Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Orange-Crowned Warbler!

An Orange-Crowned Warbler (orestera subspecies) came into the yard just about an hour ago, tagging along with a flock of Bushtits! Just in time to be counted for the GOBC!! He must have got the memo! Thanks little guy.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkins, Birds and the GOBC

Michelle and I carved pumpkins this weekend. We went to a pumpkin patch 2 weeks ago and selected only the finest of the orange, round orbs. After trying to decide how to carve them, Michelle came up with a wonderful idea to make her pumpkin from only things that we have grown in the yard and the garden (pic below). I thought that was a terrific idea! Then that led me to my idea which, although not as cool as hers, still allowed me to do the 2 things that I love most...spend time with Michelle and birding!

Well, the Great October Bird Count is almost over :( It has been a wild ride! There is only 4 days left and it's been a little slow. Sunday was a gorgeous day but INCREDIBLY windy! Not too many birds were braving the gale force winds. We are still hearing a couple of new birds but they have yet to show their little feathered butts! I guess we shall see...

Here is Michelle's pumpkin!
Hair: Grape leaves
Eyes: Sunflowers
Nose: Agapanthus seed
Mouth: Anaheim pepper
Ears: Scarlet Runner Bean seeds
Earrings: Fuchsia Tree flowers
Flowers above the ear...we think are Coreopsis. All of this came from the yard and I think it's the best pumpkin I have ever seen! Talk about recycling!

Here is my pumpkin. I thought I'd see if the backyard crew would like to have a holiday feeder. It turns out that they like it quite a bit! It probably wont last more than a day or two but it will be fun while it lasts.

Here is a Song Sparrow that apparently is from the Eastern part of the state. We noticed him right away because of his stance, behavior and markings. We have 5 or 6 Song Sparrows that visit everyday and this guy was definitely different. We actually thought that this was a Lincoln's Sparrow at first. But, after posting on OBOL and Flickr and getting some great advice from some experienced and knowledgeable birders, we now know that this is a Song Sparrow but not from these parts. Still kind of exciting to have an out-of-town visitor!

Lots of House Finches in the yard lately.

Look at the mammoth House Finch in the back! He was flying around the yard last night and he was twice the size of the other House Finches. We thought that it might be some other species but he had all the markings of a House Finch. Albeit a large House Finch, but still a House Finch.

Squirrels, squirrels and more squirrels! Suet thieves is what they should be called!

Now here we have a squirrel that knows it's place. We set the table for him and he comes to dine! No stealing suet. Not eating sunflower seeds. This corn is for him (and the Jays) and he knows it.

We always love a visit from the Downy!

Lots of Lesser Goldfinches, American Goldfinches and Pine Siskins in the yard now.

Oh, and Juncos, too!

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Great October Bird Count!!

Well, only 9 days left in the GOBC! We are still hearing (but not seeing) the Towhee and the Ruby-Crowned Kinglets. Last night we added the Purple Finch (finally) and we continue to scour the yard and the skies daily for new visitors.

Here are just a few photos from the last week or so. Good luck to everyone and good birding!

P.S. Don't forget to sign up for the FeederWatcher program starting November 8th!!

Michelle spotted this Northern Flicker just checking out the neighborhood

taking it easy on our neighbor's chimney

The Pine Siskin numbers are still growing. We have up to 200 in the yard when they are in full force.

They seem to think that they are dirty birds because they bathe constantly and furiously!

When a group of them bathes, they can almost empty the bird bath of water!

The Junco numbers are climbing, too. We now have around 15 or so.

They are such great backyard friends!

I have a few photos of this Junco and it seems that he only has one leg. Poor little guy. He gets around just fine, though.

The Red-Tail Hawks seem to be a more frequent neighborhood visitor lately.

This little squirrel was going to TOWN on this pear! He just sat there, rolling it around, happy as a clam to have it all to himself.

The Yellow-Rumped Warbler hiding in the Mountain Ash tree. He makes daily visits now and soon the other Warblers should follow!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Project FeederWatch!!

It's almost time for another season of Project FeederWatch! November 8, 2008 is the start of the winter-long survey. Being a Citizen Scientist is a lot easier and more rewarding than you might think. This is a joint venture of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bird Studies Canada, the National Audubon Society and the Canadian Nature Federation and it's a great way to contribute to the birds that you love and enjoy so much!

All that you have to do is sign up here:, wait for the packet to come to you in the mail and then start counting and reporting! There is a $15 dollar participation fee, but you not only get membership into the program but you also get a Research Kit, which contains instructions, a bird identification poster, a wall calendar, a resource guide to bird feeding, and data forms! Not only do you get these items but you are TRULY helping with the conservation and protection efforts that go on year round! You just need to sit back, relax and count some of your backyard friends.

