[Tweeters] Keeping it local - getting great birds

Rob Conway robin_birder at hotmail.com
Wed May 14 01:06:57 PDT 2014

I've really been enjoying our clear warm days and have take the opportunity to maximize birding while staying relatively close to home. Every morning I wake up to 3 Steller's Jays and 2 Western Scrub Jays tussling over the suet baskets hung from the eaves right outside my bedroom windows. They fly up, knock chunks down and feed on the ground. They leave little scraps which Song Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows, Spotted Towhees, Bewicks Wren, and Mourning Doves all compete for.

I have raptors (and Stellers Jays immitating same) all day long including 7-10 Turkey Vultures which I am fairly certain are nesting in the rocky cliffs just west of the house - they have a "drying tree" right in my yard, an active pair of Red Tailed Hawks nesting near the top of the bluff bordering and below Prune Hill, Bald Eagles nesting mid-bluff in a huge fir snag, and many hawks passing through including multiple Swainson's Hawks, Red Shouldered Hawks, a single Ferruginous Hawk as well as Cooper's, Sharp-Shinned,American Kestrel, Merlin and Peregrine Falcons. I can sometimes see as many as 20 large birds of prey in the air at once picking up the wind currents and thermals that come off of the bluff.

Inside my lot (almost an acre, much of it heavily planted - water feature with pond and falls, bordering on a 60 acre wildland with a creek) in the past 3 days I've seen Bullock's Oriele, Western Tanager, Black Headed Grosbeak, Townsend's Solitaire, at least 8 nesting pairs of American Robins, House Wrens, Bewicks Wren, Fox Sparrow, White Throated Sparrow, Red Crossbills (80+ at stream) a lingering Ruby Crowned Kinglet, Bushtits (both pairs and groups of 4-7), Red Breasted Nuthatch, White Breasted Nuthatch, Townsends, Hermit, Wilsons, Orange Crowned, Yellow, MacGillivray's, Black Throated Grey, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Rumped Warblers, Brown Creeper (nesting), Chestnut Backed Chickadee, Black Capped Chickadee, American Goldfinch, Lesser Goldfinch, House Finch, Cassin's Finch and Purple Finch, Anna's Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, a single gorgeous Calliope Hummingbird and Evening Grosbeak. In a open area surrounded by native plants I've twice seen a Western Bluebird.

As I'm very close the the Columbia and Washougal rivers flyovers include Double Crested Cormorant, a single American White Pelican, Great Blue Heron, an American Egret (flying down onto the bank of the Washougal), Canada Geese + Cacklers, and Greater White Fronted Geese along with Common Merganser and Mallard. In the small creek in the wildland was an American Dipper seen for only 10 seconds before it soomed upstream.

I have seen both Great Horned and thank you Jays a Barred Owl and I hear both Screech and Saw Whet at night. I have Hairy, Downy, Pileated Woodpeckers, nesting Flickers, and 2 pairs of gorgeous Red Breasted Sapsuckers. The sky is filled with squeaks of Violet Green, Tree and Barn swallows along with a few Northern Rough Winged. I have only managed to identify a Willow Flycatcher and Olive sided Flycatcher and a Western Wood-Peewee but there are others I don't get a close or long enough look to pin down. I have heard only Warbling Vireo, Swainsons Thrush, and Red-eyed vireo. The Starlings and Cedar Waxwings are plentiful going after suet and flying insects.
I see all of these birds because I have good and varied habitat that I boost with supplemental food and water, I'm out-of-doors for 6 hours a day (sendentary for the most part on my deck, but taking short walks to other parts of the lot, but mostly I keep my eyes and ears open and can take my time to investigate little things that lead me to birds. It is a good life. Hopefully soon I'll be able to venture far afield again!
Rob Conway
Camas, WA
45.58°N 122.44°W - elevation 310 ft.
robin_birder at hotmail.com

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