Friday, June 30, 2006

Osprey nestling

After watching the killing of the young swallows in the nestbox this morning (see a brief explanation at the Nestbox Cam link to the right) I decided I needed to see something more cheerful in the world of birds before the day ends. I found this young Osprey trying to stay cool on his shadeless nest, facing away from the sun, sometimes panting and raising the feathers on his back. It's remarkable that he gets enough moisture just from the fish he eats until he fledges at 51 - 54 days of age. I wonder how soon he takes his first drink of water when he is finally able to get to it.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Manx Shearwater

After 46 years of watching birds and trying to add to the list of species I've seen, the Manx Shearwater made it onto my list this week, number 565 for North America. While fairly common in the Atlantic Ocean, they have only recently started showing up in the Pacific, and nobody knows for certain where they're coming from. There is a rumor of a nest burrow found on an island along the British Columbia coast. On Monday I was perched near the end of the jetty at Tillamook Bay when one came into view for about 10 seconds, and then was gone. This illustration is from Peterson's Field Guide.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Double-crested Cormorant

Fortunately for birders, cormorants have to spend a lot of time out of the water drying their feathers because they are not "waterproof" like the feathers of many water birds. That means we have a better chance of seeing them up close occasionally. I found this Double-crested Cormorant last week on a piling in Astoria, getting ready for his next fishing expedition.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Male Violet-green with prey

The male Violet-green Swallow is helping with the feeding of the young birds, but seems nervous about entering the nestbox. Here he is perched nearby surveying the situation before delivering the small insects he has captured.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Hungry baby

The adult male Violet-green Swallow joined his mate in feeding the nestlings today, but this two-day-old was still begging for more bugs.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Violet-green Swallow hatchlings

Today is the "big day" for the Violet-green Swallows -- at least some of the six eggs hatched this morning. Three heads can be seen here, and the female adult is alternately going out to find some food for them, and then spending a few minutes warming them. The male has also come in a few times, but I have not yet seen him feeding the young. He spends most of his time outside keeping watch from his perch on the telephone wire.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


On Winter Ridge above Summer Lake last weekend there were also many butterflies brightening the morning. I believe this is a Variable Checkerspot, and I believe it's on a type of Ceanothus blossom. Any correction or more specific i.d. information is welcome.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Mountain Chickadee nest cavity

The Mountain Chickadee nest is in this cavity in the stump seen in the photo below.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Mountain Chickadee nest site

I made a weekend trip from the coast to Summer Lake in south-central Oregon, and ended up on Winter Ridge. Among the 159 species I encountered, this Mountain Chickadee (seen here on the branch of the small tree), gave me the most surprising sight of my trip: It was feeding young in a nest cavity just inches above ground level. In fact, the bottom of the cavity appeared to be below ground!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Bullock's Oriole

It would seem that the bright color of the male Bullock's Oriole would make it easy to spot, but up in a cottonwood tree against the bright sky only its chattering calls, and the noisy young in the nest, drew attention to it. The nest was pretty crowded today, but will probably be vacant within a few days.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Lesser Goldfinch

I hadn't seen a Lesser Goldfinch at my thistleseed feeder for some time, but today two are here again. Welcome back!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Western Scrub-Jay

I don't have many customers at my sunflower seed feeder these days, but this Western Scrub-Jay mom is making sure her fledglings are getting plenty.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

White-crowned Sparrow

Question: What's one of the best things about living in the Willamette Valley? Answer: Being certain that you will find at least a few birds whenever you go birding. The White-crowned Sparrow is one of the most "reliable" species in this part of Oregon. Sings a beautiful song, too -- sometimes even at midnight during the summer.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Violet-green Swallow egg

The Violet-green Swallow now has five eggs to keep warm. One of them is partially visible in this photo. She is spending much more time inside now, and appears to be sleeping a lot. Maybe she's resting up for the time, about two weeks from now, when she will suddenly have (we hope) five hungry babies to feed.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhees usually stay down in the shadows of forest undergrowth scratching for food under the fallen leaves. But when it's time to sing, it's time to be seen and heard. This one is at home in McMinnville's Airport Park.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Violet-green Swallow on eggs

I had about given up hope that the Violet-green Swallow was going to start a family this year, but today I saw that there are now two eggs in the nest. Maybe the cool rainy weather has caused some delay, but now she seems to be moving on to the next phase. There should soon be more activity to watch on the nestbox cam.

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwings become numerous in western Oregon in spring and summer, but can easily be overlooked while feeding in the upper branches of blossoming trees. Their high-pitched single-note calls are often the first clue to their presence in the neighborhood.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Lazuli Bunting

About six Lazuli Bunting males were each patrolling their individual sections of an abandoned field near the Willamette River this morning. They seem to feel most at home in weedy, grassy places with isolated clumps of small trees and shrubs available for singing perches.