Posted by: atowhee | March 16, 2020

PILEATED, DAY 2 BRINGS TWO

Rob Schulman and I were standing six feet apart at Grenfell Park on Baker Creek Road this morning…we had heard a Pileated scream…Rob found him, and then he was joined by his mate…they were chiseling away at the base of a large dead tree trunk across the creek from us…through the branches and other interference my photos were pathetic, below are the least sorry of the bunch.

Still plenty  of Varied Thrush at Grenfell.  VG and Tree Swallow at pond on Pheasant Hill Road, also male Hooded Merganser in full regalia.

Posted by: atowhee | March 15, 2020

YAMHILL TODAY: IDES OF MARCH

“Caesar: Who is it in the press that calls on me? I hear a tongue shriller than all the music. Cry “Caesar!” Speak, Caesar is turn’d to hear.
“Soothsayer: Beware the ides of March.
“Caesar: What man is that?
“Brutus: A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.”

“Imprisonment of the body is bitter; imprisonment of the mind is worse”
― Thornton Wilder, The Ides of March

On this Ides of March there was no gathering of old Senators.  No gangly gang with sharp shives.  No old men clotted together, sharing mucous droplets and, perhaps, dread virus.  It Italy now there is certainly no gathering of old men.  Forbidden even on this day.  In our own venerable, antiquated Senate such restrictions are in suspension like the dread virus may be.  No rules on gathering yet promulgated by 78 year old Mitch McConnell.  Perhaps, a true believer in American exceptionalism, especially as applied to himself, Mitch fears nought and fears not. Aged American Senators may go where others fear to handshake?  I could find nothing online about how the US Capital is being deep cleaned for the sake of Congress.

Myself, not quite as old as Mitch himself, have no such faith in personal or cultural exceptionalism, so the dog and I went out birding, away from all other large mammals.  Trees, some wildflowers like yellow violet and dandelions, plenty of birds.  Our Ides proved exceptional.  We went again to bird and walk at Grenfell Park on Baker Creek Road.

Today I heard the loud, sharp voiced of a large bird, glimpsed a long, dark form go into a bare cottonwood.  With binoculars I found the vocalist.  A Pileated Woodpecker fifty feet up.  Before we left ear-shot he called four times—the spring-time series of stark notes that rise and then drop in volume, the middle notes loudest.  There are usually six to eight of those calls in any series.  About half of what you expect from a flicker calling.

I have birded there often, as I wrote above.  Checking my eBird records I find four previous Pileated records for all of Baker Creek Road. Those were in April, August and October. I am sure three of those were audible IDs at that park where I have never before seen a Pileated despite over a hundred visits.  This largest of our living woodpeckers in the US is not rare around here, but never abundant because each pair has a territory of several square miles so they are scarce at any one spot unless it is near an active nest.  Be aware for the Ides of March, I’d say.

Tree Swallows again today at large farm pond along Pheasant Hill Road.

Weather note: in the Coast Range foothills  the snow level mid-day was well below one thousand feet elevation.

Posted by: atowhee | March 14, 2020

THE SEWER THE BETTER

One other birder and I toured the Yamhill Sewer Pond property in the cold and rain this morning.  Mostly just the cold.  Because of corona the birding class was cancelled but this was our consolation field trip of the week.  Eagles and ducks a-plenty.
I believe the Bald Eagle adults I see there often are nesting in the tall line of trees about a half mile wast of the ponds.  Wigeon are not always there and today most of the were grazing in the field just north of the ponds themselves.  All took to the air when a first-year Bald Eagle flew over.
The pair of Wood Ducks were nice to see in the thick of the dabblers and divers and general duck mayhem on the ponds.  Like the Mallards they are likely to nest locally.  It would great if there were a local nest box program to help them out.  There are many small bird nest boxes at the ponds, they get used by House Sparrows mostly.

Today’s swallows: violet-green feeding along a creek just east of the McMinnville Airport around 1pm when it wasn’t raining very hard.

