jack williamson: Blog http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog en-us (C) jack williamson jack.williamson.jr@gmail.com (jack williamson) Thu, 13 Jul 2017 01:32:00 GMT Thu, 13 Jul 2017 01:32:00 GMT http://www.jack-n-jill.net/img/s3/v43/u697210716-o189147838-50.jpg jack williamson: Blog http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog 80 120 Lake Creek Lodge - Gray Catbird! http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/7/lake-creek-lodge---gray-catbird The Gray Catbird is no longer a nemesis species for me due (with thanks) to the folks who scouted Lake Creek Lodge in advance of the Dean Hale Woodpecker Festival that is held the first week of June each year in Sisters, Oregon.

I checked-in at the office the first morning when they opened at 8:00 am and was given permission to bird the entire grounds.

Jill's family has a long history of vacationing at Lake Creek Lodge.  Her mother Molly first visited the lodge during the summer of 1946 when she was 13 years-old.  I hope Molly enjoys this post as much as I've enjoyed my first experience of birding there.

On June 4th, the Catbirds were observed carrying nesting material, which suggests the chicks could fledge any day now.  I have not been able to hear the chicks begging, but the adults keep busy bringing food to the nest about every 15 minutes, sometimes more frequently.  The adults are also very vocal at times which as been a real treat, and they appear almost oblivious to people - even the ones who were playing in the creek just a few meters away from the nest.  

Gray Catbird:

Following are some images of the grounds of Lake Creek Lodge and a few other species of birds I enjoyed seeing there. Not pictured, unfortunately, was a glorious Adult Male Northern Goshawk which made a low pass through the forest right in front of me.  I guess I am going to have to start looking for them again.  

Over the bridge below and to your left is where the Catbirds are breeding: Approximate location of the nest - (actually it is in the shrub that is behind the one highlighted):

Dusky Flycatcher (until I stand corrected by someone more knowledgeable about Empidonax Flycatchers): Western Tanager:

House Wren:

MacGillivray's Warbler (female | male respectively):

Hooded Merganser (female with brood): Western Wood-Pewee nests were seemingly everywhere:


The history of Lake Creek Lodge: http://www.lakecreeklodge.com/history


Map of the area birded:

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jack.williamson.jr@gmail.com (jack williamson) gray catbird nesting gray catbird http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/7/lake-creek-lodge---gray-catbird Tue, 04 Jul 2017 01:08:39 GMT
Breeding Chipping Sparrow - Champoeg Park - 2017 http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/6/breeding-chipping-sparrow---champoeg-park---2017 I am happy to report that a pair of Chipping Sparrow has successfully bred and fledged at least one offspring in the Willamette Valley in 2017.

We first observed two Chipping Sparrow in Champoeg Park in April 2013.  Harry Nehls emailed us shortly after that report encouraging us to look for evidence of their breeding in the area which would be an unusual to rare occurrence in the Willamette Valley.

Harry's suggestion led me to regularly visit the park in the intervening years look for the species, and while Jill cautiously cheered-me-on each season since, she wondered about my sanity at the same time. 

That was until today when I heard a Chipping Sparrow calling in the distance during my attempt to capture the call of the Acorn Woodpecker.

Listen attentively, the call is clear, especially near the end:

The call of the Chipping Sparrow had me and Remy scrambling to triangulate its location.  

Pretty exciting stuff! Our discovery (the day before) of a pre-fledgling Red-breasted Sapsucker in the middle of the "one-way" river trail.  

An observation of a series of complex interactions of people, pets, and a baby bird on a narrow trail:

The first group of passers-by pissed me off when they announced "our dogs don't care about birds, they'll walk right over them" - which turned out to be true.

The second group were much more accommodating. 

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jack.williamson.jr@gmail.com (jack williamson) Acorn Woodpecker Chipping Sparrow http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/6/breeding-chipping-sparrow---champoeg-park---2017 Tue, 20 Jun 2017 04:41:58 GMT
TNWR: Cassin's Vireo - Virginia Rail - Western Screech Owl http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/6/tnwr-cassins-vireo---virginia-rail---western-screech-owl I spent a few hours this morning birding the Tualatin National Wildlife Refuge.  Highlights of my visit include good views of two Cassin's Vireo trading off incubation duties on a nest conveniently located just above the trail, close unobstructed views of an adult Virginia Rail with five chicks, and of course the perennial Western Screech Owl in the well-known cavity with at least one nestling.


