Friday, February 25, 2005

I have often noticed an unusual sound that Robins sometimes make: a very high-pitched, down-slurred whistle. They always seem to be sitting very still when they do this, and as I recall, it is always when the weather is at least calm, if not warm or sunny. Why do they do that? A few days ago, while I was walking home from work, I noticed that there were dozens of Robins perched in trees along the street. They all were whistling, almost whining, "seeee", and all were sitting motionless. There are many differing and (sometimes) conflicting interpretations, but no certain explanation. Just another of the mysteries that surround us as we go through our daily routines, reminding us to "keep our ears open and our eyes peeled."

Sunday, February 20, 2005

This Lesser Goldfinch, eating thistle seed in my backyard today, was counted in the Great Backyard Bird Count which is being conducted all over North America this weekend, Feb. 18-21. I am participating for the first time this year. I've been pleased to discover that the information that is collected is being made available in very interesting ways at If you have been wondering just where in the world Lesser Goldfinches are spending the winter, now you can find out in just a few minutes. The same question can be answered for 548 other species as well.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

This photo was taken last fall here in Yamhill County in cold, rainy weather when the swallows were migrating. Now in early February, when Barn Swallows are normally expected to be somewhere in South America, small groups and individuals (including one I saw today) are showing up in many places in western Oregon. I can't help but wonder why.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

One indication that the young Sandhill Crane in McMinnville is growing up is the red coloration beginning to appear on the bird's forehead. A month ago this featherless area was plain gray.

Sandhill Cranes are rarely seen in Yamhill Co. This immature bird has been living in McMinnville's Wortman Park for at least two months. It spends most of the daytime hours hunting for food in the grass and in a small creek. It appears to be healthy and growing.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

This Western Tanager, photographed through my window screen on New Year's Day, 2005, had been feeding on old grapes for about two weeks. I have not seen the bird since then. There are only a handful of records of this species in Oregon in winter.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

For comparison, here is a photo of a different Merlin I found on March 23, 2003, also here in Yamhill County. Is it light enough to be considered of the F.c. richardsonii subspecies? No obvious mustache. (?)