Birdiversary and honorable mentions
I went back to basics this year for my birdaversary. Back to Stub Stewart State Park where it all began three years ago when I was first inspired inspired by the curiosity and wonder of birds.
It was rainier and foggier this time, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying this classic Pacific Northwest forest. Knowing what I know now, this park in winter is not exactly a birding hotspot. At least to find a lot of species, but don’t tell that to my former self. It’s the type of place where you can walk for miles and see nothing, or you might bump into a Northern Pygmy Owl like I did on day one.
No owls this time, but I did find a flock of 90+ Pine Siskins.
I wouldn’t have known what to do with these back then, but this time I knew to scan for Common Redpolls. Nope, not that lucky.
I hung out with my corvid pals, Steller’s Jay and Gray Jays that hopped around the cabin deck looking for a lost crumb.
I reconnected with the Red-breasted Sapsucker which was my second-place winner for spark bird (after the Pygmy Owl).
I saw at least a half dozen Brown Creepers, Golden-crowned Kinglets, and perky Pacific Wrens.
Which I’m now confident is the mystery bird I saw on day one. Three years later, mystery solved! I saw only 12 species this time compared to 14 then, but it was still fun remembering that amazing day. Much thanks to forest birds like this Varied Thrush.
It’s been an awesome year! Not a Big Year, but an awesome one. Between Texas, Florida, and the Pacific Northwest I’ve seen 412 species bringing my life list to 469. It’s hard to believe I’ve seen so much in such a short time period. It goes by so quickly sometimes I don’t get the chance to write about everything. But I feel some things deserve mentioning.
Like my 200th Multnomah County bird, the White-winged Scoter that I saw in the pouring rain the day before I left for Florida.
The Broad-tailed Hummingbird I met this summer in Colorado while visiting a friend.
And who could forget the happy hummers in the yard when I turned on the sprinkler during the 100+ degree summer days?
Yard-birds bring me great joy. While I haven’t yet seen a returning Townsend’s Warbler yet, we’ve had new sparrows this year, the Fox Sparrow who likes scratching in the leaves.
And my new favorite, White-throated Sparrow.
Appropriately at the Birds and Beers white elephant gift exchange I won an awesome White-throated Sparrow painting by my friend Max! It’s bright and cheery and I love it.
This wouldn’t be an update post without mention of my 5 mi-radius. On the way home from the coast last weekend I picked up a few more, Red-necked Grebe, Black Phoebe, and a Spotted Sandpiper that’s roughly the size of a goose head.
One of the best things I’ve done this year was volunteer at the Portland Audubon Wildlife Care Center. No photos due to patient sensitivity, but I can talk about how rewarding it was to give back. Some of my favorite moments were feeding young crows that gobble down food with a “ang-ang-ang,” seeing adorable little hummingbirds, and hearing the mysterious calls from baby Black-headed Grosbeaks.
I held an Osprey while it was gavaged, fed a recovering Great Blue Heron whole fish, and assisted with owls whenever possible. Such amazing creatures. I can’t say I miss the baby duckling poop. So. Much. Duck. Poop. But it’s all worth it to give nature a second chance. I can share a video of a rehabilitated Cedar Waxwing I was able to release this summer. (Good luck, Cedrick!)
The best of times! Coming up I have much to look forward to and am thinking of goals for next year. I’d like to beef up the yard bird list, but that requires me to be at home more. Currently, we’re at 51 species, the most recent addition being a Barred Owl calling outside the window at 4:30am (Who cooks for you-all!).
I still haven’t found a Western Screech Owl on Mt Tabor. Maybe I’ll get to the bow of a boat next year. Do White-tailed Ptarmigan exist? And there are six counties in Oregon where I haven’t seen a single bird, (Yamhill, Marion, Wallowa, Curry, Jackson, and Malheur county), so that is a good excuse to do some road trippin.
2018 let’s do this!
Tweets and chirps,
Are you doing Christmas Bird Counts at all?
This would also make an interesting story for your blog.
Hi Cathy! I participated in the Christmas Bird Count the past three years, but this year will be heading east towards Walla Walla, so I’ll miss the Portland count. 🙁
I wrote about my 2015 Christmas Count experience when I learned about (and was shocked by) the history of how they began!
What a good year! Hope you are ending 2017 with a new fancy goose by the end of the day. Can’t wait to reconfirm the nonexistence of fancy chickens on Rainier with you next year!
Wait i saw you see a ruff in marion county once…
Haha, I remember that ruff!! It’s on my mental bird list. 🙂