Posted by: atowhee | March 27, 2019


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Click on any image for full-screen view.

We saw six species in the American sparrow family along Grand Island Loop road  just east of the four-way stop when you first get onto the island from the mainland. We arrived shortly after 1pm, in the light rain.  Some of the next 90m minutes we spent inside the car, watching.  Towhee, House Sparrows, American sparrows, mostly Golden-crowned.  We checked the feeder area on the nearby Byerly house.  This bird was spotted by the young Byerly who is a student at Fox University, taking ornithology.  Good for her and the birds.  I went with Paul Sullivan and Roshana Shockley.  Of course, Paul had seen the bird yesterday and knew right where to look.  As soon as the rain began to let up the Harris’s flew out to the thicket where a suet hanger had been placed.  Our first views were partly obscured by berry branches.  Eventually he perched out in the open as the sun promised a little drying warmth.  I included the final images above because they show the delicate flecking on the bird’s pate, some chevron-shaped.

Paul reports these historical records of Harris’s Sparrow in Yamhill County:
Mar 1977, Hopewell [fide Bill Tice] – 42 years ago
1, Dayton, Feb. 1998 [Martha Stewart] – 21 years ago
4 Feb 2001, Dorsey Ln [Carol Karlen] – 18 years ago
1 imm, SE Grand Island Loop, 23 Mar 2019 [Shelby Byerly] – this year

Harris’s Sparrow has a limited breeding range in north central Canada which was largely unsettled by white men until well into the 20th century.  This was the last land bird in NOrth America to have a nest discovered for science. It was in 1931 when a team led by Yankee ornithologist George Sutton found that first nest, ust ahead of a home team of Canadians.

While we watched our sparrow in the berry thicket, a hummer buzzed around–female Rufous, my first sighting of the year.  She did not stop for photos.
Just east of the bridge onto Grand Island we found a red-tail sitting on a nest along the slough, about one hundred yards south of the bridge, high in a deciduous tree (likely cottonwood) still leafless.  We checked eight osprey nest platforms on Grand Island and their vicinity, no Osprey was seen.  Both harriers we saw were adult males.  Females on nests?

Along Fairview Road about one mile west of Grand Island there is a vernal pool in a field south of the road–Wilson’s Snipe, Dunlin and 5 Greater Yellowlegs.  A slough on Webfoot Road south of Fairview: Common Merganser, GW Teal and my first cowbird of the year. Also swooping back and forth above the water: a flock of Tree and Violet-green Swallows.  Welcome, back, guys and gals.  We found no Cliff Swallows yet at their traditional nesting sites–too early in the season.


Other Grand Island sightings…TVs in tree, Cacklers in air (not going anywhere in particular it seemed),

And a very sedentary yellow-tailed hawk:yt hawk (3)


Scroll down for today’s checklists.Feed Me Sweatshirt1_mockup_Front_Womens_White

Grand Island Loop, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Mar 27, 2019.  27 species

Cackling Goose  2000
American Wigeon  4
Mallard  2
Eurasian Collared-Dove  X
Rufous Hummingbird  1     first of the year for me
Killdeer  2
Great Blue Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  2
Northern Harrier  2     females on nest now?
Bald Eagle  2
Red-tailed Hawk  2     one seen on nest
Northern Flicker  3
American Kestrel  4
California Scrub-Jay  X
Black-capped Chickadee  3
American Robin  X
European Starling  X
House Finch  X
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon)  3
White-crowned Sparrow  30
Golden-crowned Sparrow  50
Harris’s Sparrow  1     on  Grand Island Loop Road just east of four-way intersection
Song Sparrow  4
Spotted Towhee  2
Red-winged Blackbird  X
Brewer’s Blackbird  120
House Sparrow  30

Fairview Road, Yamhill County, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Mar 27, 2019.  14 species

Cackling Goose  X
Mallard  12
Dunlin  10
Wilson’s Snipe  18
Greater Yellowlegs  5
Northern Harrier  1
Bald Eagle  2
Red-tailed Hawk  3
Northern Flicker  1
American Kestrel  2
American Crow  2
European Starling  X
Golden-crowned Sparrow  2
Brewer’s Blackbird  X

Webfoot Road, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Mar 27, 2019. Comments:     south of Fairview
14 species

Mallard  X
Green-winged Teal  2
Ring-necked Duck  5
Common Merganser  2
Killdeer  2
Turkey Vulture  4
Red-tailed Hawk  X
California Scrub-Jay  1
Tree Swallow  X
Violet-green Swallow  X
European Starling  X
Song Sparrow  X
Red-winged Blackbird  X
Brown-headed Cowbird  1


  1. We would occasionally see these guys passing through St. Paul, MN on migration, on the St. Paul campus of the U of Minnesota.


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