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...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Lincoln County Christmas Bird Count

I spent 3 hours happily wandering around The Thumb, also known, I just learned, as Brahma Bull Butte or The Hump. My informant told me that from where he lives at Road's End, it looks like a Brahma bull drinking from the ocean. Well, I don't think it looks much like a bull or a thumb but I had a good time hiking it today, although mostly I sat on top and scanned for Black Oystercatchers, which I did not find.

I had high hopes of photographing the birds I saw. Well, I photographed some of them but it's hard to tell what they are.

Several flocks of Red Crossbills flew high in the trees. This 4-some perched but I had to shoot into the sun so you'll have to take my word for it that they are Red Crossbills.

Just figured out if I really zoom up on one bird, you can see the crossed bill. Sort of.

The Chestnut-backed Chickadees were everywhere, and impossible to photograph. There are two in this photo, believe it or not.

A very scruffy Anna's Hummingbird was more cooperative and also vocal... but, well, scruffy.

Dark-eyed Juncos, Oregon variety, were the most cooperative, pecking in the gravel in front of me.

Way out in the ocean sits Wizard Island (at least that's what I know it by). Today there was nothing on it but a Peregrine Falcon, much too far for photos but I tried anyway.

You may wonder how I knew it was a falcon. I didn't for sure until I was watching with binoculars and it flew somewhat closer to me.

By cropping to a bigger but very blurry bird, you can see, I think, that this is a mustachioed peregrine.

Other birds seen but mercifully not photographed were Steller's Jay, Raven, Crow, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Varied Thrush, Wrentit, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Pacific Wren, gulls and a fly-by Cormorant. 

After leaving the Thumb/Hump, I drove to Oceanlake to see if I could find my missing Black Oystercatchers on the rocks there, since it was low tide and some rocks were exposed. However, since most of the rocks were accessible from the beach, they were covered with people. A few were too far for people to venture onto and there I found three of my missing BLOY.

And a Turnstone. I thought it was a Ruddy when I saw it as it had a very rounded dark area on its breast and light legs. And it was alone rather than in a flock, as I've always seen Black Turnstones. But it looks more like a Black Turnstone in photos so I'll wait for the experts to tell me. ... And the answer is: Ruddys are rare in Oregon in the winter and have lighter heads and upperparts than my bird has.

Turnstone behind Black Oystercatcher

Also in the water and on the rocks were about a dozen Surfbirds.

Although this photo is blurry, it shows their flashy black and white tails and yellow legs.

Of course, there were Western Gulls of all ages foraging, too.

From Oceanlake I drove to the Salmon River and East 3 Rocks Road where I saw one of the two White-tailed Kites that have been seen there recently. Then I headed home.

What a lovely, warm, sunny day for mid-December. The birds were just a bonus.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Farm Bird #150!! Pygmy Owl

We have seen Pygmy Owls all around our neighborhood, but not here. Until today. I hiked down to the creek and was looking across the cold, wild water at an oddly colored lump by some logs on the far bank. The lump turned out to be a dead salmon.

 I sat there wondering if it was from one of the Grand Ronde tribal "fish flings" where they throw milked out salmon into the creek upstream from us to replenish nutrients, or if it was a spawned out salmon that died naturally in Agency Creek. A tiny kinglet interrupted my reverie as it flew across and landed in a tree near me. I had no binoculars with me but did have my camera so tried to get a photo of the rapidly moving little bird. I gave up and put my camera down, noticing then an odd lump on a branch in that tree. I used my camera to zoom in closer to see what it might be.

 The lump is circled with an arrow pointing to it in the photo below.

 A little closer and the lump turned into a Pygmy Owl. See it?

Here it is, looking at me.

I took many photos. In most of them, it looked like a lump.

Sometimes, a very fluffy lump.

I checked the photos I had taken and noticed that part of the owl was blurry in them so started to take more... at which point the owl had given up finding lunch, apparently, and flew off. I saw it fly and watched it go but have no idea if it kept going or landed somewhere. It simply vanished. If I had not taken these photos, I would have thought I'd imagined the whole thing.

What a thrilling way to get farm bird #150!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Crane or Heron??

