Fernhill Wetlands

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Spring migration hasn’t really kicked in, yet, but the birds that are here are getting more active. Here are some recent images from Fernhill Wetlands. This Brewer’s Blackbird was looking good in the sunshine.

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Black Phoebes are now expected at Fernhill Wetlands. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I found Washington County’s first Black Phoebe there.

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This was my first Rufous Hummingbird of the year. He refused to perch in decent light.

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A large flock of Taverner’s Cackling Geese were hanging out on Fernhill Lake. The Ridgeway’s Cackling Geese were either off feeding somewhere or have moved on.

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Brush Rabbit, always adorable

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California Ground Squirrel, soaking up the sun

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Spotted Towhee

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Downy Woodpecker

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Bright sunlight makes it hard for me to get a decent of photo of an American Coot, but this bird’s yoga pose was too good not to share.

Happy Spring!

Early Spring in the 5MR

The weather has gone from winter rain to spring rain, still rather gloomy but definitely more pleasant overall. Spring migration is slowly picking up with new species gradually accumulating in my 5-Mile Radius.

Most of the new sites that I have explored in my 5MR have been very underwhelming, but I was recently introduced to Cedar Mill Wetlands in Beaverton. This little site has produced 45 species in two short visits, as well as this encounter with a Coyote.

Sharp-shinned Hawk at Cedar Mill Wetlands

Great Egret, sporting their nuptial plumes

The little wetland associated with Commonwealth Lake Park continues to be a favorite site with local birders. The flock of Wilson’s Snipes has thinned out a bit.

This Greater Yellowlegs was a nice surprise at Commonwealth. Hopefully the habitat will attract other shorebirds as the spring progresses.

Commonwealth is the only reliable spot in my 5MR for House Sparrow.

Bufflehead, Commonwealth Lake

Koll Center Wetlands in Beaverton is not the most pleasant place to bird. You are basically peering into the wetlands from various parking lots. But there are a few species here that are hard to find elsewhere. This Black-crowned Night-Heron was barely visible through the brush.

A small flock of Band-tailed Pigeons is reliable at Koll.

Yellow-rumped Warblers have been common all year at Koll, but some are just now molting into breeding plumage.

I have only birded outside my 5MR twice so far this year, both times while teaching Little Brown Bird Classes. This Rufous Hummingbird was at Jackson Bottom Wetlands in Hillsboro. I have yet to find this species in my 5MR, but it is one of many that I expect to see in the coming weeks.

Happy Spring

In the Garden

I was interviewed on In the Garden with Mike Darcy on June 27 and discussed what you can do to attract birds to your yard in the summer. Due to various circumstances, including the continuing heat wave, I didn’t get out on a birding trip this week. Instead, I spent a little time observing the critters in the yard.

rufous open billRufous Hummingbirds have been visiting in good numbers, a few weeks earlier than normal. Perhaps the drought has pushed them out of their more normal habitats.

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rufous in flight
anna'sThe resident Anna’s Hummingbird is not pleased with the Rufous invaders.

song sparrowThis Song Sparrow has been enjoying the bird bath.

house finch frontjuvenile House Finch at the feeder

cabbage whiteA Cabbage White, probably contemplating laying her eggs on my kale

beesThe bees are loving the Purple Coneflowers.
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nalaCharismatic Megafauna

Sandy River Delta

IMG_7181Nala and I spent several hours hiking (and swimming) at the Sandy River Delta. Local nesters, like this Common Yellowthroat, were busy gather food for nestlings.

IMG_7198Male Lazuli Buntings were very vocal, and seemed to be vying for the attention of the females (below).
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IMG_7175Osprey flying along the Columbia River

IMG_7163This Western Canada Goose had an unusual head pattern, with white reaching across the forehead and around the nape.

IMG_7215Rufous Hummingbirds were defending their blackberry patches.

