Posted by: atowhee | August 10, 2014


For those owlers (and you know who you are) who follow my blog you will recall that a nest of Great Grays near Grizzly Peak began with a pair of nestlings in early July. One disappeared, the second one fledged and was seen near the mother owl the next day. Then the screen went blank in mid-July.
This nest was on private land and a ranch worker alerted me a couple days ago the youngster and the adult male (most likely) had been seen together. Owlman Peter Thiemann wen to the area last night and found both adult and youngster, now looking very much like his old man:Grizz 1
The first three images are of the rapidly maturing owlet. Still being fed by his father and they two will remain near one another until the owlet can feed himself in the autumn.
Grizz 2

Grizz 3
Thew adult owl on guard:
And this is Mountain Quail season, for viewing. If you are in Jackson County, now is the time to get out and slowly drive the mountain roads above 4000′. Mountain Quail are about in their late summer coveys. They are skittish and quick so Peter shot these two images through his admittedly dirty windshield. Elevation about 4500′. They prefer forest and brushy areas, not open meadows or talus slopes.
MQ 3
Note the male has his head feathers in a peace sign, a long-armed V.
Both the quail and owl are resident birds that do not migrate away in winter.

The photographer on this blog is building nest platforms Great Gray Owls in Jackson County’s GGO habitat. Money for the project is coming from donations to Rogue Valley Audubon. The first two platforms will go into the area where Peter got these photos. The GGOs there nested in a ratty and disintegrating old Raven nest this past summer and they deserve a better chance. GGOs are often quick to use platforms placed in the right nesting habitat of tall forest near meadows good for hunting.

Owls do not nest build, or even nest repair. They use existing structures or cavities or cliff faces. The GGO specifically needs broken off, hollowed out tree trunks, big ones…or abandoned nests of very large birds…or manmade platforms. They do not nest on cliffs or in buildings or under bridges like some large owls (Great Horned, Barn).
If you can donate to the Great Gray Owl nest platform fund, please send check to RVAS, P.O. Box 8597, Medford OR 97501. Your donations are tax deductible.

Posted by: atowhee | August 10, 2014


Here is my one good picture of the day: Green Heron on a log at Ashland Pond, close enough for clear shot:
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Flocking is the avian trend of the moment around here. Bushtits are no longer in breeding pairs or adults with a few fledglings. They are now back in their usual, comfortable gangs of twenty or more, flitting from bush to tree to thickets. Their behavior makes you think they never fly more than thirty feet at a time. And they don’t migrate so…has anybody ever tracked a Bushtit to see how far they really do fly under their own volition?
And down at Ashland Pond this morning there were loose flocks of Black-headed Grosbeaks (no adult male to be seen) and Western Tanager. As always the resident Acorn Woodpeckers were moving about in a small group, laughing as they went.sunf with bcc1
Black-capped sunflower eater (Chickadee) at work.
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One of the skulking tanagers deep in the shade.

bhg x 2This pair of Grosbeaks happened to be in my garden but there were several feeding around Ashland Pond.



LAZY MORNINLazy morning: preening heron, sleeping Mallards, loafing cormorant.
Then there are those species that eschew others of their own, usually predators: lone Kingfisher, lone Black Phoebe, lone Brown Creeper. The latter a bird I rarely see around Ashland, more common in the mountains or along the Rogue River.

Near my house, a small flock of Turkeys were feeding: four trks
Ashland Pond, Jackson, US-OR
Aug 10, 2014 9:45 AM – 10:45 AM
Protocol: Traveling; 0.4 mile(s). 27 species

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) 3
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 3
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) 1
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) 1
Green Heron (Butorides virescens) 2
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) 2
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) 2
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) 1
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) 3
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) 1
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) 6
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) 1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) 1
Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans) 1
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) 4
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 1
Common Raven (Corvus corax) 1
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 3
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) 2
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus) 20
Brown Creeper (Certhia americana) 1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius) 1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 6
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) 1
Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana) 3
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus) 8

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) X

Posted by: atowhee | August 8, 2014


The lone youngster that successfully fledged from a nest on a private ranch near Grizzly Peak has just been seen, along with an attending adult. So this owl has been out of the nest for a month now. Here’s a picture taken right after the owlet fledged, the young one now looks very much like the adults, having lost all its white fluffy feathers.
2014 07 09_Willow-Witt Ranch, Ashland OR_8092_edited-1
Further good news for Jackson County Great Gray Owls. Peter Thiemann is building two nest platforms using money donated to Rogue Valley Audubon. These first two platforms to come out of this newly-started program will be placed on the ranch where this young owl fledged. He was born in a stick nest that is disintegrating. It was probably originally built by Ravens. It will not survive for another nesting season.
Owls do not nest build, or even nest repair. They use existing structures or cavities or cliff faces. The GGO specifically needs broken off, hollowed out tree trunks, big ones…or abandoned nests of very large birds…or manmade platforms. They do not nest on cliffs or in buildings or under bridges like some large owls (Great Horned, Barn).
If you can donate to the Great Gray Owl nest platform fund, please send check to RVAS, P.O. Box 8597, Medford OR 97501. Your donations are tax deductible.