Cassin's Vireo:

Virginia Rail:

Western Screech Owl(s):

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jack.williamson.jr@gmail.com (jack williamson) Cassin's Vireo Virginia Rail Western Screech Owl http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/6/tnwr-cassins-vireo---virginia-rail---western-screech-owl Sun, 11 Jun 2017 23:47:39 GMT
Mike Patterson's Godwit-palooza http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/6/mike-pattersons-godwit-palooza We were fortunate to find eleven Bar-tailed Godwit along with one Marbled Godwit yesterday afternoon on Sunset Beach.  

A news article on the topic is here: http://www.dailyastorian.com/Local_News/20170602/shorebirds-make-rare-spring-appearance-on-north-coast.

I am hopeful that much more will be written about the unprecedented numbers of these wayward shorebirds showing up on the northern coast of Oregon. 


The larger Marbled Godwit picking on the smaller Bar-tailed Godwit:

Caspian Tern: Whimbrel: Sanderling: Who said birding is not competitive :-)

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jack.williamson.jr@gmail.com (jack williamson) Bar-tailed Godwit Gearhart Godwit-palooza Sunset Beach http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/6/mike-pattersons-godwit-palooza Sun, 04 Jun 2017 01:09:28 GMT
Day of the Snipe http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/5/day-of-the-snipe We stumbled upon a Wilson's Snipe nest last year at Ryan Ranch Wetland, and this morning ten pairs of Wilson's Snipe stumble upon me and my dog Remy as we walked through Big Meadow near Phalarope Lake on Black Butte Ranch. We were treated to a wide array of vocal and non-vocal sounds, and near the end of our walk, we were astonished when a couple (walking their two golden retrievers) pointed out two chicks walking toward us out of very low cover.  Before the encounter ended, one of the chicks literally walked into my lap while Remy kept a close watch.  Not having a clue of the right thing to do, I picked up the chick and placed it in the deep grass with its sibling, then we all walked away and waited for the parents to take over care about 10 minutes later.  

Winnowing flights: Parents in cover and chicks walking out:

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jack.williamson.jr@gmail.com (jack williamson) Nesting Wilson's Snipe Wilson's Snipe Chicks http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/5/day-of-the-snipe Tue, 30 May 2017 03:30:48 GMT
Lower Tualatin River Walk http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/5/lower-tualatin-river-walk Several years ago I got a brief glance at what I thought might be a pair of Harlequin Duck 300 meters upstream from the confluence of the Tualatin and Willamette Rivers.  A year later, Noah Strycker reported the species a short distance below the spillway of Henry Hagg Lake - the headwaters of the Tualatin River located approximately 83 (river miles) west. 

So, every spring I bird the short quarter-mile path along the eastern edge of the lower Tualatin River in search of the improbable.

This is a report of a few enjoyable morning walks along that path.  Highlights include (what I think) is an under appreciated persistent colony of nesting Cliff Swallow, a perfectly photographable Bushtit nest, and the fact that our dog Remy is becoming a very good bird-watching companion.  

Location of my ghost (Harlequin Duck) sighting:

Bushtit (female): Bushtit (male): I had a hard time understanding how both parents could be in the small nest at the same time: Song Sparrow - one of the most abundant species in Oregon, with not often seen off-spring (get that?) 

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jack.williamson.jr@gmail.com (jack williamson) Cliff Swallow http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/5/lower-tualatin-river-walk Mon, 22 May 2017 03:45:18 GMT
Blooms and Birds http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/5/blooms-and-birds Camassia Natural Area is one of my favorite local birding patches in the spring.  Amazingly, I had the place to myself this morning for almost four hours before throngs of people began showing up on the trails to take in the bloom.  The large number of passerines was astonishing.  The best birds of the day were a flycatcher wagging its tail downward which I reported it as an Empidonax sp. in my eBird report with a note that I believed it might be a Gray Flycatcher, an Olive-sided Flycatcher, and a Cooper's Hawk that landed on top of a nest cavity briefly pinning a Northern Flicker inside.  The flicker escaped when the hawk jumped to a nearby branch.

