[Tweeters] In The Hall Of The Salmonberry Birds

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign15 at gmail.com
Tue Jun 4 10:20:09 PDT 2019

This last Sunday (June 2) I woke up to toodling Robins at 4:08 am - dawn
getting earlier by the day till Solstice - and the Robins are getting up
earlier with it. Robins are great.

The last few weeks though, I've been hankering to hear a wilder dawn chorus
than I can hear at the house, and especially desiring to hear the wonderful
song of the Salmonberry Bird. It helps to know where Salmonberries are to
find a Salmonberry Bird and I'd already scoped out several spots including
my newest favorite place - only 8 minutes away by truck- the Quimper West
Preserve - protected by Jefferson Land Trust.

Feeling lucky I got out to Quimper West by 8am and got lucky. The main
trail there runs strait down the center of the property and doesn't seem
too promising at first but gets better and better. The Salmonberries were
ripe! At least some of them - my first trip out here in April they were all
in magenta bloom. On May first I heard my first Salmonberry Bird calling -
too early for singing then. Sunday I was hearing a lot of 'em calling.

Ok, so what in the world is a Salmonberry Bird you might be wondering by
now, if you don't already know. Salmonberry Birds are known by most birders
by their white guy name: Swainson's Thrush. Now, as was often the case,
William Swainson was british naturalist of the Victorian Era back when
European and American naturalists were naming everything as fast as they
could. Thomas Nuttall, another brit named the thrush for Swainson, which
was nice of him, but don't tell us much about the bird itself. Not sure
Swainson ever saw one outside of a specimen box.

Salmonberry Bird was how the aboriginal inhabitants around here refered to
the bird. It say's alot more than the white guy name, since the Salmonberry
Bird shows up, and starts singing, just about when the salmonberries are
ripening, a good thing to know. I'm switching to Salmonberry Bird from now

Well, anyhoo, Quimper West is a fabulous 80 acres of forest, which somehow
evolved into tall conifers - large Grand-firs, Dougfirs, Red - cedar, and
Hemlock - with enough space between them to allow plenty of sunlight down
to the understory. In this forest Red Elderberry forms into tall tree-like
shrubs, the big ones with moss-covered like Vine Maples would be in another
forest. Kind of unique. The Salmonberry Festival, will soon be followed by
Elderberry Fest which should make all the forest thrushes happy - lots of
Robins here too.

This place is very birdy in general. I was hearing about as many Pacific
Wrens singing as I've ever heard in one place, and those were just the ones
I could hear - my aging ears tend to miss out on the higher pitched birds,
but I knew there were more out there. O.C. Warbler, Purple Finch, Song
Sparrow, Hutton's Vireo, Black-headed Grosbeak, RB Nuthatches, Rufous
Hummer, Towhee, Pileated Woodpecker, and Flicker were the birds calling and
singing. Also the delicious liquid call of the Cowbird, first I've heard
this year.

While it was a sunny calm morning, foghorns on the nearby Straits had been
blowing, which I didn't realize untill later that I'd transmuted foghorn in
my mind to a natural sound rather than a noise. I guess 60+ years living
around here will do that for a person. As suggested, fog silently crept
into the woods right as I got to a great bird spot. Then it happened.

No sooner than the edge of fog crept in, it crept back out revealing the
sun like a second sunrise which was the catalyst for a sudden rush of bird
song: 3 or 4 Salmonberry Birds singing over and around each other loudly,
joined by Robins, a Song Sparrow, a Flicker and a Cowbird! A late sunrise
for slackers! Amazing sounds! The fog came back in just a little, the sun
dimmed again and quiet suddenly returned. It all happened in about 5

Walking out I heard a Western Wood Pewee, a cool sound. FOY.

Jeff Gibson
on the Quimper
Port Townsend Wa
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