Posted by: atowhee | August 8, 2014


This week I saw three of the young Screech-Owls that were born in lower Lithia Park. The owlets now have nearly all of their adult-appearing feathers. The first growth of soft fuzzy and pale plumage is gone. They must now be about two months old.
owl in sun

One owlet was in the tree cavity where they were born. The other pair in a nearby conifer.
owl twins
While one of the owlets slept, his sibling have me a serious looking over:
wol eyz

In a nearby tree was this immature Flicker.

Posted by: atowhee | August 6, 2014


It’s a hot, dry, smokey summer here in Ashland. A fire southeast of town has burned six homes and brought in over 1700 personnel to fight the fire. It appears to have stopped at under 37-thousand acres.
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These are some of the firefighters; tents that now fill the Howard Prairie Resort. I saw equipment present from as far away as Portland (over 300 miles).
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Female Anna’s Hummingbird who’s in possession of our blooming mimosa trees.
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cro-igationCrows near Emigrant Lake, enjoying the artificial shower and the small critters it attracts or brings to the surface.

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Posted by: atowhee | August 3, 2014


A California sister: CAL SISTER
Lichen love tree bark.
No lichens can attach to the madrone, which annually sheds its outer most layer of “skin.”
mad barkq

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In the forest above Ashland you can observe two very different approaches to reaching the sunlight needed for thriving…if you are a tree. The Douglas-fir and ponderosas grow straight often on thin trunks. Some thirty-foot tall trees have trunk diameter at their base of less than 1 foot. You couldn’t build a brick tower that high with a base that narrow. It would topple.
The madrone is circuitous in its growth toward the sun. Slower and more tolerant of reduced light it spreads out and becomes fluid in its shape:

straight There were few birds to see or hear but a pair of Red-breasted Nuthatches honked their horns as they worked the tree limbs.
rbnu forest
Back down in town there was a flock of turkeys along the road. How many can you see in this picture?



Posted by: atowhee | August 3, 2014


Western Tanagers are not common in our garden but they do occur. I have records of them for almost every week from late April through late September. This weekend two showed up together, I think it was adult female and fledgling.
This is bird #1, obviously molting some head feathers.

This is bird #2 which I think was the adult bird, from behavior.
There are two Anna’s Hummingbirds that compete for the control of our blooming mimosa. Here’s one:
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This is not a an adult male Anna’s as there are only speckles on the bird’s throat.
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Gettin’ near the suet log:DOWO NEARZ (1280x960)

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In the universe of the Downy Woodpecker this is what it means to be “logged on.”
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What can make a nuthatch look big? A Lesser Goldfinch.
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Posted by: atowhee | August 3, 2014


Least Sandpipers were plentiful at the south end of Emigrant Lake.LESA PECKS

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Peep show: Western (larger) and Least (smaller) SandpipersLESA--WESA
wesa at EM LAK


YELL2-LESA2First we see above two Greater Yellowlegs and a pair of Least Sandpipers. When a third yellowlegs saw me and got nervous, it flew in to form a tight flock of 3.

OSSY-3AT-NEST There were three young Osprey around the old nest, and two adults ferrying fish. All seem to be thriving.
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Green Herons hunting.

Fire smoke and sunset yields a golden pond:

Emigrant Lake, Jackson, US-OR
Aug 1, 2014 10:30 AM – 12:15 PM. 16 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) X
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) X
California Quail (Callipepla californica) 2
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) 3
Green Heron (Butorides virescens) 2
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) 5
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) 2
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) 3
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) 45
Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri) 3
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) 2
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) X
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) X
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 50
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) 1

Posted by: atowhee | August 3, 2014


Something very eary was going on at Emigrant Lake recently. I managed to get the performers to slow down long enough for a few pictures:BIG-WARS4






BIG-EARS6I believe this pair was an adult and following youngster.

There are several species of lagomorphs to be found in southwestern Oregon. “Lagomorph” means hare-like. There is only one jackrabbit species west of the Cascades and it is the largest lago in our area. Commonly named black-tailed jackrabbit, his formal moniker is Lepus californicus
. He can be two long (or tall) and obviously the ears have it.
They do not dig a den but make a simple bowl in the earth to hide and raise young.
This jackrabbit seems to be spreading slowly northward and now competes in many places with its sagebrush-loving cousin*, the white=tailed jackrabbit, east of the Cascades.
* Jackrabbits don;t actually eat sagebrush but inhabit the habitat dominated by the plant.

Posted by: atowhee | August 2, 2014


The sky is grey and white and cloudy
Sometimes I think it’s hanging down on me
And it’s hitchhike a hundred miles
I’m a ragamuffin child
Pointed finger-painted smile
I left my shadow waiting down the road for me a while”

–Paul Simon




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“Bows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all…”

–Judy Collins

Read more: Judy Collins – Both Sides Now Lyrics | MetroLyrics

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