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...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Apple Tree Birds

Now I know what birds eat on cold, rainy days in December. At least, some birds. They eat the apples on the tree outside our back door. Or the apples on the ground under the tree outside our back door. Today, from the dry sanctuary of our stair landing, I photographed that tree with Varied Thrushes, Golden-crowned Sparrows, Spotted Towhees and even a Downy Woodpecker in it, although the woodpecker was pecking at the branch not the apples. Here's the scraggly old apple tree with its wonderful apples (my favorites and the birds' favorites, too.) There are at least four birds in this photo. Can you find them?

I'll make it easier. A Golden-crowned Sparrow is in the left bottom quadrant. Another is slightly right of center above a female and a male Varied Thrush. Here they are closer.

Mostly, there were Varied Thrushes. Lots of them. Females with their gray breastbands and males with their black ones... all eating my favorite winter apples.

Other birds came and went (when told to by the thrushes), like this Golden-crowned Sparrow.

And the Spotted Towhee who dove inside this apple.

Even a Downy Woodpecker visited in the fifteen minutes I stood taking photos. Although it had rained all day and was raining then, the only bird looking really damp was the woodpecker. Maybe he was just having a bad hair day.

The ground beneath the tree is littered with apples, too. We've had such an incredibly heavy crop of apples on all our trees that deer, bears, raccoons, coyotes, and every other wild thing on our farm have had more than they could eat on the more distant trees and have not bothered to come into the yard. Our golden delicious tree out front has dumped its apples all over the ground but the birds are not so interested in those. They like my favorite red apples outside my back door, especially now that the weekend wind knocked many down and frost and rain have softened them. I managed to get one bucket full picked and saved in the house before the birds destroyed them.

Here a sparrow is caught in the act... in the center of the photo. And closer here:

But mostly on the ground, as in the tree, eating those delectable apples were Varied Thrushes.

                                                                     Who? Me?


Oh well. Happy holidays, birds!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pileated Post

My computer has been on vacation for nine days but my camera was not. Hundreds of photos were waiting to be uploaded, including this one of a Pileated Woodpecker working on a snag in our woods. This snag has been so stripped by Pileateds that it's hard to tell what's left to demolish. I will have to fight my way through the underbrush to the side this bird was working on to see what's there. Here is a video I took of him at work.  The red cheek stripe says it's a male; the light eye makes it an adult.

Monday, October 29, 2012

An October Gift

Today was a gift... a day of warmth and no rain after predictions of all day dampness. It's always a gift when friends from the coast join me for a day of local birding. To have a good weather day this time of year, and plenty of good birds, makes an even more memorable gift. The only thing lacking was decent photos from me. However, I've decided to consider these photos impressionist paintings, rather than "bird photos".

Our first stop found White Wing, the impossibly beautiful Red-tailed Hawk with white wings that has hunted for many years near the Nazarene Church in Grand Ronde. Today he was bright in the unexpected late October sunshine. 

I did not even try for photos at Shenk Wetlands, where we found two very distant White-tailed Kites. I tried, however, for a photo of a light phase, juvenile Rough-legged Hawk, one of several at what we have come to call Carol and Paul's Raptor Field. Paul and Carol discovered dozens of raptors hanging out in this sheep field some weeks ago and raptors are still there, running along catching somethings in the grass. The view is a long one and so the photos blurred... or impressionistic.

At McKee road pond by Amity, the shorebirds that have been there not long ago are gone now, with the rising water. But we found these two Western Bluebirds, their soft colors blending with the autumn scene.

 Another Rough-leg hovered in front of us on Farmer Rd., near Baskett Slough Wildlife Refuge (although you couldn't prove its identity with this photo).

At The Narrows on Coville Rd. in Baskett Slough, a Glaucous-winged Gull posed.

All the rest of the birds at The Narrows became Impressionist photo paintings in my hands... published here just so I can look back and remember the gift of this day.

A real photographer stopped by to see what we were looking at. I couldn't resist taking a photo of the huge lens hanging out his driver side window. You can bet his photos are in focus.

We headed homeward then, passing carpets of Canada Geese and Cacklers that winter on this refuge.

It's pouring rain again tonight. But today was warm and dry and lovely, an October gift.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I Am a Pine Cone, Not a Barn Owl

One of our fledgling Barn Owls spent the day in a dead tree right outside the barn. Crows dived at him in the morning fog, but he didn't move and they soon gave up and left him (her?) alone. As the day cleared, baby down feathers on his shoulders became obvious. He is still a very new fledgling. He never moved all day long, not through periods of rain and wind, not when the sun made his warm golden colors even more obvious, not when a family of seven with three loudly excited young children came to visit the farm animals... and admire the stoic baby owl. Not even when the sky turned pink behind him did the owl move. But as the sky darkened, his siblings still in the nest box in the barn loft began their begging calls. Then the owl slowly began to wake up, rocking back and forth gently, stopping for long minutes, then rocking again, until finally, when the sky was too dark for photos, he began preening and exercising his wings... nearly falling off the branch in the process. Then he began his begging calls in earnest. At 6:45 p.m., sky dark, he flew to the peak of the new barn.

His rocking wake-up:
His begging calls:

Monday, September 17, 2012

What Is This Hawk?

