Monday, April 27, 2009

Evidence of Spring

Yellow-rumped (Audubon's) Warbler male

Yellow-rumped (Audubon's) Warbler female

Happy to be back in Oregon again where Spring is breaking out in spite of frequent interruptions of cool, rainy days. But the new (alternate) plumage showing up on some birds, such as these Yellow-rumped Warblers I saw yesterday, is undeniable evidence that it's coming. I have to remind myself not to keep wishing it would hurry, knowing that soon enough we will be look back at it from summer.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chipping Sparrow

Northern Cardinal

In Pennsylvania a few days ago, while eating breakfast at the home of some friends, we were entertained by the birds at their feeder. I've often seen Cardinals at feeders in the east, but I had never seen a Chipping Sparrow at a feeder anywhere.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Eastern Bluebird

With less than a day left here in Pennsylvania (before I head back home to Oregon) the resident Eastern Bluebird here at my temporary lodging place finally stopped where I could get a good view. Could there be anything more blue anywhere?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Red-bellied Woodpecker in Pennsylvania

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Whenever I find myself in the eastern part of the U.S. (this time in Pennsylvania) I of course am always on the lookout for birds I don't see in the west. Blue Jays are common and conspicuous (and handsome), but the Red-bellied Woodpecker tries very hard not to be conspicuous, and is often heard but not seen. This one, however, eventually could not resist the appeal of my brother-in-law's sunflower seed feeder, and gave me some good looks as he came down for a final snack before the sun went down.

Blue Jay

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Adult Sharp-shinned Hawk eating

In late afternoon today a friend called to say there was a hawk in downtown McMinnville (Oregon, not Tennessee) dining on a small bird. I was able to get free for just long enough to grab a few shots of this handsome adult Sharp-shinned Hawk in action. He or she was about 20 ft. up in a Ginko tree above a sidewalk in a busy part of town, and the visible feet of the entree suggest to me that it was a Starling. Another glimpse of "wildness" where we don't expect it, and a reminder to keep our eyes open like my friend, Bruce, always does.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cinnamon Teal in spring

Finding "wilderness" within a few hundred yards of a major highway is always a bit of a surprise, and of course, a pleasant one. This evening, as I was driving back to McMinnville from Portland, I pulled off Hwy. 99W at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge near Sherwood. I parked and started down a trail into the wetlands, and within about five minutes I was watching this pair of Cinnamon Teal in a small pond. The low sun angle at 7:00 p.m. made the rich colors of the male even richer, and the surrounding "music" of Red-winged Blackbirds, Orange-crowned Warblers and three species of Swallows made the moment perfect.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Brown Creeper nest building

Late this afternoon I stopped in at the Rotary Reserve park here in McMinnville, and before I even got started on the trail down from the parking area I was hearing Brown Creeper sounds. I soon found two very active birds, and noticed that one of them was carrying a stick. It landed on the trunk of a tree about two feet below an area of some damage, then quickly hitched its way up to some loosely-hanging slabs of bark, and maneuvered the stick into the narrow space without any sign of difficulty. I watched as it repeated this about five times in 15 minutes. I was surprised at the size of the sticks it was collecting, and wondered how it was able to make them stay in an opening that seemed to have no floor.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

More Spring beauty

As I was watching a large soaring accipiter today, trying to decide if it was a Cooper's Hawk or a Goshawk, I noticed the colorful partial ring around the sun. According to the books that ring is caused by ice crystals in high thin cirrus clouds, and also according to the books, the circling hawk was a Cooper's. Apparently a Goshawk (which I have still not seen here in my home county) has a shorter tail in proportion to the size of the wings. The action in my backyard today included a visit by two White-crowned Sparrows. If the illustrations in the books are correct, this is the Pugetensis subspecies that breeds in this coastal area west of the Cascade Mts.