Posted by: atowhee | December 16, 2018


Yesterday I got to bird parts of Salem Area #1 for their annual Christmas Bird Count.  I was lucky enough to be on a team with two young biologists working for the BLM office in Salem.  Appropriately it was the very day it was publicly revealed that Interior Secretary Zinke wsil be leaving his job, his demolition rules, regs and habitat will last much longer than the less than two years he had power over much of America’s public land.  In a sense we were counting survivors…long may they last.

I began the day for the morning fly-out from Mission Lake east of the Salem Airport…it is locally called “Lowe’s Pond” as the lakeshore abuts the Lowe’s and Walmart parking lots.  The willow fringe around the lake contains the detritus and plastic trash and styrofoam crud and old tires one expects in marginal urban areas neglected  by owners and habitat abusers alike.  Yet the water birds and nutria soldier on.

Many of the gulls were already in the dark sky when I arrived.  I quickly began counting birds still on the water.  It was exciting to count the largest flock of Hooded Mergansers I’ve ever seen in one place.  After the sun came up far enough for photos, I tried to get a shot,  but found, around 730AM, the Hoodies had flown off.  About 740AM many of the hundreds of Cackling Geese began to fly out in flocks of several dozen together.  The birds that seemed to be finding food on the lake included coots, Ruddy Ducks and shovelers. I think the only breeding species I saw there were Spotted Towhee and Pied-billed Grebe.
Mission Lake, Marion, Oregon, US
Dec 15, 2018 7:00 AM – 7:50 AM
19 species (+1 other taxa)

Cackling Goose  600
Northern Shoveler  15
American Wigeon  5
Bufflehead  30
Hooded Merganser  40
Ruddy Duck  25
Pied-billed Grebe  1
American Coot  50
Mew Gull  300
Ring-billed Gull  60
Western Gull  5
California Gull  X
Herring Gull  2
Herring Gull (American)  2
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Belted Kingfisher  1
American Crow  X
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
European Starling  X
Spotted Towhee  1

Our area included Geer Park just east of the state prison and then a large swath of open land around Corban University and the industrial park southeast of Salem:
SALEM CBC AREA #1, Marion, Oregon, US
Dec 15, 2018 8:35 AM – 2:35 PM
Protocol: Traveling
30.0 mile(s)
55 species

Cackling Goose  X
Canada Goose  X
Northern Shoveler  X
Green-winged Teal (American)  X
Bufflehead  X
Ruddy Duck  X
California Quail  12
Pied-billed Grebe  1
Eurasian Collared-Dove  X
Mourning Dove  X
Anna’s Hummingbird  2
Killdeer  1
Ring-billed Gull  X
Western Gull  X
California Gull  X
Herring Gull  X
Glaucous-winged Gull  X
Great Blue Heron  1
Great Egret  2
Northern Harrier  3
Cooper’s Hawk  1
Bald Eagle  1
Red-tailed Hawk  X
Acorn Woodpecker  2
Downy Woodpecker (Pacific)  X
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)  X
American Kestrel  X
Steller’s Jay (Coastal)  3
California Scrub-Jay  X
American Crow  X
Black-capped Chickadee  X
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  X
Bushtit (Pacific)  25
Red-breasted Nuthatch  X
White-breasted Nuthatch (Pacific)  1
Brown Creeper  2
Pacific Wren  1
Marsh Wren  2
Golden-crowned Kinglet  X
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  X
American Robin  X
European Starling  X
House Finch (Common)  X
Lesser Goldfinch  X
American Goldfinch  1
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon)  X
White-crowned Sparrow  X
Golden-crowned Sparrow  X
Savannah Sparrow  X
Song Sparrow  X
Lincoln’s Sparrow  3
Spotted Towhee  X
Western Meadowlark  X
Red-winged Blackbird  X
Brewer’s Blackbird  X

We managed to find both Marsh and Pacific Wren but failed repeatedly to arouse a Bewick’s. The Lincoln’s and Savannah Sparrows were in the weedy fields of the industrial park.  The many pools and marshes there held no shorebirds nor ducks.  The pond on the south edge of Geer Park gave us most of our waterfowl.  The two songbird hotspots were the feeders at the Kettle Chips processing plant, and the hilly campus of Corban University.  There we found both species of kinglet and both species of nuthatch plus a wave of Bushtits who checked us out and found us wanting.  No spider egg sacs so they moved on, leaving us in their wake.


This first group of photos were taken in the bad light of an overcast dawn, at Mission Lake:




These photos from state parking lot at dawn, later Geer Park and points south:lowes sunrise


At the Kettle Chips campus and nature trail:


Some more images from Salem CBC:goose bluegoose grayTeal in pond on south edge of Geer Park:gwt--pond“Behold, for I am handsome and sure of my place in quaildom.”mail qwailzsalem hernry

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