[Tweeters] Okanogan Highlands: White winged Crossbills, Common Redpolls, Pine Grosbeaks and updated PHOTOS

Khanh Tran khanhbatran at hotmail.com
Wed Nov 25 12:42:36 PST 2015

This past weekend, I spent some time with friends in Okanogan County and birded mostly around the Okanogan Highlands. I had an open mind and didn’t have any expectations but to have fun. Surprisingly, the birding was quite GOOD! Already many of the wintering species are here in decent numbers and hoping for the trend to continue.

The conifers and deciduous trees are filled with many cones and seeds (the most plentiful that I have seen here in the last 10 years) and the forest was alive with high caliber birds. The last few years has been a bit dismal with low birding activity so it was refreshing and fun to see great birds! Common birds were quite conspicuous as well, with lots of Pine Siskins, Mountain Chickadees and Red breasted Nuthatches. These were noticeably absent the last couple of years in the Highlands. The drier spring and summer must have helped some the breeding production for some of the gallineaous birds. I saw several conveys of partridges, quail, Ruffed Grouse and even Sharp tailed Grouse.

Most of the Conconully area has burned from this summer’s fires. However, the feeding grounds for the Sharp tailed Grouse looks unscathed with the water birch and aspen trees still intact. Let’s hope these fancy, grassland chickens will continue to feed along the Scotch Creek area!

Here are a list of species seen:

Great Horned Owl (up to a dozen birds before dusk along Havillah Rd)

Short eared Owl (two birds hunting near Sitzmark ski area)

Long eared Owl ( several birds)

Northern Pygmy Owl (up to four birds near Mary Ann Creek, Havillah, and Chesaw Rd)

Northern Saw-Whet Owl (roosting bird near Sno-Park)

Sharp tailed Grouse (two birds along Mary Ann Creek Rd)

Ruffed Grouse (a dozen plus birds along Nealey Rd and Pontiac Ridge Rd)

Northern Goshawk (adult bird along Pontiac Ridge Rd)

Prairie Falcon (two birds near Fancher Rd)

Gray Partridge (up to 35 birds near Chesaw town and near Pontiac Ridge Rd)

American Tree Sparrow (five birds along Havillah Rd)

Bohemian Waxwings (several small flocks along Nealey and Havillah Rd)

Snow Buntings (flock of 20 birds along Havillah Rd)

Gray crowned Rosy-finches (at feeder along Nealey Rd both subspecies)

Pine Grosbeaks (several pairs and small flocks along Mary Ann Creek Rd and Chesaw Rd)

Red Crossbills (several small flocks through the Highlands)

Common Redpolls (several small flocks along Chesaw and Bolster Rd)

White Winged Crossbills (several pure flocks along Hungry Hollow, Pontiac Ridge Rd, and Bolster Rd)

A few,updated photos can be seen here:


Happy Thanksgiving with much peace, love and good birding!

Khanh Tran


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