jack williamson: Blog https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog en-us (C) jack williamson [email protected] (jack williamson) Sat, 17 Dec 2022 17:38:00 GMT Sat, 17 Dec 2022 17:38:00 GMT https://www.jack-n-jill.net/img/s/v-12/u7972900-o189147838-50.jpg jack williamson: Blog https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog 120 87 Grand Island - Yamhill County https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2021/7/grand-island---yamhill-county Stirred into action to visit Grand Island in Yamhill count by recent reports of uncommon birds there now and rarities discovered in the past; Jill, Remy, and I made our inaugural visit late this morning.

If you want to develop your ability to bird by ear, you will be delighted by a visit to Grand Island.  The only ambient noise is birds - which is hard to find in the neighboring greater Portland metropolitan area. 

We ran into two people working on the trail to keep access open to the deep fishing holes located in the bend of the nearby river channel.





Our modest report of birds encountered on this visit https://ebird.org/checklist/S91322252


Go early.  Mid-morning is too late. 

Don't miss Hildebrandt Cherry Orchards - there are more varieties of cherries in this very large orchard than we knew existed.  

[email protected] (jack williamson) Grand Island https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2021/7/grand-island---yamhill-county Tue, 06 Jul 2021 02:15:02 GMT
Deschutes River State Recreation Area https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2021/1/deschutes-river-state-recreation-area

My search for the Northern Saw-whet Owl (NSWO) at the Deschutes River State Recreation Area ended well because of information provided by a park ranger and then later by two other birders who ultimately spotted the little guy while I was hiking the canyon trails with Remy. But for the text message I received from them, I may have dipped on this species again. According to the park ranger I spoke with, the NSWO has many daily perches it rotates through, so locating it is a hit or miss proposition.  

I couldn't have asked for a nicer day to go birding.  It was clear, cool, and calm when I arrived, and the temperature rose into the 50s by the time I left. 

A couple of bonus encounters included a cooperative Great Horned Owl and a pair of river otters foraging on crayfish near shore.

I learned the difference between the NSWO's alert defensive and relaxed postures during this encounter.  In the second image above the owl was relaxed, in the third image, it tensed in reaction to Remy showing up to check in with me.  The owl immediately calmed and closed its eyes as soon as I removed her from the area.  I share this information to help the uninitiated birder understand when their behavior adversely affects one of these little gems should you have the good fortune to encounter one. 

Great Horned Owl

Don't get between river otter and their food!!

Barrow's Goldeneye Common Goldeneye Great Blue Heron

American White Pelican



[email protected] (jack williamson) Northern Saw-whet Owl Owls https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2021/1/deschutes-river-state-recreation-area Tue, 19 Jan 2021 20:45:26 GMT
Polk County GYRFALCON https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2020/11/polk-county-gyrfalcon On 6 November 2020, Roy Gerig spotted a GRYFALCON at the top of a fir tree next to a country road in Polk County, Oregon.  Being a species known to flush as a result of human activity as far away as a thousand yards, my guess is few people who chased this bird dreamed it would present multiple opportunities for close observation.  Many folks had views of the falcon on prey at less than 30 yards. I, unfortunately, was not one of them.  I hoped that I would get close enough to see and identify key field marks through my binoculars, which I am happy to report was accomplished.  

It was fun to watch Northern Harriers harass the falcon as it was perched on the ground digesting a recent meal, and then later get to see the impressive aerial pursuit of the GYRFALCON by an immature BALD EAGLE.  The falcon could outmaneuver the eagle but could not maintain a safe distance away from it in level flight.  The acrobatics lasted for a couple of minutes in a tight circle nearly directly overhead. Still, it seemed much longer than that, and there were multiple instances where I thought the GYRFALCON might actually go down.  The GRYFALCON called loudly each time the BALD EAGLE closed ranks, which added a lot to the spectacle.

Below is an interactive map of sightings reported from time-to-time on the Mid Willamette Valley What's App Birding Group. 


After looking again at the frames above, I just realized that the falcon cleverly positioned itself away from the eagle's talons when making an evasive maneuver. So maybe the eagle didn't present as much a threat to the falcon as I first thought.  The falcon's cries certainly lead me to think it was in trouble.

I can't believe I waited almost two weeks before chasing this rarity, which is a life bird for me.

As a footnote; I received the following message from Jeff Gilligan after posting this to Oregon Birds Online:

I reported on October 29 a Gyrfalcon from near the mouth of the Columbia that I had flushed from a dredge spoil hill in Ilwaco, WA.  It was colored much like the Polk County bird.  When flushed, it flew south toward the island in the Columbia, where I eventually lost sight of it.  Given the species' rarity, I think there is a very good chance the Polk County bird is the same one I saw in Ilwaco.

[email protected] (jack williamson) Gyrfalcon https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2020/11/polk-county-gyrfalcon Tue, 24 Nov 2020 00:42:22 GMT
Central Oregon Hotspot - Whiskey Springs Then and Now https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2020/10/central-oregon-hotspot---whiskey-springs-then-and-now Whiskey Springs was an enchanting birding hotspot in c. Oregon that attracted birders seasonally from far and wide.  The foliage was so dense that photography was actually challenging regardless of the time of day or cloud cover.  It was one of the few places I could sit for hours to wait and see what might show up to drink from the trough that was obviously built with care by the landowner to capture enough of the spring to satiate birds and mammals of all sizes at all times of the year.  

The spring became widely known in recent years and suffered from too much attention from people seeking up close and personal experiences with the wildlife, which was understandable and at the same time troubling - little did anyone know at the time that a fate far worse was soon to overtake this storied micro-wonderland.



I am grateful to have experienced the beauty of this special place with thanks to the landowner for generously granting us all access.

[email protected] (jack williamson) Whiskey Springs https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2020/10/central-oregon-hotspot---whiskey-springs-then-and-now Tue, 27 Oct 2020 03:59:34 GMT
Suttle Lake - Easy to Enjoy - Often Overlooked https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2020/10/suttle-lake---easy-to-enjoy---often-overlooked

At one and a half miles long and half a mile wide, the lake's well-maintained lakeshore trail makes for an easy and interesting four-mile walk just about any time of year.  With an average depth of about 50 feet, [it] regularly attracts a nice variety of vagrant sea-birds which always impress whenever present.

The lake is located five miles east of Santiam Pass. Most of the lake water comes from groundwater seepage. Link Creek is the only year-round tributary flowing into the lake. It drains into the west end of the lake, with water from Blue Lake. The lake's only outlet is Lake Creek, which begins at the east end of the lake, eventually flowing into the Metolius River near Camp Sherman. In addition to fish, the lake provides a habitat for a wide variety of bird species. From the Forest Service campgrounds, you can view an abundance of waterfowl, songbirds, and birds of prey. [1]

If you're like us and generally prefer to bird in solitude, then you'll enjoy your time birding here since only 286 eBird checklists have been submitted for the area since 1974.  

PACIFIC WREN - are common along the southwest portion of the lakeside trail, while HERMIT THRUSH regularly inhabits the north side of the lake directly across from the Pacific Wren. Look for PILEATED WOODPECKER on the southeast side of the lake a quarter-mile west of the lake's marina fifty yards upslope.

AMERICAN COOT is an abundant year-round resident that you have not fully enjoyed until you've seen their feet and they're newly fledged young, LESSER SCAUP, COMMON MERGANSER, BUFFLEHEAD, RING-NECKED DUCK, COMMON GOLDENEYE, HOODED MERGANSER, RED-BREASTED MERGANSER; and if you're lucky you'll get good looks at LONG-TAILED DUCK, SURF SCOTER, WHITE-WINGED SCOTER, and BARROW'S GOLDENEYE.

A full list of birds reported at this location is available by following this link  https://ebird.org/pnw/hotspot/L1161099?yr=all&m=.
















[1] “Suttle Lake (Oregon).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Sept. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suttle_Lake_(Oregon).


[email protected] (jack williamson) Birdwatching Camping Fishing https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2020/10/suttle-lake---easy-to-enjoy---often-overlooked Tue, 27 Oct 2020 02:41:20 GMT
Black Butte Swamp Veery https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2020/7/black-butte-swamp-veery I believe Stephan Schlick was the first to report a Veery singing and calling in the area known as Black Butte Swamp in Deschutes county, Oregon on June 11th.  Shortly after that, a lot of people were able to get great views and photographs of one or more Veery.  I located a pair of Veery along the edge of the swamp on June 19th; then, on July 9th, I was able to see three nestlings begging for food.  Not in the area on the 14th, I believe I missed an excellent opportunity to photograph the chicks as they left the nest.  When I returned on the 15th, I found one egg remaining in the nest and the two adults foraging 50 to 100 meters west, taking their catch into thickets of dense shrubbery closer to the edge of the Aspen.  Searching a broader area on July 16th, we heard their distinctive "down-slurred veer" in the Aspen approximately half a mile west of the nest site. 

I previously thought this species to be secretive by nature but now believe the reason they are typically hard to get a good look at has more to do with the habitat they prefer than inherent skittishness.  I remained covered by a camo netting sitting on the ground most of the time monitoring the nest.  But in the end, it was just me sitting in the open and the birds approached closer than while I was covered with netting.

The southern section of Black Butte Swamp is roughly 50 acres in size.  The image above was taken from a height of 400 feet looking w.nw.

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Link to relevant eBird reports:

July 9 eBird report

July 13 eBird report

July 15 eBird report

[email protected] (jack williamson) Black Butte Swamp Veery https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2020/7/black-butte-swamp-veery Sat, 18 Jul 2020 02:54:53 GMT
River Island Natural Area Bank Swallow Colony - Take 2 https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2020/5/river-island-natural-area-bank-swallow-colony---take-2 Recent online discussions about swallows got me thinking I should go back and check on a colony of Bank Swallows that I was introduced to in 2014 by Bill Evans.  Bill conducted point-counts for Metro along the Clackamas River for many years before his untimely death in 2018. He urged me to learn to bird by ear and used the Willow Flycatcher as a natural first example of how easy it can be to locate and identify birds by ear.  He was fun to bird with, and I miss his light-hearted companionship.

The good news is the colony persists at River Island Natural Area, and there are still many opportunities for up-close views of the birds in flight. The bad news is tunnels are now hard to view from land due to changes in the river channel, and the colony appears to be about a third of the size it was in 2014. I estimated 60 individuals were present during this visit.

Another notable difference between the two observations was that on 5 June 2014, feeding of chicks seemed to be the predominant activity observed while nest-building and pairing actions were all that was happening on 28 May 2020.  

Aerial views of the lower half of the south unit looking West-Northwest 2020.05.28




2014 Post on the same topic can be found here

[email protected] (jack williamson) Bank Swallows Clackamas County https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2020/5/river-island-natural-area-bank-swallow-colony---take-2 Fri, 29 May 2020 16:09:33 GMT
Western Meadowlark: Habitat - How Much is Enough https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2019/11/western-meadowlark-habitat---how-much-is-enough

A persistent flock of eight to ten Western Meadowlark along the Clackamette Cove and River Access Trail in Oregon City recently sparked my curiosity about the habitat needs of this species.  I usually find meadowlarks there in an area just three acres in size and less frequently in an adjacent sparsely covered site of about five acres.  It wasn't until my dog walk yesterday that I began to suspect the flock might be inhabiting the place year-round. And, I doubt most people viewing the location on Google Maps would think to search for meadowlark in this isolated, mostly urban, mixed-use residential and commercial wasteland of sorts. 

According to a 2011 study of the Western Meadowlark habitat in the southern Willamette Valley, the mean habitat size per breeding pair was 14 acres, which would suggest the Clackamette Cove site might support one pair.  So what's up with the small flock that seems to always be in a location that, for all useful purposes, is less than 10 acres in size. 

Another unusual aspect of my last observation was the coloration of the birds found here.  They are dark above not brown and very bright yellow below. 


I Have to throw in a couple of additional images of other birds just because.


Altman, B., Blakely-Smith, M., Halsted, K. and Kreager, A. (2011). Western Meadowlarks and Wet Prairie Habitat in the Willamette Valley: Population Enhancement through Private Land Habitat Restoration. [online] Appliedeco.org. Available at: http://appliedeco.org/wp-content/uploads/IAE-meadowlark-habitat-report-2010.pdf [Accessed 10 Nov. 2019].


[email protected] (jack williamson) Clackamette Cove Oregon City Western Meadowlark https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2019/11/western-meadowlark-habitat---how-much-is-enough Sun, 10 Nov 2019 20:15:07 GMT
Fryrear Canyon - A Protected Nesting Area for Birds of Prey https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2019/11/fryrear-canyon--a-protected-nesting-area-for-birds-of-prey

KTZV.com reported on 24 January 2017 that the Bureau of Land Management Prineville District started implementing a series of annual wildlife closures to protect several species of birds of prey during sensitive nesting periods. Included among the closures is Fryrear Canyon located 6 miles southeast of Sisters Oregon which we first visited on new years' day 2012.  Fryrear Canyon is now regularly closed to all users from February 1 to August 31.  

Below are a few landscape images from our recent search for evidence of raptor nests amidst the canyon walls.  While our search yielded only one nest we were able to enjoy but not photograph several bird species including, CLARK'S NUTCRACKER, CANYON WREN, COMMON RAVEN, SONG SPARROW, MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE, OREGON JUNCO, TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE, and PYGMY NUTHATCH. 

We like this 5-mile round-trip bird walk, it's easy in and out over flat terrain and once you reach the entrance to canyon you are soon consumed by the narrow width and relatively low height of the canyon walls that make it obvious why birds choosing to nest in this habitat would be vulnerable to human activity in and around the canyon.  
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In closing, we would like to remind those interested in this hike to carry drinking water.  We were caught off guard by November air temperatures in the mid-seventy degrees Fahrenheit in the canyon with no wind which made us ask ourselves "why didn't we bring water?"  We hope you enjoy and appreciate the canyon as much as we do.