 Empidonax sp. (was told the greenish back and oblong eye ring are field marks of the Pacific Slope Flycatcher):

Vaux's Swift: Orange-crowned Warbler: Black-throated Gray Warbler: Nashville Warbler: Wilson's Warbler:

Warbling Vireo (they seemed to be everywhere):

Townsend's Warbler:

Yellow-rumped (Audubon's) Warbler:

Camas Lily (the star of the show): Anna's Humming Bird (on territory):

Northern Flicker:

Cooper's Hawk:

Western Tanager:

Then the sky turned dark again:

Osprey on nest:

An interesting bird, but one that does not get my vote for the state bird of Oregon:  It looks like someone installed a nest cam: Olive-sided Flycatcher:

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jack.williamson.jr@gmail.com (jack williamson) Cooper's Hawk Flycatchers Warblers http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/5/blooms-and-birds Sun, 07 May 2017 00:17:56 GMT
Manzanita Beach Prize http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/2/manzanita-beach-prize This a story of a Valentines Day getaway that unexpectedly sparked our interest in a small flock of birds, bird behavior, and a seemingly disjointed conservation effort to protect Snowy Plover, a species status on the Pacific Coast of North America that remains of great concern despite a decade of effort to help the population recover from it's designation as threatened (in Oregon in 1975) under the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973.  Public record of efforts to address the plight of Snowy Plover begin with a recovery plan published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on 8 August 2007.

For family & friends the Valentines Day getaway comes first - so skip ahead if you please.

We found a small cottage on the beach that we could not resist:

The weather for the first day-and-a-half was (perfectly) miserable.  But the warm fire, cozy conditions, and great seascapes from within the cottage were just what a doctor would prescribe for relaxation and connection with the one you love.

We ventured out to walk on the beach at the first opportunity we thought we would not be blown or washed-away to experience our Border Collie's reaction to her first visit to the beach.

Remy who lives to chase anything that moves, was off like a shot after spotting a couple of Sanderling at the waters edge:

I cheered her on as she chased the two peeps which grew to a small flock of four, then six, then eight birds that eventually came to rest just above the wrack line:

Jill called Remy away from the area when I said I thought I saw Snowy Plover - which afforded me the opportunity to approach and photograph the birds without a marauding puppy trying to prove her worth:

On a side note, this was the first time that I have observed Sanderlings foraging above the wrack line.  According to Birds of North America (online), Sanderlings are known to forage in upper beach zone beyond the high tide line, taking mainly insects and talitrid amphipods. 

We were treated to great views of the area once the weather broke.

The view of Neahkahnie Mountain from the beach outside the cottage:

Same view from the foredune above the area we observed the Snowy Plover: 


This is the where the topic turns to conservation - so please scroll back from here if you prefer to avoid a discussion on the subject.


The 2008 ORPD map of target management areas - note the asserted absence of breeding Snowy Plover on Nehalem Spit:

Which should be compared to the plan published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on 8 August 2007 that

lists [4] adult birds on the Nehalem Spit, including current management activities of enforcing (Pet) restrictions.

The earliest eBird record is in 1987 - having said that, the species has just started to be reliably observed on the spit in small numbers since 2015; so I am going to give the Oregon Department of Recreation (ORPD) a pass on the (obvious) lack of attention to the protection of the Snowy Plover on this pristine stretch of the Oregon Coast.

As a somewhat informed local bird watcher and photographer, I had no idea that our walk on this particular beach would, in all likelihood, interfere with a small population of Snowy Plover.  

I would like the ORPD to enforce the management activities recommended by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on 8 August 2007.

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jack.williamson.jr@gmail.com (jack williamson) Snowy Plover http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/2/manzanita-beach-prize Mon, 20 Feb 2017 06:22:59 GMT
Black-Throated Blue Warbler http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/1/black-throated-blue-warbler The eBird range map for this species shows far more occurrences in the Northwest than I was aware of.  Which might explain why I only encountered a total of maybe 20 people during my first three visits to the site.  Inclement weather is likely the another reason for the relatively low turnout at this otherwise very accessible location that is surrounded by a lot of friendly and inquisitive neighbors.  

