Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunshine to Sunsets

We enjoyed spectacular  sunshine all day yesterday as we worked our way down the Oregon Coast from Lincoln City to Winchester Bay.  Checking for birds we made stops at D River, Siletz Bay, Devil’s Punchbowl, Ona Beach, and Beaver Creek State Natural Area, spotting, identifying, and photographing lots of birds. But in the end it was the sunset from our RV site at Winchester Bay RV Resort that proved to be the most photogenic. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Seeking Some Sunshine

It seems as though we have an aversion to inversions, so after numerous days of suffering from the cold and dark of a long term temperature inversion in the Willamette Valley we packed up the RV for some sunshine on the Oregon Coast.  We did some exploring and our most pleasant stop was at Knight Park on the Salmon River estuary.  Notice the meadow in the background, and then look at the lower zoomed photo for the elk.  Jeanette counted 71 elk.  They seemed to be enjoying the sunshine too.

After some lunch and some birding we ventured on to Lincoln City for some groceries at Safeway and are now boon docking in the Chinook Winds Casino parking lot.  They allow free parking for casino customers.  Those who know us well know we will be having a big night of dinner, drinks, and a show and gambling----not.  

Monday, December 23, 2013

"Whitey" the Song Sparrow

I was setting at the window this afternoon reading about sparrows when Whitey flew up to the suet feeder. I was reminded that I had posted a photo of him before.  I had to look it up, but it was the post of December 3rd. The photo in today’s post was actually taken back on November 21st, so you get the idea; we have been keeping track of him for a while.  Whitey got his name from the unusual “white collar” look to his plumage that makes him easy to recognize. We see him daily, or at the least three or four times a week.  It’s not often you get to see the same bird consistently enough to name it, in fact I think Whitey is the first one we have ever named. We see lots of Juncos daily, but never have a clue if they are the same ones or different ones. Whitey we recognize and it’s kind of fun. Pictured below is a normal looking  Song Sparrow for comparison. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Birding From My Kitchen Table

I would like to be able to say that I went to a lot of trouble and it took a huge effort to get this photo.  Truth of the matter is I had to put down my fork to be able to pick-up my camera. You see, my camera seems to reside a good part of the time on the kitchen table as I’m always taking photos into the back yard.  Today at lunch time we were enjoying a great salad when this Yellow-rumped Warbler flew in. One click is all it took and I had this bird, didn't even have to get out of my chair! Maybe I don’t need to drive great distances and hike a long ways to go birding.  Perhaps I’ll just park my butt permanently at the kitchen table.

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Trio of Shovelers

Yesterday while running some errands we made a brief stop at the Fairview Wetlands near the Salem Airport.  There was a sharp wind and because of the cold we only spent thirty minutes on the trail. The most striking sighting was this tight group of three Northern Shovelers.

One of the things I love about birding is the multiple layers of experience to enjoy.  You can simply appreciate and enjoy the beauty of these colorful birds on a cold gray winter pond. Or you can look closer and notice the difference in plumage and be aware of male and female.  And then you can further think about migration and appreciate more what is going on in the bigger picture.

These Northern Shovelers are probably winter visitors, traveling from breeding grounds in the far north to either stay in the area for the winter or travel further south. Looking closer at this trio you will notice three different plumages.  On the right hand leading is a male in breeding plumage.  At the end is clearly a female.  The one in the middle is the interesting one with a plumage that almost suggests a combination of the male and female. It is possibly a first year immature male, or a male in non-breeding plumage.  I need to do more research, which brings me back to why I love birding so much.  I enjoy it in the field, I am challenged to photograph and preserve the moment, and then I have the opportunity for further research and learning.     

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Buster Likes Birding

We were ecstatic to discover a new place to bird yesterday, and Buster thought it was a great place too.  A family of nine Nutria really got his attention. The location is the Lyons City Park.  Read more about it in the Trip Journal.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Repeat Diner

For the second day in a row this juvenile Cooper’s Hawk has visited our back yard to view his dining options.  He evidently likes our menu, which would look like this:  for our Daily Special we are currently featuring Oregon Dark-eyed Junco. Standard menu items also include bright red House Finches and delicate Lesser Goldfinches.  For those with a larger appetite we suggest select Mourning Dove.  For a tempting desert we offer chocolate colored Song Sparrow.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

Union Street Railroad Bridge

Our dream of moving to West Salem included being able to use the historic Union Street Railroad Bridge to walk into downtown Salem. This former railroad bridge was converted into a pedestrian and bicycle bridge by the City of Salem after purchasing it for the special price of one dollar.  It makes for a scenic route to cross the Willamette River from Wallace Marine Park and access Riverfront Park and the City of Salem without traffic congestion or parking worries.  Our destination for this morning was The Beanery where a group of our friends from the Chemeketans meet Monday mornings for a Koffee Klatch. We also swung by the Salem Summit Company for a quick bit of shopping before returning back over the bridge.  