MCMINNVILLE

We are loyal to our feeder birds, they return that loyalty, and then recommend our garden to their friends.  Today we reached high  numbers for the year in siskins and yellow-rumps.  Nine siskins, at least, and a dozen or more yellow-rumps.  All but one of those were myrtles.
Here a magnificent  Audubon’s, likely a male with all that bright coloring.auddier-suet (2)


With the cold and wet a downy came repeatedly to our suet blocks.  The Bushtits certainly satisfied their suet addiction. So, too, the warblers.  Bewick’s Wren eagerly approaches one of the suet logs:

Mother-daughter team in our suburban garden:
DOE DUO (2)

A Varied Thrush, one of several, at Grenfell Park along Baker Creek Road:eg-vath up (2)

URBAN EAGLE
We made a quick trip to Salem and back today.  Right across the river from downtown Salem:BE AFAR (3)

THINGS BOTANICAL
Star magnolia and cherries now in full bloom.  The average peak of Washington DC’s reknowned cherry bloom is April 4.  As usual Oregon is far ahead of DC, as in so many things.  They couldn’t grow Pinot Noir back there if they tried.

 

Yamhill Sewage Ponds (restricted access), Yamhill, Oregon, US
Mar 14, 2020
20 species
Cackling Goose  40     fly over
Canada Goose  4     one pair appears to be nesting on the berm
Wood Duck  2
Northern Shoveler  60
American Wigeon  50
Mallard  4
Lesser Scaup  40
Bufflehead  60
Eurasian Collared-Dove  X
Mourning Dove  X
Killdeer  3
Bald Eagle  2
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Northern Flicker  1
American Kestrel  1
European Starling  X
American Robin  X
Song Sparrow  1
Spotted Towhee  2
Red-winged Blackbird  X

Posted by: atowhee | March 12, 2020

BIRDS APPARENTLY DO NOT GET CORONAVIRUS

I cancelled my McMinnville birding class for this month after the CDC recommended people over sixty stay home.  That would be me and most of the people who sign up my classes.

Still the dog must walk and I must obey.

The Song Sparrow is our garden has picked up his game, the singing he presents now is much more like a grown-up’s Song Sparrow melody.  Still I have noticed only this single bird.  He may be headed off to some breeding territory  as spring progresses.

Speaking of spring hormonal action…if you were a female towhee, how could you resist?IMG_2009 (2)

The siskins are now giving out their signature “zzzzzzzzup” sound with the pitch rising at the end.  They alone among North American birds have such a call.  I have never heard Mockingbirds or starlings try to  mimic it.  Some of the males show bright yellow coating on their wing feathers.

Last night on the after-dark dog walk I heard a flock of Cackling Geese over McMinnville.  The moon was still down along the horizon and though it was clear I did not see the geese pass in front of any stars.  The haunting calls of geese from some unseen path across the sky.  In the daytime those calls can seem almost friendly or at least gregarious…in the dark, lonely and lost is the affect.

At Grenfell Park on Baker Creek Road this afternoon I saw a Red-breasted Sapsucker (RBS) fly-catch from fifty feet up in the creekside trees.  Acorn and Lewis’s Woodpeckers—near cousins—are noted fly-catchers, but I’ve never seen a sapsucker do this before.  After twelve years of living in RBS breeding range here in Oregon it was pleasing to see a different and unexpected behavior.

Here’s a three-finch tray in our garden; left to rigbt: siskin, House Finch, American Goldfinch:  3fincher

On a recent wet morning after a night of rain…an immature Red-tail (the banded tail tells us that) is rather a wet-tailed hawk:

Great Blue Heron in tip-top condition, along Bellevue Road, southern Yamhill County:TIPTOP HERON (2)

Also along Bellevue, harrier airborne:

Tundra Swans, GW Teal and a flooded field yesterday along Briedwell Road in southern Yamhill:

820 NW 19th Street, McMinnville, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Mar 12, 2020
18 species

Canada Goose  X
Eurasian Collared-Dove  4
California Scrub-Jay  X
American Crow  X
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  3
Bushtit  15
Bewick’s Wren  1
European Starling  6
American Robin  X
House Sparrow  X
House Finch  X
Pine Siskin  6
Lesser Goldfinch  X
Dark-eyed Junco  30
Golden-crowned Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  1
Spotted Towhee  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  5     four myrtle, one Audubon’s

Posted by: atowhee | March 11, 2020

SEWER PONDERING

Paul Sullivan and I birded the Sheridan Sewer Ponds here in Yamhill County today.  A couple hours well-spent.  Then we checked some back roads on our way back to McMinnville.

