Posted by: atowhee | December 27, 2022


Undampened in spirit, soaked in outer plumage, exactly twenty turkeys dined in our front garden around 10AM. It was their first appearance in a week, and their highest number I’ve recorded so far in two years of turkeying around our neighborhood in south Salem. Previous high flock number had been fourteen. They now out-number the usual flock of Mourning Doves which hovers between 14 and 20, today it was at 16. Goldfinches and juncos still out-number the turkeys but represent far less biomass. There was a compact mass of biomass in our garden during last night’s heavy rain–a single foraging possum, ghostly pale. Our only American marsupial, but persevering against many faster, smarter, stronger competitors. I rarely see one as road kill. They must have adapted to cars. BTW, I have never seen a single turkey road kill in this area.

So many that they disperse and I can’t get them all into a single frame.



Snowy Owl on a chimney…in the U.S. Not unexpected in mid-winter, but always of local interest. This one is getting lots of local interest. It’s in California. Not unheard of. Decades ago I saw one that wintered in Benicia. But…this one is in…

FAR SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA… Orange County! A check of all ebird records shows EXACTLY ZERO previous Snowy Owl sightings in LA, Orange and San Diego Counties combined…since 1900! Can we say RARE!?

This one is on a home in Cypress, a suburb between Long Beach and Anaheim.

Here is one description of the bird’s uniqueness from the CalBierd email listserve:

“As the topic has come up, thought I’d take a stab at it: The Snowy Owl currently being seen in residential Orange County is presumably the same bird that was seen a few weeks ago in a residential area in Los Angeles County VERY close to the Port of Los Angeles. Thus, it is extremely likely that this bird was ship-assisted to Los Angeles and then moved to Orange. Snowy Owls do migrate over the ocean, and they regularly feed from ice floes.They have ridden container ships across parts of the North Atlantic to European ports, for example. Also, there is essentially no movement of Snowy Owls near the West Coast this year, casting further doubt that this bird flew all the way to southern California (a first occurrence ever!) on its own. Yes, even in non-invasion years, sometimes a “one-off” individual of a number of irruptive species occur well out of range. But in this case the fact that we are talking Southern California and the bird was first found right next to the LA port, where lots of worldwide shipping transits to, is quite telling. Presumably, the chances that this bird is a ship-assist are probably like 99.5%. Other species found in the same areas near the LA Harbor over the years include Eurasian-type Magpie and Eurasian Tree Sparrow, which are also certainly ship-assists. Neither of those birds have ever gained too much birder interest in going to see them, although there has been plenty of discussion.

“Now, this doesn’t really say much about the “countability” of this bird, and that will be a personal decision. Some people and records committees don’t much care for such ship-assists and think they leave a bad taste in their mouth. Plenty of others think they are OK, as long as they weren’t clearly “restrained” during their journey (which is typically impossible to prove either way). Some records committees around the world which formerly did not accept likely ship-assists now do so. Perhaps we look more and more at world-wide ship traffic as just being part of today’s normal “natural” environment. So, feelings and philosophies can change. Some unknown percent of the rare boobies which are occurring in California and elsewhere along the West Coast likely rode ships for at least part of their journey, but that seems like that is more of their normal behavior. But then what of the Hawfinch that landed on a ship a day out of Korea/China, and rode it all the way across the Pacific to the Santa Barbara Channel? Would that be countable by someone on board, or if it was watched to jump ship and head to some spot on the coast and then seen there? The CBRC did not fully accept that bird. Individual birders would undoubtedly have varying opinions on what to do. There are likely at least some migrant Asian and other landbirds that have occurred at coastal sites that are the first visible pieces of land a bird will see right next to major shipping lanes and transiting military ships, and at ports, e.g., Farallon Islands, Channel Islands, Long Beach, etc.) which we all “take for granted” as being clean vagrants that probably rode a ship for part of their journey–otherwise they would not have survived the crossing. But in each individual instance this is, of course, a total unknowable.

“No matter what, seeing Snowy Owl on a rooftop in Southern California is a unique experience, irregardless of the bird’s origins.”

“–Paul Lehman, San Diego”

954 Ratcliff Drive SE, Marion, Oregon, US
Dec 27, 2022
18 species

Wild Turkey  20     record high number at this location
Mourning Dove  16
Northern Flicker  1
Steller’s Jay  1
California Scrub-Jay  4
American Crow  1
Black-capped Chickadee  4
Bushtit  20
European Starling  3
Varied Thrush  1
American Robin  3
House Finch  2
Lesser Goldfinch  20
American Goldfinch  40
Fox Sparrow  1
Dark-eyed Junco  35
Song Sparrow  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  1     Audubon’s



  1. Harry We spent Christmas Eve in an unheated tent in the Sahara (without WiFi)

    albert ryckman


  2. The snowy owl photo reminds me of the one I saw in Albany, OR awhile back.

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