The most surprising past observation was by Greg Gillson while offshore during a pelagic trip out of Newport in 2011.  

There was a debate about whether suet cakes should be placed on the ground in the vicinity where the bird was presumably first observed.  My first thought was, why not!  Someone else said doing so would put the warbler at risk to be taken by a cat.  I thought that suggestion was nonsense, especially after finding a lot of feeders in the neighborhood, one Certified Backyard (bird) Habitat, and watching the warbler feed directly below a hanging suet feeder but never using that feeder or any of the others in the area.  Well, that was before today.

What I am at a loss to explain is why someone who hates to be wrong, is wrong so much of the time :-)

I hope you enjoy the pictures.

The Certified Backyard Habitat - ironically with a cat!  (This could be me by the way - we like cats):

The orange, pink, or salmon colored host-house.  You decide:

With the hanging suet feeder that ultimately led to my downfall: What I would have given for a few more lumen per square meter - it would have allowed for some great diagnostic stop-action images.  Oh well.

Now for the star of the show.

Hawking insects from its perch atop the hanging suet feeder:

Enjoying a leisurely meal of suet while I was gagging crow:

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jack.williamson.jr@gmail.com (jack williamson) Black-throated Blue Warbler http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/1/black-throated-blue-warbler Wed, 11 Jan 2017 02:36:06 GMT
The (un) Common Scoter http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/11/the-un---common-scoter I was fortunate to be able to break away today to chase an extraordinarily rare visitor to North America, and even more fortunate to find the bird during a period of good weather off an accommodating wayside along Highway 101 near Taft, Oregon.

The wayward vagrant was first reported by Russ Namitz, who broadcast the message below to the Oregon birding community on November 13th: 

"Paul Sullivan just texted that Salem birder John Gardiner showed him a photo of what looked like a COMMON SCOTER. The photo was taken at Siletz Bay....I think today. Paul is headed there now, but anybody on coast [sic] might help in the search."

John Gardiner's sighting is believed to be the second record of the species in North America. The first was recorded January 25, 2015, when Bill Bouton found and photographed the species in the Crescent City boat basin in Del Norte county, California.

The world map below shows roughly where one would normally expect to find Common Scoter:

 

It is easy to see why pundits forecasted the species would first show up off the east coast of n. America. 

My first conversation about the bird with someone onsite was with a gentleman from Loma Linda, California who said, "I missed the (it) in Crescent City last year and I promised myself that I would chase (it) if it ever showed up again in north America."

Siletz Bay - Common Scoter:

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jack.williamson.jr@gmail.com (jack williamson) Common Scoter http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/11/the-un---common-scoter Thu, 17 Nov 2016 07:01:31 GMT
Broughton Beach Peeps http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/8/broughton-beach-peeps A brief stop at Broughton Beach yesterday between meetings provided a nice assortment of peeps that helped me better understand the subtle differences in the general appearance of a small handful of shorebirds. Namely, BAIRD'S SANDPIPER, WESTERN SANDPIPER, SANDERLING, LEAST SANDPIPER, and SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER - the last of which I am embarrassed to say was a life bird for me even though it is a regularly occurring seasonal migrant throughout Oregon.

Please keep in mind that Peeps are very small birds - six to seven-and-half inches long.

I am hoping someone will invent a digital overlay that accurately presents the dimensions of the subject matter for a given focal length, range, and crop (aka zoom).


BAIRD'S SANDPIPER:   

Largest of the peeps found today.  Long horizontal posture, wings extending well beyond the tail.

WESTERN SANDPIPER:

Long drooping bill - dark legs . . .

SANDERLING:

Common along the coast, unusual inland - high contrast, "clean" looking, dark shoulder

LEAST SANDPIPER:

Greenish-yellow legs, short thin bill

SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER: 

The term semipalmated is used to identify wading birds whose toes are webbed for part of their length. I found this bird among the others because of its short, stout, blunt-tipped bill.

