Posted by: atowhee | June 17, 2021


Heat, jays, the moments of the season and some birdy happenings.

It has long been known by those who pay attention–corvids are great gardeners. Now a study in Britain shows just how important jays are to forest replanting. Perhaps better than people with shovels. For deeper understanding of jays and wild gardens I recommend the superb book, The Landscaping Ideas of Jays. It was published in 2007 but the wisdom of the jays is fresh today as is the author’s careful observations of the birds’ behavior. I think jays love oaks as much as I do so it is easy for me to feel we are in league together.

SALEM: Our two cherry trees are fruitful right now. Speaking of jays I have not seen them collecting fruit yet. Perhaps there is so much ripening fruit now the jays are overwhelmed. A neighbor’s cherry is dropping ripe ones into the street. One if our apple trees threatens an avalanche of fruit later this summer. Pears are already bigger than golf balls but I think I can depend on the squirrels to, again, beat me to the harvest. Our blueberries are ripening and our small planter of potatoes had been overgrown with branches four-feet long. As ever, nature insists.

Our local rainy spell is over. The blue sky, bleached by bright sunlight, returns. Occasional feathery wisps of white float pass, high in the heaven. Near Clark Creek–lined with cottonwood–other feathery white wisps float past at eye level, columnar bits of cottonwool with embedded seeds.

On a door jamb I note a resting daddy-long-legs spider, still a favorite more than seventy years since I picked up the first one I noticed. In those humid Ozarks summers they were among the most abundant small animals, not omnipresent like barn flies or ants, but often as common as June bugs or ticks. And weightless and harmless and so endearingly gangly–not like the black widows, various wasps, chiggers, ticks, mosquitoes, grasshoppers that bite, fleas jumping from dog or cat, horse flies attacking the milk cow while I sat with a half-filled bucket clamped between my knees. That would often lead to a tail swat into my eye, or worst, a kick and spilled milk. It was fair to smile at a daddy-long-legs as a friend just getting on.

We have a variety of bees in our roses. Our daughter’s garden in Portland, too, is abuzz with bees of many kinds. Is this age of extinction, it is a relief to type those words. Buzz on, my fuzzy little neighbors. Back in May our rose buds were crawling with aphids, then the ladybug brigade–adults and their larvae hit. Now it is hard to find an aphid. I just hope our six-footed allies find enough to eat.

Among the fledglings that have come into our garden are Bushtits, Lesser Goldfinch, House Finch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch. At Fairview Marsh I’ve see young of the year–Canada Geese, Mallard, Killdeer, nutria. I hear bullfrogs calls so I can expect tadpoles at some point and later there will be young swallows with their parents.


In the third Barn Swallow image there is a blur to the right of the perched birds–a passing Cliff Swallow, at speed. Siprea in bloom. Killdeer bathing. Lupine nurturing bumblebee.


Neighbors say there are nestlings aboard. They are nit visible yet. In last two images father is on Doug fir across the street from nest and having fish snack. He later took part of the fish to the nestlings. Mother Osprey made some quick frays to some food source nearby to the north and came back with small fish or large frogs. It seemed like she was gone less than a minute each time,



Barbara Rumer got these shots in central Oregon. Wow!

Two more fine fotos from Albert Ryckman’s recent trip to northern Washington State for nesting Common Loon photos:

Photos from recent visit by Kirk Gooding:

Canyon Wren and two glamoruous icterids–Bobolink male and Yellow-headed Blackbird male.


The earth is trapping ever more heat.

Speaking of heat...records being set in the US West with days more of swelter forthcoming, Hot and nasty.

And in California Oroville Lake is so low electricity generation will stop.

Albert Ryckman took these photos in northeastern Washington State where loons do nest. To get the full feeling if this adventure, be sure to pay the loons’ wild yoddling calls in the background.

Posted by: atowhee | June 15, 2021


While we get rain here in the Willamette Valley, much of the west is getting record heat.

On a Salem Audubon field trip this morning we watched both adult birds carrying food to the hilltop Osprey nest at the Audubon Nature Reserve in West Salem. The mist abundant bird there seemed to be Spotted Towhee.

In your next life, want to be an acrobat?

At the feeders: Redd-breasted Nuthatch, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinches. The fruit is (correction) black twinberry, and I have seen robins, waxwings, Spotted Towhee and Swainson’s Thrush all enjoying this spring treat.

Posted by: atowhee | June 14, 2021


Photos by Kirk Gooding. They were circulated by Shannon Rio who had this brief, heartfelt comment: “it is difficult to put into words the magic of seeing so many wild animals in such a wondrous place.”

Here is website for Summer Lake wildlife area.

