Posted by: atowhee | February 6, 2021


There is a clear pattern in our garden these days. Certain species do NOT appear when the Cooper’s Hawk is evident. Becoming scarce when the hunter hunts–doves, robins, flicker, starlings. Days or weeks may pass then they are suddenly not to be seen here. The starlings, robins and flickers are always in the neighborhood–sometimes I need only walk a block to see one or all three of them.

Today dawned sunlit, warming and inviting. No Coop, either. Varied Thrush, robins, a hungry flicker were all seen before 9AM. The two warblers seem to recognize their own cousinhood–maybe it is the rapid wing flutter, the beak shape, the bits of bright yellow plumage, their shared preference for tall conifers. Whatever it was, they came around at the same times, the Yellow-rumped (myrtle) and Townsend’s Warbler repeatedly came to the suet block as a duo.

The local corvids were certainly awaiting the day’s peanut offerings. Even the lone Steller’s Jay who comes several blocks was quick to grab a peanut off the drive.

Today evert expected winter bird was seen in our garden except the Spotted Towhees and the kinglet.

Birdwatching has more often become birding. Going somewhere, looking for common and rare birds, maybe keeping a list or even counting. Checking for interesting behavior, courtship, hunting, flocking. That’s part of birdwatching. But watching birds can be equally engaging, even endearing. Here is a small gallery rom my brief bouts of crow-watching around my house.

The most vocal resident in our garden, besides Nora and me, are the crows. Then in Clark Creek Park I became a voyeur, watching a cuddly pair in midst of a preening session.
Here’s what Birds of the World Online has to say about this pairish behavior: “Courtship Displays and Mate-Guarding. Courtship display, if it exists, is rare, judging by the paucity of reports on the subject (Good 1952). Allopreening, often actively solicited by either mate, occurs regularly, but largely ceases during incubation (Kilham 1989). Billing, seen infrequently, involves a mated pair gently fencing with their bill tips, and bill-grasping (Kilham 1989, CC).”


The Varied Thrush sorts through the leaves beneath the roses, and finds an occasional morsel–never seen him pick up a sunflower seed. The dark black and the bright orange indicate this is a mature male.

954 Ratcliff Drive SE, Marion, Oregon, US
Feb 6, 2021
15 species

Northern Flicker  1
Steller’s Jay  1
California Scrub-Jay  X
American Crow  X
Black-capped Chickadee  2
Bushtit  X
Bewick’s Wren  1
Varied Thrush  1
American Robin  2
Pine Siskin  X
Lesser Goldfinch  X
Dark-eyed Junco  40
Song Sparrow  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  1
Townsend’s Warbler  1

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