Every spring, birders suggest that the migration is running a little late. I think a lot of that feeling just comes from a desire to see spring migrants again. But this year, a lot of species are arriving noticeably late. It was May 11 before I detected my first flycatcher of any species. Shorebird migration on the coast didn’t really pick up until the second week in May.
So a visit to Cooper Mountain Nature Park during the first week in May provided mostly resident and locally nesting species, like this White-crowned Sparrow.
Spotted Towhee, really working that red eye in the sunlight
This young Red-tailed Hawk was checking out the meadow.
A young Northwestern Garter Snake crossing the trail
The local Dark-eyed Juncos have seemed quite tame lately. I wonder if they are just really busy gathering food for their nestlings.
Another White-crowned Sparrow. Despite their limited color palette, I have always thought this species was especially attractive.
Despite morning temperatures near freezing, signs of spring are appearing at Fernhill Wetlands. This Black Phoebe was posing with some colorful buds.
The winter sparrows, like this Fox Sparrow, are still around.
Waterfowl numbers are dropping as northern breeders start to head out. This pair of Northern Pintails was grooming along the main lake.
This young Red-tailed Hawk was very comfortable around people, perching right above some nearby birders.
The number of Nutria at Fernhill continues to grow. I don’t know if they are causing any problems or not.
We are in that late-winter slow birding time, but spring migrants should start showing up any day.
Happy final days of winter
Between the recent bouts of rain, we have seen a few sunny days. The birds seem to really take advantage of the nice weather to bulk up for winter. Cedar Waxwings, like this juvenile, have been working fruiting trees and shrubs. Most of these images were taken at Koll Wetlands in Beaverton.
adult Cedar Waxwing
The red nape on this Downy Woodpecker blended in with the red berries.
This noisy Belted Kingfisher blended in amazingly well with the foliage.
This one was not so well camouflaged.
Yellow-rumped Warblers are starting to arrive in the valley.
Most migrant shorebirds are long gone, but three Greater Yellowlegs were lingering at Koll. There is no exposed mud, so the birds were wading deep or actually swimming.
Young Red-tailed Hawk, keeping an eye on me
The male ducks have mostly finished their molt into their colorful plumage, a nice change from the dreary summer look of “Ugly Duck Season.” These Wood Ducks were at Commonwealth Lake.
I followed this Bewick’s Wren around for a while, waiting for him to emerge from the shade and land in a bit of sunshine. When I shoot in RAW, my camera cannot shoot multiple frames, so I only got one chance when the bird popped up into the light.
A much more cooperative model, this Barred Owl hung out by my bird feeder for about half and hour one day. He watched the little birds flitting around, but I think he was hoping for one of the squirrels or rats that often clean up under the feeder. Unfortunately, the rodents did not make an appearance, so the owl eventually moved on.
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.
The Portland area got a dump of about 10″ of snow recently. It was lovely on the first day, but for the next week it was a pain, with roads being impassable from the ice and snow. When I was finally able to get out, I went to Amberglen office park in Hillsboro to scout for my Hillsboro Parks and Rec gull class. This Ring-billed Gull was posing on the ice.
I found a few California Gulls on my scouting trip, but they were a no-show on class day.
This Lesser Scaup was bathing at Dawson Creek. The bill color on these birds is striking.
On Thursday I went to Sauvie Island, partly just to go birding and partly to scout for my upcoming waterfowl class. There was so much water from the melting snow that the ducks were scattered everywhere. Raptors put on a good show. Here is a young Red-tailed Hawk.
This Peregrine Falcon was keeping an eye on the ducks.
I laid down some millet in various spots to chum for sparrows (class in March, hint, hint).
Golden-crowned Sparrow, one of the more common winter residents.
White-throated Sparrows were a big deal when I first moved to Oregon, but they are now considered rare but regular in the winter.
Spotted Towhees are so common they tend to be overlooked. But it is nice to stop and appreciate just how gaudy and beautiful they are.
Lots to see in the Portland area this time of year. Cheers.
I 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.
Golden-crowned Sparrows are still the most common species in the sparrow patches.
Song Sparrows are not as numerous, but are very vocal right now.
Raptors are still thick out at Sauvie. This Cooper’s Hawk did not make it any easier to find sparrows.
One of many Bald Eagles seen that day.
Red-tailed Hawk, scoping out the surrounding fields for rodents
A distant Greater Yellowlegs. It is a little early for shorebirds, but their migration should be picking up in the next few weeks.
There 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.