Posted by: atowhee | January 31, 2021


Nora the dog and I made our last January visit to Fairview Wetlands this morning here in Salem. Rain, clouds and rainbow.

Mostly we saw the expected species. The Black Phoebe was again on his favorite low tree branch just west of the transect trail. A lone male Ring-necked Duck was present, a less than regular visitor. The White-crowned Sparrows seems to have ensconced themselves in the wetlands north of the portion with a trail. They were right along the drive up to the window glass warehouse. Several male red-wings were up on spirea or other modest perches, and singing. Yesterday at the marsh I furry brown cylinder shoot along a round trail through the turf. It was a camas pocket gopher. Each adult weights about 13 ounces and is muscular enough to dig in heavy, wet earth. Their roadways and vertical shafts permeate the berms and lawn at Fairview. I suspect their presence is what draws at least one red-tail to hunt there nearly every time I visit. Here are entrances/exit holes and a gopher roadway:

Most of the time the Latinate binomial that taxonomists tag onto a species is sedate or even boring. It can be occasionally impolite–the American Robin and his European Blackbird cousin are stuck in the genus Turdus.
What a crappy name to carry across the globe beneath your field guide picture. Then there are the occasional bright and pleasing in the long list of taxonomic labels. One of my favorites has long been the Hoopoe. First, its common name is onomatopoetic–it sounds like the bird’s call (just as does Whippoorwill in America.

Since I first saw one of these guys in western Spain, they have intrigued, pleased and teased. Often heard before seen. I once had a very arrogant and expensive guide tell a group of his clients [we were on Lesvos Island in Greece] that there were no Hoopoes around. I could hear one calling. Out of the van I spotted him and pointed him out to the rest of the birders. They giggled, and we never told our guide until that evening when we went over the day’s sightings. “He was right where you said he wasn’t,” one smug birder announced.
The Hoopoe has no fellow genus-species. It is taxonomically isolated. Its crest and zebra-stripes and long-needle beak are bold and beautiful, no diva of any era has had more compelling visual attraction. But where it excels almost any other creature you can imagine is in taxonomic Latin: Upupa epops.

That cannot be pronounced without a smile, even a soft chuckle is not remiss. Well the little camas root gourmet that I saw, camas pocket gopher, holds his own Latinally. He is now high on my list of taxonomic favorites: Thomomys bulbivorus. “Bulbivorus” really sounds like some jokester’s name for a small root-devouring dinosaur. One last great taxonomy name–this for Ferruginous Hawk, Buteo regalis. King of the buteos succinct, true, impressive. Each new generation of Ferrugys just inherits the title.

My best recent shots are poor quality but pleasing nonetheless. I have never before captured a yellow-rump in flight , flycatching. These were at Fairview Wetlands:



The bird low in the water, before the bush is the ring-necked:

On left: Mallards and GW Teal, Ring-necked in middle, Gadwalls far right.

Fairview Wetlands, Marion, Oregon, US
Jan 31, 2021
22 species

Canada Goose  6
Northern Shoveler  40
Gadwall  2
Mallard  X
Northern Pintail  8
Green-winged Teal  60
Ring-necked Duck  1
Bufflehead  11
Anna’s Hummingbird  1
American Coot  20
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Northern Flicker  2
Black Phoebe  1
California Scrub-Jay  2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
European Starling  X
American Robin  20
White-crowned Sparrow  3
Golden-crowned Sparrow  6
Song Sparrow  1
Red-winged Blackbird  8
Yellow-rumped Warbler  3

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