Posted by: atowhee | December 18, 2022


We have a nocturnal neighbor, pokes around the ‘hood in the dark. Never leaves any uneaten sunflower chips on the ground. Touchy? Touched (tetchy)? Untouchable? Perhaps. We certainly keep our distance and will never offer this neighbor a glass of pinot. Day or night–nada!

He was about six feet outside our back door. The long fur made this skunk look large, but this species rarely weighs over 9 pounds. Next to our 18-pound cat he seemed huge, but you would need very long, dense fur to roam around at night during our winter. 25-degrees at dawn today, for example.

The whole count garnered over 100 species again this year. Final number won’t be available until after count week ends Dec. 20. In Area #1 our teams set a sector record–we had a total of 75 species. Our previous high for Area #1 was 73. Last year we had only 63. Our Clark’s Grebe was one of the two rarest birds for the count, the other was a Mockingbird spotted by another team.

This is the first time in over six decades that a Clark’s Grebe has been recorded on the Salem CBC! The mocker is our first this century.

More CBC notes. All the GW Teal we saw were on a single partially-frozen over pond northwest of I-5 Exit 253.

Some of the Lesser Scaup we found at Wirth Lake, Gateway Park:

Two of the many Hooded Mergansers at Gateway Park:

Also at Wirth Lake in Gateway, a mix of waterfowl happy to avoid iced over pools–coots, wigeon, scaup, ring-necked, ruddy…

Dawn at Blue Gill Lake where the Cacklers and gulls rise in the hundreds before official sunrise.

Walmart’s eager customers gathering at dawn while the doors are still closed.

Harrier facing the morning sun, stumped, it seems:

On the CBCV we found nutria from Turner Lake north to a marsh on state prison grounds north of State Street:

Turner Lake is also where we found our Green Heron and a Wilson’s Snipe.

Further CBC sightings, click on image for full screen version:

Yes, those big’uns are graylag domestics roaming free at Gateway Park. The petite gull on far right is a Small-billed (mew to us geezerly types).

It was noted as we did our CBC countdown this afternoon–no siskins this year. It was also noted that American Goldfinches are more numerous. Connection? With zero competition right now from the pushy forest finches is it easier for goldfinches to find food? Better than migrating to Redding and there finding your siskin nemesis?

EBird shows some western Oregon sightings for siskin since Sept. 1, but mostly blank areas on the map. They are being seen in Redding, BTW. Some sightings in Coast Range foothills of Willamette, also some on eastern slope of Cascades and in Portland Metro area. Densities seem low–sightings around Lincoln City this fall have been eleven or less, often single birds. Last fall our garden in Salem would have three or four dozen daily.

Speaking of goldfinches…they are abundant around our feeders in daytime. I bet they’ve never seen a skunk.

In the upper right of the third image is our leucistic goldfinch with the white tail.

Elsewhere in the garden: Fox Sparrow & White-throated Sparrow:



  1. Congratulations finding the first ever Clark’s Grebe on the Christmas CBC!

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