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.
One of the more interesting birds of the day was this leucistic Golden-crowned Sparrow. He was a uniform buffy gray with a splash of yellow on the crown.
There are still large flocks of Snow Geese on the island.
Sandhill Cranes are always a treat.
I have spent very little time outdoors this month, but here are a few nice birds from the past few weeks.
This Yellow-rumped Warbler was displaying his namesake near Ankeny NWR.
Northern Shrike, also at Ankeny.
This Lewis’s Woodpecker has spent the winter near Ankeny. It is unusual to find them west of the Cascade Crest. You have to love a green woodpecker with a red belly.
Portland’s recent “Snowpocalypse” was not appreciated by the local Anna’s Hummingbirds.
This White-throated Sparrow has spent much of the winter on our property, but I haven’t seen him since the big snow melted.
Mourning Dove at the feeder
This Downy Woodpecker has made several visits to the dead cedar outside our living room window.
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.
Harris’s Sparrow with Golden-crowned Sparrows
A sparrow mix of White-crowned, Golden-crowned, and Song Sparrow, along with a Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird, surrounded by Golden-crowned Sparrows and a White-crowned in the background
One of four White-throated Sparrows that came to our seed slick
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.
Golden-crowned Sparrows are the most common sparrows along this stretch of road.
Lincoln’s Sparrow, one of my favorites and one of the hardest to photograph
Spotted Towhee with two Golden-crowned Sparrows
The 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 Sparrow with Golden-crowns
Harris’s with White-crowned
and 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.
While certainly not a sparrow, this American Robin was just begging to be photographed, so here you go.
After the wettest March on record, April has provided a few sunny days to help awaken us from our rain-induced torpor.
I made a quick trip out to Fernhill Wetlands to look for the Swamp Sparrow that has been reported there. Between the sunbreaks, I still had to dodge a few passing squalls.
I missed the Swamp Sparrow, but this Song Sparrow was very cooperative.
Here is the same Song Sparrow in a little more natural setting, if you consider invasive Reed Canary Grass to be natural.
Much of the loop around Fernhill Wetlands has been blocked off, supposedly to reduce disturbance to the new Bald Eagle nest.
A pair of eagles has been hanging out in this little grove of cottonwoods for years, so I would imagine they are used to birders and joggers going by, but better safe than sorry.
The Yellow-rumped Warblers have molted into their flashy breeding plumage. This one is an example of the “myrtle” race.
On Saturday I took some clients out to Sauvie Island for a morning of birding. This view of Mt. St. Helens is from the west end of Rentenaar Road.
Sandhill Cranes, seen here with a flock of Cackling Geese, were common in the morning. But as the day progressed, many birds circled up on thermals and then headed north. By noon, most of the cranes were gone.
Most of the sparrows seen just a week earlier had moved on. Two White-throated Sparrows were a treat. Singing Orange-crowned Warblers and five species of swallows were other good signs that migration is stepping up. I’m looking forward to the next sunny day.
I took advantage of the dry weather to scout Sauvie Island (Birding Oregon p. 55) for my Little Brown Birds field trip.
Sandhill Cranes are still present in good numbers.
The Osprey nest along Rentenaar Road is occupied again.
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.
Here is the same bird coming in to land.
I take my LBB class to Sauvie for the abundance of sparrows. (We ended up with ten species of sparrow on our trip.) Here is a White-throated Sparrow, one of the rarer species in our area.
This Fox Sparrow was bathing in a puddle.
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.
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, first winter
White-throated Sparrow, with a Golden-crowned in the background
I spent just over a week along the coast of Maine, visiting sites between Ellsworth and Cutler. It is always fun to get reacquainted with eastern bird species and to hike in the boreal forest.
I saw 14 species of warblers on this trip. The vast majority of birds I saw were male, presumably because the females were on nests. Their small size, active habits, and dense habitat take them beyond the realm of point-and-shoot photography, but I managed to capture useuable images of two species. Black-throated Green Warblers were by far the most common species.
This Spruce Grouse was at Petit Manan NWR. She had several downy chicks with her. The chicks are actually capable of flight, and flew into dense cover when startled. The adult remained on foot, keeping an eye on me and making contact calls to keep her brood together.
Hermit Thrush, calling with a bill full of food for nestlings.
Red Squirrels were common and noisy in wooded areas.
This White-tailed Deer fawn was well-hidden in the woods. I only located her because she got up to take a stretch just as I was looking in that direction.
This Eastern Garter spent much of the day basking beneath a compost bin.
Rugged shoreline near Cutler.