Posted by: atowhee | June 4, 2022

JUNE 3 IN HARNEY COUNTY: NORTH FROM THE FIELD STATION

This was a day of threatened rain that didn’t happen and some birding bests.
Best bird color:  male Mountain Bluebirds along the nature trail at Sage Hen rest Area west of Burns—at least a dozen.
Best color: acres of blooming camas lilies along Hotchkiss Lane.
Best flower: a lot of creamy primroses along Hwy78 near the Ferrugy nest.
Best owl family: mother and father Great Horned Owls and their two fledged young in willow along Greenhouse Lane.
Best owl couple: two adult Burrowing Owls along Hwy 205 south of Wright’s
Best hawk family: Ferruginous parent and three white and fuzzy nestlings in juniper along Hwy 205.
Best aerobatics: Black Terns’ aerial ballet as they hawk insects at Burns Sewer Ponds.
Best surprise:  Eastern Kingbird just south of Hotchkiss along a branch of the Silvies River.
Best mammal photo: aloof male pronghorn sleeping thirty yards off Hwy 205 who would not deign to turn his head toward our cameras.
Best nest discovery: orioles’ woven sac nest in tree at Malheur HQ.
Best way to end the day: about 810PM, looking out from the deck at above HQ, over the dried remains of what was once Morgan Pond, toward the shrunken remnant of Malheur Lake, to see Short-eared Owls hunting in the flat meadows.

Other goodies if not besties:  Swainson’s Hawk soaring over Wright’s Point…Canvasbacks in Burns’ Municipal Fishing Ponds on Hwy 78…circling flock of high-flying White Pelicans rising hundreds feet into the air…singing Vesper Sparrows at Sage Hen…Black-chinned Hummer female at HQ.


Not all is well: the drought seems to be lowering reproduction rates.  The horned owl pair at HQ had a failed nest—no living owlets this year.  Late today we heard the pair, sitting side-by-side, duetting, leading us to feel they were sharing moments of mourning for the family season lost.

Some raptors seem to not be nesting—no eagle nest activity on Harney Lake Road cliff faces.  The pelicans and cranes probably can’t nest successfully, again this year.  Some marsh birds from phalarope to ibis may find nesting territory difficult to find.


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