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 15, 2016

Bird Tracks and Lincoln's Sparrow

Today after the snow began to melt a bit and the gravel in the driveway poked through, I photographed some bird tracks that I knew what were... because I first watched the birds that made them.

California Quail

Brush Rabbit, California Quail, and unidentified hopping bird, probably towhee as there were several around

Golden-crowned Sparrows

Dark-eyed Junco (if I'm remembering correctly. They were not heavy enough to make tracks in the icy snow but I think I took this photo after one had scratched or hit a soft spot... or something.)

Then I was distracted by a sparrow in a flock of juncos. I tried hard to get a photo of this skulker in the grass...

It flew. I followed. It disappeared. I pished. It immediately popped up on a bare tree and stared at me. Hip hip hooray! A Lincoln's Sparrow! We see them seldom here and I had not managed to get a photo before.

So I took lots of photos.

Monday, November 21, 2016

New Zealand Birds

Johnny spent almost three weeks in New Zealand this November, with our son Steve and family. At my request, Johnny took photos of birds they saw. Grandson Cedrus, 7, identified most of them by looking at a brochure of common birds of New Zealand that I had given to him and his brother. They did not take the brochure with them on their hikes, but Cedrus was able to remember what they had seen and find them in the brochure each evening. Amazing kid. The ones he couldn't find in the brochure, I searched for on a great website: New Zealand Birds Online.

We welcome corrections and confirmations!  *Update: several birders knowledgeable about New Zealand birds have written to confirm all our identifications. Good work, Cedrus!

 From left to right: Pukeko, Rock Dove, Black Swan, Eurasian Blackbird

Pukeko or Purple Swamphen

Rock Dove
Black Swan

Eurasian Blackbird, female

Eurasian Blackbird, male
Eurasian Blackbird

Eurasian Coot

European Greenfinch



House Sparrow

Red-billed Gull

Red-billed Gull...flap under bill is apparently the bird's tongue protruding through a wound, probably from a fish hook according to rangers at the New Zealand Department of Conservation who responded to my query

Southern Black-backed Gull

Pied Shag (cormorant)

New Zealand Fantail

Variable Oystercatcher

White-faced Heron
California Quail

Eastern Rosella

Ring-necked Pheasant

New Zealand Pigeon

Song Thrush



Thursday, October 13, 2016

White-crowned Sparrow?

When I saw this bird on Oct. 10, I had no doubt it was a 1st fall White-crowned Sparrow. But now that I've seen my photos, I'm confused. Do they usually have black tips to the upper bill? And such wide median, almost yellow, head stripe?

update: the word is in and this is a first winter White-crowned Sparrow. Alan Contreras tells me they vary a lot. Judy Meredith says Gold-crowneds have all dark upper mandible. That's how I have always told the young White-crowns from young Gold-crowns but this bird's black tip had me puzzled. Thanks Alan and Judy!And thanks, Dave Irons for explaining the difference between juvenile and first winter White-crowns. Now I'll pay better attention!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Shorebird Festival, Charleston, Oregon

The 30th Shorebird Festival in Charleston, Oregon concluded on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. It was only the 2nd one I've been to, the first being 5 years ago.

Thanks to Coos Bay area trip leaders on Saturday, Tim Rodenkirk and Joe Metzler, I finally know how to tell Least from Western Sandpipers with some certainty. Leasts have a straight line demarcation between their speckled breast and unspeckled belly. And they have light-colored legs. Westerns have snow white undersides with uneven streaking if they have any streaking at all this time of year. And dark legs.

Check out those legs!
Least Sandpiper

If you can see the backs, juvenile Westerns have rusty scapulars while juvenile Leasts have rufous all over their backs.

Snowy white undersides and dark legs = Western Sandpipers

Rusty scapulars on the Western on the left make it a juvenile

A Semipalmated Plover joined the party...

At another site (I never knew where we were), we found a group of Pectoral Sandpipers. They look like giant Least Sandpipers.

Pectoral Sandpiper

The star of the show, at least at Friday night's program and always for me, is the Black Oystercatcher. We saw them several places but I only got one photo... at Simpson Reef, where we also saw incredibly colorful Harlequin Ducks.

Black Oystercatcher

Harlequin Ducks

But before the shorebirding began, we looked at grebes and a loon on the bay right across from the host OIMB (Oregon Institute of Marine Biology). They were far away. Thanks to Paul Sullivan for verifying what they are and why.

                                          Red-necked Grebe: red neck, white cheek, dagger bill

                                Pacific Loon: clean line dividing the white fore neck from the dark hind neck, a dark cheek, and a fairly symmetrical bill.

The Heerman's Gull was closer...

And kind enough to hang out around a young Western Gull for a size comparison...

Western Gull left, Heerman's Gull right

Actually, I think the Heerman's was hoping to share the Western Gull's crab...

"Who, me?"

"It does look tasty..."

On Sunday, I took the Bandon field trip with trip leaders Joe Metzler and Dawn Harris. A Wandering Tattler stood on a rock to give us a good chance at seeing its gray body and yellow legs. It did not, however, bob up and down as I have seen them do. Maybe it was as tired as I was becoming.

 We keyed out ducks at a pond and saw a Black Phoebe flycatching. It was misty and I did not take photos. I was running out of steam.

There were more Sandpipers and Plovers to be seen, plus, at a Coast Guard station, many Black Turnstones.

Our guides were very knowledgeable about far more than the birds in the area and could answer any question. Joe talked about the geology, how to read rabbit tracks in the sand, why the buoys and reader boards in the harbor have red and green lights on them (to mark the channel), where the rivers flow and how high they sometimes get... and just about anything else to do with coastal southern Oregon.

Birders listening to trip leaders Tim and Joe on Saturday

After the field trips were over Sunday, I wandered back to the dike where we had viewed the Red-necked Grebes and Pacific Loon and tried to see if I could identify them on my own, comfortably seated on the rocks. What I found was a bird that looked, to me, like a Pacific Loon with an all white neck. Thanks to Bob Archer and Paul Sullivan for correcting me, with reasons: frosty nape and crown, a pale cheek, and a bill that is flat on top, with the bottom bill angling up to meet it.

When you click on this photo to enlarge it, you can see the crown peaks toward the back, another clue that it is a Red-throated Loon.

 I also photographed a Cormorant. Alas, I did not pay enough attention this week to how to tell the juvenile cormorants apart. I know the Double-crested juveniles are lighter than the adults. This bird has a light bill which I guess makes it a young Double-crested, although the mark behind the bill is red not orange. Maybe it's a second year juvenile? How long does it take them to get their adult plumage? Paul Sullivan replied that it is a Double-crested:  orangish bill/throat.  It doesn’t look too pale on the front, but that is hard to see from this angle.  I think they get to adult plumage by their second year. It was not pale in front. I have more photos. But I think I need to concentrate more on structure since all the juvenile Double-cresteds I saw were different shades of "lighter than adult".

How could I have lived so long and still have so many questions?

It was a great festival. I learned a lot. There were even some birds I knew without having to ask anyone. Like this Great Blue Heron standing motionless late Sunday afternoon.

Any more corrections or additions on any of the ids of these birds is most welcome. Thanks to all who have responded so far. And many thanks to all the folks who helped me out at the Festival!