Rentenaar Road, Sauvie Island

white-throated sparrowRentenaar Road, on Sauvie Island, is one of the better sparrow patches in the Portland area. I found ten species this morning, about typical for this time of year. This boldly patterned White-throated Sparrow was one of the prettier ones.

dark-eyed juncoDark-eyed Junco

golden-crowned sparrowGolden-crowned Sparrows are the most common sparrows along this stretch of road.

lincoln's sparrowLincoln’s Sparrow, one of my favorites and one of the hardest to photograph

song sparrowSong Sparrow

white-crowned sparrowWhite-crowned Sparrow

spotted towheeSpotted Towhee with two Golden-crowned Sparrows

harris's frontThe rarest bird of the day was this Harris’s Sparrow. This is the third winter in a row that a Harris’s (perhaps the same bird) has been wintering at this location.

harris's and golden-crownedHarris’s Sparrow with Golden-crowns

harris's and white-crownedHarris’s with White-crowned

harris's and white-throatedand finally, the Harris’s with a tan-morph White-throated Sparrow in the background. It’s nice that this visitor from the Great Plains gets along with everyone.

robinWhile certainly not a sparrow, this American Robin was just begging to be photographed, so here you go.

Sparrowpalooza

I spent the morning in Scappoose, OR, this morning looking for a Brambling that was seen about a week ago. I didn’t have any luck with the Brambling, but it was great fun watching the variety of sparrows that were feeding in the area. Winter brings great flocks of sparrows to the Portland area. I saw the eight species pictured below, all within a few minutes, while sitting at the edge of the trail.


Dark-eyed Junco


Song Sparrow


Lincoln’s Sparrows are among the most beautiful sparrows in North America, but are also rather shy, so they tend to stay out of range of point-and-shoot photography.


Lincoln’s Sparrow, with a Song Sparrow in the background


Fox Sparrows tend to lurk in the thicker cover.


He finally emerged for some millet.


White-crowned Sparrow


White-crowned Sparrow, first winter


Golden-crowned Sparrow


White-throated Sparrow, with a Golden-crowned in the background


Spotted Towhee

Lincoln’s Sparrow


I was headed to the coast early last Friday when I heard on the radio that the area was under a tsunami warning. While a true hard-core birder might have continued on, I decided to turn around and ended up walking parts of Sauvie Island instead. This Lincoln’s Sparrow was preening in a blackberry thicket along Rentenaar Road (Birding Oregon p.57). The dark spot and line on the bird’s breast are a result of the feathers being fluffed out.

This stretch of dirt road is one of the spots we will visit for my upcoming Little Brown Birds class for The Audubon Society of Portland. The Saturday field trip is full, but a few spaces remain on the Friday trip. For information, go to  http://audubonportland.org/trips-classes-camps/adult/classes/lbbs2011.

Torn between two seasons

Since the March-like weather has continued into mid-May, we are seeing an interesting mix of species in the Willamette Valley. Even as spring migration kicks into high gear, with a major push of Western Tanagers joining the expected warblers and flycatchers, a few winter residents, like the flock of Pine Siskins, are still hanging around. Two Lincoln’s Sparrows spent a couple of days under my feeder last week, and a Golden-crowned Sparrow is still visiting. Some have suggested that the heavy snows in the mountains this year are keeping birds in the valley a little later than usual. Meanwhile, the young American Robins and House Finches have already fledged.


Lincoln’s Sparrow, one of my favorites

Just for fun, you get extra points if you can name the insipid song from the mid-1970s that inspired the title of this post.