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jack.williamson.jr@gmail.com (jack williamson) Baird's Sandpiper Least Sandpiper Sanderling Sandpipers Semipalmated Sandpiper Western Sandpiper http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/8/broughton-beach-peeps Sat, 27 Aug 2016 16:33:32 GMT
Two Fledgling Northern Goshawk - Deschutes County http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/7/two-fledgling-northern-goshawk---deschutes-county Our five-year search for a NORTHERN GOSHAWK nest came to a successful conclusion today!  I know it has been five years since we began the search because we came onto the birding scene in central Oregon just after the loss of the famous Goshawk nest at Calliope Crossing, near Sisters Oregon in 2011.  This is a link to a news story about the loss of the nest that is appropriately titled Loving Wildlife to Death, By Jim Anderson, a long-time naturalist from the area.

The first few years I searched tirelessly - then reality set in and I figured I should be happy with periodic distant views of the bird flying by one hawk watch station or another.  But on a hike today, Jill queued me into the faint screams of juveniles, and after a cross-country scramble over steep terrain, we were rewarded with a great view of two young birds. One looking as if it had just fledged.


Okay - enough about me.  Here are a few things you might not know about this impressive species.

(*) It is the largest of the three North American accipiters, the Goshawk is a powerful hunter capable of killing a variety of prey, including tree squirrels, hares, grouse, corvids, woodpeckers and large passerines such as American Robins.

(*) When breeding, the female generally defends the nest while the smaller male provisions the family with food.

(*) As an aggressive North American hunting hawk, Goshawks eagerly crash through brush when capturing prey or readily strike intruders approaching their nests.

(*) Currently, the species is not listed as Endangered in U.S. but there is concern that timber harvest and human encroachment are reducing some populations.

(*) Habitat preferences of Goshawks when foraging in various forest types are poorly understood. We do not know how changes in landscape pattern and habitat structure affect foraging behavior and habitat selection; our ability to predict potential impacts of habitat alterations to prey populations is limited.

(*) The average incubation period for each egg is 32 days.


To provide context to the discussion about the size of this species, I've added the picture below of a Goshawk after it was banded last year at the Bonney Butte Hawk Watch Station, near Mt. Hood Oregon.

This bird was treated with care for its safety but also for the safety of those handling it.  The reason for the latter is pretty obvious if you ask me.


Squires, John R. and Richard T. Reynolds. 1997. Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/298 doi:10.2173/ bna.298 (Paid Subscription Required)


Revised Post-Script 28 May 2017:

We kept the location of this approachable nest site secret for the protection of the species. But today, finding the nest unoccupied and failing to locate anything as good or better than the first (tree) in the general vicinity, we've decided to share the location of our original observation for the historical record.


Interactive Map:

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jack.williamson.jr@gmail.com (jack williamson) Central Oregon Birds Deschutes County Northern Goshawk Nest http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/7/two-fledgling-northern-goshawk---deschutes-county Sun, 17 Jul 2016 00:46:41 GMT
Spotted Sandpiper Chick - Metolius River http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/7/spotted-sandpiper-chick---metolius-river We learned a lot about Spotted Sandpipers as a result of our chance encounter with an adult caring for a chick on a small island in the middle of the Metolius River.  The Spotted Sandpiper is a well studied species, and is among a small minority of birds that have reversed sex roles.  Males tend to have higher levels than females of prolactin, a pituitary hormone known for its promotion of parental care.  Which is thought to explain why this species (typically) exhibits classic polyandry—a mating system in which females mate with up to 4 males, each of which cares for a clutch and a brood.  

The text books also tell us this species forages on the ground, mostly in open habitat, normally close to the shoreline, and that its primary foods are marine and terrestrial invertebrates, and occasionally small fish.  So we were surprised to find our doting father actively fly catching over open water - he's actually very good at it!

Spotted Sandpiper (presumably adult male with chick):

Chicks feed themselves . . . . . . but from time-to-time take shelter beneath dad. 


Now for a few other birds that showed up during our visit to the river to watch the sandpipers.

