Mount Hood

At least once a year I like to visit the moonscape that is Mount Hood above Timberline Lodge. The birding there is hit or miss, sometimes yielding great spectacles like a flock of 200 Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches, and sometimes offering little besides a distant Common Raven. This trip was somewhere in between.

Every trip to the mountain results in at least one photo of a Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel. Yes, we see them every time, but their cuteness knows no bounds.

Mountain Bluebirds are expected here in the warmer months.

Townsend’s Solitaires are a little harder to come by, but are usually around in small numbers.

The sun at this elevation is pretty intense, making even this Common Raven glisten.

Another bird on a stick; Red-tailed Hawk. I hope to see migrating raptors when I visit Timberline in autumn. There wasn’t much movement on this day, but I did see several Red-tails, a Prairie Falcon, and at least one Sharp-shinned Hawk.

California Tortoiseshells were present in good numbers. I don’t know what they were eating, as all the blossoms had long since dried up.

So ends another visit to Timberline. While the birding varies, it is always fun to explore this part of the mountain.

Powell Butte

I hadn’t been to Powell Butte Nature Park in east Portland since they finished renovations. They had been working on one of the water system reservoirs and have added more parking, a visitor center, and new trail markers and maps. The targets of this visit were several Mountain Bluebirds that had been hanging out for a while.

mt bluebirdI found a male and two three females, all of whom kept their distance.

yellow-rumpedThere was a big wave of Yellow-rumped Warblers in the park. All that I got a good look at were Audubon’s race, and most were male.

say'sAnother regional rarity that has been hanging out at Powell Butte is this Say’s Phoebe. This bird was active and vocal, but also kept his distance.

kestrelThe open meadows are attractive to Northern Harriers (not photogenic) and American Kestrels (slightly more cooperative). The raptors can make it harder to study the grassland songbirds, but this site is still very productive. There was one singing Savannah Sparrow while I was there. In a few weeks, that bird will be joined by more Savannahs and Lazuli Buntings.

Rocky Mountain National Park

sunriseI spent a recent morning in Rocky Mountain National Park. We arrived before sunrise, so we got to watch the sun come up from high elevation. Note the Common Raven in the center of the frame.

tundraMy main target of this trip was White-tailed Ptarmigan. But despite walking through some lovely tundra, with scattered rocks and stunted pines, I dipped on this species again. Sing it with me: I am a rock….I’m not a ptarrrrrrrrr-ar-miiii-gan.

mountain bluebird 2I did manage to find a few birds, including this Mountain Bluebird.

elk bull 1I think we saw more individual elk than all other birds and mammals combined. Here is an assortment of some of them.
elk herdelk cow 1elk treeelk woodselk spike bull

Timberline Lodge


Timberline Lodge (Birding Oregon p. 74) is a great place to for some high-elevation birding in the Cascades. A good paved road leads right up to the treeline, and you can access the Pacific Crest Trail just uphill from the lodge. The parking lot is often full of tourists and skiers, even in late summer. But if you are willing to walk for a while, you can enjoy solitude and stunning scenery.


Cassin’s Finch


Brewer’s Blackbirds are common residents of parking lots in the Portland area, but it is nice to see them in a more natural setting here.


This female Brewer’s Blackbird is one of the small percentage of the population with pale eyes.


Mountain Bluebird, male


Mountain Bluebird, female


This pair of Mountain Bluebirds had built a nest in a gap under the eave of a small building above the lodge.


Lots of these little butterflies were feeding on the scattered wildflowers. My best guess is Acmon Blue.


The highlight of my long oxygen-deprived hike uphill from Timberline Lodge was this Yellow-bellied Marmot. He looks very regal in this pose.

Sitting in Seattle

Marsha was working a table at the Seattle Greenfest last weekend, so I braved the traffic and found my way to Discovery Park. I walked out to the lighthouse and just sat on the shore of Puget Sound for a while. As a birder, I need to spend a lot more time sitting. Most of us are constantly moving, looking for the next good bird. But if you just sit in one place, good birds will often come to you. Out on the water were a big flock of Western Grebes, Horned Grebes, Ruddy Ducks, Harlequin Ducks, and a pair of Rhinoceros Auklets. These birds were out of camera range, but several species came in for closer scrutiny.


A flock of Black Brant were working the shoreline.


This Mountain Bluebird seemed a little out of place on the beach.


This crow found and ate a small crab. A little over a century ago, a crow on the coast of Puget Sound would have been assumed to be a Northwestern Crow. But when the forests were cleared, American Crows were able to colonize this area. So now, the crows around Seattle are presumed to be American or hybrids.


Mew Gull. Note the thin bill and large white mirrors on P1 and P2.


Red-necked Grebe