Wednesday, May 31, 2006

American Robin on nest

While many young birds are already out of the nest, this American Robin was still incubating eggs a few days ago. She is probably starting on her second family of the season, a common practice among robins.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Northern Carrion Beetle (Silpha lapponica)

This beetle, and two others identical to it, were in the nestbox of the Violet-green Swallows today. I watched them rummaging around in the grass and feathers of the growing nest, and captured them when they crawled out. I believe they are Northern Carrion Beetles (Silpha lapponica) which may explain why the female swallow carried them into the nest: according to one source, they feed on fly maggots.

Acorn Woodpecker

I noticed this morning that at least three different adult Acorn Woodpeckers are taking food to the young in the nest. According to the Audubon Encyclopedia of North American Birds, such behavior is quite common with this very social species.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Acorn Woodpecker pair

Yesterday this pair of Acorn Woodpeckers appeared to be feeding young in the nest in an oak tree in McMinnville's Wortman Park. This is one species that is strong and assertive enough to defend its nest cavities against Starlings.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Rufous Hummingbird male

Of course, the male Rufous Hummingbird was also determined to get his share even though he was outnumbered at this feeder about 10 to 1.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Rufous Hummingbird female

A Rufous Hummingbird never seems to be uncertain about where it wants to go. This female was not about to lose her place in line at a feeder along the N. Santiam River in the Cascade Mts. today.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Winter Wren on territory

This Winter Wren was staking his claim to a piece of McMinnville's Rotary Park this morning by singing from high and visible lookout posts. I can't think of any species that has a longer song in proportion to body size than this one. With a total body length of 4 in. including tail and bill, his lungs cannot be very large. Does he sing on both exhale and inhale?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Mourning Dove

No special reason for posting this picture of a Mourning Dove, except that it was just "there" and looking good. Oh, and the fact that it's the first bird digiscoped through my new Pentax PF-80ED spotting scope which just came today. I think I'm going to like it.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Violet-green Swallow gathering feathers

Today the Violet-green Swallow is concentrating on adding feathers to her nest. I suspect that means she is about finished building and soon will be laying eggs.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Hairy Woodpecker perched

Here's another shot of the Hairy Woodpecker near the nest I found last week, but she is not in a typical woodpecker posture. At the time of this photo she was very agitated and making a lot of scolding/warning sounds because of the Cooper's Hawk nearby. Maybe at such times she feels safer in a position where she can see in all directions, rather than on the side of a tree which blocks much of her field of view.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Spotted Owl

Even though it is one of the most "famous" birds of North America, the Spotted Owl is actually seen by relatively few people. This week I had a chance to see one only a few hours after hearing the calls of a Barred Owl. Some knowledgable people are saying the the Barred may be an even bigger threat to the Spotted than logging is here in the Pacific Northwest as it continues to invade and take over the Spotted's habitat.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Hairy Woodpecker at nest

This female Hairy Woodpecker was feeding some noisy youngsters in this nest cavity last Saturday, May 13. There is also a Cooper's Hawk pair nesting in the same grove of trees along the Willamette River, which does not bode well for the lifespan of the young woodpeckers when they leave the nest in a week or two.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Beetles in the Swallow nestbox

Yesterday was a very interesting day inside the nestbox of the Violet-green Swallows. The female brought in at least seven live beetles of at least four different kinds. Five are visible in this photo. She obviously didn't want to kill them or eat them. She occasionally would pick one up and drop it again. Then she would just stand still for several minutes, seemingly just to watch them crawl around in her house. Her purpose in doing this is still a mystery as far as I know.

Vaux's Swifts entering chimney

Vaux's Swifts are again putting on a show every evening in our town (and probably in many towns in Oregon) as they go to roost in chimneys for the night. This flock of about 1,000 on my street will probably disappear within a few days as they scatter for the nesting season. I wonder how they decide which pair gets to stay in this one.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Black-headed Grosbeak

At this time of the year, here in Oregon's Willamette Valley, it is quite unlikely that you could be near a patch of woods and not hear the song of the Black-headed Grosbeak. It does require some practice at first to distinguish it from the Robin's song, but a careful listener will soon recognize the fact that it is even more melodious. This one was singing this evening in McMinnville's Rotary Park.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Violet-green Swallow sleeping

On several occasions in the past two weeks I happened to be watching when the female Violet-green Swallow came inside just before dark, appearing a bit disheveled, and almost instantly went to sleep, eyes covered by white eyelids. This evening it happened at 8 o'clock while the sun was still shining directly into the box. She didn't let it keep her awake, but after about five minutes, she roused enough to preen for a few minutes, and then went back to sleep. Earlier in the day she had brought in a few new grass stems.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

American Robin

A nestling about to become a fledgling, this young American Robin was busy digesting earthworms yesterday, and always "on the lookout" for the next one.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


In contrast to several decades ago, the Osprey now seems to be thriving in Oregon's Willamette Valley. This morning this one, which appears to be a female because of the "necklace" of brown streaks, was perched beside her nest on a utility pole. But I'm a bit puzzled by the situation I observed because this bird's mate (which I could not see very well) seemed to be keeping eggs warm in the nest, and I've never observed a male being allowed by the female to stay on the eggs when she is close by. I'll have to watch this pair closely to see if perhaps this is one of the occasional males that shows some of the brown "necklace" plumage.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

While many other species in our area are already incubating eggs, or even feeding young, the Violet-green Swallows are apparently waiting, as usual, for warmer weather. Today was warmer than recent days, and the female was inside the nestbox at least three times. The timing and sequence of her progress so far this year is remarkably similar to last year. How do they know when the time is right to begin building?