Posted by: atowhee | May 16, 2023


It seems like a very late spring here around 5000 feet elevation in Jackson County. We are statying with a small group at Green Springs Inn. Pileated and Mountain Quail were calling outside our cabin at dawn.
Last evening we saw Mrs.Great Gray on her nest.

Later he flew onto a limb not far away, hunting the adjacent meadow.

Today we found two Mountain Bluebird pairs–both at Howard Prairie prairie (not lake). At Lily Glen one pair seemed to be using a nest hole in the west siode of the old wooden water tower.

Also at Lily Glen–Vesper Sparrow on the rocks, literally:

McLoughlin, Oregon’s southernmost volcano. Osprey over Little Hyatt Lake. Toad, about one inch long.

Green Springs Inn, Jackson, Oregon, US
May 16, 2023
14 species

Mountain Quail  X     calling
Band-tailed Pigeon  2
Turkey Vulture  2
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Red-breasted Sapsucker  X
Pileated Woodpecker  1
Steller’s Jay  2
Common Raven  X
Mountain Chickadee  1
House Wren  1
Hermit Thrush  X
Dark-eyed Junco  X
Yellow-rumped Warbler  1
Hermit Warbler  1

Lily Glen Park, Jackson, Oregon, US
May 16, 2023
4 species

Violet-green Swallow  4
Mountain Bluebird  2
Dark-eyed Junco  X
Vesper Sparrow  1

We celebrateed IMBD at the Ankeny Nature Center today. At least eleven of the species I counted there today were probably migrants. The Green Heron is problematic because some are seen around here on Christmas Bird Counts–not clear if those individuals are local or visiting. Some of today’s migrants are here to breed, some still heading north. Swallows will stick around, some of the shorebirds will not. Species seen that are probably migrants are in bold face. The others are probably or absolutely resaident in the Willamette Valley.

Above: Cinnamion Teal pair; male Brewer’s Blackbird doing his high-wire act; lupine happily abloom; Violet-green Swallows atop nest box–two different boxes but likely the same swallow…the second box had also been visited by a pair of bluebirds; the two hopeful bluebirds near the contested nest box; trio of Western Sandpipers; single one of the trio at Peregrine Marsh west of the Nature Center.

I also saw a Green Heron come and go at Peregrine, perhaps nesting in one of the nearby trees.

My role was to explain Motus to thiose visitors who were curious. Most listened politely. Here is link to fine website buiult by Rich Schramm to let birders explore what we find out from the Motus Tower at Ankeny. It also links to other towers in Washington State, including Nisqually NWR. To see detections listed click on “Receiver Detections.”

Here is the Ankney Motus Tower, next to Nature Center–quietly awaiting its next sensory sensation from a passing bird:

Ankeny NWR, Marion, Oregon, US
May 13, 2023
28 species

Cinnamon Teal  4
Gadwall  4
Mallard  X
California Quail  4
Pied-billed Grebe  3
Anna’s Hummingbird  1
American Coot  1
Killdeer  12
Western Sandpiper  3
Long-billed Dowitcher  6
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Greater Yellowlegs  1

Green Heron 1
Turkey Vulture  1
Osprey  1

Black Phoebe  1
California Scrub-Jay  X
American Crow  X
Tree Swallow  X
Violet-green Swallow  2
Barn Swallow  30
Cliff Swallow  X

European Starling  X
Song Sparrow  X
Western Meadowlark  X
Red-winged Blackbird  X
Brewer’s Blackbird  X
Common Yellowthroat  1

Posted by: atowhee | May 11, 2023


Birds are no freer than any living creature. We just look past all that impinges on any bird. Today I watched an adult House Finch regurgitate food into the beak of a wing-flapping, beggin juvie. High in a tree, in plain view. Lunch yes, accipiter alert will have to rest on trust or luck. Then I watched two crows diving and harassing two circling TVs. Was that just boistrous bullying? Hard-nosed competition for any nearby roadkill? Territorial message from corvid to vulture? The TVs continued to soar, ducking and swerving but few wing flaps. Meanhwile the crows were running an avian version of high hurdles–quick dives and climbs, high up compared to their usual treetop routes. Lots of wing-flapping and acceleration. Eventually the TVs move off to the north. The crows became invisible–victorious or exhausted?

