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.
While spring migration has wound down, there is still a lot of bird activity at Fernhill Wetlands. This Anna’s Hummingbird was stretching his wings.
These dapper male Ruddy Ducks were staying in the middle of the main lake, so no good photo for me.
Cinnamon Teal taking a morning nap
Purple Martins are nesting here again.
This Tundra Swan is missing part of her left wing, so is unable to migrate. She has been reported at this site since last year, so she is apparently doing alright despite her injury.
Lesser Goldfinch in a chain link fence. A lot of people don’t like photos of wildlife on man-made structures. But given the extent that humans have altered the world (Fernhill Wetlands is a man-made wetland.), a lot of species have no choice but to live among human infrastructure. While we can argue about the aesthetics, this is actually “natural” for a lot of animals.
Like other national wildlife refuges in the Willamette Valley, Tualatin National Wildlife Refuge has limited access in autumn and winter. But the trail that is open can provide some good birding.
The highlight of this trip was a fresh sapsucker well that was attracting both Anna’s Hummingbirds and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Sapsucker wells are an important source of nectar and insects for birds in the colder months.
Bewick’s Wrens spend much of their time buried in the depths of brush piles, but this individual popped up and posed for a few photos.
It is always worth the time to check out brushy hedgerows this time of year.
I don’t normally think of Dark-eyed Juncos as having a camouflage pattern, but this individual was doing a great job of blending in with his environment.
Jackson Bottom is another site that I can visit during the pandemic, assuming I get there early. The big push of spring migration has not hit, but you can tell it’s so close. Tree Swallows have been back for quite a while now. They are usually perched on the many bird houses at this site, so it was nice to catch a couple actually using a tree. The Savannah Sparrows are setting up territory. This would have been a nice shot if I could have caught a reflection in the bird’s eye.
There we go.
This Osprey spent a lot of time preening while I was there. He still looks pretty disheveled.
Anna’s Hummingbird, just high enough that I can’t get a good flash from his gorget
I’m still waiting for shorebirds to show up. Greater Yellowlegs have been the only arrivals so far.
Some Killdeer have started nesting already.
Several Common Garters (Red-spotted) were sunning themselves on this rock pile.
This garter had propped her body up against a log to better catch the morning sun.
I don’t remember seeing Camas at Jackson Bottom before, but they were in full bloom on this trip.
It is still very much winter in western Oregon, but February always brings stirrings of spring. Many birds, like this Red-winged Blackbird, are warming up their songs in preparation for setting up nesting territories.
Male Anna’s Hummingbirds always seem to be on territory.
This American Robin was nestled in the middle of a pine. I don’t associate robins with conifers, so I was struck by how nicely the bird was framed within the needles.
This Northwestern Salamander was my first herp of the year. He was hanging out under a board. The temperature was cold enough that he didn’t move at all when I found him. I could have gotten a better photo if I had repositioned him, but I decided to leave him in situ.
This was one of four White-throated Sparrows moving around in a tight group at Fernhill Wetlands.
I have often noted how Nutria (Coypu) walk that fine line between adorable and hideous. Perhaps that line has finally been crossed.
Our sunny warm spring has turned cool and wet. This is a good thing, as we continue to be far below average in rainfall amounts, but the weather has put a bit of a damper on birding and photography. This Tree Swallow put on a nice show at Koll Center Wetlands. I believe this is a young male, hatched last summer and just now molting into full adult plumage.
Most Golden-crowned Sparrows have returned north by now, but the few that remain are in full breeding plumage.
This past winter was not a big year for Pine Siskins, but one or two have recently been showing up at my feeder.
Mourning Dove at Tualatin Hills Nature Park
This singing Orange-crowned Warbler was actually displaying his orange crown at Pittock Mansion.
Male Anna’s Hummingbird, singing in the rain at Pittock Mansion
This next week will see spring migration winding down and the local nesting season kick into high gear. The slower pace will provide an opportunity to really study the local nesters, provided the rain stops.