[email protected] (jack williamson) Protected Wildlife Area https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2019/11/fryrear-canyon--a-protected-nesting-area-for-birds-of-prey Wed, 06 Nov 2019 02:47:08 GMT
Lincoln Sparrow Lost Lake Linn Co. Oregon https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2019/7/lincoln-sparrow-lost-lake-linn-co-oregon

Lost Lake is located in closed-basin on the western slope of the Cascade mountain range at an elevation of 3,983 feet.  The closed-basin is approximately 100 acres in size, the lake itself occupies about half of that area during peak seasonal water levels.  The lake empties in the summer when stream inflows slow and no longer keep up with or ahead of the volume of water flowing out through one of the many lava tubes in the basin. A 2003 research project concluded the water likely drains 6 miles to the southwest into Clear Lake, the head of the McKenzie River.

My bird survey tracks show the areas in which I focused my search for nesting LINCOLN SPARROW.  While the habit looks similarly good in each of the three areas, I was only able to locate one nesting pair.  The most abundant species was SPOTTED-SANDPIPER, all scurrying about feverishly herding their fledglings into deeper grass on my approach. 

LINCOLN SPARROW - I believe there were at least two, and possibly three fledglings that were being fed constantly by both parents in a small area of tall grass around the nest. 

One of three lava tubes that I am now aware of in the basin.

SPOTTED SANDPIPER seemed to be everywhere.

HOUSE WREN were abundant in the area infrequently visited on the south side of the lake. 

It was here that I flushed two WILSON'S SNIPE - I believed they picked the best spot in the area to privately raise a brood.

eBird Checklist of all birds observed here

[email protected] (jack williamson) Lincoln Sparrow https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2019/7/lincoln-sparrow-lost-lake-linn-co-oregon Fri, 05 Jul 2019 21:50:25 GMT
Big Meadow Black Butte Ranch https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2019/5/big-meadow-black-butte-ranch

There was a wonderful assortment of birds this morning on Black Butte Ranch. WILSON'S SNIPE, WILSON'S PHALAROPE, WILSON'S WARBLER, YELLOW WARBLER, WILLOW FLYCATCHER and another EMPIDONAX sp. were among the most cooperative.  







The two flycatchers were about 1/2 mile apart.  Unfortunately, neither bird vocalized.  Both bobbed their tails up first, then down helping me rule out Gray. I noted off-white wing bars, olive-gray upperparts, white to yellow-tinged underparts, and a faint eye-ring on the first bird.  The second bird's posture was more erect than the first and it was darker overall, with whiter wing bars and had a longer primary-projection. I've tentatively identified the first bird as a WILLOW FLYCATCHER, and the second as a DUSKY FLYCATCHER.








[email protected] (jack williamson) Black Butte Ranch Warblers and More Wilson's Phalarope Wilson's Snipe https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2019/5/big-meadow-black-butte-ranch Sun, 26 May 2019 00:51:52 GMT
A Walk Through Camassia Natural Area https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2019/5/a-walk-through-camassia-natural-area The Nature Conservancy's first purchase in Oregon in 1963 speaks to the unique nature of this rocky plateau in West Linn, Oregon.  The site's namesake, the common camas lily, blooms here abundantly for a few weeks each spring, and if you are lucky - the peak bloom will coincide with the arrival of a large variety of breeding songbirds.  

The headline from my visit this morning was [18] Warbling Vireo, many of which appeared to be pairing up on territory. 

Bewick's Wren was the next most abundant species with 13 detections most of which were auditory - but thankfully I had a few show up for photos:

A few good looks at Black-throated Gray, Nashville, and Wilson's Warbler:

I am thinking - Western Wood-pewee: 

[email protected] (jack williamson) Camis Lilly Oregon Songbirds https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2019/5/a-walk-through-camassia-natural-area Sat, 04 May 2019 04:31:21 GMT
Eastern Bluebirds - Multnomah County, Oregon https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2018/12/eastern-bluebirds---Multnomah-County-Oregon On 25 November 2018, Eric Carlson found a pair of Eastern Bluebirds in the middle of a now long-defunct golf driving range that my younger brother and I used in the late 80's to practice our swings. 

This was the first record of the species on the West Coast of the United States according to the eBird database, and if we are going to split hairs, it is the second-westernmost record of the species in North America by 5.223 miles.  First place honors for the westernmost sighting in North America goes to Penny Hall who found a lone male in Fort Nelson, British Columbia on 28 May 2009. https://ebird.org/canada/view/checklist/S5031095 

The darker the purple, the more frequent the occurrence of the species in the eBird map below:

By most accounts, the 10 acre parcel of private property in the middle of Portland, Oregon looks like a good place for a pair of bluebirds to hangout undisturbed by people.  The property is bordered by a chain-linked fence and paved path to the north and private parking lot to the east, both of which are open to the public.  The coincidence between my experience with Western Bluebirds and the dimensions of the property led me to agree this was a good place for the birds.  I've found most non-breeding Western Bluebirds will flush when I try to get closer than a couple hundred feet - the path and the parking lot are 250ft and 320ft, respectively, from a small tree and pond in the center of the field that the birds regularly forage near.

What none of us that descended on the site during the first few days following the report of this mega-rarity knew at the time was that the pair of vagrants were well habituated to people and close views were available in the garden of Dharma Rain Zen Center where quiet, respectful visitors are welcome during day light hours.  A window sticker on one of the cars in the parking lot that read "Fostering mindfulness and compassion in everyday life" was a great reminder for me as I approached the garden on foot during my fourth visit hoping to get a good look at these two amazingly wayward birds.  https://dharma-rain.org/  

Below is a link to an online app that calculates the distance between two sets of map coordinates:


[email protected] (jack williamson) Dharma Rain Zen Center Eastern Bluebirds in Oregon https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2018/12/eastern-bluebirds---Multnomah-County-Oregon Mon, 10 Dec 2018 02:10:02 GMT
Fernhill Park - Great Horned Owl https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2018/11/fernhill-park---owl I canceled lunch with a friend this morning after waking up with a nasty cold, then I scanned the online forum for birders in Oregon (OBOL) and was jolted into action by what I interpreted as a report of a Long-Eared Owl in a park just twenty miles from home. 

I struck out or dipped as birders say on what would have been my first encounter with a LONG-EARED OWL but I enjoyed meeting a lot friendly people, young and old, curious about the big bird in the tree while Remy roamed free in one of the best (off-leash) parks in the Portland Metropolitan Area! 

We were lucky to get a brief glimpse of the owl's nictitating membrane (or translucent eyelid) that is drawn across the eye for protection and to moisten it while maintaining vision.

It was a great day - I hope you enjoy the images:

[email protected] (jack williamson) Fernhill Park Portland Oregon https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2018/11/fernhill-park---owl Sat, 17 Nov 2018 05:50:14 GMT
A Great Day on the Ranch https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2018/10/a-great-day-on-the-ranch I caught a glimpse of what I thought might be a Great Gray Owl while we were on one of our favorite walks at Black Butte Ranch on 4 October 2018.  Today we repeated that walk but kept our border collie, Remy, close as we approached the area where I thought she flushed a large gray bird sixteen days earlier.  It was a strategy that paid off!  This has been a nemesis species for us and while I won't bore you with our story of the miles we have driven and hiked purposefully-unguided to find a Great Gray Owl, I will say that after all of that effort it was thrilling to find this species so close to home.

Strix nebulosa (Finally)


[email protected] (jack williamson) Black Butte Ranch Deschutes County Great Gray Owl Oregon https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2018/10/a-great-day-on-the-ranch Sat, 20 Oct 2018 22:31:56 GMT
A Potpourri of a few Birds & Butterflies https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2018/7/a-potpourri-of-a-few-birds-butterflies WARNING:  Content may not be suitable for all audiences.  It includes reports of birds seen two or more days ago and mentions people, pets, and butterflies.  Forward to other birding groups at your own risk. 

July 4th I tried but failed to locate and photograph the "5 cute Harlequin ducklings" Allen Prigge and John Hosking observed on Lookout Creek in Lane county above Blue River on June 26th.  It is amazing to me that this small sea duck breeds inland on first and second order streams, which in this case was at a location approximately 120 air miles from the Oregon coast.  A real treat it would be to document the successful fledging of this species.

The good news is that the trip was not all for naught.  On my way back I located a female Barrow's Goldeneye with six kinda cute ducklings and two very cooperative Spotted Sandpiper at Carmen Reservoir.  Then came a nesting pair of Lincoln's Sparrow at Lost Lake, soon to be known as lost meadow as someone else recently suggested - and while the Osprey is having a difficult time finding/landing prey, Wilson's Snipe seem to be making good use of expanded breeding area there.

Once back at the Ranch, Jill joined Remy and me for a walk along the Metolius River to look for warblers.  This week of the year we normally find impressive numbers of a variety of warblers along the river - but this year we were able to count the warblers on one hand, but the number of butterflies, on the other hand, was unprecedented.  They were thick as flees for miles.  


[email protected] (jack williamson) Butterflies Lincoln's Sparrow Spotted Sandpiper https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2018/7/a-potpourri-of-a-few-birds-butterflies Sat, 07 Jul 2018 00:17:40 GMT
Cottonwood Canyon State Park https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2018/6/cottonwood-canyon-state-park We birded Cottonwood Canyon State Park yesterday from the visitors center downstream approximately a mile and a half.  We tallied 18 species, most of which we rarely get to see in our regular birding spots near home in West Linn, Oregon.  The best observations for us were unusually close views of eight White-throated Swift visiting nests located low on the cliff just a short distance from the trailhead, a pair of Bullock's Oriole working a new-nest, two Ash-throated Flycatcher, several Western Kingbird and one Eastern Kingbird.  Our eBird Checklist is here: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S46274708

The second largest state park in Oregon.


 This White-throated Swift immediately stood out among the many Cliff Swallows in the area:

We were thrilled when a bunch more showed up and started working nests low on the cliff:

Next up was a surprising number of Bullock's Oriole.

We found three pairs, and we were able to locate one pair's nest.  A first for us:

We enjoyed close views of a Lazuli Bunting on territory at our turn-around point:

Looking up river heading back to the visitors center:

The variety of species picked up considerably on the way back.

Say's Phoebe:

Ash-throated Flycatcher:

Western Kingbird:

Eastern Kingbird:

California Quail:

Western Tanager:

And, lastly another Say's Phoebe with young at the visitor's information center:

Five hungry chicks - count em!

[email protected] (jack williamson) ash-throated flycatcher cottonwood canyon state park eastern kingbird sherman county white-throated swift https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2018/6/cottonwood-canyon-state-park Sun, 03 Jun 2018 23:38:01 GMT
A Well-Timed Trip to the Oregon Coast https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2018/3/a-well-timed-trip-to-the-oregon-coast The last thing we expected last November when we planned a four-day trip to Manzanita in early March was that we would experience clear skies, day-time temperatures of 60+ degrees with no wind, seas so calm you could canoe on them, and close views of a Steller's Eider, a seabird rarely found south of the Bering Sea. 

This was the 3rd record of the species in Oregon. Amazingly, the female Eider has been observed foraging near shore within Seaside Cove since December 31, 2017.  The first time this species was discovered in the state was February 1992, and that bird stuck around for only 5 days.  The second record was a single-day sighting near Bray Pt. in Lane County February 3, 2007. 

I believe the latest record of the species in the lower 48 states is March 30, 1977, in Massachusetts.  So I am sure there is more than one local birder hoping this vagrant sticks around until April.

Below is a selection of images of birds and landscapes from our visit to the area since our blog is not only about birds but also the places we find them. 



Coming to shore -

Persistence pays off!

Standing triumphant! 

Time to take a break and clean up a bit. 

BLACK TURNSTONES, a canoeist of sorts, and crabbers probably wishing everyday was like today:

SANDERLING (ever-present and always appreciated):



(Great Habitat for Spotted Owl and Marbled Murrelet)   THREE HARBOR SEALS - SHY UNTIL REMY APPROACHED THE WATER'S EDGE:  



[email protected] (jack williamson) seaside oregon steller's eider https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2018/3/a-well-timed-trip-to-the-oregon-coast Mon, 12 Mar 2018 03:28:15 GMT
Oak Island Great Horned Owl Pair https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/9/oak-island-great-horned-owl-pair Wandering around Sauvie Island this weekend I came across a great find.  Portland Audubon's instructor Ricky Allen who was looking through a spotting scope at a grove of mature cottonwood trees across the road.  He was very welcoming, even after my questionable episode of panic-braking followed by a too-sharp u-turn. 

His enthusiastic call out to me while we were watching the duet of two GREAT HORNED OWLS from different positions of "Jack, it doesn't get any better than this" was as priceless as the experience itself. 

I have never before observed an interaction of this quality among adults. 

Five Photos: Thank you Ricky

[email protected] (jack williamson) great horned owls https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/9/oak-island-great-horned-owl-pair Tue, 26 Sep 2017 03:16:05 GMT
Lake Creek Lodge - Gray Catbird! https://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:

[email protected] (jack williamson) gray catbird nesting gray catbird https://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 https://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. 

[email protected] (jack williamson) Acorn Woodpecker Chipping Sparrow https://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 https://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):

[email protected] (jack williamson) Cassin's Vireo Virginia Rail Western Screech Owl https://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 https://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 :-)

[email protected] (jack williamson) Bar-tailed Godwit Gearhart Godwit-palooza Sunset Beach https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/6/mike-pattersons-godwit-palooza Sun, 04 Jun 2017 01:09:28 GMT
Day of the Snipe https://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:

[email protected] (jack williamson) Nesting Wilson's Snipe Wilson's Snipe Chicks https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/5/day-of-the-snipe Tue, 30 May 2017 03:30:48 GMT
Lower Tualatin River Walk https://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?) 