During the crow-TV show there was a moment whenh one crow seemed to attack the other, then the TVs did the samew thing? Excess aggressive hormones? Exuberance? Is there an avian Second Amendment that encourages attacks on any otter bird in the same air space? Stand your cloud?

As far as I could tell there was never any actual bird on bird contact–no injuries, no feathers lost.

Two crows on left, TVs on the right:

Osprewy nest on Madrona in Salem–more plastic than plumage. Shame on us.

I oince got to help rescue a fledgling Osprey tied to its nest by purple bailing twine–plastic of course. Niot all plastic victims can be so lucky.

Early every morning I’ve been seeing tanagers, inclding one drying off after using our bird bath:

Wet WETA some might snicker. Of course in New Zealand the weta is a group of endemic insects. The giant weta is one of the largest buigs you could ever see. Click here to see how THAT weta is mliterally a handful.


Photos by Kirk Gooding. I think both close-up raptors are Swainsons Hawks. Big white things, eagle in tree, big owl in tree, courting grebes. This is the season that Clarks’s and Western Grebes dance across the water.

Posted by: atowhee | May 9, 2023


Minto-Brown was busy with birdiness this morning. Three swallow species speeding across the land…and water. Singign robins. One yellowthroat at least twen ty feet up in a tree-don’t see that often. Chickadees incubating inside theuir nest hole. Bushtit nest with adult foraging nearby. A mated pair of Wood Ducks paddling away from a large mammal. Two Townsend’s cottontails. Mole corpse on the sidewalk. Red-wings singing. Scrub-Jays complaining. A flock of Warebling Vireos feeding with a couple warblers following along. All this took an hour to behold.

It is fitting that the Bushtit nest I’d foun d earlier is intact and there was an aduklt foraging nearby. Tonight the Salem Audubon program (avauilabel of Zoom live, later onto Youtube) is by Dr., Sarah Sloan on her decades of Bushtit reseac=rch, must of it here in Oregon.

Downy lady:

Others–red-wing male; whuite-crown; Wood Ducks paired; Warbling Vireo perched, then in flight.

Likely a coast mole–niot killed by preaator, its body unscathed. Poison? Disease? Drowning? It had been placed, or died on the sidewalk…? Moles rely on smell and touch to navigate and find food, mostly invertebrates in the soil. Eyesight is unimportant. The mole can feel vibrations from moving earthworms or sowbugs.

Water lilies on Duck Pond:

So why are Golden-crowned Sparroiws still hanging around? Do they have some avian weather service that informs them the snow still covers their montane nesting habitat? Do tshey fly up there, tuirn around and come back? Mostly they breed north of US-Canada border, occasionally in northern Washington. They understand there’s no business like snow business–what else do they know?

Garden glories–mountain azalea and male tanager. It takes a lot to eclipse a lilac in full bloom:

Minto-Brown Island Park, Marion, Oregon, US
May 9, 2023
28 species

Canada Goose  15
Wood Duck  2
Mallard  3
Killdeer  1
Turkey Vulture  1
Osprey  1
Downy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  3
Warbling Vireo  6
California Scrub-Jay  3
American Crow  1
Black-capped Chickadee  1     nesting near Parking Lot #1
Tree Swallow  X
Violet-green Swallow  X
Barn Swallow  X
Bushtit  X–nest found
European Starling  X
American Robin  8
American Goldfinch  2
White-crowned Sparrow  7
Golden-crowned Sparrow  8
Song Sparrow  6
Spotted Towhee  2
Red-winged Blackbird  14
Orange-crowned Warbler  4
Common Yellowthroat  6
Wilson’s Warbler  2
Western Tanager  2

Posted by: atowhee | May 8, 2023


Enough oif that singing in the treetops. Enough of the vedntriloquism. Enough, here I am, try to find me. Today the soring’s loudest songster came into view.

So here he is. See that partial orange eyebrow. That means he’s a first year bird back from his first migration adventure. His parents taught him well. He knows how to use bird feeders. Black-headed Grosbeak, western member of the cardinal family, local cousin is Lazuli Bunting. Pyrrhuloixia is a relative in arid lands. Eastern relatives include Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Northern Cardinal. Colorful family. All 40+ species are living in Western Hemisphere. Bold voices and plumage to match. On this guy–gotta love that platinum beak, a shining seed crusher.

Those Evening Griosbeaks I saw last week-finches, not couisns. Problem with common names. Our blackbird and their (European) blackbird–not related. Our robin and their robin–not related. But our robin & their blackbird as in the Beatles’ lyrics (singing in the dead of night) share the same genus! Aren’t you glad you asked?

