We are in that late winter season when birding seems to slow. I don’t know whether there are actually fewer birds around this time of year or we have just already seen the local winter residents so they don’t hold our attention. In any case, the best birding is usually found in and around wetlands. Here are some recent shots from area wetlands from the past couple of weeks.
On a recent trip to Fernhill Wetlands (Birding Oregon p. 61), I watched this Yellow-rumped Warbler feeding over the water. The air temperature was below freezing, so I believed the bird was searching for insects in the slightly warmer zone near the water’s surface. This theory was challenged on the other side of the lake when the bird was seen foraging on the shoreline, and then on the ice itself. Yellow-rumps are known to feed on arthropods and fruit in the winter, so I can only assume there were some small insects on the surface of the ice.
Yellow-rumped Warbler on the rocks.
Yellow-rumped Warbler on ice. This individual is a member of Audubon’s race of Yellow-rumped Warbler (eye crescents, buffy throat). The Myrtle race also occurs in Oregon in winter, but reportedly seldom feeds on the ground.
I haven’t been out much lately, a situation I hope to remedy this week. In the meantime, here are a few images from around home.
We have had no measurable rain in the past month or so, so the birdbath has been a little more popular than usual.
It is unusual for me to see Chestnut-backs at my house during summer, as we don’t have the larger conifers that they prefer for nesting. This bird might just be a product of post-breeding dispersal, or might be ranging farther to find water.
I noticed an Anna’s Hummingbird checking out the cedar tree near the bird feeder. A closer look revealed this brown lump near the trunk.
Migration is winding down and the summer residents are back in force at the Sandy River Delta. Specialty species such as Eastern Kingbird and Yellow-breasted Chat put in appearances, but were not photogenic.
This male Brown-headed Cowbird was wooing a female. Cowbirds don’t really form pairs. The males display, sometimes in groups, to attract a female. After mating, the two go their separate ways. Since the female deposits her eggs in the nests of other species, there is no need for the male to stick around to help.
I took advantage of the dry weather to scout Sauvie Island (Birding Oregon p. 55) for my Little Brown Birds field trip.
We just had our wettest March on record, so water levels are high. This is the view from the end of Rentenaar Road. The white speck on the lake is an American White Pelican. White Pelicans have become increasing common on Sauvie Island in recent summers, but sightings this early in the year are unusual.
Last summer I posted about Lesser Goldfinches eating the chard in my garden. This week I saw one of the many visiting Pine Siskins doing the same thing.
This makes the third species out of the four in the genus Spinus that have eaten chard in my garden. Maybe a Lawrence’s Goldfinch will show up one day and make it a clean sweep.
I spent more time working on an article about birds this week than I did actually birding, so I had to get my birding fix by looking out the window. Cloudy skies and dirty windows aren’t the best conditions for viewing, but it is better than nothing.
Westmoreland Park (Birding Oregon p. 69) is one of Portland’s premier loafing spots for gulls and waterfowl in autumn and winter. The city is planning to restore the natural flow of the creek in what is now an urban duck pond, so it will be interesting to see how these changes will affect bird use over time.
This female Surf Scoter has been hanging out for about a week. She is apparently finding enough mollusks to eat in this muddy pond. A few of these sea ducks are found on the Columbia River and on larger bodies of water in winter, but they are unexpected on such a small pond.
On Saturday I went on another excellent pelagic trip out of Newport with Greg Gillson and his band of wonderful guides. The weather was cool, windy, and foggy. Seas were very rough, so many cookies were tossed and chunder was blown among my fellow birders. But thanks to Bonine, my stomach survived the trip unscathed. Rough seas made photography very challenging, but here are a few images from the day.
A pair of Lesser Goldfinches (female above) has been visiting the garden lately to feed on rainbow chard. Goldfinches eat a lot of foliage, in addition to seeds and buds. This vegetarian diet makes goldfinches poor hosts to cowbirds, whose young require plenty of insect protein to grow and thrive.