Saturday, January 27, 2007

Rough-legged Hawk

Today I went again to Morrow Co. in Eastern Oregon to count raptors. The sky was cloudy and the temperature hovered around the freezing point most of the day. In places every twig and blade of grass was coated with ice. This Rough-legged Hawk and a few others (far from their home somewhere in the northern tundra) have chosen this place for their winter retreat. Very few other raptors were hanging out in that neighborhood today.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Lincoln's Sparrow at feeder

This is only the second Lincoln's Sparrow I've seen in my yard in 15 years, and the first I've ever seen trying to get to a suet cake. Sparrows usually wait to pick up the crumbs knocked off by the Chickadees, Nuthatches and Bushtits but this one was determined to get to the source.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Unusual Dark-eyed Junco

While we're on the subject of birds with out-of-place white feathers, this Dark-eyed Junco deserves a look. If albinism can be caused by injury, among other things, did this Junco perhaps have an eye infection that healed up and left this scar? This photo came to me from a friend in Silverton, Oregon.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Wild "White" Turkey

Another view of same bird as below.

Wild Turkey with albinism

In the flock of Wild Turkeys I saw today (along Muddy Valley Rd.) there was this one showing a lot of white in its plumage. Is it partially albino or leucistic? Is it possible to determine that just by observing the bird from a distance? I don't know. Either way, it stands out in a crowd.

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey -- a colorful bird with a colorful history. Proposed by Benjamin Franklin to be designated as our national bird, but lost out to the Bald Eagle. They are not native to many places where they are found today (such as Oregon), and it turns out that they are damaging the habitat for native birds where they have been introduced. But I did enjoy watching this flock of 15 today as they gobbled and strutted and searched for food along the edge of a field of Christmas trees.

Friday, January 19, 2007

House Finch

Some birds are so common that we tend to ignore them, but when we take the time to really look at them, we are reminded that beauty can be found just about anywhere. This House Finch at my feeder shows a mix of red and yellow. I wonder what that could tell us about his diet.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Wilson's Snipe probing the mud

Of course, as one would expect in Oregon's Willamette Valley in winter, there were also several Wilson's Snipe taking advantage of the unfrozen mud and water in the orchard yesterday.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Killdeer in winter

Freezing weather, especially when the ground is covered with snow, makes food-finding more difficult for many birds. Today I watched this Killdeer, along with individuals of eight other species, finding things to eat in a temporary stream flowing through a filbert orchard. I had never before seen Steller's Jays gathering nuts out of a creek.

American Robin in stream

If you prefer earthworms as a major item in your diet, as does the American Robin, then snow and ice must be a major frustration. This Robin, like the Killdeer, had managed to find this flowing water, and some big worms in the mud.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Red-breasted Sapsucker

This Red-breasted Sapsucker is on my walnut tree today apparently finding some sap in the small holes he's making in the bark. From this angle it's easy to see what he has in common with his eastern cousin, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Common Redpoll, side view

Another view of the Common Redpoll that was at my place today.

Common Redpoll

A Common Redpoll in my front yard in Oregon?! I never would have bet on that happening! This species that nests in the arctic and winters mostly north of the Canadian border is only rarely seen in Oregon. But this is an invasion year, and many are being seen where they've never been found before. Today, after a night that felt "arctic" to me with temperatures around 20 degrees F., this one is with some Lesser Goldfinches finding something to eat in my birch tree.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Bushtits are regular customers at my suet feeder, and not only in winter. But in cool weather it seems that many species, even seedeaters like Juncos, are eager to include some fat calories in their diet.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Glaucous-winged/Western hybrid imm.

Even when the weather at the Oregon coast makes birding difficult, at least there is usually some opportunity to study gull plumages. Yesterday this first-year gull cruised by while I was sitting by the fire (inside), and according to the book (the National Geographic field guide) it appears to be an immature hybrid Glaucous-winged/Western Gull.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Western Scrub-Jay

Even though this Western Scrub-Jay regularly swoops in with a raucous "jay-jay-jay" and scatters the small birds into the bushes, he deserves to be seen here just because he's so handsome.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Dark-eyed (Oregon) Junco

At this time of the year in Oregon, when the weather is often blustery and wet, Dark-eyed Juncos are a common visitor at feeding stations. This provides a good opportunity to study the characteristics that distinguish the subspecies of this complex group. This one appears to be a typical "Oregon" Junco, although the whitish line below the eye does not seem normal. I've never noticed it on a Junco before.