[email protected] (jack williamson) Cliff Swallow https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/5/lower-tualatin-river-walk Mon, 22 May 2017 03:45:18 GMT
Blooms and Birds https://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:

[email protected] (jack williamson) Cooper's Hawk Flycatchers Warblers https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/5/blooms-and-birds Sun, 07 May 2017 00:17:56 GMT
Manzanita Beach Prize https://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.

[email protected] (jack williamson) Snowy Plover https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/2/manzanita-beach-prize Mon, 20 Feb 2017 06:22:59 GMT
Black-Throated Blue Warbler https://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:

[email protected] (jack williamson) Black-throated Blue Warbler https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2017/1/black-throated-blue-warbler Wed, 11 Jan 2017 02:36:06 GMT
The (un) Common Scoter https://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:

[email protected] (jack williamson) Common Scoter https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/11/the-un---common-scoter Thu, 17 Nov 2016 07:01:31 GMT
Broughton Beach Peeps https://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).


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


Long drooping bill - dark legs . . .


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


Greenish-yellow legs, short thin bill


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.

[email protected] (jack williamson) Baird's Sandpiper Least Sandpiper Sanderling Sandpipers Semipalmated Sandpiper Western Sandpiper https://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 https://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:

[email protected] (jack williamson) Central Oregon Birds Deschutes County Northern Goshawk Nest https://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 https://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:


[email protected] (jack williamson) Spotted Sandpiper https://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 https://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


[email protected] (jack williamson) Deschutes River Trail Dillon Falls Wilson's Snipe https://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 https://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:


[email protected] (jack williamson) Bald Eagle https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/6/fathers-day-eagles Mon, 20 Jun 2016 03:37:05 GMT
Lars' Kingfisher https://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


[email protected] (jack williamson) Banks to Vernonia Trail https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/6/lars-kingfisher Sun, 12 Jun 2016 21:43:10 GMT
Hopkins Demonstration Forest - Common Raven Nest https://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


[email protected] (jack williamson) Common Raven Swainson's Thrush https://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 https://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


[email protected] (jack williamson) Golden Eagle https://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 https://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:


[email protected] (jack williamson) Killdeer with Chicks https://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 https://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:

[email protected] (jack williamson) Blue-winged Teal Peacock Yellow-breasted Chat https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/5/trnwr---chat-and-other-surprises Mon, 09 May 2016 01:24:18 GMT
Barred Owls - Tryon Creek State Park 2016 https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/5/Barred-Owls---Tryon-Creek-State-Park-2016 If you like up-close, personal encounters with owls and their chicks, then the perennial Barred Owl Nest located in a high-traffic area of Tryon Creek State Park is a must see.  The chicks often end up on or near one of the trails that intersect below the nest - and if there are a lot of people and dogs in the area at the time, the otherwise quiet scene immediately turns chaotic.  I don't think a chick has ever been lost to dogs at this location, but that statistic will not last. Locals are very good about keeping their pets leashed while passing by the nest tree, but newbies are clueless - so please be prepared act quickly if you see an unleashed dog approaching the area. 

The second of three nestlings left the nest yesterday.  I expect the remaining chick will fledge either today or tomorrow. After that, the fledglings will probably remain in the area, being fed by the adults, for another few days before they move away from the nest tree into the surrounding forest. 

Giving directions to roost and nest sites is normally frowned upon.  But I believe encouraging responsible bird watchers to visit this nest site to act has chaperones while the chicks are moving in and out of precarious positions is appropriate.  So, let me know if you'd like to watch these birds first hand.  I will be happy to help.

Notice the vole on the branch in front of the female pictured below.  This is the first time I witnessed the parents leaving food behind - they usually deliver the prey to one of the fledglings after they tear it up a bit.  But this time, she flew to another perch closer to the nest without the prey and began calling to the second fledgling that was just 20 to 30 feet away.  

Jill was certain the 2nd fledgling shown below was going to free fall 30 feet to the path in front of us.

You will hear her laugh in relief when that doesn't happen.

The last of three nestlings.  As you will see, it won't be long before he/she joins its siblings outside the nest.  The parents stopped feeding the chicks in the nest a few days ago.  Hunger seems to be one of the tools the parents use to encourage the chicks to fledge.

Map of Tryon Creek State Park - the location is of the nest is marked with a red oval and arrow pointing to the nest

[email protected] (jack williamson) Barred Owl Tryon Creek State Park https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/5/Barred-Owls---Tryon-Creek-State-Park-2016 Thu, 05 May 2016 00:58:43 GMT
A Moment Worth Sharing https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/4/a-moment-worth-sharing Every once in a while you witness something that is worth immediately sharing with others regardless of the (plan) to include the event as part of a larger experience you would write about later.

I spent an extravagant amount of time today monitoring one of three owl nests that I began watching earlier this year in an attempt to ward off the winter birding doldrums and other life challenges.  

The ever-watchful mother of this particular nest turned out to be the most interesting subject matter of the moment as she shared part of her daily routine with me.

GREAT HORNED OWL - female monitoring her nestlings, soon to be fledglings:

I hope to provide a step-by-step account of the kids maturation - they are, of course, extremely cute.

[email protected] (jack williamson) Great Horned Owl https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/4/a-moment-worth-sharing Tue, 12 Apr 2016 06:18:47 GMT
Coachella Valley Preserve - Thousand Palms Oasis https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/3/coachella-valley-preserve--thousand-palms-oasis I enjoyed our visits to the Coachella Valley Preserve but struggled with the idea of writing about birds we found in the area because (frankly) the number of species a person will likely to encounter on any selected date will be a small fraction of the 118 species listed in the eBird database for this location. Having said that, it's is a great place to see BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER, which (alone) makes it worth the visit if you are visiting the So. Cal. desert this time of year.

What helped me overcome my hesitation to write about the area was a lone AMERICAN KESTREL perched atop a dead palm tree. I know that sounds crazy, especially if you realize (as most birders do) the American Kestrel is the most abundant and easily found small falcon throughout north America. The kestrel I captured an image of during our visit to the area is not representative of the kestrel we frequently encounter in Oregon. Its posture is more rigid/angular than we are used to seeing, and its bill appears significantly larger than what we find on the species at home.

So, there you go.

Below are our favorite photos taken during our visit.


Of the 17 subspecies of kestrel listed in the world including the most commonly found (or "nominate') subspecies in n. America (Falco sparverius), I think the bird pictured below might possibly be (Falco sparverius peninsularis), a subspecies first identified in southern Baja, California in 1892 by Edgar Alexander Mearns.

I am interested in hearing your thoughts about the bird pictured below.

The super-cropped photo below is provided in response to those requesting a closer look.  The absence of dark spots or barring on the mantle & scapulars is a trait that is reported more frequently in this species the farther south it is encountered.

A link to online images of kestrel for comparison





Things changed in hurry as a squall line moved through the area:

Simone Pond:

BFFs - Lori & Jill:


San Andreas Fault:


Coachella Valley Preserve Website

eBird list of species reported for the area.

Smallwood, John A. and David M. Bird. 2002. American Kestrel (Falco sparverius), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online [PAID SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED]:


[email protected] (jack williamson) American Kestrel Black-tailed Gnatcatcher Cactus Wren Orang-crowned Warbler Verdin https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/3/coachella-valley-preserve--thousand-palms-oasis Sat, 12 Mar 2016 19:17:09 GMT
San Jacinto Wildlife Area - Riverside County, California https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/3/san-jacinto-wildlife-area---riverside-county-california The more things change, the more they stay the same. My goal while visiting California is to avoid making big (boneheaded) birding mistakes. So, of course, that is exactly what I did as soon as I arrived at the San Jacinto Wildlife refuge on the morning of March 4th. According to my first edition, Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America, the bird pictured below is a Common Moorhen.

I then went online to find out how many observations of Common Moorhen have been reported in the area. To my surprise and delight, eBird lists only two occurrences of the species in California during the past ten years. I couldn't believe my good fortune - my first trip to the San Jacinto Wildlife Area produced a near mega-rarity. Thankfully, someone steered me straight before I shared my mistake with everyone else on the planet. As it turns out, three Common Gallinule are reported during an average week in Riverside County California. No wonder the parking lot near the point of our observation was empty the next morning when Jill and I went back for additional images. Click here to read more about the "split" that gave rise to my confusion.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area is approximately 19,000 acres, with 9,000 acres of restored wetlands. It is the first state wildlife area to utilize reclaimed water to enhance its wetlands.

The property was designated as a wildlife area by the Fish and Game Commission in 1982. In the following years, areas within the wildlife area have been altered to enhance and enlarge wetland habitats for conservation and for native animal species.

Activities: wildlife viewing and hunting

Hours: The main gate is currently open 7 days a week from 7 am until sunset for your enjoyment. The Headquarters Office is open Monday through Friday from 7 am - 3 pm. The office is closed on all State and Federal holidays.

Passes: A CDFW Lands Pass (Day Use or Annual) is required for non-hunting/non-fishing recreational purposes, but not required for those who possess a valid California sport fishing, hunting, or trapping license.

The best birds found during our two-day visit include, a bright VERMILION FLYCATCHER, two BARN OWLS roosting in the same tree as a LONG-EARED OWL, and both male and female NUTTALL'S WOODPECKER.

One misstep flushed three owls whose presence I probably would not have otherwise detected - a startling experience!

Below are images of landscapes and a few of the other birds we enjoyed during this visit.


The only bird I've seen that seems to keep its tail feathers folded vertically when at rest.

One of dozens of hunting (and for me photography) blinds scattered throughout the area:






Area B4 - The pond, I am told, the Common Gallinule appears from time-to-time: GREAT-HORNED OWL:


Upland Game Hunting Area:


"The Olive Grove" (top left) - approximately 1 mile out: RED-TAILED HAWK NEST:  

I am thinking this nest will be home to owls someday soon.



"San Jacinto Wildlife Area." San Jacinto Wildlife Area. California Department of Fish and Wildlife, n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2016.

eBird list of species reported for the area.

[email protected] (jack williamson) Barn Owl Common Gallinule Great-horned Owl Long-eared Owl Nuttall's Woodpecker Vermilion Flycatcher https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/3/san-jacinto-wildlife-area---riverside-county-california Sun, 06 Mar 2016 23:17:59 GMT
The First Christmas Bird Count for Reedsport Oregon https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/1/the-first-christmas-bird-count---reedsport-oregon Reedsport hosted its first CBC during (this) the 116th running of the Christmas Bird Count. 

For a full account of this event please see Matthew Hunter's blog Umpqua Birds

Most people don't realize the scope of this annual effort to locate, identify, and count birds.  Last season, 72,653 volunteers tallied a total of 68,753,007 birds across 2,462 count circles; 1,888 in the United States, 460 in Canada, and 114 in the Caribbean, Latin America, Bermuda, and the Pacific Islands. 

Each 15 mile diameter count circle encompasses 177 square miles, which is a lot of ground to cover in one day for a group of (typically) older individuals.  

Click here for a look at the preparation that goes into organizing and running a Christmas Bird Count.

I did not encounter anyone in Reedsport during my two and half day stay that was familiar with the CBC.  So I am very happy to have found the following (four minute) account of the history of the Christmas Bird Count told by 94 year old Chan Robbins.  I hope this post reaches at least a few of the people who asked us what we were doing while we were standing in front of their house looking at birds through our binoculars.

Talking about binoculars - check out the pair Chan Robbins uses!  How many birds do you think have been viewed through those lenses?

Audubon's Christmas Bird Count told by Chan Robbins from Audubon Science on Vimeo.

Family and friends from long ago will recognize the area my teammate and I were assigned to cover as the neighborhood I grew up in. It was a fun walk down memory lane as we tallied 60+ species of birds in our sector.  

One of my favorite observations came the day before the count while scouting Bicentennial Park, which was nothing more than a dirt road when I played there.

The WRENTIT is a tough bird to get good views of - so I was thrilled when this one popped up just a few feet away.

Another good bird for me on the day before the count was the unexpected NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD:

Most of the birds tallied in our sector came from Leeds Island.  A parcel of private land that we were graciously afforded access to in spite of the owners lack of familiarity with the Christmas Bird Count. 

A few images from our visit to Leeds Island:


Another unexpected species for this count.


It is an unusual bird in the north Willamette Valley, but is a frequent yard bird for my teammate from Coos Bay.



One of the more ubiquitous species in our sector - they were literally everywhere.

Mouth of the Umpqua River and the Oyster Triangle:


I'm thinking they are thinking - Hey, let's get busy, the winter solstice was almost a week ago!



The non-CBC bonus bird from my trip to the Oregon Coast.  

The Mountain Plover breeds on the high plateaus of the Rocky Mountains, from Montana to Colorado. It winters in s. Texas, Mexico, and s. California. A small number winter in the Central Valley of California. It is casual elsewhere in the West. The Oregon Bird Records Committee's latest list of species shows only three verified records for the state.  The first in 1977 at Bayocean Spit in Tillamook County, and the next two in 1985 at Agate Lake in Jackson County.

This particular bird is remarkably unwary as was the first one found in 1977.  Many people passed through the immediate area with their dogs while I was there, and to my surprise the plover would take notice but did not flush.  


"The 115th Christmas Bird Count." Audubon. N.p., 16 Nov. 2015. Web. 01 Jan. 2016.


Marshall, D.B., M.G. Hunter, and A.L. Contreas, Eds. 2003, 2006. Birds of Oregon: A General Reference. Oregon State University Press, Corvallis, OR. 768 Pp.


