Posted by: atowhee | May 19, 2022


Pewee as in flycatcher returning, not young catchers of fly balls. Pewees in league of their own, not a pewee league of baseball beginners.
These inveterate flycatchers, small of stature yet big of performance, were obvious in their high or open perches, their busy pursuit of prey, their inimitable ability to hold ground, and air, and attention.

This morning I got to lead the year’s first public bird walk at Cornerstone Preserve, conserved and protected by the Polk County Soil & Water Conservation District. There’ll be another walk there in June. Info on the district’s website.

Despite a short squall that delayed our start, we watched a pair of bluebirds come to a nearby road puddle, beak up earthworms and carry them overhead across the river. Our first stop after we started the walk–where we could watch the bluebirds deliver food to young inside a nestbox. Soon we saw about thirty yards away another box being used by Tree Swallows.

Blurred pic is the swallow nest box. Blue was a strong theme today–the bluebirds, blue lupine, wild iris, blue butterfly, camas lilies. Even an occasional glimpse of blue sky and a distant scrub-jay.

Voices we heard at Cornerstone: ravens chasing a Turkey Vulture but later they missed a Cooper’s Hawk carrying small bird back to its presumed nest among the hilltop Doug firs; towhee; Bewick’s Wren; numrous Song Sparrows; White-breasted Nuthatch; Barn Swallows; wood-pewee; yellowthroat. Wrentits preferred to remain hidden, perhaps due to chilly conditions.

“Western” may have been our bird word today–for the tanager in the hilltop oaks, the several wood-pewees and the bluebirds. The Osprey came to fish at the neighbor’s two-acre pond, visible from Cornerstone’s higher hillside.

We saw two insects–the butterfly above and one bumblebee. Insects have become so irregular that each today provoked interest and comment. I still recall thr wonderland of my Ozark childhood. If yiumleft a porch light on outside there’d be hundreds of insects around it two hours after sunset. Mostly moths, but mantises, beetles from June bugs on up in size, gnats and mosquitoes and various flies, some spiders also and the stars of the nshow–an occasional luna moth and the prodigious, terrifying Dobsonfly.
Click here for look at the current insect banishment.

Cornerstone Preserve–Polk Water and Soil Conservation District (restricted access), Polk, Oregon, US
May 19, 2022 8:50 AM – 11:50 AM. 24 species. It’s only been birded three times by eBirders, but it already has 54 species on its checklist. It’s a designated eBird hotspot.

Canada Goose  7
Mallard  3
Mourning Dove  X
Rufous Hummingbird  1–didn’t pose for photos
Killdeer  1
Turkey Vulture  3
Osprey  1
Cooper’s Hawk  1
Northern Flicker  1
Western Wood-Pewee  4
California Scrub-Jay  1
Common Raven  2
Tree Swallow  2     using a nest box
Barn Swallow  30
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Bewick’s Wren  1
Western Bluebird  2     carrying worms to young in nest box
American Robin  2
House Finch  6
Song Sparrow  10
Spotted Towhee  2
Common Yellowthroat  1
Wilson’s Warbler  1
Western Tanager  1

In the afternoon a short dog walk at Deepwood Gardens in Salem brought me back inro the presence of a lone pewee, working the trees. At 220PM the garden was alive with feeding birds. I can only assume the cold, rain-dampened morning kept many of them under cover…then both the sun and hunger came out at once. It was a morning feeding frenzy in the early afternoon. The pewee was openly hawking bugs overhead, the tanager was in and out of shrubs and trees twenty feet away. A male junco flew past me to land by a puddle ten feet further on where he drank and bathed. It was glorious–I felt invisible, not presenting the usual perceived threat of a major predatory mammal. The hummers were zipping about, the males doing their vertical dives.

There is a full-sized blooming chestbnut tree at Deepwood right now–as close as I will get to Paris this spring:

Deepwood Museum & Gardens, Marion, Oregon, US
May 19, 2022. 16 species

Vaux’s Swift  1
Anna’s Hummingbird  4
Red-breasted Sapsucker  1
Western Wood-Pewee  1
Pacific-slope Flycatcher  1–the only bird who deliberately hid from me
California Scrub-Jay  1
American Crow  1
Violet-green Swallow  4
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
American Robin  2
Cedar Waxwing  4
Dark-eyed Junco  2
Spotted Towhee  1
Bullock’s Oriole  1
Wilson’s Warbler  3
Western Tanager  1

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