The ponds were rich in ducks of a few species.  We were both impressed by the abundance of Bufflehead that are usually seen in smaller numbers at any location.  Also, plentiful were shoveler, ruddies, Lesser Scaup.  A second year Bald Eagle came along to chase and bother the coots.  Dunlin, Tree and a single Violet-green Swallow, Black Phoebe–our other treasured finds.  Plenty of scolding Killdeer on the berms, naturally.
The eagle.  In first pic I left the Brewer’s Blackbird on near berm as size comparison.  Even at sixty yards the eagle is much larger in the frame:

DUNLIN.  In second image (a duplicate of the first, but marked) they are above the  bold white line, in third they are to left of the left-most sleeping shoveler:

Relaxed coots before the eagle arrived:COORSHORE (2)

Buffleheads and other waterfowl.  As I approached the second Bufflehead flock it panicked and took wing.  The nearby coots were slower to react.  No wonder they are a favorite eagle snack.

Here we have avi-personification of “silly goose”.  Strutting on a mound of detritus makes you great?  This gander could enter politics for sure.GANDER HILL (2)

Sheridan WTP Ponds (restricted access), Yamhill, Oregon, US

Mar 11, 2020. 29 species

Cackling Goose  X
Canada Goose  50
Northern Shoveler  300
American Wigeon  20
Mallard  40
Green-winged Teal  25
Ring-necked Duck  15
Lesser Scaup  250
Bufflehead  300
Ruddy Duck  120
Eurasian Collared-Dove  X
American Coot  400
Killdeer  25
Dunlin  30
Double-crested Cormorant  5
Turkey Vulture  2
Red-tailed Hawk  2
American Kestrel  1
Black Phoebe  1
California Scrub-Jay  2
American Crow  3
Common Raven  2     north of Hwy 18
Tree Swallow  30
Violet-green Swallow  1
American Robin  X
Song Sparrow  X
Red-winged Blackbird  X
Brewer’s Blackbird  X
Yellow-rumped Warbler  X

Deer Creek crossing on Bellevue Hwy, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Mar 11, 2020
5 species

Virginia Rail  5
Great Blue Heron  1
Northern Flicker  X
California Scrub-Jay  X
American Crow  X

SW Bellevue Hwy, Yamhill, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Mar 11, 2020 11:53 AM – 12:08 PM
Protocol: Traveling
6.0 mile(s)
9 species

Mallard  X
Green-winged Teal  25
Northern Harrier  1
Red-tailed Hawk  2
American Kestrel  4
California Scrub-Jay  X
American Crow  X
Common Raven  2
European Starling  X

Briedwell Road, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Mar 11, 2020
5.0 mile(s)
8 species

Tundra Swan  10
Mallard  X
Green-winged Teal  X
Ring-necked Duck  X
Eurasian Collared-Dove  X
Red-tailed Hawk  X
American Kestrel  X
California Scrub-Jay  X

Posted by: atowhee | March 10, 2020

YAMHILL DIPPER NEST–2020

Those domestic dippers are back at their nesting bridge this “spring” with a moss igloo on the same ledge they’ve used for the previous three years at least.  It’s above Baker Creek under a bridge for the road of the same name.  One dipper flashed past on its way downstream.  Not too likely they are incubating this early, but maybe, activity really picks up when they have nestlings to feed.
Here is nest and dipperwash on the rocks mid-stream:

Also of interest: the Turkey Vulture season has begun along the road, and a lone deer, not often seen in my experience along Baker Creek.

bcr deer (2)Baker Creek Road, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Mar 10, 2020
8 species

Eurasian Collared-Dove  X
Turkey Vulture  1
Northern Flicker  1
American Kestrel  1
California Scrub-Jay  1
American Dipper  1
European Starling  X
American Robin  X

Posted by: atowhee | March 8, 2020

ALONG COZINE CREEK

Pleasant surprises:my first Hermit Thrush of the season,and Chestnut-backed Chickadee after seeing Black-capped on previous visits.  Noise provided by Steller’s Jays, flickers, a callikng nuthatch and a crow west of the parcel on the other side of Old Sheridan Road.