[email protected] (jack williamson) Christmas Bird Count Mountain Plover Northern Mockingbird Wrentit https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2016/1/the-first-christmas-bird-count---reedsport-oregon Sat, 02 Jan 2016 18:32:48 GMT
Birding Tillamook or Was it Patagonia - November 2015 https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/11/birding-tillamook-or-was-it-patagonia---november-2015 We birded the Tillamook area the last two weekends in a row under clear skies and very little wind. The unbelievably good conditions made it fun to chase all of the uncommon birds that are being found there this year. It seemed like every report of an uncommon bird lead to another report of equally uncommon bird as birders parachuted into the area to build their life, state, or county lists and to enjoy the unusually good weather.

A small group of people, that were out for a walk with their dogs, stopped to ask us what's up with all the people walking around with binoculars - one said "I've lived here for 35 years and have never seen anything like this." 

The (one good bird leads to another) phenomena is known as the Patagonia Picnic Table Effect. In 1971, a group stopped at a roadside rest near Patagonia, Arizona for lunch. The rest stop was just that, basically…a pull-off with a picnic table. While munching their sandwiches they discovered the first American Birding Area ("ABA") record of Black-capped Gnatcatcher. Birders came from all over to find the Gnatcatcher and discovered the first North American record of Yellow Grosbeak as well - and with that, the Patagonia Picnic Table Effect entered the bird watching lexicon.

While we did not find all of the unusual birds found by so many others - we did locate both species that were life-birds for us. The Cattle Egret, and White-tailed Kite. The first was found in a pasture outside the optimal range for my camera, the second gave us up close and personal views of its foraging activities. 


WHITE-TAILED KITE: Dunlin & Least Sandpiper:

An unusual light-morphed Red-tailed Hawk:


including photos of taken at various points along the Tillamook Bay Wetlands Trail

Photos of Wetlands Trail:


Tundra Swan: Northern Harrier: A brief fly-by of a Peregrine Falcon: Black Phoebe:

Red-shouldered Hawk:

With grateful credit to Shawneen Finnegan for telling the story (that I overheard) of the Patagonia Picnic Table Effect to a group of young birders who were looking for the Yellow-throated Warbler in Sherwood, Oregon two days before we headed to Tillamook.

Greg Neise. "Rarity Watch: PPTE." North American Birding RSS. North America BIrding, 29 Apr. 2011. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.

[email protected] (jack williamson) Cattle Egret Kite" Rain River Wetlands Tillamook Bay Wetlands White-tailed https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/11/birding-tillamook-or-was-it-patagonia---november-2015 Mon, 30 Nov 2015 03:28:32 GMT
a Special Occasion https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/11/a-special-occasion "In my view, a "good bird" is one that even a resident birder would get excited about finding...a species that one might expect to encounter only once or twice every few years of active birding."  Irons, David. "Birding News | #birdingnews via @aba." Birding News | #birdingnews via @aba. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2015.

By that standard, I am comfortable describing the simultaneous appearance of two "Very rare" birds within a few hundred yards of each other on the Oregon Coast as a SPECIAL OCCASION. Very rare birds are defined in (Marshall, David B., Matthew G. Hunter, and Alan Contreras. Birds of Oregon: A General Reference. Corvallis Or.: Oregon State UP, 2006. Print.) as "No more (observations) than 1 per day or 1 per season."

According to my reading of the history books, the DICKCISSEL and the NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD have never been observed in the same location in Oregon before this season.



INTERACTIVE MAP OF THE SPIT - Blue marker: Northern Mockingbird, Yellow: Dickcissel

[email protected] (jack williamson) Dickcissel Northern Mockingbird https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/11/a-special-occasion Sun, 15 Nov 2015 04:02:31 GMT
When will this happen again? https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/10/when-will-this-happen-again Common Ground-Dove, Mountain Chickadee(s), & Brown Booby. All on the Oregon Coast at the same time, and in the same general vicinity!

This is a story about a series of coincidences that made for a special day of birding on the Oregon Coast.

The first was when Stefan Schlick appeared out of thin-air shortly after sunrise in a community park in the small town of Yachats on the central Oregon coast as I was beginning my search for a very small dove whose range rarely extends into Oregon. And, after brief introductions, Stefan found the dove feeding on seed that someone had spread on the ground days before. As the light slowly improved, we were treated to better and better looks at the bird, and on a couple of occasions, from very close range.

The second came a few hours later when Sarah Swanson & Max Smith texted me that they had eyes on the Brown Booby perched on a channel marker on the north side of Yaquina Bay - another bird that is rarely found in Oregon!

The third was when Greg Chambers, skipper of the commercial fishing vessel, (the) Bar Hopper, offered to take me out into the channel after I asked him what the odds were for me to find someone that would be willing to help me photograph a rare bird that was perched on top of one of the navigation markers. To top it off - we departed the docks on the Bar Hopper at high tide which allowed Greg to bring the vessel in close. The big boat made a perfect blind; the skies were clear and the sun was at our back. 



Greg and I were disappointed to find that the Brown Booby was no longer perched on the navigation marker as we we pulled out into the channel. My first thought was that it moved up river where it was originally located the day before - but then suddenly it appeared and we were able to watch it forage for a few minutes before it returned to its perch.


The Booby was still on this perch as we pulled back into the harbor - YES! 


ASTORIA, Ore. (AP) — Newport is now the dominant West Coast port for commercial fishing, with the highest quantity of fish on the coast.

Newport landed 124 million pounds of commercial fish, the 11th highest quantity in the country. Newport edged out Astoria for the top West Coast spot, with the 12th highest city netting 122 million pounds, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Astoria had been the top West Coast port by quantity — and the 10th highest in the nation — since it overtook Los Angeles in 2012, The Daily Astorian reports (http://bit.ly/1RCSeoN ).

"Newport Crowned Dominant West Coast Commercial Fishing Port." Corvallis Gazette Times. N.p., 30 Oct. 2015. Web. 31 Oct. 2015. <http://www.gazettetimes.com/news/state-and-regional/newport-crowned-dominant-west-coast-commercial-fishing-port/article_a9cce539-aab4-5760-a53c-26f590b6be92.html>.


[email protected] (jack williamson) Birding Oregon Brown Booby Common Ground Dove Mountain Chickadee Yachats Oregon https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/10/when-will-this-happen-again Sun, 25 Oct 2015 16:42:56 GMT
All for Knot https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/10/all-for-knot I chased the Red Knot observed by many at Wickiup Reservoir on October 14 & 15, 2015 in central Oregon.  

It wasn't very long after I arrived in the area on the morning of October 16th that I was pleasantly surprised to find a small flock of dowitcher flying into my view finder as I attempted to capture an image of the moment. I hoped the wayward Red Knot was among them - unfortunately I will never know for sure since the flock briefly touched-down then flushed over the trees to the north before I could get close enough for a diagnostic image. 

I was disappointed of course that I chased & dipped on a Life Bird.

But I am thankful that I stayed put for a few hours to soak up the sights and sounds of wildlife in the area. 

I hope you enjoy the images I have saved from this excursion as much as I enjoyed taking them.  

An early good find - Pacific Loon:

Common Loon:

The persistent group of (6) Long-billed Dowitcher I hoped would bring back the knot:

 k An out of place accipiter (thinking Cooper's Hawk): Killdeer: Least Sandpiper:

My fair well look over the area of a morning well spent:

[email protected] (jack williamson) Common Loon Long-billed Dowitcher https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/10/all-for-knot Sat, 17 Oct 2015 04:34:19 GMT
Bonney Butte Hawk Watch 19 Sep 2015 https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/9/bonney-butte-hawk-watch-19-sep-2015 Get there while the getting is good!

The number of observations is going up daily, and they are not expected to peak for another week or two.

The personnel on site are awesome.  They are very helpful, knowledgeable, and all have crazy-good eyes.  An example of their exceptional vision was demonstrated by Tom who called a Peregrine Falcon at a range that I estimated to be over a mile out.  If that doesn't fit the definition of crazy good (bin-aided) eye sight then what does.  The bird eventually came within about 500 yards of our position which was close enough to confirm the id with a much-cropped photo. Tom grew up hawk watching at some of the most prolific hawk watch sites in the U.S. with his father and brothers who are all Falconers - what Tom sees while watching raptors in flight is a perspective that only prayer has a chance of helping me achieve.   

When not tallying birds, Liz and Steve are making sure visitors feel welcome.  They are both sharp as tacks, very kind, and generous with their time. 

My favorite encounter of this visit was with an articulate, curious, eight-grader, named Karl, who has been birding longer than I have.  Karl is the unseen person releasing the SHARPIE in one of the frames below which was a very exciting moment for all of us!  He was there with his father and brother Jakob who kept us entertained with stories of the family dogs.  

Now for the BIRDING NEWS!  We had two NORTHERN GOSHAWK, a juvenile and adult, performing aerial acrobatics for us before the juvenile took the bait at the banding station!  Neither bird was counted as migrants, however, because they were not observed flying south of the Hawk Watch Station. 

During my five hours on site, 30 SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, 6 COOPER'S HAWK, 17 RED-TAILED HAWK, 4 MERLIN, 3 BALD EAGLE, 1 PEREGRINE FALCON, and 1 GOLDEN EAGLE were tallied as migrants.

Did I mention that we had a juvenile NORTHERN GOSHAWK in hand!  

Okay - it wasn't that easy. Our first looks at the pair are as follows:

Our second and more surprising observation - two? Then the tango - the juvenile seemed to be the aggressor. Back to views of this impressive species in hand:

Steve and Liz working out how to best handle this big, cranky, bird: Images of Karl's SHARP-SHINNED HAWK:

Looking at Mt. Hood from the White River Sno-Park and then towards Bonney Butte - the distance between the summit of Mt. Hood to the Bonney Butte Hawk Watch Station is exactly 9.0 air miles according google maps.

Parking Area: The hawk watch station is .61 miles beyond this gate. Bonney Meadows - that campground was full.

[email protected] (jack williamson) Bonney Butte Hawk Watch International Mt. Hood Northern Goshawk https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/9/bonney-butte-hawk-watch-19-sep-2015 Mon, 21 Sep 2015 15:02:03 GMT
Black Butte Ranch 5 Sep 2015 https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/9/black-butte-ranch-5-sep-2015 I enjoyed great views of a variety of birds this morning at Black Butte Ranch. Among them were a dozen or more WESTERN TANAGER, swarms of PINE SISKIN, LESSER GOLDFINCH, a WILLOW FLYCATCHER, and a seemingly imperturbable juvenile COOPER'S HAWK who's arrival spooked every other bird in the area.  17 Images


Question: How do you eat a bee successfully? Answer: Head first! PINE SISKIN:




My eBird Checklist can be found here: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S24899495

[email protected] (jack williamson) Cooper's Hawk Lesser Goldfinch Willow Flycatcher https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/9/black-butte-ranch-5-sep-2015 Sat, 05 Sep 2015 20:42:30 GMT
Broughton Beach 22 Aug 2015 https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/8/broughton-beach-22-aug-2015 I visited Broughton Beach this afternoon among throngs of beachgoers, romping dogs, and tent-campers. Thankfully, a juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird caught my attention, and then I was birding not just walking. Close encounters with Horned Lark and Western Sandpiper foraging up in the riprap nicely rounded-out my visit.

Eight images:

[email protected] (jack williamson) Western Sandpiper https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/8/broughton-beach-22-aug-2015 Sun, 23 Aug 2015 04:37:08 GMT
Birding on and around Black Butte Ranch August 2015 https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/8/birding-on-and-around-black-butte-ranch-august-2015 A family vacation last week at Black Butte Ranch provided me with the opportunity to get out several mornings to bird many of my favorite spots in the area plus find a few new ones on the west slope of the central cascades. The best birds of this trip include, SOOTY GROUSE with young, two RED-SHOULDERED HAWK dueling with AMERICAN KESTREL over Black Butte Ranch, too many COMMON YELLOWTHROAT feeding young to count, an assortment of warblers, a recently fledged Wilson's Snipe that I chose not to chase and attempt to photograph after it scurried away just before I almost stepped on it, an accipiter at Thorne Springs that I identified as an SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, (at least) two Empidonax species with a WESTERN WOOD PEWEE (all) coming to water at Whiskey Springs at the same time, and a FOX SPARROW that I am trying to ID as either an SLATE-COLORED, or THICK-BILLED variety; whatever it is, it certainly does not resemble the Sooty Fox Sparrows that I am used to seeing. But then again I am very capable of making mountains out of mole hills - by way of example - who else do you know that has ever mistaken an American Kestrel for a Prairie Falcon.  I have to laugh at that, or else stop birding. 

SOOTY GROUSE (I had to backup to fit the whole bird in the frame): En route to care for offspring that I was unwittingly standing in front of:


AMERICAN KESTREL that flushed the hawk just as I was getting into position to watch it hunt: My first close look at the RED-SHOULDERED HAWK as it cleared the stream side vegetation: I was surprised and delighted to find a second RED-SHOULDERED HAWK pair up with the first one.


COMMON YELLOWTHROAT still being fed by parents:


Thorne Springs & Accipiter:

I've been told someone is (illegally) cutting down the trees that surround Whiskey Springs. The poachers have reduced the spring to a mere shadow of its former self. The light that now reaches the forest floor makes it a much easier place to take photographs, but it is not nearly the magical setting that I used to sit in for hours waiting for birds to show up and compete for drinking and bathing privileges. 

Flycatcher extravaganza - I am going to hazard guesses to the identity of the individual species.

All of the birds pictured below were at the spring at the same time. Crazy fun!


Same bird 


Pale wing bars, rounded primaries, short projection and long tail helped me make this ID - (four pictures):

GRAY FLYCATCHER - its downward tail-bobbing was very obvious (six pictures):

. . . here it is taking a bath:
The unusually-colored FOX SPARROW:

A few other birds that I found of interest while at Whiskey Springs are, in the order presented -


This penultimate portion of this post is about a two separate lake basins located a few miles west of the crest of the central Oregon cascades. The first is accessible from a trailhead off Hwy 126 that leads to Robinson and Kuitan Lakes. The second trailhead into the other lake basin is located off Hwy 242 at the northern end of Scott Lake.

