Posted by: atowhee | April 25, 2018


On our weekly bird walk at Linfield College this morning we were flush with finches, more even than a full house would have required.  Six finch family members: House Finch of course, both goldfinches…the Americans only recently returned, siskins, a Red Crossbill male…a species never seen before over years of Linfield College bird walk, and Dr. Love overheard overhead Evening Grosbeaks.  These latter are the world’s largest finch species.

We also found six species of sparrows but there are so many more sparrow species in Oregon than finches.  The only native Oregon finches we did NOT see this morning were Cassin’s and rosy-finch. For me this was a day of firsts, firsts of the year: White-fronted Geese passing northward with littler Cacklers…Red Crossbill, cowbird, Chipping Sparrows (just back from wintering further south) and Wilson’s Warbler. Here are some images of the collegiate Chippers:CHSP CROWNCHSP FRONTCHSP IN PINECHSP N GRND2Later, in our garden, I found we were being serenaded by a flock of American Goldfinches.  Their garrulous gregarious chatter* was somewhere between a whisper and twitter…something like a “twisper?” Here is the feeder, in final finch-pic, a siskin has joined the male goldfinch:ag-briteag-brite2ag-eatztwo fnchs

Two days ago I saw for the first time this spring a single Vaux’s Swift high above our house.  This afternoon I saw a trio, and earlier there was a small group over Linfield College this morning on our weekly Wednesday walk. This picture was taken over our garden in McMinnville just after noon:vs overhead2I know it’s not much but you can see the swiftian wing arc…and you just try taking a picture of these guys in flight with a modest point-and-shoot.


Today I had to take our car in for one of its regular well-baby check-ups.  When it’s in the Toyota shop I walk across the street and bird in as forgotten corner of town where an old farmstead has been abandoned, a few acres of woods have gone wild, everything from cherry tree to old growth Doug-firs, and the steep wooded slope goes downhill to a marshy spot in the North Yamhill River floodplain.  Robins-check.  Golden-crowned Sparrows-check.  Mallards and a male Red-winged Blackbird on the marsh, sure.  A Song Sparrow singing, a squirrel scolding.  The I look out where the marsh water edges into the fescue field and there is a flock of Least Sandpipers feeding.  A first for me this year and a species I never expected to see inside the city limits.  I got some shots and started back uphill, feeling pretty smug with my luck.  Then overhead I see two birds flying in formation.  It’s a pair of courting Cooper’s Hawks.  Yes, there are white puffs on either side of the base of the tail.  Those are the feathers wherein these birds tuck their feet when it is cold.  In this mood, those feathers are plumed out and imitate in a vague way the pale rump of the harrier.coopscoops2coops3coops4coops5In each of the next two shots, an interloper…first a swallow heading right, then a starling heading left…note those translucent wings.coops6coops7I was surprised?  That’s the least of it…LEAST GRPLEAST3LEAST5*Here’s how William Leon Dawson described the American Goldfinch in 1923; “Bright apostle of midsummer! Herald and poet of sunlit hours! …Sir Goldfinch is the very apostle of good Cheer… Spring or autumn, we learn to accept his passing notes as little bouquets flung down from heaven.”  Today in our garden there were several goldfinch voices weaving their songs around one another, producing a swift and fluid twine of whistles and soft slurred triplets as they discussed what was in the feeders and when the big mammals (dog and I) would go back inside…

Linfield College campus, Yamhill, Oregon, US

Apr 25, 2018 7:55 AM – 9:10 AM.  32 species (+1 other taxa)

Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)  2     flying north with a large flock of Cackling Geese
Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)  40
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Vaux’s Swift (Chaetura vauxi)  3
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  2
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus [cafer Group])  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  5
Bushtit (Pacific) (Psaltriparus minimus [minimus Group])  2
White-breasted Nuthatch (Pacific) (Sitta carolinensis aculeata/alexandrae)  1
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  2
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  20
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Orange-crowned Warbler (Oreothlypis celata)  4
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) (Setophaga coronata coronata)  X
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s) (Setophaga coronata auduboni)  X
Black-throated Gray Warbler (Setophaga nigrescens)  X
Wilson’s Warbler (Cardellina pusilla)  1
Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)  6
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) (Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group])  2
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)  X
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  X
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  X
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  2
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)  1
Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus)  X     heard, not seen
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  X
Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)  1
Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)  X
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  2
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  X
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  X

Doran Drive NE, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Apr 25, 2018 10:40 AM – 11:00 AM.  9 species

Mallard (Northern) (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos/conboschas)  3
Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)  2     in courtship flight
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)  14
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  10
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  2
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  1

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