[Tweeters] White-winged Crossbills and the Skagit

Gary A Kelsberg kelsberg at uw.edu
Wed Dec 2 09:13:39 PST 2020

Yesterday, Sarah and I drove up to the spot near Darrington where others have reported White-winged Crossbills and were rewarded with a beautiful sunny day and a nice walk in the woods, with the North Cascades high above us. We also heard the crossbills over the next few hours as a flock flew over us several times, perching for a few seconds in the tops of the evergreens, where quick binocular work and a powerful imagination confirmed the sightings.

We then moved on to the Skagit area for easier birding and admired large flocks of mostly Trumpeter Swans with their still-grayish young in many muddy fields, and a few Tundras in the mix. Overhead were Snow Geese and Cackling Geese. In Wylie Slough we watched a flock of Bushtits piling together into a hollow snag, I presume to warm up in a protected huddle (something I seem to remember Dennis Paulson telling us about in class but which I hadn't seen before).

Towards dusk we parked on the side of the Boe-Edison Rd and saw many Short-eared Owls and Northern Harriers flying, mostly over the fields at the west and east 90's. Sometimes the owls approached our car, so we had close looks. There were dozens of people with scopes and cameras out in the fields, but most parked far enough onto the shoulder that traffic wasn't impeded. As the sun was setting, we saw several in-flight interactions between Northern Harriers and Short-eared Owls, examples of convergent evolution and competition.

Gary Kelsberg
yew dot warshington dot ee dew
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