Posted by: atowhee | July 15, 2022


Four of us birded the Smithfield Oaks property in northern Polk County this morning. It is owned by the Polk County Soil & Water Conservation District. It is over 180 acres, more than double the size of the Cornerstone Preserve further west in Polk County. Smithfield is mostly rolling hills with extensive stands of mature, native oak. There are stands of Douglas fir on hilltops. There is the usual mix of native trees and shrubs: bigleaf maple, willow, serviceberry with a rich fruit crop right now. Many of the common invasives are present as well: teasel, Canada thistle, hawthorns, blackberries, cowbirds. We did not see collared-doves, House Sparrows nor starlings…not even any Canada Geese on the small manmade pond.

The Purple Finches were happily singing from high perches. Loud & clear, short & sweet–the purple’s loud refrain. No wonder–we watched them eagerly scarfing down serviceberries. Besides scolding from red-wings and Spotted Towhees, one of the persistent bird songs came from Lazuli Bunting. Only occasionally did one see fit to be seen. Through our visit of over 2 hours we were never long without the rapid whispers of the “laz.” Clearly they approve of Smithfield as much as we oak-lovers do. The only difference: they get to sing wearing feathers, we can’t do either very well.

We saw young of several species: Mallard, wood-pewee, cowbird, American and Lesser Goldfinch, junco, towhee, Orange-crowned Warbler, yellowthroat.

Above: the terrain; faded male American Goldfinch having a serviceberry snack–already he’s losing that bright yellow so necessary for spring courtship; serviceberries galore; wood-pewee, sun or shade? Just show me the bugs!

We saw a variety of dragonflies over the sun-warmed grassy slope. Also many wildflowers both native and not: brodeia among them.

Before I joined the group, I spent a bit of time on the Morgan Lake Trail at Baskett Slough:

The young bunny seemed stunned at my presence–was I his first-ever homonid encounter?

Here’s my best shot of the day–fledgling Bewick’s Wren at Morgan Lake Trailhead–no tail yet!!! But the kiddo could still fly:

*”Derry” is an old English word (based on even older Gaelic word) for oak grove, and that’s where we were this morning.

Smithfield Oaks–Polk SWCD, Polk, Oregon, US
Jul 15, 2022. 24 species

Mallard  9     female with eight juveniles
Rufous Hummingbird  1
Turkey Vulture  2
American Kestrel  1
Western Wood-Pewee  6
Black-capped Chickadee  3
Red-breasted Nuthatch  1
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
House Wren  1
Swainson’s Thrush  1
American Robin  2
Purple Finch  6
Lesser Goldfinch  X
American Goldfinch  X
junco 8
White-crowned Sparrow  15
Song Sparrow  25
Spotted Towhee  12
Red-winged Blackbird  6
Brown-headed Cowbird  1     juvenile with Song Sparrow foster parents
Orange-crowned Warbler  2
Common Yellowthroat  1
Black-headed Grosbeak  1
Lazuli Bunting  8     numerous singing males

Baskett Slough NWR–Morgan Lake Trail, Polk, Oregon, US
Jul 15, 2022
20 species

Canada Goose  72
Mallard  40
Pied-billed Grebe  1
American Coot  1
Turkey Vulture  X
Red-tailed Hawk  1
American Kestrel  X
American Crow  2
Black-capped Chickadee  2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  1
Tree Swallow  X
Violet-green Swallow  X
Barn Swallow  X
Bewick’s Wren  1     juvie with no tail yet
European Starling  X
American Robin  1
Song Sparrow  X
Spotted Towhee  X
Red-winged Blackbird  X
Common Yellowthroat  5


  1. […] To see the report and checklist for that visit, click here. […]

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