Summer Lake is in Lake County which is part of this state that is in extreme drought….or, worst yet, exceptional drought. Yet there is enough water at Summer “Lake” to attract White Pelicans. And Summer Lake and its surrounding basin get plentiful water from artisan sources. Shannon reports that the shorebird density is high right now at Summer Lake. She counted at least 400 Wilson’s Phalarope. Summer Lake Lodge is busy and the owners can’t find anybody (tiny local population) who wants to work there.

Shannon reports that the only areas of Malheur wet enough this year to have dense mosquitoes is Diamond in its box canyon.

Posted by: atowhee | June 14, 2021


Taxonomists have added two more Old World warblers to the Cisticola group. They lived and may yet survive in Tanzania. The lab work was done on museum specimens.

I actually saw a Chubb’s Cisticola while birding in Uganda years ago. And here is my best effort pictorially:

Then there were all those amazing birds all around us–crested cranes, Hamerkop, thickknees, finfoot in a lake. Yeah, those warthogs are mammals that sneaked into the blog.

Posted by: atowhee | June 13, 2021


Some good, some negative, but the Earth spins along.
In Colorado there have been sightings of gray wolf cubs for the first time in decades.

No nation –has yet–outlawed the internal combustion engine, but we can predict that is coming…and Shell may be getting ready to begin to bail out of its traditional fossil fuel investments.

In a recent interview, Jane Goodall, once again confirmed her position in a chain of great people who have valued life over wealth or power or tribal fears–Buddha, Gilbert White, Thoreau, John Muir, Rachel Carson, E. O. Wilson.

Then there is the saga of man in rural New Hampshire who’s dear friend is a bundle of feathers–grouse.

Speaking of grouse, here’s my antique blog about a Sooty Grouse who years ago proclaimed ownership of a small road leading up from Ashland into the national forest. We came to believe that his mate was on a nest somewhere nearby. After the young were born, the family vanished up into the forest. Speaking of Sooties, check this out from the slopes of Mt. Shasta.

Trying to save the Allegheny woodrat.

Movie millions go to help save the Galapagos. Thanks to Leonardo.


Our species has moved into places unsuitable. Western US drought.

Drought maps seen here.

A thousand year drought. Last time this happened a tribe of Native Americans abandoned villages and whole areas of the more-arid-than-ever southwestern US.

Climate change may be going for the reef sharks if Malaysia.

Then there is the dark side to human behavior.
Idiot ruins nesting season for Elegant Terns.

We are speeding the decline and possible extinction of a once-abundant American shorebird.

Posted by: atowhee | June 12, 2021


Little but noteworthy–a fledgling Red-breasted Nuthatch following an adult through our garden. The young landed on a branch and buzzed, its wings pulsed, the tail fanned out. The adult fetched a morsel. Yesterday I saw two young siskins at our feeder. Somewhere nearby there was a nest here in the Willamette Valley so not all our wintering siskins left for the Cascades this spring.

Here’s a great bird. Adult GGO photographed by Erin Sandle who came out from the East Coast hoping to see this species. On a post in the southern Cascades.

At the same meadow, perhaps the same owl (the male of a pair raising two owlets), Peter Thiemann got this image of a meal being delivered (fresher than your pizza):

My friend Gary Joe got these pictures at a ranch in Big Sur where he stayed recently:

Posted by: atowhee | June 11, 2021


Peter Thiemann sent me this image…first of a pair of owlets to fledge from a GGO nest in Jackson County. Then I got an exciting note from owl correspondent in Clackamas County…possible GGO…but looking at this image I think it’s a Barred:

The image came with this note: “We do have some pasture and some forest, we are at approx. 1000 ft.”

Posted by: atowhee | June 10, 2021


There was a family if Bushtits at our bird bath this morning including at least two fuzzy fledglings.
Later in the day I was in the garden obeying the laws of nature. Law #1–Thou must dead-head the wildly bloom-crazed roses. As I bent over one bush with my clippers I heard a soft fluffing if feathers, looked up in time to see Chestnut-backed Chickadee and on a feeder five feet away. They are much less common in ir area in summer than their “big” cousins, the back-capped.

954 Ratcliff Drive SE, Marion, Oregon, US
Jun 10, 2021
10 species

Eurasian Collared-Dove  X
Anna’s Hummingbird  1
Downy Woodpecker  1
California Scrub-Jay  X
American Crow  X
Black-capped Chickadee  2
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  1
Bushtit  3
Red-breasted Nuthatch  1
Lesser Goldfinch  2

Posted by: atowhee | June 9, 2021


A friend who us young enough to be still working and leading a busy life, sent me this picture. I can be flattered that he still has my San Francisco book lying about. His explanation of the scene: “This is actually the refraction coming from the sun through a glass table I have in my bedroom.”

Shells a nice addition.

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