This hawk was sitting upright on power lines next to a field at the corner of Grand Ronde and Hebo roads. The field had recently been baled and had several large haystacks, each with a Red-tailed Hawk atop that periodically swooped down to nab something in the field. There was no place to pull over when I saw this bird on the wire so Johnny put on his flashers and sat in the middle of the road while I took a photo out the windshield. Just as I took the picture, the hawk leaned forward and lifted its wings, as in this photo, and took off. It flew out in a half circle and landed back on the wire in front of us but there were cars coming both directions so we left. The photo was taken at 6:15 p.m. with the sun low in the sky shining on the back of the hawk. I *think* that's the reason for the apparent white speckles on the feathers of the wing. I thought I knew what this was at the time so we went on home after a long day of birding for the Yamhill County NAMC to see if any birds had shown up at our farm that were not around in the morning before we left. Now that I see this photo, I'm not so sure my id was correct.

I would *really* appreciate any comments as to what this hawk is and why. Thanks in advance!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Weird Vulture... and more

Okay, so yesterday, August 29, I was hiking Cape Lookout with a friend and we saw a Turkey Vulture fly by us, quite close, several times. I did not get a photo. It had a white ruff around its head. At least, that's what it looked like. The head was partly red (a small part), partly just bald, and partly white... very obvious, visible white. Today, at Baskett Slough, on a side trip from my feed run to Dallas, I (and a different friend) saw another one. This time it was on the ground and I got a photo. What's going on here? This guy has white on more than his head. You can see his companion on the left is a normal looking Turkey Vulture.

A group of Dowitchers at Baskett Slough were closer and easier to photograph. Three in the group of thirty plus were brown instead of gray. I assumed they were juveniles. But now, looking at this guy among the gray, presumably non-breeding plumaged adults, I'm not so sure. Is this an adult in worn breeding plumage? And, if so, why is she (a female, right? because of long bill) dressed this way when everyone else is in gray?

Any tips, replies, helpful comments welcome.

From Baskett Slough we went north to McKee Rd. just off Hwy 99 and saw the 5 Pectoral Sandpipers found by Carol Karlen and Paul Sullivan the day before. That's a great shorebird pond with lots of Least and Westerns and one Yellowlegs although they were too far for my camera to get a picture. One book said Pectorals graze the grassy banks of muddy waterholes, which is exactly what these were doing. A Killdeer wandered around near them providing a welcome size comparison: the Pectorals were about midway in size between the Killdeer and the Western. I love shorebirds that are not the same size as Western Sandpipers. That gives me a fighting chance of identifying them.

Monday, April 23, 2012

April Birds

Suddenly our temperatures have gone from 60's to 80's and the migrants have arrived in force. This is a fun time of birding year when the winter residents are still here, the summer residents are arriving, and migrants are passing through.

Today, White-fronted Geese flew high overhead in messy V's, while Tree and Violet-green Swallows squabbled over their nest gourds. A Red-tailed Hawk dive-bombed an Osprey that got too close to the hawk's nest. Moving through our hedge row were various warblers, Empidonax flycatchers, a Chipping Sparrow that flew out after insects for hours, a very vocal Bewick's Wren, chickadees, White- and Golden- crowned Sparows and more. Meanwhile on the lawn a hold-over Varied Thrush foraged along with the resident California Quail. A pair of Canada Geese that live in the neighborhood (wild but not very) hung out on our pond all day. The Red-breasted Sapsuckers that live here haunted the big poplars while a Downy Woodpecker drummed, as it does daily, on a dead limb. And, of course, the Rufous Hummingbirds flitted about with a male giving his display dive over and over.

Here are a few photos I took today in breaks from spring chores...

Flying insects everywhere turned all the birds into flycatchers today, including this handsome Starling, feeding young already, naturally.

A female hummingbird haunted our wood pile. I couldn't tell if she was finding insects or tasting the oozing sap.

And now for the questions. Is this blurry duo a couple of Orange-crowned Warblers? Or two different species? What are they or is it possible to tell from this lousy photo?

And lastly, but most importantly (to me): Is this blurry small flycatcher a Hammond's? That's my guess and I hope I'm right because I've never been sure enough before to mark one down as having been on our farm. If the experts say this is a Hammond's, it will make species #145 for my farm list.

Whether I get to add a new species to my farm list or not, it was a great day for birds on the Fink Family Farm.

Update! ... It's a Hammond's! I had to send Dave Irons six more blurry photos (I love digital cameras) before he could tell but here's what he says:

I think that it is pretty safe to assume that this is a Hammond's for the following reasons.

1. Hammond's is a common breeder and the expected migrant (of the Hammond's/Dusky species pair) in Yamhill County.

2. The bird appears to be up in a tree at least 20' off the ground and seems to select perches within the canopy. Duskies tend to perch lower (usually within 12-15' of the ground (often lower) and they usually select perches on the exterior part of a bush or small tree.

3. Even though the images are blurry, the general shape and proportions of the bird are evident. It looks to have proportionally larger head with a squared off hindcrown and the tail doesn't look very long. Duskies are proportionally smaller headed, more round headed, and they have a proportionally longer tail.