Cozine Gallery from a dog walk and visit late this afternoon:BCC-COZIN (2)HETH FROZN (2)NOFL AWAY (2)SS-SHY (2)WHT VIOLET (2)

Cozine Creek forest, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Mar 8, 2020
15 species

Cackling Goose  X     fly over
Red-tailed Hawk  1–west of Old Sheridan Road
Northern Flicker  3
Steller’s Jay  4
California Scrub-Jay  1
American Crow  X–west of Old Sheridan Road
Black-capped Chickadee  4
Chestnut-backed Chickadee   1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Bewick’s Wren  3
European Starling  X
Hermit Thrush  1
American Robin  10
Song Sparrow  2

820 NW 19th Street, McMinnville, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Mar 8, 2020
13 species

Black-capped Chickadee  1
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  4
Bushtit  15
Bewick’s Wren  1
European Starling  X
American Robin  1
House Finch  X
Pine Siskin  5
Lesser Goldfinch  5
Dark-eyed Junco  X
Golden-crowned Sparrow  X
Spotted Towhee  X
Yellow-rumped Warbler  7

Posted by: atowhee | March 7, 2020

MERLIN OF MARCH

merlin poem–Ursula LeGuin

On Baker Creek Road this morning I found a Merlin but he/she sped off before I could wield my camera.  On nearby Pheasant Hill  Road there was a flock of swallows feeding along the surface of the large farm pond–I noted one Violet-green among the Tree Swallows.

The Merlin was trying to dry off in the moist morning air, in between rains.  Perhaps the bird had been down to the wet grass.  Wings akimbo, tail splayed, feathers moisturized.

Baker Creek Road, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Mar 7, 2020
10 species

Canada Goose  X
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Northern Flicker  X
American Kestrel  2
Merlin  1
Steller’s Jay  X
California Scrub-Jay  X
European Starling  X
American Robin  X
Red-winged Blackbird  X

Posted by: atowhee | March 6, 2020

WET FRIDAY, HUNGRY BIRDS

If we ever saw all the likely birds on a single day, plus heard passing Canada Geese, we could surpass twenty species in our garden this time of year.  Soon the swallows and swifts will be around but we will lose siskins, Golden-crowned Sparrows, yellow-rumps and CB Chickadees for sure.  Yesterday was a 19 species day, pretty good for a patch of subirdia as John Marzluff calls it.

Today we had jumpin’ juncos–males chasing one another as they rose up from the pavement in flutter fights.  I saw no feathers lost, no blood spilled.  At 1045AM it was a mob scene, they weren’t buying hand sanitizer, just going for the gourmet spread–Bushtits on all the suet feeders(4 such), juncos galore, a tray full of siskins, yellow-rumps doing aerial stunts, golden-crowns sparrowing about, then Bushtits gone and retruning all within an eyeblink.

820 NW 19th Street, McMinnville, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Mar 6, 2020
16 species

Eurasian Collared-Dove  X
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  X
Bushtit  15
Bewick’s Wren  1
European Starling  6
American Robin  1
House Sparrow  X
House Finch  X
Pine Siskin  5
Lesser Goldfinch  4
American Goldfinch  5
Dark-eyed Junco  20
Golden-crowned Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  1
Spotted Towhee  2
Yellow-rumped Warbler  4

820 NW 19th Street, McMinnville, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Mar 5, 2020
19 species

Eurasian Collared-Dove  X
Downy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  X
California Scrub-Jay  X
Black-capped Chickadee  1
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  4
Bushtit  15
Bewick’s Wren  1
Red-breasted Nuthatch    1
European Starling  X
House Sparrow  X
House Finch  X
Pine Siskin  X
Lesser Goldfinch  X
American Goldfinch  X
Dark-eyed Junco  X
Golden-crowned Sparrow  X
Song Sparrow   1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  X

Posted by: atowhee | March 5, 2020

WE HAVE MUCH TO LEARN

Maybe even from parrots…research shows African Gray Parrots have a culture of sharing.   “Culture” because it almost certainly involved learning and communication, not merely instinct.

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