I led a couple of tours for the Birding and Blues Festival last weekend. The weather was dry and reasonably warm, despite rather vicious afternoon winds on the beach.
North winds brought good numbers of migrating shorebirds close to land. Shorebirds often bypass Oregon beaches on their way to Grays Harbor in Washington, so it was nice to find a big flock feeding right across from our hotel.
Nala and I spent the morning at the Sandy River Delta east of Portland. Bird activity is definitely picking up, although many of the summer residents haven’t arrived yet.
I made an early morning trip to the Sandy River Delta. This late in the summer, with the weather being so hot, most bird song is limited to the hour or so around dawn. This Willow Flycatcher was singing right at sunrise.
I took my Little Brown Birds class to Sauvie Island. A walk along the length of Rentenaar Road is always good for sparrows.
We found at least four White-throated Sparrows. This species was considered quite rare in Oregon ten years ago, but seem to be increasingly common in winter.
This individual is an example of the “white striped” form of White-throated Sparrow.
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.
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.
Autumn brings an influx of sparrows to the Willamette Valley. Like many groups of birds, the sparrows aren’t that hard to identify, they are just hard to get a good look at.
I am revving up for my Little Brown Birds class next month, so I spent some time with the sparrow flocks on Sauvie Island (Birding Oregon p.57). A walk down Rentenaar Road revealed five species, three of which sat still long enough to be photographed.
White-crowned Sparrows stand out with their bold head pattern.
Immature White-crowned Sparrows have the same pattern as the adults, but in brown and buff instead of black and white.
Two Golden-crowned Sparrows, immature on the left, adult on the right
This Song Sparrow was feeding right at my feet, but insisted on staying in my shadow, thus messing up the lighting in the photo.
This Peregrine Falcon wasn’t much of a threat to the sparrows, but he did make the shorebirds and waterfowl nervous.