Into the Woods

We left Portland for ten days to escape the fireworks which terrify our dogs. We stayed on a farm in the Coast Range in Benton County. The birds where we stayed were typical Coast Range birds which stayed high in the dark trees, so no great photos there.

I think this pile of feathers is the result of someone munching on a Sooty Grouse.

Bodhi and I flushed four Black-tailed Deer on the far side of a clear-cut.

This very old scat consisted of just fur and bone. From the size, I am assuming it is from a Mountain Lion.

The pond at the farm where we were staying was full of Rough-skinned Newts. I assume they were congregating to lay eggs.

To bee, or not to bee? This newt actually did take a swipe at the honeybee, but I don’t think she was able to get it down.
We didn’t get in the car very often on this trip, but when we did we usually saw Wild Turkeys along the road. Here is a crappy cell-phone-through-the-dirty-windshield shot.

I have never had a reaction to Poison Oak, but I take great care to avoid direct contact.

One morning a drove down to Fern Ridge Wildlife Area in Lane County. There wasn’t as much shorebird habitat as I had hoped for, but the Black-necked Stilts were well represented. Here is a juvenile Black-necked Stilt passing in front of a Killdeer. The juveniles are recognized by their scaly backs and dull legs.

Like most birds, they bring their leg over their wing when they need to scratch their head.

Here’s a lovely adult Black-necked Stilt, with solid black upperparts and bright pink legs.

Black-necked Stilts are fairly common breeders east of the Cascades, but harder to find on the west side. Fern Ridge, at the southern end of the Willamette Valley, is a consistent breeding site for this species. Southbound shorebird migration is starting to rev up.

Happy Summer

Madera Canyon, AZ

I spent a few days in Madera Canyon, the famous birding hotspot in southeastern Arizona. Days consisted of long hikes, interspersed with relaxing periods sitting on the patio watching the bird feeders.

moonriseMoonrise over the Santa Rita Mountains

cardinal 2Like other “Sky Island” sites in Arizona, the bird life in Madera Canyon changes with the elevation. The lower canyon was home to this Northern Cardinal, a bird of my youth in Indiana.

turkey trot1A couple of miles up the canyon, Wild Turkeys were common visitors to bird feeding stations.

turkey feeding

painted redstart below1Painted Redstarts are flashy and conspicuous.
painted redstart

acorn woodpeckerAcorn Woodpecker

rufous-crowned sparrowRufous-crowned Sparrow

Coues White-tailed DeerCoues White-tailed Deer were a common sight.

elegant trogonOne of the most sought-after birds in Madera Canyon is Elegant Trogon. They nest in the big sycamores along the creek in the upper canyon.

top of Madera CanyonThis is a view from the rim surrounding the canyon. It was a long climb to this point, to the land of Grace’s Warblers and Greater Pewees.

yellow-eyed junco3Yellow-eyed Junco was one of my favorite birds in the canyon, not as flashy as the warblers and trogons, but beautiful nonetheless. yellow-eyed junco1

Sunkhaze Meadow NWR, Maine

Sunkhaze Meadow NWR lies just northeast of Bangor, Maine. It is a huge open wetland surrounded by woods. During my recent trip to Maine, most of the sites I visited were along the coast. Sunkhaze is inland, so the birds were a little different, and the mosquitoes were much more abundant.

Beaver pond. The area had received a lot of rain recently, so the pond was very full.

Here’s a closer look at the Beaver lodge. The Beavers were out of sight, as expected during the day. A Star-nosed Mole was a nice find here, although he moved too fast for a photo.

Eastern Phoebe carrying food for her young.

Slugs were feeding on this colorful fungus.

Northern Leopard Frog

Red-eyed Vireo

Baby Turkeys! (Turklets? Turkitos?) I saw two females, each with a brood of about a dozen young. These were photographed through the windshield.

This is a neat site. Had the bugs not been so bad, I would have liked to have explored it more thoroughly.

Wild Turkey

Unique to the Americas, the two species of turkey are beautiful, huge birds.  Wild Turkeys are native to North America, while Oscillated Turkeys can be found in Central America. Close to extinction in the early part of the 20th Century, Wild Turkeys have made a tremendous comeback in their original range, and have been widely introduced elsewhere. While not native to Oregon, the Rio Grande race of Wild Turkey was introduced in 1975 and is faring well in much of the state.

Turkeys are known to most people not as a wild creature, or even so much as a food, but as a centerpiece on the table at Thanksgiving. It is tradition to serve these birds on that day. But when does a tradition become a ritual? It seems a bit creepy to me to sacrificially kill and eat a particular species on a particular day, just because we have always done so. Most people have never seen a Wild Turkey, or even a living domesticated one, and yet they perpetuate this rite without considering it.

I think turkeys can be far better appreciated in the field than on the table.  On a day set aside to acknowledge the abundance of life, we should celebrate living beings, not sacrificial ones.

These are free-ranging Wild Turkeys in northeastern Oregon.

These are “free range” domestic turkeys. Selective breeding has made them into obese, pale shadows of their wild ancestors.