Fink Family Farm Bird List

Fink Family Farm Bird List

The only list I faithfully keep is a list of all the birds seen on our farm since we moved here in 1977. I thought it would be fun to ad...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mystery Shorebird

Since there seemed to be some confusion as to which bird I was asking about, I'm adding the photo that John Woodhouse somehow managed to put an arrow on. And yes, the arrow is pointing to the bird in question. Please now send or resend your comments to Thanks all!

I fired off photos Saturday on our windy canoe trip at the Oregon Shorebird Festival without having a clue what I was taking pictures of, since I was, at the same time, trying to keep the canoe from zooming upstream with the tide and wind. I heard what our canoe leader Tom was saying was there and I did manage to catch a glimpse of a Black Turnstone (and a zillion peeps). However, once I put the photos on the computer, I could see, in the photo above, a zillion Western Sandpipers, 3 Black Turnstones, at least 3 Red-necked Phalaropes and one mystery bird. Another photo shows a Yellowlegs and those were the only species I remember Tom mentioning (he had a scope mounted on the front of his kayak). He did say he did not see any Least Sandpipers. So... what is my mystery bird? It is on the right side of the photo with its back to the camera and appears brown instead of gray.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Green Heron

Every year, I suspect the Green Herons are nesting nearby. And every year, a juvenile turns up on our pond, so I was expecting a juvenile when this one appeared Aug. 19. But it has the rufous, not streaked, neck of an adult. However, I don't know the molt sequence of Green Herons so perhaps the slight irregularities of color on the neck mean this is a young one nearly completing its molt into adult plumage. Or not.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Dowitcher Puzzle

Greg Gillson has written an excellent article on telling Short-billed from Long-billed Dowitchers. But I'm still not doing well. The photos I've taken at Baskett Slough are not the greatest, which is my excuse for not being able to figure out who is what. I'll try to do better on my next trip to the feed store, via Baskett Slough. Here is the pertinent part (for me, this time of year, in this area) of Greg's article:

"A fall adult with little or no color on the underparts, but retaining extensive thick, solid alternate breast markings is almost certainly a Short-billed, while a fall adult retaining smooth reddish color throughout the underparts including the belly, but with very thin-looking, worn breast markings is almost certainly a Long-billed.


Juveniles (young birds in their first set of feathers after the downy plumage) are the easiest dowitchers to tell apart. The plumage is fresh and new with crisp, bright, colorful edges--very unlike the worn and faded adult fall dress.

Juvenile Short-billeds arrive in early August and migrate through until the end of September. Juvenile Long-billeds arrive in early September and remain in this plumage into November. They then molt sequentially into basic plumage. The tertials are among the last feathers to molt.

Juvenile Short-billed Dowitchers are very bright and highly colored. The upper breast is bright buff with spots, fading to white on the belly. The scapulars and tertials are widely fringed and patterned with reddish [see Figure 3]. The coverts are barred and fringed with buff.

Long-billed Dowitcher juveniles are rather plain. The scapulars have cinnamon margins, but the coverts and tertials have thin buff margins. The breast is buff and gray with little spotting, which fades into a white belly."

Some good photos of Dowitchers with identities revealed (or not and why not) are here:

Okay, my bad photos at the top were taken Aug. 3, 2011. My bad photo below, Aug. 8. Opinions welcome. I'm going to guess that the bird in the last photo above with the very long bill is a female Long-billed Dowitcher... because the female Longbills have the longest bills... and birds inland should be Long-billed. I'll try to get better photos. I was going for art, not identification.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mid-summer Bird Photos

Birding friend Marilyn and I watched on July 31 as a parent Osprey fed one of the nearly-ready-to-fledge chicks in a nest near Willamina. Four big birds were a lot for one nest!

On my way home from the feed store on August 3rd, I visited The Narrows on Coville Rd. at Baskett Slough Wildlife Refuge and saw the lovely Pacific Golden Plover that had been spotted there. Birder Joel Geier pointed it out to me.

Also at The Narrows were preening White Pelicans and a ruffled Great Egret (along with several unruffled.) On another road within the refuge I found this Horned Lark.

Back at home, two Belted Kingfishers have been flying around our pond making a terrific racket for two days. I have no idea why. Here is one after it settled down.

Mama California Quail guards her five surviving (as of Aug. 8) chicks. I think this group started with nine. A Cooper's Hawk tried today, Aug. 8, for one of them but they escaped into the bushes in time.

Birding friends from Tillamook, Barbara and John, joined me today for a trip to Baskett Slough with stops along the way. At a stop near Sheridan we found this Green Heron.

There were at least six lovely Great Egrets at The Narrows (along with many Dowitchers, Yellowlegs, a Red-necked Phalarope, Western Sandpipers and other unphotographed-by-me birds). We found a very cooperative Horned Lark on Livermore Road but none of my photos came out very well. I'm happy with this Egret, though, reflected in water at The Narrows.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What is this bird?

Thanks to Dave Irons for identifying this little sparrow as a juvenile Chipping Sparrow. He says that Spizella sparrows retain this streaked plumage for a few months only. He explains in the comments after my post.

It was seen August 7, 2011, picking around on the ground in front of the barn. It did not hang out with the others eating seed I'd thrown out for them... California Quail, Spottted Towhee, Song Sparrow, House Sparrows. It was smaller and slimmer than the House Sparrows. I thought at first it was a Savannah Sparrow, but the ones we have on our northwestern Oregon farm in the foothills of the coast range usually have yellow lores. This bird had a notched tail, but it was long not short. I'd like to know what it is so am posting nearly all the photos I took in hopes someone will tell me why it is whatever it is. Click on an image to enlarge it. Either comment here or send to my email address: