Posted by: atowhee | December 25, 2020


Cold rain. Hunger in bodies that weigh less than an ounce. One deadly hunter surveys our garden from atop a bird feeder. Yesterday I examined the feathers he tore from his brunch. Cackling Geese nonchalantly grazing corporate lawns, ignoring my car when I slow to take a picture. Great Egret hunting the edges of a quiet airport. Just another day with slightly more daylight than yesterday.

The dog and I had to get outside. She insisted. Our first stop was the silent, nearly empty parking lot at Walmart. Why? On the CBC day (Dec 19) Tim Stuart noticed a leucistic Brewer’s Blackbird among the parking lot flock. I checked the crowded lot yesterday, lots of people, only a few birds in the cold and wet. Today two Ring-billed Gulls. Little else–no people to drop tasty trash for the smaller birds. Tim described his unusual bird as white on top–head and shoulder. A whitehead? I immediately dubbed him “Alfred North”. I should apologize, it is a symptom of my creeping erudition. Nobody ever, in that parking lot, gull or gullible, could tell you if ANW were an actor or an action. No sign of the blackbird flock today. I need to keep visiting when it’s business as usual. I hope to re-find and photograph this Alfred North.

Ideal example of adult ring-billed. In parking lot, its adapted habitat. White head carrying usual winter smattering of muddy-looking plumage, yellow eye, black wing tips, pale gray mantle, bold dark bar across its yellow beak. It takes three years to reach this mature plumage. It normally breeds inland, not along the coast. common at Malheur and on the Great Lakes.

Best sighting at Fairview Wetlands today was a pair of Hooded Mergansers feeding together. Yesterday I saw only the female.

The hawk who haunts our feeders. Yesterday he devoured a siskin. Kill to eat–nature’s edict which we have not managed to over-turn. Can we imagine a day when all creature eat synthetic food? Our reigning Coop:

This is the hawk I usually see along the transect trail at Fairview Wetlands:

From Fairview (sunset was on most recent rainless evening):

LINCOLN CITY. I had four Lincoln’s Sparrows today, the most in one winter’s day outside their breeding territory. Elusive, they never make it easy, in my experience:

THE RESDIDENT MARSH MAMMAL. Note the colorful grass clippers, i.e. teeth. Nora the dog is entranced by the nutria scent all along the trail at Fairview. Fortunately her eyes are pretty bad now so she can’t see them even when they are a few feet away and the nutria freezes in place. The rodent’s beady eyes are equally weak so nutrias depend on hearing for warnings. Nutrias’ worldview (worldsense really) must depend almost entirely on two senses: good hearing, and a gourmand’s vegetarian palate unequaled by the nearby ducks and coots. So neither dog nor nutria can see the other making it easy for me to keep them apart even when close. Check out the those lower incisors:

Fairview Wetlands, Marion, Oregon, US
Dec 25, 2020
17 species

Northern Shoveler  60
Mallard  25
Northern Pintail  3
Green-winged Teal  110
Bufflehead  4
Hooded Merganser  2
American Coot  16
Wilson’s Snipe  1     in open space diagonal across Fairview Industrial from the Fairview Wetlands trail berm
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  4
European Starling  X
American Robin  30
White-crowned Sparrow  1
Golden-crowned Sparrow  14
Song Sparrow  6
Lincoln’s Sparrow  4     3 along edge of marsh next to 27th Court SE; one along transect trail
Red-winged Blackbird  50

SALEM CBC AREA #1, Marion, Oregon, US
Dec 25, 2020
7 species

Ruddy Duck  X
Eurasian Collared-Dove  X
Ring-billed Gull  2
American Kestrel  1
European Starling  X
House Sparrow  X
Brewer’s Blackbird  X

Stone Quarry Lake, Marion, Oregon, US
Dec 25, 2020
10 species

Ring-necked Duck  X
Lesser Scaup  X
Bufflehead  1
Common Merganser  1
Ruddy Duck  X
Pied-billed Grebe  X
American Coot  X
Double-crested Cormorant  29     many perched in trees in west side of lake–possible roost
American Crow  2
Golden-crowned Sparrow  3

Salem within town, Marion, Oregon, US
Dec 25, 2020
9 species

Cackling Goose  200
Canada Goose  4
Mallard  2
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  50
Great Egret  1     at the airport
Red-tailed Hawk  1
American Kestrel  1
American Crow  2

954 Ratcliff Drive SE, Marion, Oregon, US
Dec 25, 2020
10 species

Cooper’s Hawk  1
Steller’s Jay  1
California Scrub-Jay  4
American Crow  3
Black-capped Chickadee  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
Bewick’s Wren  1
European Starling  X
Pine Siskin  50
Dark-eyed Junco  X

Total of three dozen species seen in an hour in the rain, in dog-tolerant places.

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