Monday, June 30, 2008

Gray-crowned Rosy Finch on Mt. Hood

I had a chance last weekend to hike up on Mt. Hood to above 9,000 ft. I found only two species of birds at that elevation: Common Raven and Gray-crowned Rosy Finch. I did not manage to find a finch's nest as I had hoped, but I did enjoy some close encounters as these inconspicuous birds were apparently finding something to eat in last year's dried-up plants that had been covered with snow until just recently.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Great Blue Heron chicks

Today my goal was to find this year's Red-eyed Vireos in the forest along the Willamette River where they've been found most years out of the last 10 or so. For about three hours I searched unsuccessfully in the grove of tall cottonwood and maple trees, and most of the time I was in thick underbrush and shoulder-high stinging nettles. In previous years I had heard the commotion of Great Blue Herons feeding young in this forest, and today in the thickest part of the "jungle" I found the heronry. There were at least six nests containing young birds almost ready to fly, and these two (in a nest about 40 ft. high in a cottonwood) watched my every move.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Least Tern in Oregon

Least Terns are very rare in Oregon, even though their normal range reaches north as far as the central California coast. So today when the report came that one was being seen only 25 miles from my place, I knew where I would be headed as soon as I got off work. I watched this dainty little bird (only three inches longer than a Barn Swallow) for more than two hours as it searched for edible things near the surface of the water. During that time it spent less than five minutes resting on the muddy shore and bathing briefly.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Inscrutable Cedar Waxwings

Cedar Waxwings seem mysterious to me. They appear and disappear according to a schedule that I can't figure out, and I wonder where they are when they're not here. And when I watch them, I can't tell whether they are aloof or shy, or what they might be thinking behind those masks. Anyway, they are always a pleasure to have around, and always impeccably attired.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Common Yellowthroat nest with Cowbird egg

Common Yellowthroat nest hidden among dry leaves 2 ft. above ground level

Free time on a sunny morning... Where to go? I landed in a small county park, and had it all to myself except for abundant singing/nesting/feeding birds, including this male Common Yellowthroat with a beak full of bugs. His nest apparently had young birds in it, but I found another Common Yellowthroat nest containing four eggs, one of them being the egg of the parasitic Brown-headed Cowbird.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Busy birds in Bend

Another visit to Central Oregon last weekend provided a few good opportunities for some close encounters with interesting birds in action. The Anna's Hummingbird has been using the same perch on a dead willow near the Deschutes River for several months, at least. The Red Crossbills have returned to my son-in-law's feeder after an absence of several months, and some Cliff Swallows were busy building nests on a building in Bend's Old Mill District.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Shrike and Plover in Bulgaria

Almost three weeks after returning from a one-week visit to friends in Bulgaria, I've finally had a chance to look at the photos our hosts took while I was with them looking for birds I'd never seen before. I was not successful in getting good photos of the Red-backed Shrike and the Little Ringed Plover in flight, but my friend Ticho was, and I'm pleased to be able to post them here.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Incubation has begun

The Violet-green Swallow nesting "on camera" now has at least five eggs in the nestbox, and is spending much of her time keeping them warm. Two or three are just visible in the photo, and you might find Mama Swallow at home if you click on the link to the right.