Posted by: atowhee | October 27, 2020


When the dog and I arrived at the Fairview Wetlands, it promised to be a bird-filled dog walk. Just out of the car I saw a lurking Lincoln’s Sparrow, heard several red-wings calling from the catttails, then saw a Song Sparrow and a towhee…then, with a loud chorus of alarm, the whole wetland’s red-wing population rose in a tight, fluid mass, circled, rose and headed off to points beyond. After I got away from trees blocking my view I saw why. A small raptor sat in plain view on a downed tree trunk sending one diagonal limb up about six feet above the water. There he sat, the killer who frightened off all the blackbirds. Mid-marsh, in full view of all around. At first I thought it might be a Merlin but a closer look and then its flight over to a hide-out inside a ponderosa confirmed it was a Sharp-shinned Hawk, likely a youngster. Hey, kiddo, remember this above all else: you are not speed itself, your best weapon is stealth and sitting in plain view in an open marsh is not your metier. I have to think it was a juvenile because no mature hawk could survive long acting that ineffectively while chasing a meal. Get thee to a woodland, not a wetland.

From then only one songbird was seen–one very cautious towhee in a bush. Safely, in a bush.

Also, my first-ever nutria at the wetlands, must’ve come up a creek as this area was bone-dry a month ago.

Fairview Wetlands, Marion, Oregon, US
Oct 27, 2020
12 species

Cackling Goose  1
American Wigeon  2
Mallard  6
Green-winged Teal  12
American Coot  1
Wilson’s Snipe  1
Sharp-shinned Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Lesser Goldfinch  1
Song Sparrow  1
Lincoln’s Sparrow  1
Spotted Towhee  2

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