Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Big Year End Post

What a year it's been for us! We have seen over 140 species total and over 50 species just in the yard. We have taken a few of the photos from every month this year, and compiled a kind of year-end review. We hope everyone had a wonderful, beautiful 2008 and here's wishing all of you an even better 2009. Happy New Year's Eve!

These are not necessarily the best of the best, just a re-cap of the year.

(as you can tell, we didn't have our new camera). One of our first visitors in the new year. The Varied Thrush is always a welcome guest.

If you look closely, you can see a Townsend's Warbler on the suet feeder.

Michelle took this photo during a solo walk at Mt. Tabor. It's always been one of my favorites.

A Northern Harrier at Powell Butte on Valentine's Day.

Grant McOmie came by the House to do a story on the Great Backyard Bird Count. He was with KATU but is now working for KGW. Hopefully, he will do a story on it again this year.

A Slate-Colored Junco decided to stop by. We actually see a few of these every year.

If you can believe it, it actually snowed on the 27th of March. It didn't really stick but we are still counting it as snow!

The Starlings took over the Flicker box we put in the yard. There was a Northern Flicker excavating the box for a few weeks until the Starlings got in on the action. We have a new plan for this year!

We had the Calliope Hummingbird made it's grand entrance into the yard. He (she?) stuck around for a few weeks and then was gone with the wind. Here's to hoping they return next year.

We found a mass of Cedar Waxwings at Fernhill Wetlands in Forest Grove, OR.

The Golden-Crowned Sparrows were thick at Jackson Bottom Wetlands.

One of the first times we had ever seen the Marsh Wren. What a racket this little guy can make!

A Tree Swallow on her nest box, also at Jackson Bottom.

In May, we went to the Oregon Coast for my birthday. We went up and down the coastline searching for new birds. At Fort Stevens, we found a colony of Caspian Terns. There were hundreds of the nesting there.

Along the way, we stopped many places. At this stop, the squirrels were thick and brave. luckily, Michelle thought to pack some peanuts or I fear we would have been eaten alive!

In June, we went to Vashon Island, WA for Michelle's birthday. On a walk from the cottage we were staying at, we happened to take the wrong path but ended up standing 10 feet away from this Barred Owl.

A Chipping Sparrow decided to visit us for a couple of days.

The Evening Grosbeaks started to come in the yard more frequently during the month!

On our way home from Vashon Island, we stopped in Olympia and found this Great Blue Heron on a waterway.

At Salish Ponds, just up the road from our home, we found this bold Osprey willing to try and snatch the local fisherman's daily catch. Notice the fishing pole in the bottom right-hand corner of the photo? It was incredible to watch.

This is the Port that we took a ferry from to get to Vashon Island.

The Northern Flickers were thick during the summer months. They are here in the yard year-round, but we had 6 and 7 in the yard at the same time for the warmer months.

We started seeing the Black-Headed Grosbeaks, too.

Since mid-July, we have noticed that the Hummingbirds really like to bathe. They will drink from the bath and then skim along the top of the water to clean themselves. Very fun to see!

It's really hard to catch them actually bathing, though.

The Flickers were getting pushier with each other. Normally, they won't feed at the same feeder.
A Black-Throated Gray Warbler. He came to see us about the same time last year. He was in the yard only once. Maybe someday he will stick around a little longer.

At a friends house, we noticed a pair of juvenile Cooper's Hawks. After watching them for a while, we actually saw three at the same time. If you look closely, you can see 2 Cooper's in the photo.

The American Goldfinches were really starting to fill up the yard. Sometimes, we had more than 100 at the same time.

The white-washed bird in the middle of the photo is a Little Blue Heron. Very rare for this area. We heard about him through OBOL (Oregon Birder's On Line) and went to search for him. We found him at Smith and Bybee Lakes, just off of Marine Drive in North Portland.

The Pine Siskins came in very early this year. We didn't have them in the yard until December of 2007. We're more than happy to host them!

