Waterfowl Class

I led my waterfowl class on a field trip to Sauvie Island and Dawson Creek. We had a few big misses (Gadwall and Wood Duck) but the diversity was pretty good.

mixed flockAt Wapato Access Greenway we found some Dusky Canada Geese along with the American Wigeons and Northern Pintails.

coyoteThis Coyote was munching on a vole.

swansTundra Swan was one of the most common species of the day.

lincoln's sparrowThis Lincoln’s Sparrow was very cooperative, posing out in the open for great scope views. But even then he blended in amazingly well with his surroundings.

cootsYou don’t get to see American Coots in flight very often, as they tend to walk or swim wherever they go. They have even been reported to migrate on foot.

canvasbackCanvasback, looking very regal
canvasback bathSame bird, looking not quite so regal

wigeon pair 1American Wigeon pair, Dawson Creek

buffleheadBufflehead, preparing to dive

cackler 1Ridgeway’s Cackling Goose

Westmoreland Park

Westmoreland Park, in southeast Portland, is always worth a quick visit in winter.

canvasbackThis Canvasback has a mud on her face from rooting around in the bottom of the pond.

canvasback scratching

lesser scaupLesser Scaup

eurasian wigeon2At least two female Eurasian Wigeons have been spending the winter at Westmoreland. No males have been reported yet this year.

herring gullThis park is one of best gull sites in Portland, although by this time the gull flock is starting to thin out. This is a sleepy Herring Gull.

taverner's cackling gooseWestmoreland is also a good spot for studying the various subspecies of the white-cheeked goose complex. This is a Taverner’s Cackling Goose, identified by her medium bill (covered in down for some reason), blocky head, and pale breast.

ridgeway's cackling goose leftRidgeway’s Cacking Goose (stubby bill, round head, dark breast)

canada goose 1Western Canada Geese have long snakey necks, long bills, and pale breasts. While common in Cackling Geese, it is unusual to see such a distinct white neck ring on a Western Canada.

western canada goose bathingWestern Canada Goose bathing

Ankeny NWR 2/23/12

I birded Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in preparation for my waterfowl class. Waterfowl numbers have dropped considerably in the past week, suggesting that some birds have already started their northward migration.

Pintail Marsh


Pintail Marsh hosted this small flock of Tundra Swans and Dusky Canada Geese. Protecting winter habitat for the rare Duskies was the main reason for establishing the Willamette Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex.


Most of the wintering geese were grazing in fields surrounding the marshes. The flock consists mostly of Taverner’s Cackling and Ridgeway’s Cackling Geese.


These very alert Northern Pintails seemed to be keeping watch over the nearby Green-winged Teals and American Wigeons.


Ankeny has two boardwalks that provide access to flooded woodland habitat. This is the Rail Trail.


This Brown Creeper was probing patches of moss on the tree trunk.


If you look closely you can see he is holding a tiny organism in his bill.

Westmoreland Park

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.


The main pond, with a few hundred Cackling Geese


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.


She spent a lot of time feeding under water.


Westmoreland is one of the easier places to find a cooperative Thayer’s Gull.


Ridgeway’s Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii minima) is the most common of the “white-cheeked” geese in the Willamette Valley in winter.


The Cackling Geese graze in the lawns at Westmoreland, but are more cautious than some of the other waterfowl.


Taverner’s Cackling Goose (B. h. taverneri) in the foreground, with a Ridgeway’s Cackling Goose in the background


Taverner’s Cackling, with another Ridgeway’s Cackling in the background


This Rock Pigeon was enjoying a bath at the pond’s edge.