Posted by: atowhee | September 20, 2019


Our Malheur Field Station birding trip added another ten species to our trip list today, and we finally passed 100 species for the week.  Rock Wren at Hwy 207 milepost 45, House Wren at the Blitzen River Bridge on the south arm of the Steens Loop. Dusky Flycatcher, chat and American Goldfinch at Page Springs. From the Silvies River bridge at Page Springs: female Common Merganser. Rufous Hummer at refuge headquarters.

On the north portion of Steens Loop were many Mountain Bluebirds and then, in snow and freezing fog at 9500′ at the so-called Kyger Pass overlook: Prairie Falcon up there to hunt the dozens of Horned Larks.  The visibility was so bad we did not drive the portion of the loop between summit and Silvies River Bridge on south loop.MTBLU2-STEENS (2)Mountain Bluebird male above.  Below, view from about 6000′ looking at glamorous coating of fresh snow on the summit.STEENZ (2)IMG_3056_LIAbove: view into Kyger Canyon from summit.  Below: Red-tailed Hawk, having become cold-tailed hawk:COLD TAIL (2)Yes, these pictures were taken today, September 20.

We have had other memorable but less trying moments.  Watching a Cooper’s Hawk try to nail one of two magpies at refuge headquarters.  He failed.
Seeing a still-fuzzy young fledgling solitaire beg food from its parent.
Singing meadowlarks during brief periods of sunshine.
The bugling of cranes, usually unseen in some distant meadow or marsh.  A sound passed down from eons before there were hominids or pesticides or profit margins or parking lots.  A sound that may outlast our experimental species.
Evening Grosbeaks at seed feeder, using their powerful tongues to mash seeds against the inside wall of the ivory beak.
Dozens of Horned Larks running over snow-draped rocks in rollicking wind and freezing fog.
Thousands of blackbirds in endless cascades of motion and swells of murmuration in the fields around Princeton (OR).
Golden Eagles simply being, or soaring on those plank-like wings, unfazed by wind or weather.
Raven pairs together…in fields, in flight, on crossbars, on the ground.
Pronghorn loafing along at forty miles per hour, keeping in shape just in case the cheetah is reintroduced to their hemisphere.
Tree leaves filigreed by leaf-cutter bees.
Clouds in myriad formations, shapes from block to cotton puff to linear arc, colors from white to gray to charcoal to bluish purple to blue-black, and all shades thereabouts. At dawn pure white foamy clouds tinged with sunrise gold.  The gold of blooming rabbitbrush.

One more day of birding tomorrow.


  1. Thanks for your pictures and picturesque words! I’m heading out there in a week via Summer Lake and Hart Mountain. Didn’t realize the mountain was so enmeshed in winter weather already; good to know as I was planning to stay at South Steens CG, might stay at Page Springs instead. Happy birding!

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