Posted by: atowhee | January 8, 2021


The dog and I were outdoors a lot today. Trees, clouds, a patch of blue sky occasionally, sprouting violets, budding roses, budded magnolia and camellia, birds. And once again I realize why I love birds–honest, busy, beautiful. I don’t romanticize birds. We get a Cooper’s Hawk in our garden almost daily. He won’t commit mass murder–just kill and eat. Birds can be cruel but there is always a reason–food, territory, defense. None of them tries to be the richest, the toughest, the leader of all other birds of his kind. They work to survive and have a mate and chicks and a nest. Some males–hummers–have nothing to do with nesting but at least they add some flash and dash. Many male birds from robin to Canada Goose are great parents. In all but a few species the female does the majority of brooding and other nest work. When crows mob it is against a predator–owl, falcon, hawk, raven. None of true nature is ever sweetly pacific and welcoming but it is never full of lies and greed. No Osprey wants all the fish, just enough. Even bullies like Bald Eagles may steal what they want to eat, but neither do they kill for sport or steal what they don’t need. A jay may be loud and aggressive and even steal an egg occasionally but he is not bent on killing all wrens or warblers. Birds. If there were a choice for re-incarnation I could almost imagine being a crane–flying with my mate and offspring in a migrating flock a thousand feet above the earth, wind through my stout but flexing flight feathers, and then to bugle my reverberating call through six feet of trachea wound through my neck and chest. The ultimate bird for sixty million years.

A Townsend’s Warbler was in our garden this afternoon. First I’ve seen this year. Here are my only two, lousy pics of the warbler in motion:

I got a nice look at a pair of Bushtits on the feeder, part of the usual big flock. The female has the pale eye.

Then I got to hear and see a pair of Bewick’s Wrens, that turned out to be paired. They were moving through the bushes in tandem. One sang a sweet, soft toodle to the other. It was the bird’s conversational voice, not his announcer’s voice used for the territorial song or a scold. It was meant only to be heard by the other wren. Most songbirds have the soft voice they use for one-to-one communication but we rarely are close enough to hear it.

Early in this week I was at Minto-Brown. Fields now partially converted to shallow lakes. Saw a Spotted Sandpiper at one, not a bird I see often in winter. Today we faced south and the sun was low in the sky. The nearby bare sapling grove was aight with glittering diamonds. The brightness came from bright sunlight as it hit myriad drops of dew clinging to the thin branches.

954 Ratcliff Drive SE, Marion, Oregon, US
Jan 8, 2021
13 species

Cooper’s Hawk  1
Northern Flicker  1
California Scrub-Jay  X
American Crow  X
Black-capped Chickadee  2
Bushtit  30
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
Bewick’s Wren  2–pair forging together around 4PM at sun was setting, one was gurgling softly to the other
Pine Siskin  X
Lesser Goldfinch  X
Dark-eyed Junco  X
Spotted Towhee  1
Townsend’s Warbler  1

Minto-Brown Island Park, Marion, Oregon, US
Jan 5, 2021
22 species

Cackling Goose  40
Canada Goose  30
Gadwall  2
Mallard  60
Bufflehead  8
Pied-billed Grebe  1
Spotted Sandpiper  1
California Gull  1
Glaucous-winged Gull  7
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Northern Flicker  1     heard its spring call for first time this season
Steller’s Jay  3
American Crow  110
Black-capped Chickadee  2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
Red-breasted Nuthatch  1
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Pacific Wren  1
American Robin  24
Dark-eyed Junco  1
Song Sparrow  2
Spotted Towhee  1


  1. Hey Harry, when you are reincarnated as crane, how will you talk with your wings and fly at same time. As human you can talk with your hands and do most anything. . . GRIN . . .

    • with that big a voice who needs hands? and they dance better than most of us who are not ballet stars

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