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Evil Eye

When we returned home this afternoon our backyard was unusually quiet.  There were no birds at either of the feeders, or at the birdbath. I decided to check the seed in the feeder, which had ample seed, and as I turned around to return I happened to glance up into my neighbor’s tree and this is what I saw staring back at me.  It’s an immature Cooper’s Hawk.  Whenever he or his smaller cousin the Sharp-shinnedHawk which I posted about last month shows up, all the little tweeters disappear.  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Busy Little Birds

These busy little non-descript birds are Bushtits. They have been visiting our suet feeder and shrubbery in small flocks of six to eight birds.  You have to be quick to see them, as they are constantly on the move individually and as a group. They are very small, about the same size as a hummingbird. They always bring some joy to our day when we spot them busily working on our feeder or shrubbery. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bath Anyone?

A Robin observes with caution while a  Starling engages in a robust bath this afternoon.  My first thought was that the Starling was rather stupid or at least fool hearted, but then I reflected that the water was probably warmer than the air.  The air temp was 27, and the water had to be above freezing and possibly twenty degrees warmer than the air as Jeanette adds hot water several times a day to the birdbath.  So, maybe the Starling wasn’t as dumb as I thought.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Birding from my Window

I’m beginning to feel that I’m addicted to this matter of birding from the comfort of our warm house looking out through the patio doors to the back yard.  In fact, I may never venture out into the cold hard world again. Just kidding, I’m sure I can quit anytime, just don’t know at the moment why I would ever want to. -- Below are a few birds I have seen today.  Nineteen different species were identified.  I don’t believe we made it to thirty degrees. 

A cold female Anna's Hummingbird from this morning.

An uncommon White-throated Sparrow.

A first winter Golden-crowned Sparrow.

A tiny male Downy Woodpecker

Morning Fix

Because of the extreme cold weather we have been taking the hummingbird feeder inside the house at night to prevent freezing.  This morning when I hung the feeder outside in the grey dawn around seven o’clock; it was only a few seconds before the hummers were on it. The feeder hangs in the protected area of out patio where the thermometer read 14 degrees this morning.  Many of us humans depend on coffee to get us going in the morning, but I am convinced that hummers get their fix from the sugar water, and this morning they seemed desperate. I only noticed the one bird feeding when I took this photo, but after downloading into the computer and I noticed the tail of a second bird on the far side.  Most of the time they battle over the feeder, only allowing one bird to feed at a time, however this morning I think they were too desperate for their fix to fight.   

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Birds of the Day

We confined ourselves to the house yesterday due to the extreme cold and snow, which meant I did all my birding from the comfort of our kitchen looking out through the sliding doors to our backyard feeders.  I took ninety photos, but here is a selection of possibly the top three. Click on photos to enlarge. 

A male House Sparrow puffed-up against the cold.

A young male Red-wing Blackbird, an unusual visitor.

A female Northern Flicker who spent most of the day turning over leaves on the ground, took a turn at the suet feeder.

Friday, December 6, 2013

And It's Still Cold!

This pair of Lesser Goldfinches came to our birdbath around noon yesterday.  The male seems to display surprise and shock at the slippery semi-solid surface, while the female appears to be holding back waiting to see how it plays out. The water had already been thawed out several times as my wife Jeanette packs out hot water many times a day trying to make it possible for the birds to get a drink of water.  Her sister referred to her yesterday as “Saint Francis of the Bird Bath”, and as a matter of fact Jeanette’s middle name is “Frances”.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Salem Audubon Nature Reserve

I got to work with this motley crew of volunteers yesterday removing invasive English Ivy at the Salem Audubon Nature Reserve. Lee Slatum, shown on the left, heads up a cooperative effort of the Chemeketans and the SalemAudubon Society to work every Wednesday morning at the reserve in West Salem. This nature reserve is only about ten minutes from my new home in Salemtowne, so I am looking forward to more volunteering and visiting the reserve to hike and bird. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Frozen Bird Bath

This little Lesser Goldfinch looks uncomfortably cold as it appears to ponder its options upon encountering a frozen birdbath. Temperatures in the twenties this morning were the reason for the solid surface that thwarted its opportunity for a drink of water.  Jeanette soon remedied the situation by adding hot water.  The first bird to take advantage of the non-frozen surface was a House Finch who I noticed taking small sips.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cold Weather Protection

The forecast is for very cold weather later this week, and besides taking precautions to protect water pipes from freezing, I would suggest we all consider our fine feathered friends.  Putting up suet feeders is a good way to provide extra fat for their diet, which in turn they will burn to keep warm. We put up ours a couple days ago and had immediate interest.  First to find it were the juncos, but this sparrow has become a regular.  As a side note; we have seen this sparrow almost daily since we have moved here, and we think it’s the same one because of the unusual white feathers at the back of the neck. I think it is the common Song Sparrow and just anomaly in the plumage.