Saturday, March 31, 2007

Western Gull head

The weather was blustery at Tillamook today, and I enjoyed seeing several hundred Bonaparte's Gulls (in breeding plumage) working their way north against the wind over the Barview jetty. But none of them came within camera range, so I entertained myself by trying to see the color of the eyering on this Western Gull when he stopped beside me for a few minutes. When he saw that I wasn't offering him a free lunch, he moved on.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Violet-green house inspection

The male Violet-green Swallow appeared to be recommending the nestbox to his mate today, and it seemed she was not hard to convince. But they have not yet ventured inside.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Dark-eyed Junco portrait

Another handsome Dark-eyed Junco gave me a chance to appreciate plumage details I usually don't see. For example, I had never before seen (or noticed) the "alula" at the bend of a Junco's wing. A pretty sophisticated design feature for such a roundish little bird.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

White-tailed Kite in flight

This afternoon the pair of White-tailed Kites here in McMinnville, Oregon, continued to show every intention of nesting. The male (shown here) was twice seen catching a vole in the nearby field, and returning with it to where the female was perched on the tip of a young evergreen tree. As he approached, she flew up to meet him, tilted to one side reaching out with her feet, and took the vole from his dangling feet. Then she flew down to a perch on a low branch of a bare deciduous tree and quickly ate the vole in bite-sized pieces. Twice, also, the pair was observed copulating, and one of them carried a small stick (or large grass stem) about a foot long into the nest site.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

White-tailed Kites near McMinnville

A White-tailed Kite pair seems to have taken up residence on the outskirts of McMinnville, Oregon. This morning they were observed copulating four times in two hours, and the female disappeared for several extended periods of time into a thick growth of branches near the top of a young evergreen tree. The photo immediately above shows the general area, with a rough outline around the area where the Kites are spending most of their time. In the upper photo, taken from a slightly different angle, the circle on the right is around the perched male Kite. The left circle is around the (presumed) nest where the female is present but not visible. (Click on photo for enlarged view.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pine Siskin

Like many other Willamette Valley watchers, I am now seeing Pine Siskins at my feeders for the first time this winter. Where have they been hiding? Even the cold, snowy days did not push them into my neighborhood, and now spring weather is here.

Monday, March 19, 2007

American Robin underwing color

A friend of mine, and fellow amateur photographer, Dr. Scott Schieber, sent me this photo of an American Robin with open wings. I had never noticed that the familiar orange underside coloration of this familiar bird extends so far out on the wing linings. Just one more reminder that there is always something new to learn and appreciate about even the wild creatures we think we know well.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Violet-green Swallow arrival

It's always a special day when "my" Violet-green Swallows return in the spring. Two males showed up about mid-day and immediately started looking at the nestboxes they used last year. Well, anyway, they acted like they were very familiar with the lay of the land, so I assume they were the same birds as last year. Now I'm wondering if the same female will come back -- the one that killed the nestlings last year. I rather hope not, and you can read that story at the camera link at the top of the list to the right. ------------------->

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Song Sparrow

The Song Sparrow may not be flashy in appearance, but is remarkable in other ways. About 31 subspecies are recognized in North America, and hundreds of variations of Song Sparrow songs have been recorded. This one, probably of the morphna race, is quite welcome in my neighborhood, especially when singing on drizzly days.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Indian Plum in bloom

When the Indian Plum begins to bloom you know for sure that spring is here. Also today along the Willamette River fifty Tree Swallows were circling high, a flock of Dunlin swirled down to land in a flooded field, and a Bald Eagle was keeping eggs warm in a nest in a Cottonwood tree. It was the kind of day to make one agree with the words of St. Thomas Aquinas, "Every existence, as such, is good."

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Rufous Hummingbird watching me

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Rufous Hummer feeding

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Rufous Hummingbird on March 6

Rufous Hummingbirds are pouring into Oregon now in their annual spring sprint to the north. This one stopped in at my feeder today to re-fuel, and then zipped over the fence on his way to... Alaska, maybe.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

American Goldfinch changing

This American Goldfinch male at the thistle seed feeder today shows early signs of the dramatic spring molt that this species is known for, changing from the relatively drab winter plumage to the striking yellow they wear during the breeding season. Now I'm wondering -- is this change a result of feather wear, or of actual new feathers growing in? Another topic for some research.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Townsend's Warbler still here

The Townsend's Warbler showed up in my apple tree again today. The Yellow-rumped Warbler in the same tree spent most of the time flycatching, but the Townsend's appeared to be interested only in the suet.