Spring is coming on strong, despite the cold latter half of March. The season is most obvious in the open habitats around wetlands. Local nesters are starting to pair up and collect nesting material.The winter sparrow flocks are starting to thin out, but the birds that remain are active and vocal. This Fox Sparrow (with a Golden-crowned Sparrow in the background) was at Fernhill Wetlands.
The local Song Sparrows are paired up and are defending territories.
Bushtits are still in their winter flocks, but should be pairing off soon.
This male Hooded Merganser caught a large crayfish at Westmoreland Park, but did not share it with the female that was nearby.
Anna’s Hummingbird, feeding on currant
This is one of five subadult Bald Eagles that flew over Westmoreland Park in a tight group. I don’t recall seeing a flock of Bald Eagles moving together like that before.
Western Canada Goose, the locally nesting subspecies. I am trying to collect portraits of the various Canada and Cackling Goose subspecies for side-by-side comparison.
These Red-eared Sliders were basking at Commonwealth Lake. There are only two native species of freshwater turtle in Oregon, and this is not one of them. This species is often released from the pet trade.
In the next few weeks, warblers and flycatchers should start arriving in good numbers, then the rush of spring shorebird migration.
For the second week in a row, I chased a vagrant to add to my life and Oregon lists. A Lawrence’s Goldfinch turned up in a back yard in Sherwood. Since this species is hard enough to find in its normal range (southern California), when one appeared a half-hour’s drive from home, I was compelled to chase.
It was a dark rainy morning, so the bird was a bit bedraggled and a decent photo was impossible, at least with my camera. But a lifer is a lifer. This was a twitch, a quick look to identify the bird so it can be added to the list and then move on. Someday perhaps I will see a flock of Lawrence’s Goldfinches in their proper range and habitat and enjoy extended views to study plumages and behavior. But for Oregon, a damp bird at a backyard feeder is still a pretty sweet deal.
The finch appeared soon after we arrived (there was a group of nine of us that descended on this yard) then moved on. While we waited for the bird to return, we enjoyed a pair of Eurasian Collared Doves.
Anna’s Hummingbird, singing in the rain
I know that two events do not make a pattern, but it would be nice if this run of a new bird each week would continue. I won’t hold my breath.
Life and inclement weather have conspired against me of late, so my outings have been far too few. But here are some photos from recent weeks.
A trip to Broughton Beach provided nice looks at a small flock of Horned Larks. I want to read up on the many subspecies of Horned Larks to see which ones are found in Oregon. Whether I would be able to distinguish them in the field remains to be seen. This female Eurasian Wigeon has been hanging out at Commonwealth Lake.
Pied-billed Grebes, Commonwealth Lake The Portland area received about ten inches of snow last night. While this unusually large snowfall made for a lovely winter wonderland, it is quite challenging for the resident Anna’s Hummingbirds.
I finally got around to making some vegan suet (equal parts coconut oil and peanut butter with a little corn meal mixed in). It took the birds a while to find it, but it has become quite popular. Here is a Red-breasted Nuthatch.
the nuthatch sharing with a few Bushtits
and a big old wad of Bushtits. Other species seen eating the suet include Bewick’s Wren, Downy Woodpecker, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Black-capped Chickadee. I hope some warblers find it soon. We shall see.
I was interviewed on In the Garden with Mike Darcy on June 27 and discussed what you can do to attract birds to your yard in the summer. Due to various circumstances, including the continuing heat wave, I didn’t get out on a birding trip this week. Instead, I spent a little time observing the critters in the yard.
Rufous Hummingbirds have been visiting in good numbers, a few weeks earlier than normal. Perhaps the drought has pushed them out of their more normal habitats.
The resident Anna’s Hummingbird is not pleased with the Rufous invaders.
This Song Sparrow has been enjoying the bird bath.
juvenile House Finch at the feeder
A Cabbage White, probably contemplating laying her eggs on my kale
The bees are loving the Purple Coneflowers. Charismatic Megafauna