Posted by: atowhee | January 16, 2023


I hadn’t the foggiest notion the visibility would be so limited this morning, until I drove downhill into the riverside lowlands of downtown Salem and you see 100 feet. I cudda turned back and gone home…fog-ged-about-it. West across the bridge I went, and into Polk County. I arrived at Baskett Slough and geese were heard not seen, a few flew over at the bottom of the gray cover. Most of the waterfowl around 945 AM were invisible. By the time I got to Livermore Road around 11AM the visibility had improved. There was even a partly sunny sky.

Happy find–half dozen Canvasbacks. Least expected were Least Sandpipers in a shallow pool in private field across from the large processing plant at south end of Smithfield Road. How unusual are those sightings? Neither species was seen by any of the dozens of birders in the fifteen-mile wide Salem CBC circle this year. Leasts have only been reported 12 times in 60 counts. The Canvasback has been seen more than half the years–36 times.

The Ankeny Motus Tower has now picked up our visiting robin–tagged in British Columbia–five straight days. That’s according to the updated universal time clock system (UTC). By Pacific Coast time the bird has not yet been sensed on Jan.16 local time. It is just now Jan. 17 UTC (6PM Pacific Daylight Time).

Polk County, Polk, Oregon, US
Jan 16, 2023
Checklist Comments:     heavy fog until late morning
37 species

Cackling Goose  2000
Canada Goose  150
Northern Shoveler  X
Gadwall  X
American Wigeon  X
Mallard  X
Northern Pintail  500
Green-winged Teal  X
Canvasback  6     on pond at north end of Smithfield Road where it turns east, across the road from Van Duzer winery entrance
Ring-necked Duck  X
Bufflehead  X
Ruddy Duck  X
American Coot  X
Killdeer  2
Least Sandpiper  8
Great Blue Heron  1
Great Egret  1
Northern Harrier  1
Bald Eagle  3
Red-tailed Hawk  6
Northern Flicker  2
American Kestrel  8
California Scrub-Jay  2
American Crow  4
Marsh Wren  3
Bewick’s Wren  1
European Starling  2000
American Robin  2000     fields full of them mixed in with starlings, some are dark chested northern birds, others from Great Basin with very pale fronts
Fox Sparrow  1
White-crowned Sparrow  20
Golden-crowned Sparrow  30
Savannah Sparrow  4
Song Sparrow  6
Spotted Towhee  2
Western Meadowlark  5
Red-winged Blackbird  300
Brewer’s Blackbird  X niot like theirs, our robin

Old world buzzards are all actually buteos, like our red-tail.  Not sure why early English ignorants here started calling American vultures “buzzards” …? I heard that term while I was growing up in Missouri less than a century ago. Goes back to beginnings, our oriole not like theirs, or robin not like theirs, nor our blackbird, sparrow, flycatchers…the early European settlers here were not taxonomists or even, often, very literate. This image from a birding friend in India, Long-legged Buzzard:


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