It really is a great program and I would love to see a bunch of new participants this year! Here is a good page to start on: It will answer a lot of the questions you have, but the entire site is full of other information and a ton of photos.

Here's a neat link. You can explore all sorts of data that has been collected over the years.

With this link you can look at all the Rare Bird reports (and accompanying photos) from over the project's lifetime.

This link will show you the Top 25 Feeder Birds (with ranking number) from over the years. You can see how some birds have become much more popular while others have declined over time.

This link will take you to all of the photos from birders around the Continent!

And here is the link to their Home Page

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Owl Release Party and October Bird Count

Last night, Michelle and I went to the Audubon's Owl Release party at Kruger's on Sauvie Island. 30-40 people showed up for the event. It was amazing! 4 Barn Owls had been left by the side of the road in a bucket. Someone found them and brought them to the Audubon Society. After almost 3 months of rehabilitation, 3 of the 4 birds were ready to be released back into the wild. The 4th Owl still needs some time to prepare and he will (hopefully) be released shortly. The Audubon does such amazing and incredible work and we are very proud to be members!

On another happy note, it is 12 days into our Great October Bird Count contest and we are having a blast. It's a lot fun to count birds anyway, but "competing" with other birders around the world to see how many backyard birds you get in the month of October makes it even more exciting. We are up to 27 species and still have a few regulars that have been absent so far.

So here are some photos of the Owl Release and then some from the backyard and as always, we hope you enjoy! Good birding and good luck to everyone in the Great October Birds Count!

Here is the group gathering at Kruger's last night about 5:30pm

One of the 3 Owls being released being held by one of the Audubon Care Center people.

They were incredibly gorgeous birds!

Here he is just as he was taking off for his first flight as a wild bird! Michelle and I both teared up as they were released. It was a pretty emotional event.

All 3 of them flew to a stand of trees nearby. They will stay there for a few hours until they get situated and then hopefully find a more permanent address.

As we were waiting for the release of the Owls, we took a short hike near one of the many fields at Kruger's. We were rewarded with this hunting male Northern Harrier.

We knew he was the male because of the black tips on his wings and the blue hue on his back. He was gorgeous and I wish I could have taken closer photos of him.

Also on our hike, we happened upon an American Kestrel pair hunting. The female was too far away for decent photos but the male let me get closer.

He then flew to this farm equipment in the middle of another field. He just sat there scanning the field for (I'm assuming) mice.

Now on to the yard...

We were watching birds the other morning when, all of a sudden, we heard the warning and alarm calls of several birds and then we saw the reason. A Cooper's Hawk had swooped into the yard.

He sat on the wire for a few minutes and then decided to move on. We then saw him flush, then chase, a rare Raven from a nearby conifer. What a great sight that was!

At one point, he swooped down onto a squirrel. He didn't take it but it scared the poor little squirrel to death!
The Red-Breasted Nuthatch letting me know it's time for me to make more suet!

Another Nuthatch found a snack late in the evening

They really like this "squirrel proof" feeder. It's just about the only non-suet feeder that they will visit. I put the words squirrel proof in quotations because, as anyone who has feeders knows, nothing is "squirrel proof".

The Pine Siskins have come back in force!

Pine Siskins are everywhere. They are even covering the tray in the back of the picture. Yesterday, we had about 150 Pine Siskins in the yard at one time. With all the other species in the yard, we had somewhere around 300 birds in the yard! It was so fun to watch.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A few photos from Sauvie

We took a trip to Sauvie Island (over a week ago) to search for the White Pelicans that were being reported. We didn't see them in the large numbers but we did find one (Life Bird)! Even from hundreds of yards away, we could see him without the binoculars! Through the binoculars he was absolutely stunning!

Anyway, along with the usual suspects on the island, we also saw HUGE flocks of Cedar Waxwings (a lot of juveniles) and White-Breasted Nuthacthes (which was also a Life Bird for us).
So here are a few pics and we are still searching the yard everyday for new visitors!

That white spot in the middle in the American White Pelican! He was swimming around and fishing for at least an hour.

A (grainy) photo of the White-Breasted Nuthatch! We were beside ourselves when we found him!

This was just odd. It seemed that a salmon had become stuck in the shallow waters. The gull next to him was either there to keep him company or he was there for some lunch.

This Golden-Crowned Sparrow was not very impressed that I was so close to him.
One of the hundreds of juvenile Cedar Waxwings on the island.

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