Posted by: atowhee | January 22, 2019


I met three Astoria birders at Sauvie Island yesterday morning and the birds showed us a great day as we circuited the island. There was beauty, elegance, brutality and anxiety (kinglets, you know). There weren’t many people, parking lots nearly empty, fog all morning gave many pictures an impressionistic effect…then some sun before drizzle in the afternoon. An Oregon winter day without wind.
Eagles rule:

If you click on an individual image you get a photo carousel that lets you see each image enlarged. Just inside Columbia County we found a quartet of Bald Eagles encircled by ravens, all attending the carcass of a sheep in a field near the road. As soon as we stopped the car, the ravens scattered, but the eagles lingered and finally the ravens floated back. There were two first-year birds, mostly dark. The eagle with a white head retaining a black stripe through the eye is a third-year bird while the postage stamp eagle is mature and at least four years old.
It is worth noting, we saw just this one large carcass and only one gathering of ravens in over 7 hours of birding. Ravens have an unerring way of finding the best food concentration and then letting the whole gang know about it. We did not see a single raven anywhere else in over thirty miles of roadside birding.
As soon as we crossed the bridge from the mainland we saw fields darkened by concentrated Cackling Geese, eventually estimated in the thousands:sauv-cac1sauv-cac2

From the levee behind the store by the bridge–great views of Multnomah Channel with its many Double-crested Cormorants and Common Mergansers. The latter a handsome bird now in breeding plumage. We noted the merganswers had not yet paired up and were often seen in single-gender flocks. Males: white and black, females gray with reddish heads.

The real reason I go to Sauvie Island in winter is to worship the cranes. They bugle across the sky. They prance and float during family dance rituals. THey amble politely over the hill to get from our prying eyes. Mostly they glow with the secrets of tens of millions of years of evolution and survival and innate wisdom that men the world over have noted and envied for eons:sauv-crn1
I have now begun to upload more photos…including a fine crane dance. Click here for that blog.
The only surprising bird was a White-throated Sparrow, location noted in the checklist below.
I am leading three different birding trips at Malheur this year: May, June and September. They are sponsored by Malheur Field Station. Click here details, price includes all meas and accommodations.

Sauvie Island–Multnomah, Multnomah, Oregon, US
Jan 21, 2019. 46 species…two more added in Columbia County

Snow Goose 10000 two seemingly endless fly-overs, arriving from Ridgefield
Cackling Goose 3000
Canada Goose X
Tundra Swan 6
Northern Shoveler X
Gadwall X
American Wigeon X
Mallard X
Northern Pintail 500
Green-winged Teal (American) X
Ring-necked Duck 20
Bufflehead 2
Common Goldeneye 2 Pair in Columbia River
Hooded Merganser 2
Common Merganser 50
Eurasian Collared-Dove X
Mourning Dove X
American Coot X
Sandhill Crane 400
Ring-billed Gull 30
Glaucous-winged Gull 1
Double-crested Cormorant 35
Great Blue Heron 2
Great Egret 14
Northern Harrier 3
Bald Eagle 14
Red-tailed Hawk 11
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) 2
American Kestrel 16
Peregrine Falcon 1
Steller’s Jay 1
California Scrub-Jay 8
American Crow 4
Marsh Wren 1 At Wapato Pond
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 3
American Robin X
European Starling X
Fox Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) X
Golden-crowned Sparrow 50
White-throated Sparrow 1, at 24500 NW Reeder Road in berry thicket
Song Sparrow X
Spotted Towhee 3
Western Meadowlark 12
Red-winged Blackbird X
Brewer’s Blackbird X

Sauvie’s Island Lower–Columbia Cty, Columbia, Oregon, US
Jan 21, 2019. 15 species

Cackling Goose X
Northern Shoveler X
Gadwall X
American Wigeon X
Northern Pintail X
Common Merganser X
Eurasian Collared-Dove X
pied-billed Grebe 1
Ring-billed Gull X
Bald Eagle 4
American Kestrel X
Common Raven 10
Golden-crowned Sparrow X
Song Sparrow X
Red-winged Blackbird X

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