Saturday, February 27, 2021

Seeking the White-tailed Kite

We saw our first White-tailed Kite while camping at Dos Reis County Park in Central California in 2009. In the following years we continued to observe them in California and then in Oregon in Elkton while we lived there. Our only sightings in the Willamette Valley ware a brief glance at one in Ankeny NWR in 2013, an another one along Highway 99 south on Monmouth in 2017.  

On the 6th of this month White-tailed Kites were reported up the Willamina Creek watershed. Since then there has been a flurry of birders looking to add them to their checklists.  In fact we finally went in search of them last Tuesday the 23rd.  With the help of Rick Bennett, a birder on the scene, we were able to see a pair and get a poor photo.  That location was in Yamhill County,  and I have spent the rest of this week hoping to get an opportunity to find one in Polk County where we live.  Yesterday, I noticed on eBird that a person had reported one in Polk County in the Grand Ronde area. This morning we set out with that knowledge in hand and the location on Google Maps in eBird, hoping to find the Kite.  I drove us to the location and Jeanette spotted the bird with her binoculars. Nova, the kind land owner, came out to see if we needed help.  From her we learned that the Kites are around all year long, and that her family has been watching them for the past 20 years, nest and successfully raise their young. This is exciting information, because from all that I can find, nesting in the Willamette Valley is undocumented. The above photo was taken on Nova's property. You can see our bird list and photos here

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Sharp-shinned Hawk

 Yesterday, still feeling some of the side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine from the day before, we only took a short 20 minute birdwalk here at the Dallas Retirement Village. We have routinely been seeing 50 to 60 Pine Siskins on every birdwalk, so were suprised that we could only find about a dozen.  Circling back home, we saw the answer to the puzzle, this adult Sharp-shinned Hawk in a tree that normally contains a good number of Pine Siskins. This is their forte, eating small birds, and this has been a big year for Pine Siskins, with literally a record number of birds, so its probably working out well for the Sharp-shinned Hawks.   

Saturday, February 20, 2021

A Bakery for Birders

Bald Eagle pair

Yesterday's main event of the day was to get our 2nd Covid-19 shot at Western Oregon University in Monmouth. We provided a ride for my sister Susan, who recently had broken both of her arms. The event went smoothly, and we were soon back in our car and starting for Dallas, when we noticed a dark rain cloud covering the area, in stark contrast to the bright sunshine in the Monmouth-Independence area.  We instantly agreed that it was the wrong direction to be headed, and Susan suggested that she would be up for a walk, so I proposed a walk at the Independence Riverview Park. Luckily Jeanette and I had put in our birding stuff when we left our apartment, and we were soon out of the car, into the sunshine counting birds. Susan proved a sharp eye, and she and Jeanette were spotting birds faster than I could enter them into my iPhone. You can see our observation list here.  The high light of our birding walk was this pair of Bald Eagles mating. Susan, having a much broader experience in the amenities of the area, suggested it would be appropriate to finish our walk at the Ovenbird Bakery located just around the corner. There is actually a bird called Ovenbird, but the chances are much greater that we will find this bakery again before we find an actual Ovenbird.

Ovenbird Bakery

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Birding after an Ice Storm

 Ten o'clock this morning after the ice had melted enough to be able to stand upright on the streets here in the Dallas Retirement Village, Jeanette and I ventured out to check on the birds. Jeanette spotted this Yellow-rumped Warbler contemplating an attack on the suet feeder, and enthusiastically suggested I take a photo. Soon we were noticing several other species in their icy environment, which I am showcasing below.

Anna's Hummingbird female

Anna's Hummingbird male

American Robin

Pine Siskins


Friday, February 12, 2021

Bedroom Birding

 Subfreezing temperatures and icy conditions at the Dallas Retirement Village made staying inside the prudent choice this morning.  In fact Jeanette started counting birds right from the bedroom. Three  Anna's Humming birds at the juice feeder on our balcony, a Yellow-rumped Warbler at the suet feeder in the court yard, and a Dark-eyed Junco on the ground looking for droppings. The warmth and comfort of our apartment makes for an easy place to bird.

Anna's Hummingbird 

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Bluebird Birdhouse

This morning I put up another nesting box to accommodate our Western Bluebirds here in the Dallas Retirement Village. We have noticed an increase this month in Western Bluebird sightings, to the point that we can usually see a half dozen of them daily. It's that time of year that they show up and start scouting out nesting sites. This does not mean they will start nesting right away. It's a behavior I have witnessed for several years, they show up, we get exited, and then they disappear, perhaps on a honeymoon, returning weeks later and then get serious about building a nest. So, the nesting boxes are up, they will be making choices, and eventually they will get serious about house keeping.  
I took these photos of a pair of Western Bluebirds last Saturday, February 6th, here in the Dallas Retirement Village. The above photo is the brightly colored male, the photo below is the subdued colored female.  

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Alder Island

The Alder Island Trail in the Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge on the Oregon Coast continues to be our go-to birding location this winter.  The stark bare white bark of the Red Alder trees always brightens our day.  The trail is graveled which makes for a great all weather path.  People are always scarce here, which is perfect for our Pandemic times. 

Our morning did not start out with this location in mind yesterday.  The plan was to go to Huddleston Pond in Willamina to bird, but as we dropped down into the Yamhill River watershed we encountered a solid layer of fog, so thick we could not even see across the pond. A quick check on our phones revealed that Lincoln City had bright sunshine, so we extended our drive on to the coast, where we did indeed have blue skies and bright sunshine.  You can see our bird list here. Below are some highlighted birds. 

This juvenile Great Blue Heron looked more concerned about staying warm than hunting for food.

A striking lone Common Goldeneye male was busy diving along the Siletz River.

A bright colored male American Kestrel seem to be enjoying the sun on his perch above the parking lot. We too appreciated the warmth of the sun as we ate our lunch inside our van.