We have always said we had a Sandhill Crane hang out here by the creek for several weeks in 1978 and then one day disappear. But now, looking at the photo I scanned in, it looks more like a juvenile Great Blue Heron to me. The photo is lousy and we can't remember if the bird had a red crown or not. But it doesn't appear to have a "skirt" as a crane of any age should have, I would think. And the two tone head appears like a juvenile heron. I can't tell if the bill is more heron-like or crane-like. But I think my farm list just went down to 149. Help!

The word is in and the unanimous word is that my Sandhill Crane is a juvenile Great Blue Heron. Sigh.  The good news is that the only item on my bucket list was to get 150 species on my farm list. Now I'm back to 149 and can live longer.

Dan Gleason, ornithologist and professor, gave a great way to distinguish cranes from herons:  Look at the neck and you can see the kink in the middle. This is an anatomical feature of all herons and not something that you would see on a crane. If you look at a skeleton of a heron you can see where two of the vertebrae connect in a way that makes a kink rather than a smooth “S” curve. This allows the head to sit just slightly more rearward and muscles that attach here can provide just a bit of extra thrust to move the head forward, like a spear-thrower. Another feature that occurs internally at this point in the neck is the position of the gullet. For most birds, the gullet runs from the mouth along the front of the neck and into the stomach. In herons, right at the point of this kink, the gullet runs from the front of the neck to the rear of the neck. This protects the gullet from being crushed when the heron stabs for prey in the water. It is right at this kink where the neck makes hard contact with the surface of the water, thus the tissues along the front of the neck and the vertebrae of the neck protect the gullet. Cranes have a smoothly curved neck and because they are not plunging their neck into water forcibly, there is no need for the gullet to be protected as in herons.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

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 add photos to the list, but of course I don't have photos of all the birds seen here since some were one time wonders and I have not always had a camera on hand when they came through. And even if I did get a picture, it is likely buried somewhere in my computer, or in an album.. or a drawer... if taken during pre-computer days.

But little by little I have gone through my photos and added them to the birds... if I can tell they were taken here. Fortunately, since I don't keep any photo records, I do write in my journal daily saying where we were that day. That has helped a great deal.

I have better photos taken elsewhere of some birds, like the Red-shouldered Hawk. And I have many photos elsewhere of White-tailed Kites, which have not visited our farm for many years now. But maybe they'll come back someday... Photos of some birds I'm sure I photographed I have not been able to locate. I have lots more pictures to take, but this is a start. I will be trying hard to get photos of warblers and flycatchers each spring.

I list the birds as they appear in my pocket check list from long ago (circa 1977). Many names have changed since then, species have split or been combined, but I try to use today's nomenclature. Wilson's Snipe, I have recently learned, is back to being Wilson's Snipe after a sojourn as Common Snipe (including on my 1977 checklist). House sparrow is now at the end of checklists but I have left it where it was in 1977. I added Eurasian Collared-Dove, which was not even heard of in 1977, but is common now. My how times change.

As for format, I've added the years seen if I happened to write that down, unless I see them regularly in which case I write "often". Or if seen occasionally, I write the year that I first saw it. If anyone visited my farm and captured photos of birds here that I did not, I would be grateful if I could use those photos, with credit to the photographer, of course.

I hope and trust someone will let me know if I have misidentified any birds. My photos are not labeled on the computer, in albums, or in drawers. And birds in photos don't sing, which is how I identify many of them. But here they are, as of the end of 2016, 151 species.

Many thanks to Dawn Villaescusa and Owen Schmidt for the photos taken here that they have shared with me.


Common Loon 1983


Pied-billed Grebe 1991, 2001

Double-crested Cormorant 1997

Brandt's Cormorant 1990

Great Blue Heron "often"

Great Egret 2014

Green Heron "often"



American Bittern 1991

Canada Goose "often"

Cackling Goose (formerly a subspecies of Canada Goose)

Greater White-fronted Goose

Mallard "often"

Northern Pintail 1990

Green-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal  1988, 1990

Cinnamon Teal 2001

European Widgeon (now Eurasian Wigeon) 1990

Northern Shoveler 2003, 2008

Wood Duck "often"

