Posted by: atowhee | December 24, 2021


It didn’t last long, but during one rain squall this morning, graupel fell in our garden. Graupel, also called soft hail, corn snow, hominy snow, or snow pellets, is precipitation that forms when supercooled water droplets are collected and freeze on falling snowflakes, forming 2–5 mm balls of crisp, opaque rime. Graupel is distinct from hail and ice pellets. The local forecast now calls for actual snow on Christmas morn.

The other highlight of the morning was the reappearance of “our” Fox Sparrow. This bird has been daily this week. The species has own own genus, Passerella. It is one of the largest New World sparrows, equalled by Lark Sparrow and Lark Bunting. It is over-sized only by its towhee cousins.

In the afternoon storming continued. Blown in from the west came this sharpie, who stayed for some gusts then departed for a big tree at the east end of our block. As he landed, a second sharpie who’d earlier claimed that tree departed, in turn, for some location even further east. Of course, there were no small birds visible or audible anywhere nearby at that time.


Both robins and starlings were numerous in our garden today–first time in weeks. I suspect the fields and lawns they’ve been frequenting for worms, etc., are now too wet or flooded and so they are moving around. Here is one starling on our small lawn which is not completely inundated due to a slight slope encouraging run-off.

Interested in a more Christmasy sharpie? Here’s a note from Lee French: “Laurie spotted a handsome Sharp-shinned Hawk outside our dining room window this morning. He posed nicely in a bit of falling snow, and with the green and red of the madrone tree, a Xmas Eve moment presented itself. HO-HO-HO”

954 Ratcliff Drive SE, Marion, Oregon, US
Dec 24, 2021
17 species

Mourning Dove  2
Sharp-shinned Hawk  2
Downy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
Steller’s Jay  1
California Scrub-Jay  6
American Crow  2
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  1
Bewick’s Wren  1
European Starling  20
American Robin  8
Pine Siskin  40
Lesser Goldfinch  5
American Goldfinch  2
Fox Sparrow  1
Dark-eyed Junco  30
Spotted Towhee  1

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