February is generally regarded as one of the slowest months for birding in the Portland area, at least in regard to finding rarities. But there are a lot of birds around to brighten up this dreary month. This Ring-necked Duck was making quite a wake in a pond at Dawson Creek Park.
Tundra Swans are common on Sauvie Island.
Black-crowned Night-Heron lurking in the brush at Koll Center Wetlands
Red-winged Blackbirds are ubiquitous around any wetland in the area, but they are a striking bird.
Another species that tends to be overlooked is American Coot.
The Acorn Woodpeckers at Dawson Creek tend to be perched high and backlit, but this individual came down low for some cracked corn that someone had put out.
Check out the tongue holding the corn kernel.
Despite the recent winter weather, migration should be kicking in at any moment.
My annual gull class visited the Coast from Cannon Beach to Gearhart. Stormy weather caused us to postpone the trip by a week. The weather was lovely the day of our trip, but nice weather, combined with the week’s delay, kept our gull total to a modest seven species.
California Gulls are among the most common species on the coast right now.
California Gull in flight, showing the extensive black in the primaries
Herring Gull coming in for a landing
Short-billed Gulls frequent the Necanicum River Estuary in Gearhart. This bird was stamping their feet in the shallow water to stir up food items.
A stop at the Seaside Cove produced a large flock of Surfbirds.
Just a few Black Turnstones were mixed in with the Surfbirds.
The most unusual bird of the trip was this Long-tailed Duck at the Cannon Beach Settling Ponds. This is a young female, whose dark coloring blended in surprisingly well with the water’s surface.
We didn’t have much time to look for songbirds, but White-crowned Sparrows are always obliging.
After a very long dry summer, autumn has finally arrived. While we don’t get the extensive fall colors found in eastern forests, the red Poison Oak highlights the eyes on this Spotted Towhee.
This very ragged Bushtit was found at Wapato Lake NWR, which has finally opened up to birders after a long wait. The refuge will be closed to non-hunters from December-February, but should offer some great birding when it is open.
American Pipits are common migrants this time of year on mudflats and other open habitats.
Male American Kestrel
This American Crow was actively fishing in a tide pool along the Columbia River. I don’t normally think of crows as fish-eaters, but they take advantage of whatever food source is available.
There are still a few American White Pelicans around. They will be gone soon.
Brush Rabbit, blending in with the fall colors
Pacific Tree Frog on a maple leaf. These frogs are very common, but they seldom perch out in the open.
This Black-tailed Deer was just off the path at Cooper Mountain Nature Park.
In mid to late summer, when conditions are very hot and dry in Oregon, most of the wildlife activity is found near wetlands, at least until they dry up as well. Here are a few images from various wetlands in the Portland area this summer.
Our cold wet April has blossomed into a cold wet May. I shouldn’t complain, since we need whatever moisture we can get, but a few balmy spring days would be nice.
Shorebirds on the northern Oregon coast peaked last week. This Black Oystercatcher was one of four hanging out at the Seaside Cove.
Black Turnstones are common in winter at Seaside Cove, but the few that remain are sporting crisp breeding plumage.
A single Ruddy Turnstone has been at The Cove for a while now.
Songbirds have been moving, too, despite the weather. This Common Yellowthroat was singing at Cooper Mountain Nature Park.
The locally nesting White-crowned Sparrows are on territory and ready for nesting.
Ruby-crowned Kinglets don’t nest around here, but they have been singing like crazy. I cannot seem to get a decent photo of a kinglet, but at least the parts of this bird we can see are clear.
In the “totally creepy and yet fascinating” department: here is a second cycle Western Gull showing the structure of their tongue. I didn’t realize their tongues were that big, let alone such an interesting shape. The more you look, the more you see.
I think we had more snow in April than we did in December. It has been cold and wet most of the month, and while I am very grateful for the rain and the added mountain snowpack, the weather has seemed to delay the onset of spring. Migrants have been few, and resident species a just starting to get revved up for the season. This Pacific Wren was trying out his song at Tualatin River NWR.
The Townsend’s Chipmunks are out and about. I think the two lumps in this one’s ear are ticks.
Hermit Thrushes, which are considered a winter species here in the Willamette Valley, are still around.
This Virginia Rail put on a nice show at Commonwealth Lake Park.
If we can’t have spring migrants yet, we might as well enjoy the local residents. Spotted Towhees never fail to impress.
On a recent semi-birdless outing, I noticed a nice flight of these, Western White-ribboned Carpet Moth. These are tiny, with a wingspan of about an inch and a stunning pattern. It is always great to learn a new species.
So, colorful migrant birds and will show up any minute. Right?