Posted by: atowhee | June 17, 2020


Albert Ryckman and I decided today was Steens Day.  The weather co-operated.  Sunny, puffy white clouds, no wind.  We did run into a short burst of rain and hail, but nothing like yesterday’s series of squalls and plastering by hail.

We did both the north and the south approach to the Steens.  Neither road went above 8000’ as there is still snow near the summit (peak 9734 feet).  We got to see a few montane species: Dusky Flycatcher, Mountain Bluebird, Green-tailed Towhee, and Red-naped Sapsucker.  This guy was at Jackman Campground on the north road to Steens, around 7300 feet.  At that point we were above some of the residual snow.RNSAP5

On the south entrance road we stopped at an overlook of Big Indian Canyon.  On the rocks below was a trio of young Rock Wrens whose curiosity about us was clear.  They came closer to check us out.  There we also saw and photographed a bold House Wren.  Earlier we had seen a pair of House Wrens at the Blitzen River Bridge on that same road.RW-DUBL

Near the end of the day we saw a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Diamond Canyon–our first crane sighting for the trip.

Here’s the last Field Station birding trip for 2020:   Sept. 12(Sat)-Sept. 18(Fri)
This trip will allow us to spend a full day in the Steens where we will go to the peak at just under 10,000 feet elevation.  In the late summer we may get access to areas closed during breeding season.  There may be migrating raptors passing through the valley and mountains.  While many insectivorous birds will be gone there will also be songbirds on migration including huge numbers of White-crowned Sparrows and their cousins from several species.

Mammals possible on trips include: Belding’s ground squirrel, pronghorn, wild horses, mink, river otter, long-tailed weasel, badger, coyote, mule deer, yellow-bellied marmot, kit fox, Nuttall’s cottontail, black-tailed jackrabbit, bats, California ground squirrel. 

Arrive for dinner on the 12th, depart after breakfast on the 18th. To get more information or sign up for these trips, call the Malheur Field Station at (541) 493-2629.

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