Posted by: atowhee | April 28, 2018



This morning we had our final field trip for our McMinnville spring birding class.  We were birding Rotary Park.  There I found two species that I had not seen before this year—Black-headed Grosbeak and Swainson’s Thrush…and later the dog took me for a walk and I found my first Western Tanager(s) of the year. Until I looked at my photos I did not realize there were two males side-by-side:WT-CCWTR-DD

At Rotary park we saw the Swainson’s Thrush but heard nothing, the grosbeaks were high and unseen in the treetops, singing repeatedly.  Their long, energetic songs seemed to come from several individuals.

Oddest sighting at Rotary Park: black rabbit, not a native.  Havana rabbit is ancestral to several other dark breeds of domestic rabbits. This one seems to be thriving in the wild.B-RBBT

At No Name Pond I found the tanager and noted that most “winter” ducks were gone, only four Shoveler and two Ring-necked Ducks remain. I wonder if the two coots are going to nest there?  The pond level is dropping, emergent plants are beginning to clog the surface.NNP-B

Overhead all through the morning, large flocks of honing Cackling Geese were headed north.CACK-WAVE1CACK-WAVE2CACK-WAVE4CACK-WAVE5

We here in North America imagine that spring and fall migrations are normal in the bird world.  For many of our birds that is true.  But most birds species do not migrate. Those that breed in Latin America and Africa, South Asia and Australia do NOT migrate north and south.
Speaking of breeding—at the north end of Pinot Noir Drive there were at least four active starling nests in the oak trees in the front garden of the last house on the east side of Pinot Noir. Here are some of the nest holes and then an adult leaving nest, carrying fecal sac.STARNEST1STARNEST2STARNEST3STARNEST4STARNEST5STARNEST6STARNEST7STARNEST8Just past the end of Pinot Noir, this handsome little bark gleaner:WB-BIGWB-BIGGSTWB-FLAPNo question about this being an ACORN woodpecker:ACORN LIMB2

Redbuds are budding redly.RB

Some words on geese:

“How indispensable our one or two flocks of geese in spring and autumn. What would be a spruing in which the sound was not heard.  Coming to unlock the fetters of northern rivers.  Those annual steamers of the air.”   –Thoreau, April, 1852   [Here in western Oregon we get hundreds of flocks of geese from fall through spring.]

“The vernal flight of the geese lasts from the middle of April until the middle of May…. Their arrival from the south is inmpatiently attended; it is the harbinger of the spring, and the month named by the Indians the goose moon.”    –Alexander Wilson, circa 1810.

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”   –Mary Oliver, Wild Geese

“Aware at first only of the dust of sound
Drifting down to us here in the yard,
I saw him look up, searching fathoms of air,
As for tidings,
Some urgent spirits’ honking aloft:
Wild geese there–and my eyes strained after,
Into that azure,
Then there they were: there,
Flying in a straggle, so high, a wonder,
Glinting Like wafers, silver fish-
Scales in the sun, a
Strewing of foil confetti, yet aimed,
The string of a kite’s tail,
Dipping, being drawn
Through the gulf stream of air
By their migrant passion–at the edge
Of sight I still found them….
The abruptly,
–“Wild Geese Flying”  Barbara Howes

OUR COOL BLOODED COUSINS:FROG FACEThe frog face above is blurry, but the garter snake below is clear and even the dog’s presence did not startle him.GRTR OUTGRTR OUT2


McMinnville Rotary Park (Tice Park), Yamhill, Oregon, US
Apr 28, 2018.15 species

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)  X     migrating northward overhead
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus [cafer Group])  1
Steller’s Jay (Coastal) (Cyanocitta stelleri [stelleri Group])  2
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  X
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1
Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus)  1     skulking along forest trail in deep shade; eye-ring or spectacles visible; russet-backed
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  20
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Wilson’s Warbler (Cardellina pusilla)  1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  X
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  X
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)  X     heard singing at several locations, clearly more than one individual; not seen; first of season for me

Merlot Marsh–private land, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Apr 28, 2018.  9 species

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)  X     migrating northward in large flocks
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  X
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  2
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  4
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  X
Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)  X

Pinot Noir Drive NW, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Apr 28, 2018. 15 species

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)  X     flicks migrating northward
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  1
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  4
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  2
Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)  4
White-breasted Nuthatch (Pacific) (Sitta carolinensis aculeata/alexandrae)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  15
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X     saw at least four active nest cavities in front of last house on Pinot Noir on the east side of street,,,all cavities in living oaks
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)  X
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  X
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  2
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  2

No Name Pond, McMinnville, OR, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Apr 28, 2018.  11 species

Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)  4
Mallard (Northern) (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos/conboschas)  10
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)  2
American Coot (Fulica americana)  2
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  2
Lincoln’s Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii)  1
Western Tanager 1, singing maler
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X
Purple Finch (Western) (Haemorhous purpureus californicus)  1


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