American Dipper:

Evening Grosbeak:

Black-headed Grosbeak:

Red Crossbill:

On the trail in, we came across at least 4 Yellow Warbler tending to semi-flight-capable chicks.  We are happy to report that we found no Brown-headed Cowbird chicks in the area.

 


Reed, J. Michael, Lewis W. Oring and Elizabeth M. Gray. 2013. Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/289 doi:10.2173/bna.289 (Paid Subscription)


A compilation of a few of our favorite spots along the river:


 

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jack.williamson.jr@gmail.com (jack williamson) Spotted Sandpiper http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/7/spotted-sandpiper-chick---metolius-river Fri, 15 Jul 2016 23:32:20 GMT
Ryan Meadow aka Ryan Ranch Wetlands http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/7/ryan-meadow-aka-ryan-ranch-wetlands I stumbled upon this area by way of an eBird report of a Cray Catbird.  I missed the Catbird but came away with a new place to watch birds and otherwise enjoy nature in central Oregon.  The former meadow was used in 1975 to film the movie Rooster Cogburn, starring John Wayne and Catherine Hepburn - credentials attesting to the raw beauty of the place.  

Restoration of this wetland is expected to benefit numerous wildlife and botanical species associated with fresh-water wetlands, including migratory birds, waterfowl, sandhill cranes, elk, and mule deer.

Our walk around the perimeter of this wetland yielded 35 species of birds. The best bird was a female Wilson's Snipe on a nest with three eggs.  This was the first time we've ever found a Wilson's Snipe nest or witnessed this bird perform the broken wing display.

The ground along the west and north edges of this wetland is littered with wind fallen trees.  So your choices are to keep out of the trees and get wet, or bushwhack your way through the trees and get scratched up - we chose the later.  Next time we hike around this wetland, if there is one, we'll get wet instead.  There were amazingly few mosquitos - no repellent, and no bites.

A short video of Dillon Falls, the river upstream, and the wetland from the parking lot:

Our eBird checklist for this visit is here

Olive-sided Flycatcher (a bird we don't often get good looks of):

An humorous series of an American Coot chasing a Ring-necked Duck:

Looking upstream along the river trail:

A wide-body bird I wish I got a better look at (bigger than a duck):

Savannah Sparrow: In the area we found a young family of House Wren:

Common Night Hawk:

An unusual looking Williamson's Sapsucker (no red throat or yellowish belly):

Wilson's Snipe & nest with eggs:


Oregonian/OregonLive, Terry Richard | The. "Deschutes National Forest Tries Wetland Project on Deschutes River Where 'Rooster Cogburn' Was Filmed." OregonLive.com. N.p., 13 Jan. 2015. Web. 14 July 2016. http://www.oregonlive.com/travel/index.ssf/2015/01/deschutes_national_forest_test.html.


Ryan Ranch Restoration Project (a US Forest Service Publication)

Ryan Ranch Bird Monitoring Project Details - Read this to learn how to help


 

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jack.williamson.jr@gmail.com (jack williamson) Deschutes River Trail Dillon Falls Wilson's Snipe http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/7/ryan-meadow-aka-ryan-ranch-wetlands Fri, 15 Jul 2016 01:25:52 GMT
Father's Day Eagles http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/6/fathers-day-eagles We visited a farm today on the lower Tualatin River where Bald Eagles have fledged on or very close to Father's Day for nearly a decade.  Two years ago their nest tree was blown down and we worried they would not rebuild in the area because the sister ponderosa pine tree that survived the windstorm didn't look like it could hold something that size.  Gratefully, we were wrong, and the new nest looks like it is going to be around awhile.  

It was our hope today to witness a feeding or fledging - neither happened.  But we did have a couple of interesting observations to share from our visit.  

As we approached the property, we found an accipiter and Red-tailed Hawk perched, in clear view of one another, at a range of less than 20 feet. A first for me.  

The next observation needs a bit of context, so please bear with me. 

During our first visit to this remarkable farm, the property owners infected me with a curiosity for what lies beneath the nest.  So, much to Jill's dismay, I began scavenging around the base of the nest tree - and thankfully - after a few "wows" and "holy-cow's" she joined me in the hunt for evidence of what eagles eat. 

