Posted by: atowhee | January 15, 2019


This morning at Yamhill Sewer Ponds the marsh was frozen solid.  The air temp was below forty degrees.  A Merlin flew straight and fast across the open fields into the top of the tallest conifer along the creek.  And a Say’s Phoebe, likely THE Say’s Phoebe was hunting from atop the measuring stick along the border between the two eastern ponds of the sewer plant.  That is exactly where I first spotted a, or THE, Say’s Phoebe earlier this month.saph in cold

How can the fellow find any insects in this weather?  Surely the relative warmth of the sewer ponds give him as good a chance as anywhere.
Not needing or heeding any warmth the Merlin only need one small bird or rodent to  make a bad move to provide his next meal.  Merlin eat small items and thus must kill daily.  The very opposite of a large boa constrictor.  The minute his straight, fast flight  ended in a perch in the most obvious look-out spot I knew I had seen a Merlin.  The photo confirms:merl at yspThis  is only my third Merlin sighting at Yamhill Sewer Ponds.  There were plenty of White-crowned Sparrows there today to draw his interest.  Also big flocks of blackbirds and starlings.  treetopThe usual ducky crowd circling the ponds:shov cirkl


Two American Goldfinches turned up at our feeders today, first time this year.  Not many days back I watched a Bewick’s Wren feeding in our Colorado spruce.  It was sunny and mild.  He stopped on one branch and sang a couple bars of his song.  Just like that a second wren popped up.  Could be we have a an intended pair.  Last year a pair raised three young in a nest next to our house…

This time of year the frequency and number of ravens in the valley increases.  I believe the food supply (esp. road kill) is richer down here than up in their foothill fastness where they breed an raise young.  ONe afternoon last week I drove along Westside Road between McMinnville and Carlton, just before sunset.  Usual birds: starlings, couple of kestrels wire-sitting, one Steller’s Jay in a wooded draw, some robins in a grass field, couple of ravens.  The next morning I drove the road again.  This time near the food processing plant there were many ravens in the road.  There was a fresh coyote carcass.  Overnight or earlier in the morning the coyote had been killed and the ravens had managed to communicate to their crowd.  I counted over thirty ravens. It was less than three hours since sunrise but they had already found the body and broadcast the delectation to the local population… How did they do that?  Vocally, raven telegraphy from one bird or pair or small group to another? With silent Turkey Vultures we know they watch one another for visual indications of a find. It is likely ravens use both sight and sound to signal one another. They are driven to share a carcass as we know from Bernd Heinrich’s research and writings. Immature ravens give mated pairs priority at a food source.
When we drove back past the scene in another 45 minutes many of the ravens were feeding in the field, having hauled bits off the dangerous highway to safer picnic site.

In the garden.  The Bushtit gang arrives…always room for one more.  At one point my image shows at least fifteen Bushtit tails hanging off the single suet feeder, with each tail there is an attached little beak going at the suet cake.  The last guy is too big to be a Bushtit, right?


NO NAME PONDnnp-dux up


Yamhill Sewage Ponds (restricted access), Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jan 15, 2019.  17 species

Northern Shoveler  150
Mallard  3
Green-winged Teal  2
Lesser Scaup  10
Bufflehead  60
Eurasian Collared-Dove  8
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)  1
Merlin  1
Say’s Phoebe  1
California Scrub-Jay  1
Common Raven  1
American Robin  30
European Starling  X
White-crowned Sparrow  40     wintering in a brush pile
Golden-crowned Sparrow  1
Red-winged Blackbird  75
Brewer’s Blackbird  X

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