks afloat on No Name Pond…these willow catkins were falling, floating, more miniature logjams among the emergent stems.WILLO FLOAT


Around the pond construction work has begun.  The topsoil and vegetation was scraped off and then straw spread on the ground in a meagre attempt to prevent further erosion.  During that process the workers simply cut open the straw bales and then flung the blue plastic twine onto the ground.  I picked up several strands today and will recycle them.  I have seen the deadly effect of that impervious twine if it gets into a nest.  One young osprey almost died because his leg was tangled in the twine which no bird beak could cut through.  It took four humans and a utility company cherry-picker to save bird.OSPREY HANGINGRescuedbirdwithfiberRosemarywithBirdMany other osprey and herons and such die in twine tangles out of sight of potential rescuers.  I have also seen a Western Kingbird hung by fishing tackle. I fail to comprehend how fishermen or builders who want to use the planet for fun or profit can then proceed to treat it like a large trash dump.  If you see people’s plastic detritus, twine or tackle, please pick it up before some innocent bird uses it.
One of the great threats to California Condors are the blue plastic tops off water bottles.  Some adults are attracted to them, carry them back to the nest where the young eat them.  That plastic has to be removed surgically to save the young condor.  Most wild birds cannot depend on sympathetic biologists to remove any plastic they may devour.


There were a pair of fly-by kestrels and a perched Merlin near the pond this morning. I have seen nearby Peregrine several times so it is a three-falcon birding site.
Birds in sun:

ACWO UPPPPBW IN SUNBW IN SUN2BW IN SUN3BW ON ARC (2)Cheris, mon cheri.  This floral display is fine, but what I long for is the fruit itself.  Forced to choose between a fine burgundy and a bowl of sun-ripened Queen Ann cherries, I would have to ponder…but then, the wine will keep and there is more in a bottle somewhere…the cherries are but a brief moment…and then the taste buds can only hope to recall…in less than four months, cherries should once again enter our diet…down, taste buds, down…CHERISE

No Name Pond, McMinnville, OR, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Mar 31, 2018. 12 species

Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)  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)  X
Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata)  1
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  2
Merlin (Falco columbarius)  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  2
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X

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