Jill uncovered the remains of a raptor!  My first thought was Cooper's Hawk.  But when I came home and started to research the measurements of various species, I realized I was way off - maybe by a order of magnitude.  I estimate the length of the tarsus to be between 5 and 6 inches (127-152 millimeters) - - which is really big!

I am now wondering if eagles eat nestlings that perish in the nest?  

If a chick fails its first flight and then succumbs to ground predators - I would not expect to find its carcass intact.    

That's two inches knuckle to toe.  Other interesting detritus - that wallet is 5 inches long:


 

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jack.williamson.jr@gmail.com (jack williamson) Bald Eagle http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/6/fathers-day-eagles Mon, 20 Jun 2016 03:37:05 GMT
Lars' Kingfisher http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/6/lars-kingfisher I didn't pick the best day to look for the Belted Kingfisher nest near Buxton, Oregon that was reported by Lars Norgren on June 10th. The Banks-to-Vernonia Trail was packed with bikers, hikers, walkers, dogs, and horseback riders yesterday.  Many people stopped to ask what I was watching as I was (trying) to hide behind a makeshift blind fashioned from small trees and ferns. It took two and a half hours of waiting for a break in the rain and trail activity to capture a brief feeding visit that culminated in a 2-second view of an adult at the entrance to the nest. 

The location and orientation of the burrow are not conducive to getting good looks inside.  Having said that, if you catch this nest near fledging time, I am sure the show will be worth the trip. 

The Buxton Tressle:  The nest is on the left, 0.52 miles down this track. 

Looking back at the picnic table from the nest site.

I was surprised to have a Swainson's Thrush show up.  My personal blind must have been working!

From the look of the food being delivered directly from the bill, I would say an adult is being fed.

Recently hatched chicks get a smallish oily bolus regurgitated from the crop.   

The lack of a rufous band across the lower breast is indicative of the male.  And, since females alone have a brood patch, it is safe to conclude the chicks have not yet hatched.

Super Slow Motion Video - No Audio:

Full Speed Version with Audio. Vocalizations from the burrow and the approaching adult are both perceptible. 


Fledglings depart from the burrow 27–29 days after hatching. Three or four days before departure, adults stop their feeding. Adults will often call to the young from a nearby perch outside the burrow, while young respond with begging calls from the entrance of the burrow. Fledglings are capable of limited sustained flight when they emerge from the burrow. Fledglings remain with their parents for approximately 3 weeks and are fed by them infrequently. Crayfish and aquatic insects are among the first prey taken by fledglings. Young birds do not capture live fish for at least 1 week after fledging. When young have mastered the ability to capture prey, they may wander or remain indefinitely in the same general area; adults disperse.


Kelly, Jeffrey F., Eli S. Bridge and Michael J. Hamas. 2009. Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/084
doi:10.2173/bna.84

http://www.jack-n-jill.net/banks_to_vernonia_trail.pdf

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jack.williamson.jr@gmail.com (jack williamson) Banks to Vernonia Trail http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/6/lars-kingfisher Sun, 12 Jun 2016 21:43:10 GMT
Hopkins Demonstration Forest - Common Raven Nest http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/6/hopkins-demonstration-forest---common-raven-nest I went to the Hopkins Demonstration Forest today to escape the heat and to see if I could get eyes on the Swainson's Thrush, a bird best known for its distinctive song but rarely seen for more than a split second at a time.  I was surprised to get great looks at several of them for what seemed like minutes, and even more surprised to find a recently vacated Common Raven's nest complete with two nearby fledglings and two very vocal adults keeping a careful watch on my interaction with the kids.   

The quality forest recreational environment complete with educational kiosks scattered throughout this 140-acre site is impressive.

 

Common Raven Nests west of the central Oregon Cascades are uncommon - so I was delighted to come across one today.