We give them prized provender. They make fertilizer deposits. Fortunately most are smaller than what the turkeys leave behind. “Behind” certainly the correct word for this activity.

A Greenland Glacier is disappearing faster than suspected until now. Click here.

Worst places for climate change in US? Some of the most endangered are Florida, the Carolinas, Texas, Louisiana, Delaware, my old home of San Francisco, New York City & Long Island, Tucson.
Click here a summary of the US danger zones.

One survey says mouintain pine beetle and feral pigs are the most wiodespread invasive animals in Oregon. I wonder if they included collared-dove or Wild Turkey among the suspects. Nutria also ranks high. Then five most prevalent ionsects all attack trees. Click here for national map with data by states.

954 Ratcliff Drive SE, Marion, Oregon, US
May 8, 2023
14 species

Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  1
Mourning Dove  5
Downy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
Steller’s Jay  1
California Scrub-Jay  3
American Crow  2
Red-breasted Nuthatch  2     pair feeding together at suet block
European Starling  2
House Finch  4
Lesser Goldfinch  2
Dark-eyed Junco  2     pair feeding together
Western Tanager  8     flock moving across garden in morning
Black-headed Grosbeak  1     first year male using feeders off and on all day; singing in early morning

Posted by: atowhee | May 7, 2023


We had a birdwalk at Cornerstoine Preserve this morning, Our luck was so good it didn’t even rain on us. An eagle, warblers, Chipping Sparrows and gnarling towhees were evident. There were three species of swallows circling overhead. At one point we counted 7 Turkey Vultures in sight. As an adult Bald Eagle coasted past. Earlier a Cooper’s Hawk soared over the hilltop.

Cornerstone is owned by Polk County Soil & Water Conservation District. It has creek, grassy hillsides, a stand of hilltop Doug firs, a mature oak grove. Along the creek are ash, hawthorn, chokecherry, maple and willows. Today I saw my first Douglas iris blooms of the year. There were also some camas in flower.

Here is a supoerb gallery from pro photographer, Tom Casey:

There are three fine Bushtit pics. The sparrow is a songster. The corvid is a raven-=-they nest at Cpornerstone. Two red-tail shots. Then colorful feeders are Orange-crowned Warblers. The masterpiece is an in-focus shot of a flaying Tree Swallow. Digest that!

Cornerstone Preserve, Polk, Oregon, US
May 6, 2023
23 species

Mallard  1     fly over
Mourning Dove  2
Turkey Vulture  7
Cooper’s Hawk  1
Bald Eagle  1
Red-tsiled Hawk
Northern Flicker  X
Western Wood-Pewee  1
California Scrub-Jay  3
Common Raven  1
Tree Swallow  X
Violet-green Swallow  X
Barn Swallow  X
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
Bewick’s Wren  2
American Robin  X
Chipping Sparrow  6
Golden-crowned Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  6
Spotted Towhee  8
Brewer’s Blackbird  1
Orange-crowned Warbler  7
Common Yellowthroat  3

Posted by: atowhee | May 7, 2023


This evening we saw a pair of Great Gray Owls hunting in the Cascades of Lane County. It was likely a mated pair without eggs that need incubating. The area was still getting snow in mid-April. This was a lifer for one biorder with me. At one point a perched owl was dived on by a raven but untouched. Our final view of this owl–it had caught a voile which it was carryingn in its beak. After a brief lim perch it flew off into the woods, for dinner most likely. It will swallow the vole whole, head first. Owl pellet to follow.

Also present: numerous deer, junco, White-crowned Sparrow, Steller’s Jay, pileated. The area is home to Band-tailed Pigeons, Osprey, Spotted Owl, Wild Turkey, flickers and wintering Mountain Quail. This area is under 2000 feet elevation.

Posted by: atowhee | May 7, 2023


Here are some shots from Barbara Rumer, taken on her recent time at Malheur NWR.

Stilts, Great Horned Owlets, raven with egg (raven, goose, duck?).