The first basin is littered with the evidence of Pileated Woodpecker, and while we hoped to encounter the mountain variety among the several flocks of chickadee we encountered - the best we could come up with was a few pictures of CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE.

We found 4 owls pellets on the day-hike (into Robinson and Kuitan Lakes), which in turn led me to look for volunteers to accompany me on a hike back into the same area the following night at 0230 to look for owls. The two volunteers on this unsuccessful trek were Robin Norgren and my 17 year-old nephew Samuel Whittemore. Robinson & Kuitan Lakes are both enchanting - but if you are going to camp, the eastern edge of Kuitan Lake is our top pick for the best place to overnight in the area.

INTERACTIVE Map to both western slope birding hikes:

Robinson & Kuitan Lake trailhead:

Robinson Lake:

Kuitan Lake:

Scott Lake and its fabulous views of two of the Three Sisters:

We found Hand Lake completely dry (it was formerly a year-round large body of water): Nevertheless - we still like the area for woodpecker, migratory raptors, and higher-altitude species including the obvious camp robing Gray Jay, and Clark's Nutcracker.

The INTERACTIVE Map below of what I call the Three Springs Loop was added by request:

The GPS Coordinates for each of the map markers of the springs are precise to within approximately one meter.

Photos of Bear Springs:

[email protected] (jack williamson) Birds and Beauty https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/8/birding-on-and-around-black-butte-ranch-august-2015 Mon, 10 Aug 2015 04:27:30 GMT
Lost Lake 1 Aug 2015 https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/8/lost-lake-1-aug-2015 I went to Lost Lake this morning to cool off and to look for peeps and (hopefully) a few interesting warblers. I wasn't disappointed on either front. It was a delightful 45 degrees when I arrived just after 0600 and I immediately found 5 LEAST SANDPIPER, and a dozen immature SPOTTED SANDPIPER.  They were foraging together in small flocks of 3-5 birds each.

An hour later, I located a juvenile American Kestrel. But when it left its low perch, circled back overhead and chased (something) on the ground near the tree line along the eastern edge of the lake bed, I said no it's not a kestrel. I found a Merlin at the lake last September, and I wondered at first if that was what I was looking at, but this bird was way too brown. I then realized that it must be a Prairie Falcon with unusual plumage. The heavy streaking below, lack of (deeply) contrasting axillaries & underwing-coverts, and its small size really threw me - I am guessing juvenile male.  BUT as you will see from the comment at the end of this post - my first hunch was the correct one. I find it hard identifying even the easiest of birds this time of year when so many are in their juvenile plumage.

I was surprised to find a second (bath tub drain) in the lake. It is located 170 feet n.e. of what I call the original drain. The second drain actually has a small amount of water flowing through it into the great aquifer below. I would not be surprised if the lake goes completely dry before this summer season is over. The two creeks feeding the lake are both still flowing but who knows how long that will last.  




LEAST SANDPIPER: They go first because they are what led me to the second drain


Just to cleanse the visual palate before taking up the topic of the identity of the small raptor,

a series that helped me feel a little better about the health of this lake.




This might be THE END - for this little guy given the proximity of the falcon:

[email protected] (jack williamson) American Kestrel Least Sandpiper Prairie Falcon Spotted Sandpiper https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/8/lost-lake-1-aug-2015 Sun, 02 Aug 2015 00:15:47 GMT
Banding Bluebirds https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/7/banding-bluebirds Today I had the privilege of watching volunteers from the Prescott Bluebird Recovery Project band a pair of 10-day-old Western Bluebirds on private property in Clackamas County with a couple of friends, one of whom owns the property and successfully maintains several nest boxes.

I learned the prerequisites of becoming a bander include steady hands, sharp eyesight, and a calm demeanor. And, that a small quilt, multiple stocking caps, precision specialty pliers, and the support of good friends are standard tools of the trade.

I guess that's why I correctly chose photography as an avocation because I can shoot 11 frames per second, then at the end of the day sort through a 1000 images with the hope of coming up with a handful of pictures that might be worth sharing.

When banding birds - mistakes are not acceptable, in digital photography - no such idea exists.

The trap pictured below was intended to capture the adults who proved too wary to accept the bait on this visit:

A curious bystander wondering what all the fuss was about: Amazingly, the nestlings were extracted by feel alone: Then transferred from hand to hat:
The nest was removed and examined. A Bowfly larvae engorged with blood was found and disposed of: Now the cool part - banding a very delicate creature without harming it:

[email protected] (jack williamson) Credit (with thanks) to Bill & Nicki Evans https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/7/banding-bluebirds Mon, 27 Jul 2015 03:48:16 GMT
Gotter Prairie Natural Area https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/7/gotter-prairie-natural-area I birded another one of Metro's natural areas this weekend. This time it was Gotter Prairie in Scholls. According to their website, "[t]he more than 120 acres that used to be the Gotter farm are being transformed from agriculture to rare oak savanna and wet prairie, along with forested wetlands and riparian areas."

The inhospitable conditions that I experienced at the Coffee Lake Wetland on June 14 had me second guessing my choice to bird this area.

That was until I arrived on the Prairie at 7:00 am Saturday morning. During my first visit, I covered 3.25 miles in just over four hours and tallied 26 species of birds. The best of which were two nesting pair of LAZULI BUNTING, too many SAVANNAH SPARROW with young to count, an out of place SPOTTED SANDPIPER, a PIED-BILLED GREBE with chick, two AMERICAN BITERN, a brief glimpse of one of five SWAINSON'S THRUSH, four VAUX SWIFT, one recently fledged Common Yellowthroat, and a WESTERN TANAGER.

On Sunday, I traveled 2.5 miles over 3 hours, and added seven species to my list, bringing my total to 33 for this area.  

INTERACTIVE MAP (Saturday's track is red - Sunday's blue):

Toggle tracks [on|off] by clicking the icon in the upper left-hand corner of the map then select one or both tracks


Lazuli Bunting: Spotted Sandpiper:

My second-ever Marsh Wren nest:

Pied-billed Grebe:
Pied-billed Grebe (chick): American Bittern: American Coot (chicks):

"Assessing and tracking habitat quality and restoration effectiveness using breeding birds as a bio-indicator". The basics; timed surveys taken of breeding birds from fixed point count stations deployed within specific habitats from May 15th to June 30th each year. Below is one of several Point Count Markers found in the area:

Savannah Sparrow:

The shy Swainson's Thrush: Common Yellowthroat (fledgling): Western Tanager:

A collection of Barn Swallow: Another pair of Lazuli Bunting:


Downy Woodpecker:

Bewick's Wren Bald Eagle watching over the Tualatin River: The work of a Pileated Woodpecker:
Common Yellowthroat (female): Great Blue Heron: Belted Kingfisher: Unsuspecting fawn: Savannah Sparrow (molting its tail feathers): Common Yellowthroat (male): A very cooperative Barn Swallow:

Western Wood-Pewee

A three minute video on how this site is being utilized as a seed bank for future restoration projects.

Metro's Gotter Prairie And Native Plant Center from oregonmetro on Vimeo.


[email protected] (jack williamson) Natural Area Scholls Oregon https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/7/gotter-prairie-natural-area Sun, 12 Jul 2015 21:04:49 GMT
Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge 3 July 2015 https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/7/ridgefield-wildlife-refuge-3-july-2015 The River 'S' Unit of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge produced stunning numbers of Virginia Rail this morning; seven adults and nine chicks all feeding out in the open. Low water levels throughout the area must be the culprit. The other surprise was three Wilson's Snipe engaged in audibly-spectacular flight displays over the north western edge of the Kiwa Trail, producing the unforgettable winnowing sound with their outstretched outer tail-feathers. According to Birds of North America Online, the flight display of the Wilson's Snipe, is typically seen while the birds are on breeding territory. I have never before seen a Virginia Rail chick or heard the haunting sound Wilson's Snipe make during their flight display! 

Virginia Rail:

INTERACTIVE MAP - Kiwa Trail Track (in red):

Kiwa Trail:

Wilson's Snipe:

The one that got away (Great Horned Owl):

[email protected] (jack williamson) Virginia Rail Wilson's Snipe https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/7/ridgefield-wildlife-refuge-3-july-2015 Sat, 04 Jul 2015 00:29:52 GMT
Coffee Lake Wetlands https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/6/coffee-lake-wetlands  

I like to check the flora and avifauna of the Coffee Lake Wetlands natural area in Wilsonville from time to time. My first meaningful (in-field) effort was last January where I birded the western half of the area and found Wilson's Snipe abundant. The water at that time was too high to bird anywhere else in the wetland and I looked forward to being able to get into the heart of the place once the water level lowered. I was sure that it would be much easier going when things dried out and I wouldn't have to muck-through the mud. I couldn't have been more mistaken.

My walk today started out harmless enough but it didn't stay that way for long. It took me three and half hours to traverse two-and-half miles of terrain covered by grass six to seven feet tall, that is surrounded by dense thicks of poison oak, nettles, and very healthy blackberry bushes protecting the forested sections on higher ground.  

This natural area is a difficult but manageable place to visit and enjoy so long as you don't try to cross it east to west or vice versa. Pick the half that you'll bird and then stay there and keep your travel on a north-south line.  

Intimate encounters with MARSH WREN, and (paradoxically) RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER on nests provided nice rewards for what was otherwise a painfully difficult day in the field.

Interactive Map of the Area (Red track Jan 2015 - Blue track June 2015):

The harmless-looking entry point off Boeckman Rd.:

A rare elevated perspective that I stumbled upon while I was thinking I'd lost my mind for taking this walk:

Then the call of a Marsh Wren - it didn't take me long to understand that I needed to quickly move on . . .

It was watching over the little one below - the fledgling Marsh Wren was first for me!  

It is easier said than done to traverse the (edge) of this wetland to the forest - but my persistence paid-off:

Red-breasted Sapsucker feeding nestlings: Immature Red-tailed Hawk calling for a feeding: Marsh Wren protecting nest:
Finding the Marsh Wren's nest below was another first for me:
View from the west-side point of entry that I thought I might never find: Another Red-Breasted Sapsucker: I was so tired at this point that I did not investigate the snag holding the nest of these American Kestrel:

[email protected] (jack williamson) Marsh Wren Red-breasted Sapsucker" https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/6/coffee-lake-wetlands Mon, 15 Jun 2015 03:17:38 GMT
On The Right Trail https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/6/on-the-right-trail I was up before O dark thirty this morning looking forward to a good day birding at elevation in the cascades but ran into a gate across (the) road that serves an area I've been waiting to check for several months. That was bad news for me. It meant an entire day's effort was just scrapped. The good news was a small sign tacked to the trunk of a nearby tree that read, in part, " . . . . . road is closed from March 1st - July 15th to protect resources in the area." Cars are restricted from entry, but foot traffic is permitted. So it's possible get into the area, but the elevation gain is significant from where ever you start, and the choices are to walk six miles one way by road or a mile and a half cross-country through heavily timbered, sometimes very steep terrain. I was not prepared for either so I headed home.

As I was coming back into town I thought I should not waste a perfectly good morning, so swung by the Clackamas River Trail to see what I might find. All the while thinking that I am on the right trail. 

I was five minutes or less into my birding walk along the Clackamas River when I was pleasantly surprised by the distinct, nearby, song of a WILLOW FLYCATCHER. During the time I chased the flycatcher from one perch to the next over an area roughly 100 yards in diameter, I enjoyed a bunch of birds in close proximity. Other species found and photographed include, in order of appearance, LAZULI BUNTING, HOUSE FINCH, AMERICAN GOLDFINCH, WILLOW FLYCATCHER, an extraordinary flock of HOUSE FINCH foraging together, BARN SWALLOW, CLIFF SWALLOW and a encore performance of the WILLOW FLYCATCHER.


[email protected] (jack williamson) Clackamas River Trail Cliff Swallow Willow Flycatcher https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/6/on-the-right-trail Mon, 08 Jun 2015 02:04:31 GMT
Yellow-headed Blackbird - TRNWR June 2015 https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/6/yellow-headed-blackbird---trnwr-june-2015 The Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge ("TRNWR") served up a nice surprise yesterday, a persistently agreeable YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD. It was chased away several times by Red-winged Blackbirds and Crows but always returned to the same area where it would take refuge in a small shrub before resuming its foraging activities. A couple days earlier, the refuge produced another first for me there - an AMERICAN BITTERN which is pictured at the end of this post as a bonus bird of sorts.

Looking east across the refuge at the headquarters of the TRNWR:

American Crow harassing the Yellow-headed Blackbird:
I added the map below to answer questions I'm getting about the location of the Yellow-headed Blackbird.  Good luck!

Yellow-headed Blackbird:

American Bittern:

[email protected] (jack williamson) American Bittern Yellow-headed Blackbird https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/6/yellow-headed-blackbird---trnwr-june-2015 Sat, 06 Jun 2015 18:10:13 GMT
Western Screech Owl https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/5/western-screech-owl As they say in golf, I'd rather be lucky than good. And that was exactly what we were when we stumbled upon the Western Screech Owl peering out of its roost/nest cavity. There is a very small spot on the trail from where the owl is visible - had we not stopped precisely where we did yesterday to look at a Black-throated Gray Warbler that was foraging near the cavity we would have never noticed the owl peeking its head out of the tree. 

Can you find the roost/nest cavity - I barely can and I know where it is.

How about now? The power of magnification!