Red Hot Pokers

While birding at the Whiskey Creek Fish Hatchery in Tillamook County, I stopped to check out a stand of Red Hot Poker, or Torch Lily. This plant is not native, but the flowers are very attractive to hummingbirds, orioles, and warblers.

orange-crowned warbler 1 smallOrange-crowned Warblers were the only warbler species around that day, but several individuals came out of the heavy cover to feed on nectar.
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When I first arrived at the patch, a female Anna’s Hummingbird was feeding. She took off before the camera came out, and then the patch was dominated by a male Rufous Hummingbird.

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Whiskey Creek Hatchery is a small site, but offers a little patch of woods and access to Netarts Bay.

Sandy River Delta

Nala and I spent the morning at the Sandy River Delta east of Portland. Bird activity is definitely picking up, although many of the summer residents haven’t arrived yet.

white-crownedWhite-crowned Sparrows were singing

savannah sparrow 2as were Savannah Sparrows.

rufous 3Rufous Hummingbirds were zipping around everywhere. All the birds I could get a look at were males.
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rufous scratchingscratching an itch

yellowthroatHere is a typical view of a Common Yellowthroat.

wood ducksThe recently reopened channel hosted a lot of birds, including this pair of Wood Ducks and a sleepy Mallard.

spotted sandpiperSpotted Sandpiper, not yet spotted

great blueGreat Blue Heron in a tree

common merganserCommon Merganser, proving once again that I have no idea how to control the white balance on my camera.

nalaOf course, Nala will tell you the main reason to visit this site is to go swimming. Here she is in the Sandy River, while the mastiff on shore waits to try to steal her ball.

Random Images

Early May is always a good time for seeing returning migrants and other signs of spring. Despite our cool damp weather, spring continues to slowly make inroads. Here are some random images from the past week.


May is warbler month across most of North America. This Wilson’s Warbler was feeding just outside our living room window.


Two River Otters were swimming in the wastewater ponds at Cannon Beach.

This otter had a pink nose, perhaps from an injury.


This male Rufous Hummingbird was flashing his colors at Stanley Lake in Seaside.


Surf Scoters at Fort Stevens


Black-headed Grosbeaks returned this week. After a winter of little finches, these birds make a bold impression when they appear at the feeder.

Like most birds, this grosbeak brings his leg up over his wing to scratch his head. I would think it would be easier to go under, but it seems to be working for him.


This Raccoon was soaking up a bit of sun at the Sandy River Delta.


This large aquatic mammal was also seen at the Sandy River Delta engaging in an activity known as “fetching.” Scientists still have not determined the purpose of this obsessive behavior.

New Arrivals at the Hummingbird Feeder

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Rufous Hummingbirds have returned, causing much angst among the resident Anna’s Hummers. This guy caught my eye with his gorget of copper, gold, and green.

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Notice how the colors change with the angle of the light.

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Here’s a female rufous, with her few irridescent dots and buffy sides.

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She flashes her tail colors when the male is being too pesky.

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I’m not sure what this American Goldfinch was doing, but he was checking out the hummingbird feeder for over a minute.

Hummers

I haven’t seen many Anna’s Hummingbirds at the feeder lately, even though they are on the property year round. Yesterday I found this male in the early morning, thus the dark grainy photos.

The Anna’s need to use the feeder early in the morning to avoid these little guys:

Rufous Hummingbirds are passing through. While they are noticeably smaller than the Anna’s, they are much more aggressive in claiming the garden as their own. I have read about two solutions for warring hummers; one is to put another feeder out of sight of the first, the idea being that while the dominant hummer is guarding one feeder, other birds can feed on the other. The other plan is to put several feeders in close proximity, in hopes that the dominant bird can’t guard them all at once and will share. I haven’t tried either of these, primarily because I don’t want to maintain two feeders.


I will probably let them work it out on their own. The Rufous Hummingbirds will soon be on their way to sunny Mexico, while the Anna’s will stay and add a little color to the gray winter ahead.