Young Spotted Towhees have been showing up at the feeder. It is always fun to see them, as they look so different from their parents. This plumage can be confusing to those unfamiliar with it, but there are clues to the bird’s identity, other than the parents that are usually nearby.
Despite the overall dark coloring, they still show spots on their wing coverts, like their parents. By the time they leave the nest, they possess the large size and long tail of the adults. Like most fledgelings, the young towhees show yellow at the gape (corner of the mouth).
I took my Little Brown Birds class to Sauvie Island. The sparrow flock along Rentenaar Road is thinning out, but all the expected species are still there. For the third year in a row, the star of the day was a Harris’s Sparrow. There is a White-throated and a Golden-crowned Sparrow in the background.
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.
Rentenaar 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.
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.
The birds have been taking advantage of occasional breaks in the rain lately to stock up on sunflower seeds.
While scouting for my little brown birds class I found these three posing on a fence rail. I had just filled the feeder at the Oak Island unit of Sauvie Island Wildlife Area, and the birds were appearing out of the cold fog to take advantage of the free food. From left to right are a Spotted Towhee, a Golden-crowned Sparrow (winter plumage), and another Golden-crowned (closer to breeding plumage). The foggy conditions made photographing birds (or even seeing them for that matter) very difficult. I had to boost the contrast of this photo to bring the birds out of the haze.