Gray Jays

While exploring areas around Mt. Hood, my Portland Audubon class encountered a flock of Gray Jays at the Little Crater Lake Campground (Birding Oregon p. 75). When I find this species in the woods, they seem rather shy to me. But when the birds have been enjoying the easy pickings at a campground, one can quickly see how they got the nickname, Camp Robber. Jays were landing on fingers, binoculars, and hats in hopes of getting a handout. Their efforts were rewarded with nuts and crackers, a small price to pay for such an enjoyable close encounter with a beautiful bird.

Mt. Hood National Forest

I spent a day exploring part of Mt. Hood National Forest along Forest Service Road 58 (Birding Oregon p. 75). A hot day in July is not the best time to find lots of birds, since singing has greatly diminished and there is so much great habitat for birds to hide in, but the scenery and solitude are well worth the trip.

Here is the view from the High Rock area, showing the peak of Mt. Hood and the forest in various stages of regrowth.

This area of the forest is a patchwork of clearcuts, young forest, and groves of mature trees. While not nearly so scenic, clearcuts are often very productive for certain species of birds and other wildlife.

Forest Service roads that are too rough for vehicles provide easy hiking routes.

The Bear Grass was in full bloom.

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Pileated Woodpecker feeding site

A pair of Gray Jays responded to a pygmy-owl imitation. Despite their reputation for stealing food from picnic tables, I usually find Gray Jays to be rather shy.

This is the meadow near Little Crater Lake.

A pond in the meadow, with Mt. Hood peaking over the trees.

Always check muddy areas for tracks, like these from Black-tailed Deer.

Little Crater Lake