We all know the tales. Home Owners Associations that are nastier than academic committees or a PTA. I have a friend living in an unnamed HOA development in Oregon. He has a large energetic dog. The HOA will NOT let them fence their yard. So this poor dog can only run free at an inconvenient dog park. Often it is property values and their suspected vulnerability that lead to disputes, regulations, lawsuits and all the other HOA wonders. Remember the high-rise collapse in Florida and the dead residents? Well, there is brilliant HOA-type leadership for you. I had always believed that the HOA demonology was an invention of our species. Wrong again. Short of the atomic bomb, and plastics, and burning fossil fuels, there is little we do that some previous animal has not pioneered.

So Mr. Flicker is excavating his hole about a foot below the smaller one chuiseled by the Red-breasted Nuthatch. The latter resents the former–privacy, quiet, property values. Who wants to live next a woodpecker that screams a lot, and eats, ugh, ants on the ground. So both nuthatches are pestering the flicker hoping it will join a different HOA in a different tree. Who wants those thiungs in our neughborhood? We await results.

Enough ugliness, feast on some beauty. Mr. Tanager having breakfast:

Mostly the “plastic recycling” thing is a myth, and just spreads the problem around the planet in smaller particles. Click here for the tragic researched reality. Can you imagine our economy with only paper, wood and metal containers?

954 Ratcliff Drive SE, Marion, Oregon, US
May 6, 2023
10 species

Mourning Dove  X
California Scrub-Jay  X
American Crow  X
House Finch  X
Lesser Goldfinch  X
Golden-crowned Sparrow  2
Spotted Towhee  X
Orange-crowned Warbler  1
Western Tanager  6
Black-headed Grosbeak  1

954 Ratcliff Drive SE, Marion, Oregon, US
May 7, 2023
11 species

Northern Flicker  2     working at nest hole
Steller’s Jay  1
California Scrub-Jay  X
American Crow  X
Bushtit  2
Red-breasted Nuthatch  2     in conflict with flicker over nest location
House Finch  3
Lesser Goldfinch  4
Dark-eyed Junco  1
Spotted Towhee  1
Western Tanager  1

Posted by: atowhee | May 6, 2023


Around 1PM today a flock of tanagers paraded through our garden. Their showy spring plumage–males especially–are an unavoidable public display. Somewhere there must have been a bass drum and some trombones in the background. Seeing them you immediately lin e up along the edge of their street and gawk.

At least one of the tanagwers was a female; one male was dripping wet having enjioyed our bird bath after a long night of migration. They stayed up in the trees, ignoring our feeders.

Posted by: atowhee | May 5, 2023


How do you avoid the missing one? Listen. Listen some more. Wait. Patience is most important ingredient when you go railing. And now is a good time because they may be calling, and no eggs to incubate, yet. How do you know what you’re hearing? Study calls on yopur app, or click here for calls on Cornell’s All About Birds.

Altogether there were at least four Sora at Fairview Wetlands this afternoon. I saw two, heard two more.

When I first saw the bird in the images it was a quick glimpse. I went away so it would relax because it had seen me.
So when I came back, it once again knew I was there, but it was quite close to marsh edge and so it had to cross about eight feet of shallow, mostly open water. It emerged from the close-up emrgent vegetation, walked deliberately (I have never seen one actually run, like, say, a coot or shorebird). On the far side of the channel it dis-emerged back into the emergents. My parting words, “Sora, it’s been good to know you.” There was no reply, but later three other Soras were making some audible comments.

Canadas with goslings. Two lone Cacklers, far apart, and fasr from any flock.

Vaux’s Swift–small, speedy, swirly in flight, unpredictable ion path or direction. One flew past less than twenty feet over my head. No way I could follow with my camera. But this one was making lazy sky loops, maybe going less than fiofty MPH. Got him! Of course, by the time you get on the bird, it’s almost always flying away. I just saw this one among the dozens of swallows.

Two red-tails, a soaring, but soundless, duet:

Fairview Wetlands, Marion, Oregon, US
May 5, 2023
27 species

Cackling Goose  2
Canada Goose  19
Gadwall  6
Mallard  20
Green-winged Teal  12
Vaux’s Swift  1
Anna’s Hummingbird  1
American Coot  2
Sora 4
Killdeer  1
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Northern Flicker  2
American Crow  1
Black-capped Chickadee  2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  X
Tree Swallow  30
Violet-green Swallow  20
Barn Swallow  40
Cliff Swallow  X
European Starling  11
American Robin  3
House Finch  1
Song Sparrow  5
Red-winged Blackbird  25
Common Yellowthroat  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  22     myrtle and yellow-throated bith present
Wilson’s Warbler  1

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