Ring-necked Duck 1989, 1990

Lesser Scaup 2000

Bufflehead 1990 first

Ruddy Duck 1996

Hooded Merganser "often"

Common Merganser 1988 first

Turkey Vulture "often"

White-tailed Kite  1987 first, then "often from 1998 to about 2004"

Sharp-shinned Hawk "often"

Cooper's Hawk "often"

Red-tailed Hawk "often"

Red-shouldered Hawk 2011 first

adult 2017

sub-adult 2017

Golden Eagle 2002

Bald Eagle 1985 first

Northern Harrier

Photo by Dawn Villaescusa

Osprey 2007 first

Peregrine Falcon 2008 first

Merlin 2004 first

American Kestrel "often"

Ruffed Grouse

California Quail "often"

Ring-necked Pheasant

Wild Turkey

These turkeys are apparently  wild birds with some color abnormality or domestic ancestry, or, less likely, domestic birds gone wild.

Killdeer "often"


Wilson's Snipe

Spotted Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper 2008

Greater Yellowlegs

Wilson's Phalarope 1989

Red-necked (Northern) Phalarope 1987

Glaucous-winged Gull 2008

Band-tailed Pigeon "often"

Mourning Dove "often"

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Barn Owl "often"

Screech Owl

Great Horned Owl

Pygmy Owl 2014

Barred Owl 2010

Saw-whet Owl

Common Nighthawk

Vaux's Swift 1999 first, now often

Anna's Hummingbird 2015 first

 Rufous Hummingbird "often"

Belted Kingfisher "often"

Northern Flicker "often"

Pileated Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker 2014

Red-breasted Sapsucker "often"

Red-naped Sapsucker 2002

Hairy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker "often"

Western Kingbird 2004

Say's Phoebe 2005

Willow Flycatcher first 1999

Hammond's Flycatcher 2012

Pacific Slope Flycatcher "often"

Western Wood Pewee "often"

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Horned Lark

Violet-green Swallow "often"

Tree Swallow "often"

Rough-winged Swallow

Barn Swallow "often"

Cliff Swallow

Purple Martin 2010

Gray Jay

Steller's jay "often"

Scrub Jay "often"

Common Raven "often"

Common Crow "often"

Black-capped Chickadee "often"

Chestnut-backed Chickadee "often"

Common Bushtit

Red-breasted Nuthatch "often"

Brown Creeper

Wrentit 1999 first

Dipper "often"

House Wren 2010

Pacific (formerly Winter) Wren "often"

Bewick's Wren "often"

Robin "often"

Varied Thrush "often"

Hermit Thrush

Swainson's Thrush "often"

Western Bluebird

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

American Pipit 2004

Cedar Waxwing "often"

juvenile Cedar Waxwing

Northern Shrike 1988

Starling "often"

Hutton's Vireo

Cassin's Vireo

Warbling Vireo "often"

photo by Dawn Villaescusa

Orange-crowned Warbler "often"

Yellow Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Black-throated Gray Warbler

Townsend's Warbler

Hermit Warbler

MacGillivray's Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Yellow-breasted Chat 2004

Wilson's Warbler "often"

begging fledgling

House Sparrow "often"

Western Meadowlark 2003 first

Red-winged Blackbird

Bullock's Oriole 2005

Brewer's Blackbird

Brown-headed Cowbird





Western Tanager

Black-headed Grosbeak

Lazuli Bunting 2009

Evening Grosbeak "often"

Purple Finch "often"

House Finch

Pine Siskin

American Goldfinch "often"

Lesser Goldfinch

photo by Dawn Villaescusa

Red Crossbill 2003 first


Spotted Towhee "often"

Savannah Sparrow

Sage Sparrow 2004 (now called Sagebrush Sparrow)

video capture from Owen Schmidt... Many thanks, Owen!!

another video capture from Owen Schmidt of the Sage Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

                      Oregon Junco "often"


                         Slate-colored Junco  2000

Chipping Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow "often"

Golden-crowned Sparrow "often"

White-throated Sparrow 2005 first

Fox Sparrow "often"

Lincoln's Sparrow

Song Sparrow "often"

Peacock  "common"
   okay, so it's not a wild bird. and only one is common on our place: "Fred". Fred is always here and he's easy to see.