[email protected] (jack williamson) Western Screech Owl https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/5/western-screech-owl Sun, 31 May 2015 17:54:43 GMT
Green-tailed Towhees https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/5/green-tailed-towhees I birded a large open meadow 3 miles west of Black Butte Ranch yesterday afternoon where I hit the jackpot on one of my target species, the Green-tailed Towhee. I also had great looks at a nesting pair of Williamson's Sapsucker, 3 sets of Lewis's Woodpecker that I followed around for over an hour hoping they would lead me to a nest, but they did not, and a small accipiter successfully taking prey. My first thought was Sharp-shinned Hawk, but the rounded tail feathers and lighter-colored nape visible in the picture have me believing it is more probably an adult male Cooper's Hawk. The meadow area is thick with Mountain Bluebird which I never get tired of watching.   

Interactive map of the 165 acre area I refer to as That Place:

The area below is where I saw three male Green-tailed Towhee sitting up, singing on (adjacent) territories, and heard but did not locate several others:

Green-tailed Towhee:

Lawyer's Wig (coprinus comatus) - I should have harvested these beauties:

Cooper's Hawk flying by with prey - I think Junco:

Mountain Bluebird:

Williamson's Sapsucker on nest:

Lewis's Woodpecker:

Townsend's Solitaire:

White-crowned Sparrow:


[email protected] (jack williamson) Green-tailed Towhee Lewis's Woodpecker https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/5/green-tailed-towhees Sat, 23 May 2015 21:47:24 GMT
Sandy River Delta 9 May 2015 https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/5/sandy-river-delta-9-may-2015 I looked for the Red-eyed Vireo on the Sandy River Delta yesterday morning and initially thought I found it. To my surprise and delight, the park was nearly empty when I arrived at 0630. The walk out to the vireo location was enjoyable with cool temps, no wind, and lots of birds. A Yellow-breasted Chat gave me a nice demonstration of its conspicuous display flight before perching up and posing for me just a few yards away. As I turned my attention away from the chat and resumed walking toward the old channel trail I noticed what I thought might be a vireo in the cottonwoods on the north side of the trail. While it wasn't very cooperative, it did give me enough of a view to have near realtime comparison to the vireo I located a while later along the old channel trail west of the transmission-line tower. I walked four miles over 3:45 minutes and observed an abundance of birds, most of which were on territory. I definitely recommend birding this park early in the day before families show up with their rambunctious pets.

Interactive Map of the 1000 acre dog park (click the icon in the upper left to see the map marker legend):

Yellow-breasted Chat:

Warbling Vireo:

Brown-headed Cowbird keeping close watch on several other species on territory:

Lazuli Bunting: Rufous Hummingbird: The size of the nest below has me wondering - I estimate that it is roughly twice the size of a typical robin's nest in both depth and diameter.  

Common Yellowthroat:

Black-headed Grosbeak:

Spotted Towhee:

Downy Woodpecker: (Some are saying it looks more like a Hairy than a Downy) Possible Red-eyed Vireo:  (I Would love to hear what others think)

The bird appears to have a prominent whitish supercilium with a blackish border to its crown, but I am wondering about he blackish eye-line that is supposed to extend from the lores, the relatively short bill, and its coloring. It's definitely more olive on top than the first vireo - but is it olive enough.  

[email protected] (jack williamson) 1000 Acre Dog Park Sandy River Delta Vireo Yellow-breasted Chat https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/5/sandy-river-delta-9-may-2015 Sun, 10 May 2015 18:36:05 GMT
Birding Phoenix in April https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/4/birding-phoenix-in-april I was in Phoenix on business last week, and fortunately I was able to break free for a day and a half to go birding. The map below was prepared before I left Portland to help me develop a sense of the relative location of the top birding hot spots. I drew a circle with a 30 mile radius around the central intersection of 2 freeways (one running north and south, the other east and west) with the hope of locating quality birding areas within (what seemed to me at the time to be) a reasonably sized search area. It didn't take me long, however, after I hit the ground to figure out that I would only have time to bird a few locations, and that it would be best if the locations were in the same quadrant of the sphere that encompasses 2,800 square miles. The top hotspot, in terms of species diversity and the number of checklists within the sphere, is The Riparian Preserve at the Gilbert Water Ranch. Its location is denoted by map marker number 0. 

INTERACTIVE MAP - Click the icon in the upper left-hand corner to display the legend.

I came across just a fraction of the number of species that I hoped to find on this trip, but I enjoyed my time in the field nonetheless. One of the more interesting interactions that I had with local birders came at the Riparian Preserve when a gentlemen told me how unusually quiet it was just a few minutes after I had a long talk with myself about the need to keep calm, focus, and not indiscriminately chase every new bird call that I was hearing. I guess we all tune-out the ordinary when we are in search of the unusual.  

Verdin were everywhere.  I found them building nests, feeding fledglings, and foraging in just about every corner of the preserve.

Albert's Towhee:

Northern Mockingbird:

Curve-billed Thrasher:


Lesser Yellowlegs:

Long-billed Dowitcher:

Killdeer chicks:

Gila Woodpecker:

Neotropic Cormorant:

Snowy Egret:
Black-crowned Night-Heron: White-winged Dove: Zanjero Park - a city park that doubles as a Burrowing Owl preserve, or vice versa:

Tubes Burrowing Owls use for shelter - there are dozens in the park and they are often found near high-traffic trails:

Salt River - Granite Reef Recreation Area:


Unidentified Flycatcher:  I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on the identity of this bird.

Wilson's Warbler:

Desert Botanical Garden:

Gamble's Quail with young:

Cactus Wren:

Gilded Flicker:

Greater Roadrunner:

Another Gila Woodpecker:

[email protected] (jack williamson) Birding Arizona in April https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/4/birding-phoenix-in-april Mon, 27 Apr 2015 05:59:43 GMT
We Call it the Millican Lek Loop https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/4/we-call-it-the--millican-lek-loop Sisters to Millican, then back home through Alfalfa  

We enjoyed seeing the brief lunar eclipse that occurred this morning on the way to the Millican Lek. I did not have the presence of mind to stop for a photograph because I spent the entire 4-5 minutes of its appearance trying to figure out what was happening rather than just pulling over and snapping pictures at the highest number of frames per second that my camera is capable of until the show was over.  My hope is that someone in the area (with the initials of KK) was on top of this event and will share his images of this lunar eclipse with us.

Nevertheless - 19 frisky GREATER SAGE-GROUSE put on a great show for us before we left the lek to look for raptors near Alfalfa. 

The least surprising find [ ;-) ] was two SAY'S PHOEBE on County Line Road that appeared out of nowhere while were watched perhaps the most interesting encounter of the day - one ordinary plumaged Red-tailed Hawk building a nest with a Dark-morphed partner.  It would be interesting to observe their offspring. 

It's not the eclipse - but it was what the moon looked like when we arrived at the lek:

County Line Road Images:

So goes the morphology of the most abundant species of hawk in n. America

[email protected] (jack williamson) Greater Sage-Grouse https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/4/we-call-it-the--millican-lek-loop Sun, 05 Apr 2015 03:22:39 GMT
Nesting Killdeer https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/3/nesting-killdeer Jill and I came across two Killdeer actively excavating a shallow depression on the side of gravel path last Thursday morning while taking our daily walk. It was astonishing to us to find that the Killdeer had selected a site so close to a high-traffic pedestrian path to build their nest. The area is one where dogs often out number people. We checked the depression at random intervals over the next few days to watch the progress. But by Saturday, the bicycle tracks and foot prints within inches of the depression assured us the Killdeer had made a good decision and moved on.

That experience piqued my curiosity and lead me to a look for Killdeer on a nearby community garden and private farm where I remembered finding them last year. After I discovered a (third) nest on the property which was clearly in the path of incoming community gardeners, I decided to see if I could recruit someone qualified to help me cordon off the area to protect the nest. The embarrassing part of this post is that a non-birding expert gardener tutored me in all things about nesting Killdeer; complete with accurate definitions of (precocial) and (nidifugous) which I ran home to verify. A great lady - who quickly but graciously rode over me, the obvious neophyte with respect to providing protection for nesting ground birds.

When I first approached her with my dilemma - she said "If you're willing to show me the nest, I'll help you put a barrier around it". My initial reaction was really, since I was thinking we needed to restrict access to within at least 20 sq. yards, and that would take awhile if it was going to be done right without disturbing the parents. 

One minute later, my new best friend had five short stakes in her hand along with a very short roll of flagging tape. She tended to the nest with such maternal care that one of the Killdeer actually approached within just a few feet to watch her without demonstration - a reaction that was in stark contrast to their reaction I suffered earlier by simply taking a photograph of the eggs when I thought both adults were off the nest foraging.

When I asked if the cordoned area was large enough to protect the nest - she replied "this is way larger than I normally provide - and I typically have to do this twice a year for each pair of Killdeer.  When nests are right in the middle of the path we put a small flag in proximity to the nest to help people avoid stepping on the eggs".  Most nests fledge all four young.  Go figure . . . . .    

The nest of my concern:

Displaying very effective broken-wing syndrome


The protected nest!


[email protected] (jack williamson) Nesting Killdeer' https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/3/nesting-killdeer Tue, 31 Mar 2015 03:49:57 GMT
Pine Grosbeak in w. Oregon - just barely https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/3/pine-grosbeak-in-w-oregon---just-barely Six female Pine Grosbeak flying high over the Pacific Crest Trail about 3/4 of a mile n. of the trail's intersection with Hwy 20 today was a tantalizing occurrence that kept me scouring the area (unsuccessfully) for several hours this morning with the hope of finding a large flock foraging at eye-level on the bear grass which many others have recently enjoyed. To add insult to injury - several woodpeckers were drumming in the area, but I was unable to visually locate a single one of them. I was off trail for about a third of the walk today chasing distant call notes to no avail. The most interesting find, besides the grosbeak and lack of snow at the 5,200 ft elevation level, was a pair of Mountain Bluebird actively working a nest cavity.

A map of our tracks, images of no-snow, and a few birds:

The fleeting-stop of the first female Pine Grosbeak flying through the area

Who would have imagined seeing this much bare ground at this elevation at this latitude at this time of year . . .

Looking south-southwest with Mt. Washington in (L) background and Hoodoo Ski Area (R) foreground:

Three Fingered Jack

Thinking Bobcat track - the measurements look right

The pen is three and a half inches long

Mountain Bluebird tending to nest

[email protected] (jack williamson) Mountain Bluebird Pine Grosbeak https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/3/pine-grosbeak-in-w-oregon---just-barely Sat, 07 Mar 2015 05:29:45 GMT
Three Golden Eagle on Carrion in the c. Cascades in Oregon February 2015 https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/2/three-golden-eagle-on-carrion-in-the-c-cascades-in-oregon-february-2015 Cheron Ferland posted an interesting email to Oregon BIrders Online about trail camera footage of GOLDEN EAGLE on carrion west of the summit of the cascade range east of Eugene, Oregon on February, 21st 2015. It is a remarkable finding in my opinion. Sightings of individual Golden Eagle west of the summit of the Cascades in Oregon are becoming common. But three birds together at a (relatively) high elevation in the Cascade Range, at this time of year, seemed like it might deserve further discussion.

The area in Oregon where the video and images were filmed :

The Cougar thought to be responsible for the kill, otherwise named "Good Kitty".


[email protected] (jack williamson) Golden Eagle https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/2/three-golden-eagle-on-carrion-in-the-c-cascades-in-oregon-february-2015 Sun, 22 Feb 2015 16:18:12 GMT
Spotted Owl Adventure - Still Alive https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/2/spotted-owl-adventure---still-alive A two mile hike today through moderately steep terrain at the 2000 ft elevation level in the cascades has breathed new life into my dream of self-locating a nesting pair of Spotted Owl. A search of approximately 35 acres produced the exciting number of (five) suitable nesting platforms in an area that meets most, if not all, of the known habitat criteria of the species. 

This is the time of year Spotted Owl begin pairing up and roosting near nest sites which are thought to be selected by the males. I hoped of course to find just that - but I did not.    

I am nonetheless very excited about the possibilities of good things unfolding in this area over the next three to four months. I took pictures of the first two nesting platforms that I encountered to study them at home to make sure that I am not chasing windmills. Based on what I am seeing in the photos - I believe all five platforms are good candidates for nests this year. 

The thought of being able to narrow my focus to an area of less than 100 acres at this point in the adventure is a phenomenal by-product of today's outing. 

I may strike out, but I am happy that I am taking a swing . . . 

Four Images - NO BIRDS:

The (30 acre) area of today's focus with my track embedded:

The View up from the Stream Bed at the Bottom:

Two of Five Nest Platforms Located:

Your comments will be greatly appreciated!

[email protected] (jack williamson) Owl Spotted https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/2/spotted-owl-adventure---still-alive Mon, 16 Feb 2015 03:51:40 GMT
A Walk in the Park - Two Common Wren and a New Acquaintance https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/2/a-walk-in-the-park---two-common-wren-and-a-new-acquaintance This afternoon I walked through a section of Cook Park in Tigard, Oregon that I'd not seen before today. I went to the park to look for the Western Screech-Owl that I'd located there last year at about this same time of year, but I decided at the last minute to change directions and explore something new. I am glad I did. I got good looks at two common wren, and I met Nicholas (the dog) and his master who kindly walked us (all) to a recently observed roost of a large owl. The most interesting thing about the roost site was the gray, long haired mammal sleeping peacefully in the cavity about 15 feet above the ground. Your thoughts about the identity of the gray haired cavity dweller will be much appreciated.

At the end of the walk, I enjoyed being reacquainted with the small rookery of Great Blue Heron a hundred feet up in a double-topped pine tree located near one of the most well used trails in the park.  

As always, we hope you enjoy the pictures,

The feisty PACIFIC WREN:

The somewhat more timid, yet nonetheless showy - BEWICK'S WREN:

The Cavity Dweller:

The Raucous Rookery:

Given the broad mix of limbs recently blown down, I was surprised to find the Great Blue Heron were only interested in gathering fir boughs they were able to break off from nearby trees. 