The Chapman School, in NW Portland, is host to 1000's and 1000's of Vaux's Swifts during the month. They roost in a very large chimney at the school and have been doing so for many years. It's an incredible event to witness. 15-30,000 Swifts forming a tornado-like mass and funneling into the chimney at the same time. Amazing.
The Audubon held a release party on Sauvie island. There were 4 Barn Owls found by the side of the road in a bucket. 3 of the 4 were released on this night, the 4th still needed recuperation time. It was phenomenal to watch.

The Bewick's Wren started joining the mix. This was also the month of the Great October Bird Count, so we were very happy to see this little guy.

Another welcome visitor was this late Orange-Crowned Warbler. It was the first time this species had been in the yard.
We were able to witness 2 Downy Woodpeckers dancing around and fighting for control of this feeding station. The "dance" went on for about 10-15 minutes. I was lucky enough to be standing only about 15 feet away from them.

A Fox Sparrow found his way into the yard. A rare but delightful visitor.

After sneaking around the woods for 20 minutes, I came upon this Great Blue Heron resting himself along the bank of a pond. Well worth all the scratches I got from the shrubs!

November was a heavy hawk month. The Sharp-Shinned were coming into the yard as much as 10 times a day.The Cooper's was an infrequent visitor.
After heavy snowfall and freezing tempatures, the Varied Thrush thought that our yard was as good a place as any to pick up some food.

We made our normal suet recipe, but bought some Christmas Tree molds so that the birds could celebrate with us! So far, they have been a big hit.
Lilly, the Queen of the House, opens one of her MANY, MANY presents on Christmas morning.

Ashley, the Princess, chewing on her newest toy. This gingerbread man will be her favorite until one of the other dogs picks up another toy, then THAT toy will be her favorite. Yes, they wear clothes.

Black Top (a.k.a. The Prince) in his Christmas Best! He was more than happy to wear some clothes when the temperature was 15 degrees.

And this, alas, is Puddles. He is very much loved and spoiled but he is also the butt of many jokes. I do have to say, that I think he looks pretty dapper with his tie on.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Steller's Jay

I had the rare opportunity to get pretty close to a Steller's Jay. Normally, these guys will shoot out of the yard the second we step in it. But this brave little guy decided to hang around for a few photos. Steller's are a daily occurrence in the yard, but since I have never taken any decent photos of them, I was just excited to post them. They are such gorgeous birds.

He is in a Pear tree, with a Quince growing in between.

He gave me all sorts of good looks at him (or her)

It's funny, years ago, before I was a birder I actually thought these were the males and that the Scrub-Jays were the females. Looking back, I can't believe that I ever thought that, but it seemed normal to me then.

Gotta love the eyebrows.

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The yard and Bird Cam photos

Here we are, only 3 days removed from the last snow, and it's almost all gone already. Incredible! It's a balmy 44 degrees and there are only a few spots in the yard with snow on them.

We have been running the Bird Cam quite a bit these last few days. Here's a few photos and some tips that we have already learned.

This shot is of a bunch of Lesser Goldfinches underneath out bathroom window. It turned out good but it was a little too far away.

A Scrub-Jay and a Squirrel. Again, a good shot but I think the camera needs to be closer for great shots.

If you ever wanted to see Starling tongue, this is the way to do it.

Starlings and a White-Crowned Sparrow. The Starlings were all over the seed we were tossing out for the ground feeders during the storm.

We have never seen the Starlings eat seed before. They always go for bugs or the suet. I guess all the snow had them eating whatever they could get.

Here's what not to do. Make sure that when you go to retrieve your camera from where you had it stationed, that you turn it OFF first. Otherwise, you get a bunch of photos of you bringing the Cam inside.

During the height of the storm Michelle and I got bundled up and took our sled to the only store that was open around us. Unfortunately, it was Fred Meyer. We don't like to buy seed from the big box stores but our local bird shop was closed due to weather and we were completely out of seed.

From our regular digital camera. A Yellow-Rumped Warbler grabbing some suet.

Another of the Yellow-Rumped. We have been getting at least 3 on a daily basis.

A Townsend's Warbler trying it's best to get some frozen suet.

A Towhee, a Golden-Crowned Sparrow and a couple of Juncos.

A brave Song Sparrow. They usually do not come onto the porch when we are there, but the snow had the little guy acting a little differently.

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