The best 90 seconds I could piece together from this surprising encounter:


My target species - (the) Swainson's Thrush:

Five images are probably an excessive display, 

but it's taken me that number of years to get good views of this thrush, so the symmetry won out :-)

The drinking well that was a welcome sight on the way out:


Trail Map of the area

http://www.demonstrationforest.org/

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jack.williamson.jr@gmail.com (jack williamson) Common Raven Swainson's Thrush http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/6/hopkins-demonstration-forest---common-raven-nest Mon, 06 Jun 2016 02:45:43 GMT
Trout Creek Recreational Area http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/5/trout-creek-recreational-area The Trout Creek Recreational Area in central Oregon is perhaps best known for its enormous basalt columns which make it Oregon's premier destination for pure crack climbs, and less so for the GOLDEN EAGLES that nest there.  We decided to see the place for ourselves this year after we read the Bureau of Land Management reduced the size of the seasonal wildlife closure area on May 11th.

As you can see from the map below, the area is not a birding hot spot.  In fact, you won't find a single eBird report of observations from within the area.  Something I will change after this post :-)

Most years, everything to the right of the hiking trail is off limits to all use from January 15 through August 31 to protect the Golden Eagle nests from disturbance.  But this year, the nest on the south side of the main climbing wall was inactive, so the BLM reduced the size of the protected area to what is roughly outlined in red below.  The hike from the trailhead to Frog Springs Campground is 2.4 miles (one way).

The sign pointing the way from the unincorporated community of Gateway.

The trailhead:

A Yellow Warbler, and a pair of adult Bullock's Oriole greeted us at the start of our walk.

Main Climbing Wall:

We noticed a Black-billed Magpie fly into the tree below at about the 15 minute mark into our walk:

We were then plesantly surprised to find four nestlings sitting outside what looks like a predator-proof fortress.  

Wildflowers below the magpie nest:

Western Kingbird Nest:  Strange as it might sound, we found a first year male Bullock's Oriole persistently engaging with one of the Western Kingbird near the nest.

We found multiple Rock and Canyon Wren as we approached Frog Springs Campground:

The area above Frog Springs Campground that was still subject to the seasonal wildlife closure:

Closely cropped pictures of two nesting sites that appeared inactive:

The only Golden Eagle for the day was a couple of high-flyovers of two different birds:

We enjoyed watching the crowd of crack climbers, and a few additional birds, on our way out of the area:

Lazuli Bunting -

My first thought was gnatcatcher, but the (tail) coloring is wrong - I would love to hear what you think:  An Osprey nest that looked like it had an antler sticking out of the top of it -

And close views of a Swainson's Hawk with prey as we were pulling out of the canyon:


The map that got this trip started

Our eBird record of birds observed in the area


 

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jack.williamson.jr@gmail.com (jack williamson) Golden Eagle http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/5/trout-creek-recreational-area Tue, 31 May 2016 01:14:28 GMT
Uncommon looks at a family of a common species - Killdeer http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/5/uncommon-looks-at-a-family-of-a-common-species---killdeer We enjoyed watching the interaction between a pair of adult Killdeer and their fledglings today, and I had to laugh out loud when it became clear who was in charge of keeping the kids warm - needless to say, it wasn't either of the parents. The chicks take matters into their own hands when the time comes to escape the elements.  We hope you enjoy this post.

How many birds do you find in the picture below?

The answer surprised me.

Below is a clip of the chicks and then the adults presenting the "broken-wing" display.

Mind you, there were about a dozen people walking through the area tending their community garden plots at the time. It was interesting to me that the gardners paid little to no attention to the birds - it's probably why they thrive here. I am wondering if non-meddling humans may act as a buffer against natural predators. 

Back to the stars of the show:


 

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jack.williamson.jr@gmail.com (jack williamson) Killdeer with Chicks http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/5/uncommon-looks-at-a-family-of-a-common-species---killdeer Sun, 22 May 2016 05:05:17 GMT
TRNWR - Chat and Other Surprises http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/5/trnwr---chat-and-other-surprises I birded the west end of the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge this morning.  The best birds were a pair of YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, two pair of BLUE-WINGED TEAL, and an unexpected encounter with a couple of Peacocks.

I turned the corner to walk up the observation platform and unexpectedly came face-to-face with the female Peacock below:

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jack.williamson.jr@gmail.com (jack williamson) Blue-winged Teal Peacock Yellow-breasted Chat http://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/5/trnwr---chat-and-other-surprises Mon, 09 May 2016 01:24:18 GMT