Interactive Map of Cook Park:

[email protected] (jack williamson) Wren https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/2/a-walk-in-the-park---two-common-wren-and-a-new-acquaintance Thu, 12 Feb 2015 04:49:33 GMT
Black-and-White Warbler, Milwaukie Oregon, January 2015 https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/1/black-and-white-warbler-milwaukie-oregon-January-2015 I watched eBird alerts of this bird come across my desk for a few days before I got off my butt to look for it. What I found from talking with the bird watchers during my nearly 3 hours on site was that most were unaware of OBOL.

I was lucky enough to make the acquaintance of one gentlemen who'd told me that he'd been watching birds for the better part of 60 years and he didn't understand all the fuss I was making to try and get him into position to see the Black-and-White which he was already very familiar with! He spoke with great energy about his two tours of duty in the Coast Guard patrolling Antartica in the late 50's early 60's. 

The bottom line is that I dismissed the eBird reports of this bird principally because I did not recognize the names of the first observers, and I therefore concluded that they were most certainly mistaken about this ID.  Shame on me!  

Having said that, I gratefully acknowledge the fact that had it not been for the presence of a well known, respected, bird guide from n.e. Oregon, I would have never gotten on this bird in the first place. After he and his mom left, I was the expert so long as I was standing there by myself :-) So there you go! 

This is a great bird for Clackamas County, Oregon in Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall. Go find this bird if you can. At best, you'll likely meet a bunch of wonderful people happy to share their knowledge with you. At worst - you'll find this bird, check it off your list, and then move on. 

Zoom-in (all the way) to get the exact location of a reliable point to find the warbler, that is, if you're patient.

Black-and-White Warbler:

According to my study; (read no prior contact with this species in the field) its pale lores and buff-colored flanks suggest this is a first year female. But I was wrong - see the comments at the end of this post for a detailed explanation.

Four Images:


A nice look (for me at least) of a member of the Myrtle population of Yellow-rumped Warbler:

A Sharp-shinned Hawk which flew in and killed the party for about 20 minutes:

Townsend's Warbler:

Brown Creeper:

(the one that got away)

Area Images:

I found this the most reliable spot to locate the Black-and-White Warbler:

[email protected] (jack williamson) Black-and-White Warbler https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2015/1/black-and-white-warbler-milwaukie-oregon-January-2015 Sat, 10 Jan 2015 04:36:34 GMT
Canby Park Mandarin Duck & Black Phoebe https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/12/canby-park-mandarin-duck-black-phoebe The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America lists Mandarin Duck as Exotic Waterfowl, and as such, they are considered escapees from zoos or private collections even if they are found free-flying. Meaning you won't find them on the official checklist of North American Birds. In my opinion, they're worth chasing nonetheless. So this morning I went looking for the male Mandarin Duck that was found by Doug Niwa on 29 December 2014 in Canby Community Park. The bonus bird of the day was a single Black Phoebe that posed for me at length.    

The Mandarin Duck was found from the trail at the red map point below, the Black Phoebe at the green map point:

The duck was difficult to find. It spends a lot of time behind brush that hangs over the stream. If it hadn't called I probably wouldn't have located it. Eight Images:

Shortly after my original post, it was kindly pointed out to me by a highly regarded birder that the male Mandarin Duck is accompanied by a female of the same species in most of my photos! That's a very embarrassing miss for me.  She's on the left in the photo below:

Female on the left again here - black bill and white line extending behind the eye:

Female on the right - I think you get the picture now :-)

The bonus bird - Black Phoebe:

I also forgot to ask what shouldn't be in the picture above - Hint: the photo was taken on the ninth day of winter


I think the young man below caught his limit for the day:

Double-crested Cormorant:


Red-tailed Hawk:

Look for the phoebe here:

Belted Kingfisher:

Looking west toward the area where the Mandarin Duck was eventually found.

My complete eBird report for this visit lists 21 species ;-)

[email protected] (jack williamson) Black Phoebe Mandarin Duck https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/12/canby-park-mandarin-duck-black-phoebe Wed, 31 Dec 2014 02:00:02 GMT
Osprey - Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden 24 Dec 2014 https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/12/osprey---crystal-springs-rhododendron-garden-24-dec-2014 I took a short walk through the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in sw Portland yesterday afternoon and found a single scrawny looking Osprey hunting over the lake. My theory is that the high running rivers are making it difficult for it to find prey.  I was encouraged, however, by the successful foraging activity of a nearby Belted Kingfisher, and I hope the Osprey will eventually achieve the same results.  

Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) in Oregon prior to 1970 recorded only two records of the species. From 1990 to 2000, an average of 2.5 birds per year where found, and since then the average was 6.46 per year for the state - with a high of ten recorded in 2002:


Glaucous-winged Gull:


American Wigeon:

Merry Christmas


Marshall, D.B., M.G. Hunter, and A.L. Contreras, Eds. 2003,2006. Birds of Oregon: A General Reference. Oregon State University Press, Corvallis, OR 768 Pg.

Poole, Alan F., Rob O. Bierregaard and Mark S. Martell. 2002. Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), 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/683 doi:10.2173/bna.683

Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Audubon, n.d. Web. 25 Dec. 2014.

[email protected] (jack williamson) Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/12/osprey---crystal-springs-rhododendron-garden-24-dec-2014 Fri, 26 Dec 2014 00:07:51 GMT
The Energizer Goose https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/12/the-energizer-goose The TUNDRA BEAN GOOSE continues to strut its stuff at the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge a full three weeks after being discovered there Sunday, November 9, 2014 by resident volunteer Lee Sliman.  

When I arrived at the refuge yesterday morning around 8:00 am, I found several people already there looking through scopes trying to stay on the target bird with Lee's help. The goose was way out in the middle of the field and strongly backlighted by the bright morning sun. Not long afterward the flock flushed. Thankfully, the goose was relocated near the entrance to the refuge about 30 minutes later and was then much closer but still displaying a shadowy appearance - oh well.  

Possibly the single-most photographed bird in Oregon (five images):


If the Oregon Bird Records Committee accepts this record, it will be the first for Oregon and only the second record of this species in the lower 48 states, which would be a very big deal. It normally winters in northern Asia and Europe, so one of the first questions about this bird was its provenance. And since captive-reared waterfowl are required to be permanently marked as such, often by removal of the right hind toe (or hallux), this bird's right foot received a lot of attention. It was a coincidence that some of my best pictures turned out to be those that showed the bird with its right foot presented for inspection.  

Lee Sliman sent a tally of visitors to the USFW a few days after this post. In her summary, Lee estimated that a thousand people have (so far) traveled to the refuge to view the goose. Interesting points-of-origin for some of the visitors include: Nayrit, Mexico; Vancouver, BC; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Nebraska; Illinois; New York; New Jersey; Pennsylvania; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; California; and "Hardcore Listers - 3 in a party from Colorado"!


Entrance to the refuge:

The field where the goose eventually settled for the day:

Can you pick the rare goose out of the small flock below - just kidding!

The parking lot and main viewing area:

If you go - don't miss the views from the top of the Pacific View Trail:

Pacific City in the distance (center right) - I recommend the Pelican Brew Pub for lunch!



Swick, Nate. "#ABArare - Tundra Bean-Goose - Oregon." ABA Blog. American Birding Association, 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 01 Dec. 2014.

House, Kelly. "Wayward Eurasian Goose Makes Rare Appearance on Oregon Coast, Prompting Crush of Tourists." OregonLive.com. The Oregonian, 14 Nov. 2014. Web. 01 Dec. 2014.

[email protected] (jack williamson) Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge Tundra Bean Goose https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/12/the-energizer-goose Tue, 02 Dec 2014 00:06:32 GMT
An Outstanding Morning on Mary's Peak - 26 Nov 2014 https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/11/an-outstanding-morning-on-marys-peak---26-nov-2014 I arrived at the parking lot at 0645 then walked to the summit to wait for sunrise. The winds seemed to be stronger than the forecasted 25-35 mph when I got out of the car - but since there was no one else in the parking lot, I was more excited about the possibility of having the top of the peak to myself to photograph an unusual species or two than I was concerned about how the wind might effect my day.    

As luck would have it, when I turned away from the views of the sunrise to begin my search for birds, there was a Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch foraging in the gravel just 50 feet away.  This was the second time in a week that I had the chance to photograph a really-tame lifer. I am getting spoiled.  

After laying in the wet grass for nearly 40 minutes getting close shots of the finch under varying light, I heard what a I thought was the call of a Pine Grosbeak which I took as a sign that it was time to get out of the wind. Fortunately for me most reports of the grosbeak came from the leeward side of the peak near the "bench". It took three trips around the peak before finding a single female calling from the top of a distant noble fir. Back to the reality of photographing most birds from a long way away and under back-lit conditions. 

Looking north from the parking lot:

Looking south from the road near the summit:

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch:

The Bench:

I found the Pine Grosbeak in the top of a tree on the left side of the road near the apex of the corner.

The trail to the summit through the trees.

Pine Grosbeak:

Looking west towards the parking lot on my way out:


Satellite View of the peak (click the icon in the upper left to see the map pin menu):


If you plan to visit you may find the following links helpful:  Mary's Peak Weather Forecast | Windfinder - Mary's Peak

[email protected] (jack williamson) Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch Pine Grosbeak https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/11/an-outstanding-morning-on-marys-peak---26-nov-2014 Thu, 27 Nov 2014 19:03:19 GMT
Marine Drive American Tree Sparrow and Three Short-eared Owl https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/11/Marine_Drive_American_Tree_Sparrow_and_Three_Short-eared_Owl I am glad that I checked OBOL this morning and then played hookey after reading Jen Sanford's account of a tame American Tree Sparrow foraging near the Sea Scout Base off Marine Drive. It is not often that I am able to enjoy close unobstructed views of a life bird - so this was a real treat. The icing on the cake was the three Short-eared Owls, at times close enough to each other to almost fit into the same frame. 

West side of the Sea Scout Base where the American Tree Sparrow is hanging out:

American Tree Sparrow (nine images):

 Short-eared Owl:

On my arrival at the dike, the Short-eared Owl below landed on the ground in a area that I was sure I could approach unseen and photograph at length without disturbing it - the bad news is that several crows chased the owl away before I was able to get into position. 

The good news is that as I was heading back toward the car after nearly filling my memory card with images of the American Tree Sparrow, I watched (what looked like) three owls land on the dike together 200 yards west of my position and I was able to get a few additional images when they took flight as I was attempting to close the distance.

This is the third owl with much lighter coloring than the other two birds:

The prime birding area is located along the bike path between the parking lot (1) and Sea Scout Base (2):

[email protected] (jack williamson) American Tree Sparrow Short-eared Owl https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/11/Marine_Drive_American_Tree_Sparrow_and_Three_Short-eared_Owl Tue, 25 Nov 2014 02:21:32 GMT
Cedar Waxwing Bonanza https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/10/cedar-waxwing-bonanza Since reading Paul Lehman's commentary in the March-April edition of Birding titled Active Field Birders, the Process of Exploring, and the Importance of Status and Distribution, I've been telling myself to get out and find new areas to explore near my home in West Linn.

This post is about birds found in and around the (not often reported on) cove near the confluence of the Clackamas and Willamette Rivers located on the east side of Highway 99E near Clackamette Park in Oregon City. While I was there, I was treated to close views of a flock of approximately 30 Cedar Waxwing that were foraging on berries, seemingly without the slightest concern about the people watching them from just a few feet away. The difference in plumages between individuals in this flock was remarkable.  

Most of the people I talked with said that they rarely see ducks, geese, or other waterfowl in the cove during any season. I was told that if I wanted to see ducks, I should go to the boat ramp in Clackamette Park where people feed them. Nevertheless, I think this cove may be worth keeping an eye on, especially during periods of really bad weather.

Below is a record of my personal track through the area. The trail on the top-half of the image is unimproved.

Cedar Waxwing:

Below are pictures of a few other species photographed on this visit.

A Bewick's Wren giving me (the) look:

Hairy Woodpecker:

Downy Woodpecker:

Northern Flicker:

[email protected] (jack williamson) Clackamas River Trail Birds https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/10/cedar-waxwing-bonanza Thu, 16 Oct 2014 02:54:41 GMT
Lost Lake off Hwy 20 https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/10/lost-lake-hwy-20 We birded Lost Lake off Hwy 20 (3 miles west of the summit of the cascade range) this morning.  The weather was spectacular and the birds were interesting.  Seven GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE, close views of two cooperative GREATER YELLOWLEGS, more RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS than we could count, one GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET, loads of VARIED THRUSH and DARK-EYED JUNCO, a few STELLER'S JAY, one MERLIN repeatedly strafing the edges of nearby willows, an assortment of (Audubon's and Myrtle) YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, and notably one ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, which we found last year at the same location but twenty days earlier on September 14, 2013.






[email protected] (jack williamson) Greater White-Fronted-Goose Greater Yellowlegs Kinglets Merlin Orange-crowned Warbler https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/10/lost-lake-hwy-20 Sat, 04 Oct 2014 23:59:14 GMT
Little North Santiam River https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/9/little-north-santiam-river After dragging Jill through rough terrain last week, I thought a walk-in-the-park would renew our energy for forest birding. Fortunately, we received a tip from another birder right when we needed one. The result was a spectacular day spent in the cool shade of big trees along the scenic Little Santiam River. After our five mile walk through the trees, we drove to Elkhorn Lake that is perched in a bowl on Elkhorn Mountian at the 3600 foot elevation. The birding was slow riverside - we only found American Dipper, Belted Kingfisher, and Common Raven. Things improved for us (birding wise) at the lake.  While there, we had a fun encounter with a shy Fox Sparrow - we tried to phish it out into the open with no luck. Then I tried my little wooden Audubon bird-call that I keep on my key chain, and voila, out popped the sparrow with attitude. Also of note, were two Red Crossbill foraging through the remains of an old campfire. They let me approach within a few feet, and then set up and photograph them for several minutes before a couple of swift (I think) caught my attention. I wish I would have thought to look through the ashes to see if I could identify what crossbill were attracted to. Our best bird was Sooty Grouse - we flushed two while searching in vain for a trail around the three and half acre lake.

