Steigerwald

I took a trip to Steigerwald Lake NWR to see what the Purple Martins were up to.

They were busy being birds.

Purple Martin

I love listening to them chatter. Wonder what they’re saying?…

I was a bit confused by their plumage. In fact, while taking these photos, another birder on the path asked me what kind of birds they were and I wasn’t positive they were all martins.

Purple Martin

Purple Martin

A little Googling reveals that, like some birds, Purple Martins have “delayed plumage maturation” and it takes two years for their adult plumage to come in. So, some of these could be subadult males. That explains their plumage.

But what explains their attitude?

Purple Martin

More obvious males were visible at the nesting “gourds“.

Purple Martin

Purple Martin

Purple Martins, the largest North American swallows, migrate from South America (Brazil, Argentina, Peru) and feed on large insects like dragonflies. 40 nesting gourds are maintained at Steigerwald that had a successful 90% occupancy rate in 2014 according to USFWS. Nice to know they have a place to nest here.

Other species seen on this trip:

Tweets and chirps,

Audrey

Larch Mountain Part II

Larch Mountain was so much fun the first time, I made a return visit the following day.

Round two proved worthwhile just from the drive up. Elk! It’s been years since I’ve seen elk in the wild, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen them this far from the coast. There were others with this one, but they ran off pretty quickly when I squealed the car to a stop on the road. Pretty neat sighting.

Elk

Not long after – CHICKEN!

Sooty Grouse

Just kidding, it’s a Sooty Grouse.

I’ll admit it, ever since the Ring-necked pheasant at Sauvie Island, when I see these kinds of birds by the road, my first reaction is to call them chickens (blame early mornings). There have been a handful of “chicken events,” but I rarely manage to get photographic evidence enough to make an ID, so I was pretty happy even with this sub-par snapshot.

Moving right along.

The usual flycatchers were on set, as were Cedar Waxwings, Hairy Woodpecker, a rough-looking Red-breasted Nuthatch (juvenile?), and a shining MacGillivray’s Warbler.

Cedar Waxwing

Hairy Woodpecker

Red-breasted Nuthatch

MacGillivray's Warbler

Oops…not that one…

MacGillivray's Warbler

Yeah! Better.

Mr Hermit was still hanging around the parking lot, but less vocal and showy this day.

Hermit Warbler

The rockstar show-off bird of this trip was a Dark-eyed Junco.

Giant Junco, destroyer of worlds

Giant Junco, destroyer of worlds

Mustache mania.

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

And finally, LOLZ.

Dark-eyed Junco

What a goofball.

Pretty much sums up this trip!

Tweets and chirps,

Audrey

Larch Mountain Part I

I hadn’t given up hope on finding a Hermit Warbler after my Johnson Road trip.

The following weekend, I conferred with BirdsEye and decided to try my luck at Larch Mountain. Funny thing about Larch Mountain, larch trees don’t actually grow there. Noble fir is the dominant species that was once marketed and sold by early loggers as the more profitable timber, “larch.” Hence, how the mountain got its name. Tsk, tsk.

Anyways, my love for abandoned logging roads is growing. I pulled over on the first one I could find.

There were Dark-eyed Juncos trilling.

Dark-eyed Juncos

And Orange-crowned Warblers trilling that sounded like Dark-eyed Juncos.

Orange-crowned Warbler

I got a better view of the MacGillivray’s Warbler.

MacGillivray's Warbler

And I saw some birds I didn’t recognize, like this one:

Western Kingbird (?)

Consensus on Whatbird was mixed, but the best guess (I think) is Myiarchus sp. possibly an Ash-throated Flycatcher (?), based on the pale yellow belly and dark upperparts. I didn’t get a look at its tail and didn’t hear a song. Western Kingbird was another consideration, however, to me the yellow on the above bird’s belly looks too pale in comparison with kingbirds. Toughie!

I was luckier with these flycatchers who identified themselves by song. I propose re-naming them according to their bird song to make their names easier to remember. I saw Fitz-bews, Quick THREE beers, and Tseet pwe-eet tsips – okay, maybe that one should remain Pacific-slope.

Willow Flycatcher

Willow Flycatcher

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Pacific-slope Flycatcher

Hidden in the trees, I’m glad this Pacific-slope Flycatcher sang!

Other lovely singers on the scene:

House Wren

House Wren

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Western Tanager

Western Tanager

There were bugs, butterflies, and birds galore…it was just plain wonderful. Still though, no sign of the Hermit Warbler at this point, so I continued to the main parking lot area at the top of Larch Mountain, where…

Huzzah! The hermit finally came out of hiding.

Hermit Warbler

It’s funny how little effort it took once I got there. I exited my car, took two steps onto the trail, and bam – there it was, perched in the trees less than 5ft from my face (of course, I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to get that shot). I followed it as it flew back towards the parking lot area and I hung out for a while, listening to it’s chipper song, zee-zoo-zee-zoo-zeezee-zeet.

Hermit Warbler

What a sweet little bird!

Tweets and chirps!

Audrey