Northwest Portland Wetlands

I went out to Smith and Bybee Wetlands and Vanport Wetlands to check for migrants. The Smith and Bybee area was pretty slow. Water levels were high so some of the trails were inaccessible. Vanport had some really interesting birds, including several Redheads and Yellow-headed Blackbirds, both hard to find in the Portland area.

The small colony of Cliff Swallows at Smith and Bybee was active with nest building.

This House Sparrow had moved into an old Cliff Swallow nest.

American Bullfrogs were enjoying the spring weather.

Brush Rabbit scratching an itch

At Vanport, most birds were pretty far away, like this Yellow-headed Blackbird. His song was easily heard, even from across the lake.

This Ruddy Duck was doing his motorboat impression to impress the ladies.

This Cooper’s Hawk was atop a tall tree overlooking the racetrack. The loud engines did not seem to bother him. I can’t say the same for me.

A few birds, like this Cedar Waxwing, were down in the small trees along the near shore of the lake.

Bullock’s Orioles are often obscured by foliage in the treetops. This individual was low enough for a brief glimpse among the blossoms.

Sauvie Island

IMG_8515I went to Sauvie Island to scout areas for my Little Brown Birds class next week. The huge flocks of waterfowl that spend the winter there have dwindled, but there are still a lot of birds around. This White-crowned Sparrow was enjoying a dust bath on the first dry sunny day we have had in a long time.

IMG_8513Golden-crowned Sparrows are still the most common species in the sparrow patches.

IMG_8520Song Sparrows are not as numerous, but are very vocal right now.

IMG_8505Raptors are still thick out at Sauvie. This Cooper’s Hawk did not make it any easier to find sparrows.

IMG_8507One of many Bald Eagles seen that day.

IMG_8530Red-tailed Hawk, scoping out the surrounding fields for rodents

IMG_8523A distant Greater Yellowlegs. It is a little early for shorebirds, but their migration should be picking up in the next few weeks.

IMG_8503There were Raccoon tracks all along Rentenaar Road.

Sandhill Cranes, Tundra Swans, and Cackling Geese are still present in good numbers, but spring migration should bring big changes soon.

Mt. Rainier NP

rainierWe made our first visit to Mt. Rainier NP in Washington last week. This park is an easy drive from Portland. I like getting above the tree line to the alpine meadows, seen here, but the park has large areas of forest, as well. The bird and mammal diversity was good on this trip, although the numbers of individuals were not as large as you usually find in parks such as Glacier or Yellowstone.

dipperThis American Dipper was swimming in one of the rivers; not very photogenic, but interesting behavior. The forested areas were too dark for bird photos, but Gray Jays, Varied Thrushes, and Red Crossbills were common.

cooper's hawkMost of the birds in the alpine habitats were fast fly-bys. I did manage this photo of a young Cooper’s Hawk. The Prairie Falcon that was hunting the ridge was way too fast. I was hoping for White-tailed Ptarmigan on this trip, but perhaps the abundance of raptors was keeping that species out of sight.

bear 1This Black Bear spent many hours feeding on vegetation along one of the trails. We kept a respectful distance, unlike many other park visitors. The bear didn’t seem too concerned with his fans. He did get a little nervous when a couple was taking selfies with him.

chipmunkYellow-pine Chipmunks are common in the meadows.

meadowAnother view of the mountain. I definitely want to explore more of this area.

Boulder Birds

Here are a few birds I saw on a recent trip to Boulder, CO. There was nothing unusual, but there is always something to see.

cooper's 1This young Cooper’s Hawk was amazingly tame.

oriole 2Bullock’s Oriole

pelicansAmerican White Pelicans

nuthatch 1White-breasted Nuthatch. Despite the proximity to the Rocky Mountains, this individual appears to be of the eastern race (Carolina Nuthatch).

blue jayI heard a lot of Blue Jays, but this is the only individual that I got a look at.

rabbit 1Rabbits are everywhere around Boulder. I think this is an Eastern Cottontail.

Youngsters

Two species have brought fledglings around recently. Both were visiting bird feeders, but for different reasons.

lesserThis Lesser Goldfinch was eating the dead needles from a cedar tree near the feeder. The fluffy “horns” and general clumsiness reveal the bird as a youngster.

cooper's hawk A Cooper’s Hawk with two young visited my neighbor’s feeder the other evening. Low light conditions only allowed this photo of one of the babies. They were constantly screaming and crashing through the branches, so I don’t think their hunting trip was successful.