We hope you enjoy the pictures of a few birds and lots of landscapes.


The image below is best viewed full screen.  Click the icon in the upper right hand corner of the picture.

The map below is provided by request - have fun!

[email protected] (jack williamson) Fox Sparrow Red Crossbill Sooty Grouse https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/9/little-north-santiam-river Sun, 14 Sep 2014 00:24:12 GMT
Spotted Owl Adventure - Going Back to the Books https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/9/spotted-owl-adventure---Going-back-to-the-books Day 3 - Time to Sharpen the Focus

Ninety-two miles by car, three and half miles by foot, five hours of really tough work.

Last night I convinced Jill to accompany me into the hinterlands this morning to look for the Northern Spotted Owl (strix occidentalis caurina). The terrain that she graciously allowed me to guide her through turned out to be too steep, the canopy too open, and there were too many windfalls that seem to block our every-path. So when we pulled into a Five Guys Burgers and Fries for lunch, we did so without an ounce of guilt.

Our hard work did not go unrewarded, however, from a birding perspective. We enjoyed, what we thought was, a wide variety of avifauna given our location. Our list includes AMERICAN DIPPER, OSPREY, BELTED KINGFISHER, GRAY JAY, BAND-TAILED PIGEON, YELLOW WARBLER, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER, TOWSEND'S WARBLER, and one distant warbler that I tried unsuccessfully to turn into something special.  

Our most unusual observation was the affect the arrival the Gray Jay had on the mixed flock of warbler we were enjoying sorting through. Within seconds of the three jay's swooping into area - the warblers disappeared without a trace.  

We also took the opportunity today to practice 360 degree photography that we hope we will be able to use to document and share the attributes of the areas in which we locate our target species. Mouse-over the first photo below to activate the viewing menu:

A few photos of the warblers and jay:

The bird below is the one I tried to make into something special . . . 

I almost forgot - we did get another feather! 

[email protected] (jack williamson) An unusual mix of birds https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/9/spotted-owl-adventure---Going-back-to-the-books Sun, 07 Sep 2014 03:41:12 GMT
Seeing What You Want to See https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/9/seeing-what-you-want-to-see If you know anyone more guilty of regularly trying to turn an ordinary bird into something fantastic please introduce us.

I have received an opinion from someone that I consider a good authority that the bird I identified as a juvenile Northern Goshawk in my last post is actually a juvenile Sharp Shinned Hawk. 

Jill and I birded upstream from Camp Sherman yesterday and found a nice assortment of birds.  One American Dipper put on a show for us, calling constantly for about 20 minutes. They have a very beautiful voice. We waited and waited but its call was never returned. While standing on the second bridge upstream watching the dipper, we had a small flock of swift fly over.  The coloration of one caught our attention - I tried of course to turn it into a White-throated Swift. But its stubby body and thick, non-angular, wings are telling me that it's an oddly colored Vaux's Swift.

The majority of opinions we've received, however, are that we are looking at an albinistic swallow.

Of course that wasn't enough of a mystery for me for the day - so I tried to turn the Warbling Vireo pictured below into a the red-eyed version. At the end of the day, its pale lores are what convinced me that I was on a fools errand:

Just a few yards away we were treated to nice views of a Cassin's Vireo for comparison:

The last interesting bird for us was a Brown Creeper. It was interesting because we've never seen one that seemed to be looking around - we normally find them very focused on the crevices within the bark of the tree.

[email protected] (jack williamson) American Dipper Swallow Vireo https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/9/seeing-what-you-want-to-see Tue, 02 Sep 2014 17:05:24 GMT
Mt. Washington Wilderness https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/8/mt_washington_wilderness We spent a few hours this morning looking for birds at 5,000 ft. elevation east of Mt. Washington. Our off-trail, outdoor exploration began with cold, windy, and eerily quiet conditions. We were sure that we were going to strike out on birds. That is until we were startled by the alarm call of a NORTHERN GOSHAWK. Our first such experience in the field - I've played the tape for Jill so many times that we both recognized it immediately. The bad news is the range that we measured at 200 yards made it difficult to get a good photo of this hard to come by species. The good news is once the goshawk moved on, the area around us came alive with birds.  


The section of the ridge that we ultimately found ourselves on today provides beautiful unobstructed views north that are framed by Mt. Washington and Jefferson to the west and Green Ridge to the south. Given that the Green Ridge hawk watch station is located at about 4800 ft. elevation, I am wondering if this recently discovered little piece of paradise might be also be a good, or even great, (fall) hawk watch location. Since we like to write about birds, and the places we find them, we would normally share the specifics of our hike and encourage others to bird there if we had not observed a juvenile Northern Goshawk in the area.  

The status of NORTHERN GOSHAWK is under review by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The purpose of the 40 year review culminating in 2028, is to assemble information pertinent to the question of whether (listing) under the Endangered Species Act is warranted. The review area encompasses the six western states of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada, California and Oregon.

At the risk of inflaming sensitivities (again), I am asking myself aloud - how is it possible, in this day and age, that it remains legal to take a species for recreational pursuits such as falconry, when concern over its welfare mobilized a 40-year, six-state study.

Our day started here - if you recognize the location, keep it to yourself:

We hiked uphill into the clouds until the juvenile Northern Goshawk briefly interrupted our trek:

When we reached the top of our target ridge, we were rewarded with this view of the base of Mt. Washington:

Back to birds:

We hope you enjoyed this post. Please bird responsibly.

Literature Cited:

Northern Goshawk Status Review: June 1998. N.p.: n.p., 2000. Web.

[email protected] (jack williamson) Warblers https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/8/mt_washington_wilderness Mon, 01 Sep 2014 04:17:25 GMT
Spotted Owl Adventure - Off to a slow start https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/8/spotted-owl-adventure---off-to-a-slow-start Day 1 - The day from hell . . .

One hundred-thirteen miles by car, none by foot, three and a half hours of frustration.

As I was evaluating my options while standing in front of a gate across (what I thought was) a public road, two log trucks pulled up to the gate. The driver of the first truck kindly gave me directions to my destination that was free of private property restrictions. Unfortunately, his directions detailed a thirty-three mile detour to a destination that was just 3.9 miles from where I was standing.

When I turned toward my car, he asked "what's so important to you up there?" I said owls - he laughed and said "you don't want to repeat that to anyone else you meet up here". After I thanked him, he put his hand to his head and told me "be careful, that road is really heavy with trucks, we won't drive it in our rigs, and if they hit that (glancing at my car) they'll just keep on goin, and they ain't goin slow".

I was just seven miles into my detour before I turned around because of a too-close encounter with a fully loaded log truck racing downhill.

Lesson one, be very thoughtful when passing through areas where people are operating heavy equipment and are in a hurry to make a living.

On the way back down, I got the bright idea to explore another route that I remembered seeing on one of maps I was looking at the night before while enjoying a glass of wine.  

All hell broke-loose a few miles later as I approached another gate. My car was swarmed by a bunch of angry dogs. By angry, I mean frothing at the mouth angry. If they weren't slamming head-long into the driver's-side window, they were latching onto and wrenching against my tires as if they were trying bring down bull elk. It shook me up.

Lesson two, avoid alcohol while planning trips into unfamiliar areas.  

Jill didn't believe most of my account of this first day out until she overheard my telephone call with the sheriff's office about the (potentially illegal) gate and then the dogs. She is now convinced that I am convinced that what I experienced was real.  

The silver lining to the awful events of this first day is the website I found afterwards which shows public and private land ownership in Oregon. Below is a screen-shot of the state-level map. Blue and green areas are public lands:

It is possible to zoom in and click-on a precise tracts of land to get the ownership record:


Day 2 - Happy I got back on the horse . . .

One hundred-nine miles by car, 3.8 miles by foot, 7.5 hours of fun 

Having completed my first day in the field, I am relatively confident that I am going to need a heavy dose of good luck to find strix occidentalis caurina. 

I hoped I would be able to effectively cover two hundred acres per day. Not the 33.5 acre grid that my 3.8 miles over moderately-sloped terrain yielded today. I am imagining that if I get in better shape, and plan my routes more carefully, I might be able to cover 60 acres a day without hurrying. Which is not a lot of ground when you learn the home range of spotted owls living in the cascades is reported to be about 3,000 acres.  

The good news is that the preferred habitat of these owls is really very beautiful. Large trees, near water, providing a dense canopy overhead and open space underneath. I think the trick, if there is one, is to locate suitable nest trees. Which are big trees with deformities like broken-tops or cavities. Spotted Owls do not build their own nests, they depend on naturally occurring nest sites or nests built by other animals.

I will be very happy if I get to have lunch near a stream like this everyday:

I  did locate one large tree with lots of whitewash at its base, and one very small downy feather (along a nearby stream) that I hope turns out to be a good clue.


Other posts in this series:

Spotted Owl Adventure - Introduction

[email protected] (jack williamson) Spotted Owl Habitat https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/8/spotted-owl-adventure---off-to-a-slow-start Sun, 24 Aug 2014 19:22:23 GMT
Spotted Owl Adventure - Introduction https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/8/spotted-owl-chase--introduction

This is the first of a series of posts related to our quest to locate and photograph Spotted Owls (strix occidentalis) in Oregon. Given the Spotted Owl is one of the most well-studied species of birds on earth, you would think this effort would amount to not much more than reading, driving, hiking, filming, and finally posting. To which we say - we hope you're right. Because, at this juncture, we have no idea how this is going to turn out. 

It is our sincere wish that you enjoy following this effort; despite the pain that will you will undoubtedly suffer as a witness to the blunders we will make along the way.

We examined several sets of historical data, and then we created maps of a couple of areas we thought we would enjoy visiting.

The first of an area in the cascades:

The other, in the coast range:

At this point, our focus shifted to the logistics of our visits. We'll need to get a couple of trips under our belt before we will have a realistic idea of the number of areas that we can effectively search each day.

To the question of whether, or not, we've lost our minds and are setting out to contravene the ABA's code of ethics, if we've not already done so by this first post. We say (obviously), that we think we are acting responsibly.

My position on the matter of whether or not we are acting responsibly, boils down to just a couple of points. First, I argue that there is no information in this post about the exact location of any recorded detection of Spotted Owl.

Secondly, we strictly adhere to a number of precautions to minimize the disturbance of rare or threatened nesting species. These precautions include: (a) limiting the number of visits to confirmed nest sites, (b) establishing entry and egress routes to observation points of such sites at the earliest date possible (preferably before nest occupation) that maintain the maximum separation distance attainable between each observation point and the corresponding nest site, (c) refraining from the use of auditory stimulus at all times, (d) publishing a summary of our observations only after departure of young from natal nesting sites, and (e) limiting the distribution of our contemporaneous records to those (biologists, land managers, policy makers, and members of the public) with an established interest in the conservation strategies for the species.

Lastly, I feel that if our success motivates just one person to get outdoors and experience nature, then we've done a good thing . . . . . . 

We look forward to your comments, both public and private.

The next post in this series:

Spotted Owl Adventure - Off to a slow start

[email protected] (jack williamson) Spotted Owl https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/8/spotted-owl-chase--introduction Thu, 21 Aug 2014 04:18:03 GMT
Siltcoos Estuary Snowy Plover August 2014 https://www.jack-n-jill.net/blog/2014/8/siltcoos-estuary-snowy-plover-august-2014 We enjoyed two fabulous hours watching the Snowy Plover from the edge of their protected nesting habitat along the north spit of the Siltcoos River, south of Florence, Oregon. All twenty-one of the plover we observed were found, at low tide, along the wrack line.  Jill and I had the place to ourselves which was great because we're able to sit and photograph the birds without drawing the attention of beach combers or otherwise interfering with the plover's activities.  

The map below illustrates our approximation of the tract that the U.S. Forest Service currently has roped-off to support the plover's reproductive efforts; a territory whose area we estimate to be 15 acres. The picture of the sign below our map warning persons of the penalties levied against those breaching the boundary should be taken at face value, and not trifled with.

If you go, the best viewing time is in the morning before the wind picks up. Ideally that will also be at low tide which provides lots of room to roam about without disturbing the birds hanging out along the wrack line.

Published research indicates that human activity of any kind within 30 meters (100 feet) of plover will be disruptive. We found, however, that the birds would sometimes "alert" to our approach as early as 200 feet. By "alert" we mean the plover would turn they're back to us while (seeming) to decide whether, or not, to flee.  

Snowy Plover:

The pacific coast population of Snowy Plover is federally listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission listed the species as threatened in 1975, a status that was reaffirmed under the Oregon Endangered Species Act of 1989. As of June 2012, there were thirteen (Snowy Plover) critical habitat units identified and protected in Oregon.

The goal of the federal recovery plan is to grow the number of adult (breeding) Snowy Plover on the pacific coast of the U.S. from approximately 2,000 individuals today, to a self-sustaining population of 3,000. To reach that goal, Oregon and Washington are tasked with maintaining a population of 250 breeding adults. When you think about this species habitat requirements compared to the combined length of the Oregon & Washington coast lines of 453 miles - it's obvious that the (geographic) reproductive needs of this species is small, but very specific. Facts we hope you keep in mind if you find yourself (by plan or happenstance) approaching one of the protected breeding areas of one of the cutest birds on earth whose average life span is just 2.7 years.