I think we had more snow in April than we did in December. It has been cold and wet most of the month, and while I am very grateful for the rain and the added mountain snowpack, the weather has seemed to delay the onset of spring. Migrants have been few, and resident species a just starting to get revved up for the season. This Pacific Wren was trying out his song at Tualatin River NWR.
The Townsend’s Chipmunks are out and about. I think the two lumps in this one’s ear are ticks.
Hermit Thrushes, which are considered a winter species here in the Willamette Valley, are still around.
This Virginia Rail put on a nice show at Commonwealth Lake Park.
If we can’t have spring migrants yet, we might as well enjoy the local residents. Spotted Towhees never fail to impress.
On a recent semi-birdless outing, I noticed a nice flight of these, Western White-ribboned Carpet Moth. These are tiny, with a wingspan of about an inch and a stunning pattern. It is always great to learn a new species.
So, colorful migrant birds and will show up any minute. Right?
Spring migration continues to rev up. Warbler numbers and diversity are increasing along with other songbirds. This Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s) Warbler was at Tualatin River NWR.
Downy Woodpecker showing his tongue
This Pacific Wren was singing at Pittock Mansion. These birds are usually concealed in the thickest cover. But when a male is in full song, they will often find a tall perch in the open and put on a show.
This Red-breasted Sapsucker posed on a fence at Cooper Mountain Nature Park. It is always nice to see this species at eye level.
Along with the influx of migration, another sign of spring is Birdathon, the annual fundraiser for the Audubon Society of Portland. This is a highly effective conservation organization in the Pacific Northwest. ASP also offers classes for children and adults, and runs the only wildlife rehabilitation facility in the Portland area. I am part of the team from the Backyard Bird Shops, the Retailed Hawks. We will be birding the southern Willamette Valley before crossing the Cascades to the high desert. Please consider making a donation here.
I spent a day birding around Siletz Bay (Birding Oregon chapter 37). This part of the coast is not one of the more scenic areas, but there are a couple spots tucked away that are worth a look.
The main stop for the day was Boiler Bay State Wayside. This spot gets a lot of press as one of the best birding sites on the Oregon coast. While it is true that Boiler Bay is the most likely spot to find a lot of seabird species from shore, the birding here is not easy. On many days, you must patiently scan the ocean with a scope, hoping to find a robin-sized seabird from several hundred yards away. While bird numbers were low overall, two hours of scanning produced a nice variety of birds, including Ancient Murrelets (a nemesis bird for me), Marbled Murrelet, Horned and Western Grebes, and a Rhinoceros Auklet.
Several Harbor Seals were snoozing near the mouth of Siletz Bay. You can often see seals hauled out on the beach near the entrance to the bay.
Cutler City Wetlands is a nice patch of woods worthy of exploration, especially during migration. From US 101, turn west onto SW 63rd Street. About one block from the highway, there is a small parking area on the right side of the road, just across from this sign.
The property has a nice network of trails through a variety of habitats.
This Pacific Wren put on a good show, singing and perching out in the open for a few minutes. This species is seldom so visible.