Spring migration has come and gone, and many birders agree that it was a dud. Numbers and diversity seemed quite low in the Portland area this spring. So now we concentrate on the summer residents, like this Black-headed Grosbeak.
Most Golden-crowned Sparrows are gone by late May, so this bird found on June 2 was noteworthy.
At Tualatin River NWR, this Lazuli Bunting was singing in the same patch of Nootka Rose that has hosted them in previous years.
Tualatin River NWR is hosting at least two pairs of Blue-winged Teal this summer.
Purple Martins at Fernhill Wetlands
Bewick’s Wren are usually working heavy cover, so it was a treat to find this one dust bathing in the middle of a gravel road.
Hooded Merganser preening at Fernhill Wetlands
This Gadwall is already starting to molt into his dull summer alternate plumage. I often refer to late summer as Ugly Duck Season. It seems a little early for ducks to be losing their sharp breeding colors.
Now is the time to seek out local nesters. It will only be about four weeks before southbound shorebird migration starts up. I hope the autumn migration is a little more eventful than this spring was.
The long hiking trail at Tualatin River NWR is open, and this refuge always offers some good birding in the spring and early summer. A pair of Blue-winged Teal was in the southwest pond.
As is typical for this species, this Hutton’s Vireo stayed back in heavy cover.
It is really hard to shoot a Brewer’s Blackbird against the sky without ending up with just a silhouette, but I keep trying.
Long-billed Dowitcher was the most common shorebird on this visit. It is nice to see them in full breeding plumage.
The best bird of the trip was this Pectoral Sandpiper. Pectorals are regular autumn migrants in this area, but are very rare in spring.
Summer is settling in at Fernhill Wetlands. The birds that are here now are probably nesting. Always a treat this far west is this handsome Blue-winged Teal. I hope he has a mate sitting on eggs somewhere.
Just as lovely, and more expected here, is this Cinnamon Teal. A friend refers to them as “spicy.”
All the migrant shorebirds are gone, so we can stop to enjoy the resident Killdeer.
I have been spending more time around the back side of Dabblers Marsh at Fernhill. The wooded habitat attracts more songbirds, like this Cedar Waxwing.
Purple Martins have reclaimed their nest boxes by the lake.
This Great Egret was hanging out close to the main trail. They are often farther out in the marsh.
I have seen California Ground Squirrels here in the past, but this is the first I have seen since the major renovations. I am glad to see this species is still using the site.
This Long-toed Salamander was my only herp of the day. If you look at the back feet, you can see the extra long fourth toe that gives this species its name.
Nesting season continues to progress. While some songbirds have already fledged a batch of babies, other species are just getting under way. This Pied-billed Grebe was sitting on a nest at Commonwealth Lake.
Blue-winged Teal can be hard to find in the Willamette Valley at any time, so it was nice to see a pair at Fernhill Wetlands.
female Blue-winged Teal
Eurasian Collared-Doves continue to expand their range and numbers in Oregon. It wasn’t all that long ago that these birds were first found in the state, or maybe I am just old. This bird was singing at Fernhill.
Song Sparrow at Fernhill, living up to his name
A few Purple Martins have returned to the nest boxes at Fernhill. They are still a treat to see here.
While most of the Tundra Swans that winter in Oregon left for the breeding grounds long ago, this individual continues to hang out at Fernhill. A few observers have reported this bird as a Trumpeter Swan, but the straight feathering across the forehead (as opposed to the widow’s peak on a Trumpeter) is consistent with Tundra.
I walked around Jackson Bottom in Hillsboro this morning. As you would expect at this time of year, there were lots of young birds around. This young Savannah Sparrow posed nicely. His parents have not taught him to skulk in the weeds yet.
The best bird of the day was this male Blue-winged Teal (right foreground), always hard to find in the Willamette Valley. He flew in with a small flock of Cinnamon Teal.
Families of young Mallards were everywhere.
These Canada Geese are mostly grown, but retain a bit of their cute fuzziness.
I was surprised by the lack of migrant shorebirds. The resident Spotted Sandpipers were well represented.
Lots of Nutria were out this morning. Yes, introduced species often wreak havoc on native ecosystems, AND, Nutria look like adorable little bears.
Just north of the little town of Plush, OR, is Hart Bar, a small interpretive site at the southern end of the Warner Wetlands Area of Critical Environmental Concern (Birding Oregon p. 21). A short trail leads through the marsh, providing views of shorebirds and waterfowl. The parking area has a primitive toilet and several interpretive signs. On the day of my recent visit, the wind was quite strong, making it difficult to hold optics steady but also protecting me from the clouds of mosquitoes that can be a problem here.
White-faced Ibis feed in the grassy areas near the water. I think the tall grasses provided them with shelter from the wind.
American Avocets and Black-necked Stilts are two common nesting species in this area. Willets are also common, but proved to be a little shy.
Blue-winged Teal is always a good find in Oregon. Gadwall and Cinnamon Teal are more plentiful here.
Yellow-headed Blackbirds share the marsh with Brewer’s Blackbirds.
There are gravel roads running through the Warner Valley. But Hart Bar is easily accessed from paved Hogback Road, and provides a nice variety of wetland species. It is definitely worth a stop on your way to Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge.
Migration has wound down by now, and the summer breeders are out in force. Here are a few birds I found on Sauvie Island this morning.
Savannah Sparrows can be heard at the edges of all the pastures.
This Bald Eagle hovered over me, scolding the whole time. That behavior is more typical of Red-winged Blackbirds. I thought the eagles would be done nesting by now, but apparently they still have young in the nest.
Blue-winged Teal, uncommon in the Willamette Valley
Cinnamon Teal, common, but always a delight
hungry Barn Swallow chicks