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...

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.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Least Sandpipers

Okay, I actually did get a better photo of the Least Sandpipers, where you can see their greenish yellow legs... or some of them. They still look a lot like rocks to me.

Invisible Shorebirds

Today I learned that not only am I hopeless at identifying shorebirds, I can't see them either. Unless they move. In these rocks at Fort Stevens State Park, near the South Jetty of the Columbia River, were about 30 peeps (small sandpipers). The biologist I was with said they were Least Sandpipers. I'll take her word for it. They looked like rocks to me most of the time. Here is a picture I took. Honest, there are many small birds in this photo.

Give up? I'll enlarge a small portion of the photo. You may see peeps magically appear.

We were actually looking for Snowy Plovers. Those are sand-colored birds about the size of the Least Sandpipers above. See if you can find any on the beach where we were looking.

No? Neither did we. But the others spotted a Sanderling, which is a sand-colored bird slightly larger than a Least Sandpiper with a slightly longer bill. I didn't get a photo. It was too far away and I was supposed to be looking for Snowy Plovers.

I think I should stick with Black Oystercatchers. Although they hang out on black rocks, at least they have long, bright red bills and they're between two and three times as big as these little sand birds.

I fear the only way I'll find a Snowy Plover is if it runs across my foot.