Posted by: atowhee | May 5, 2021



Today was my last day as “birder in residence” at Malheur Field Station. It was a pandemic-induced experiment.  Hopefully it worked well for the birders and the Field Station.  Our trips brought us to over 120 species though I have yet to finalize all the eBird lists.

The new birders in residence will be on station for the rest of May and are eager to help if you are out here in May. 

This morning we had two Lewis’s Woodpeckers at Refuge HQ, a male Western Tanager (we haven’t seen a single female!) and a Rufous Hummingbird buzzing about.  Along the Central Patrol Road south of Krumbo Road we had three Trumpeters in a field, visible later from Hwy 205 as well.  There was a single Lewis’s Woodpecker to view at Benson Pond and a vocal, and typically sneaky, Sora near the parking pull-out. He flew once over the grass so we knew it wasn’t somebody’s hidden speaker system.  There and other marshy spots had plenty of singing Marsh Wrens with their little bodies vibrating to each note.

Yellow-rumped Warblers are abundant, Yellow less so, right now.

We have seen four Great Horned Owl nests with nestlings, usually three.  We have seen more harriers than red-tails.  The Bald Eagles are back on their P Ranch nest.  We have seen a total of three Burrowing Owls at two possible burrow locations.

Among those obviously nest-building have been Cliff Swallows, Song Sparrows, House Sparrows, ravens, and Black-billed Magpies.  The ibis population does not seem to be hurt by the drought.  I have second-hand report that a pair of Great-tailed Grackles seem to be settling in at Page Springs.  That could end those peacefully quiet days for campers.  Among those species apparently not here yet are Bobolink, E. Kingbird, poorwill, oriole, House Wren and my beloved Common Nighthawks.  Coming soon.  Have heard that waxwings are at Page Springs now. Meadowlarks have been singing a lot—not much sound from thrashers, kingbirds or shrike, yet.  At Chickahominy the Vesper Sparrows were singing and in the right places you hear winnowing snipe, calling curlew and Willet.

The profusely blooming shrubs with clusters of tiny golden flowers along Central Patrol Road have been identified for me as a native current species—berry good news for those birds that can appreciate such treats in late summer.

We have seen some nesting Canada Geese and at least four clutches of goslings already following their parents around the berms and the marshes.  Few White Pelicans are here to be seen and likely the drought is limiting or even preventing their nesting—where to find a safe island?  The three cranes nests near the road along Greenhouse I also attribute to lack of flooded alternatives.  It is not often that species deigns to get so close to people.  These are not suburban Floridian Sandhills.


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