Posted by: atowhee | March 29, 2020


March 29, 2020 at Joe Dancer Park, McMinnville

It was a chilly and drizzly morning.  There were a few dogs and their staff on hand.  Two men kicking a soccer ball back and forth, fifty yards apart. But the rest of the outdoor world was absorbed in its spring awakening.

Cottonwoods are already the tallest trees in the small wetlands.  They are now in leaf, getting a head start on the year’s growing season.  Last to leaf out will be the stubborn oaks.  Late to leaf, late to let those leaves fall in fall.  Some Oregon oaks now still have brown, parched leaves on limbs.  In one blooming willow an Anna’s Hummingbird was feeding on willow nectar.
Cottonwood:c-wood (2)

In the marsh a single chorus frog croaked loudly.  Also, the dog and I aroused two snipe from the marsh and watched their typical zig-zag exit flight, complete with loud “cwakkk” calls of annoyance.  Among the willows I spotted one small bird that wasn’t quite right for Song Sparrow, which are abundant.  A quick glimpse before it retreated into a denser willows disclosed its ID: Lincoln’s Sparrow.  I have had repeated sightings of same there all winter, likely a single bird that never left after its fall arrival.

On the ground spring wildflowers are flourishing.  I couldn’t find any trillium but there were yellow violets, cardamonium, best of all—fawn lilies in all their beauty.

Walking through the woods along the river I noticed some small flitting birds in lower trees and brush.  Oh, I thought, could be a flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets. Behavior and group presence were the indicators.  But close looks through binoculars showed they were all Ruby-crowned Kinglets.  Busily feeding, no time or concern for territorality.  At least once three were three in the same tree at the same time.  Not winter behavior for this species which has long practiced social distancing. As I watched one ruby-crown, it poked its beak into a cherry blossom, came out with a half-inch long caterpillar, swallowed it with a gulp. So my presumption is this was a flock of migrating kinglets, maybe they arrived overnight

“North to Alaska go north the rush is on
North to Alaska go north the rush is on…”  –Johnny Horton

DANCERLY WOODPECKERS: male flicker, Downy.  The Downy actually backed down the tree limb, twice, not a common woodpeckerly behavior.

The only four-footer we noticed at Joe Dancer was a single Townsend’s chipmunk, discounting dogs who usually have at least six legs–their own four plus two on each attendant.

First three images are of fawn lily.  They naturally hang the flower facing the earth so it takes some manhandling to get full face view.  Then bigleaf maple, Oregon grape and a patch of yellow violets.


Cottonwoods–some years back I wrote about the black cottonwoods found along water courses here in Oregon, click here for that blog.


My wife and I were eating a peaceful breakfast when a flash passed our windows that overlook the feeders.  A Cooper’s Hawk had jetted in and landed on our garden bench.  My camera was yards away but Kate got shots through the window with her iPhone and then we noticed the usually brash young squirrel, cowering beneath the lawn chair.  The Coop left emptied taloned:

Joe Dancer Park, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Mar 29, 2020
15 species

Anna’s Hummingbird  1
Wilson’s Snipe  2
Turkey Vulture  2
Downy Woodpecker  1
California Scrub-Jay  3
American Crow  X
Black-capped Chickadee  1
Bushtit  2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  10
Red-breasted Nuthatch  1
Bewick’s Wren  2
American Robin  16
Song Sparrow  12
Lincoln’s Sparrow  1
Spotted Towhee  5


  1. Well, since you mentioned Johnny Horton . . . there’s another bird connection. The flip side of his 1960 hit “Sink the Bismarck” was a novelty tune entitled “The Same Old Tale the Crow Told Me”. Horton was also a college basketball player as well as a big presence in country, rockabilly, and mainstream music charts until he died in an auto accident in Nov. 1960.

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