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.
Sharp-shinned Hawk and House Finch. Photo by Marsha Rakestraw
This Sharp-shinned Hawk was trying to be inconspicuous while hanging out near the bird feeders. As usual, the songbirds were nowhere to be seen as long as this guy was around. Some of the field marks for distinguishing Sharp-shinned Hawks from Cooper’s (shape of the head, capped appearance of Cooper’s vs. the uniform crown and nape on Sharp-shinned, shape of the tail, and thickness of legs) are not visible in this photo. A hawk bander recently shared another clue for this species; Sharp-shins have a “bug-eyed” look to them, while Cooper’s Hawks always look angry. These may seem to be subjective terms, but the shape of the head and position of the eye on the head does give each species a unique expression.
Here is a little better view where you can see the shape of the head, the uniformity of the crown and nape, and the neat square tail.