Posted by: atowhee | July 14, 2014


SCJA IN CANOPYScrub-Jay in canopy, one of our mimosa trees. Below: juvenile Steller’s Jay with his crest still a bit unformed.

BTP IN-SHADE (1280x960)Band-tail hiding from the sun.

DPPR ON-EDGE (1280x960) Dipper along Ashland Creek. Last evening I saw one fly through the upper culvert beneath Granite Street about fifty yards up from the swimming reservoir, singing along as it moved downstream.

HOUS REN1 (1280x960)House Wren.

HOUSE REN2 (1280x960)
Female with four youngsters browsing in Lithia Park:
P2070486 (1280x960)

P2070487 (1280x960)

These two nestling Bald Eagles were captured while panting in the sun…in nest along Westside Road at northwest edge of Klamath Lake. Suspect this picture was taken by Matthew Gooding, his wife Shannon emailed it to me:panting eaglets

Here are three images taken this month by Kit Larsen who was visiting Ashland from Corvallis:Great Gray Owl 2014_07_04_19305s

Great Gray Owl 2014_07_04_19399s
This Hermit Warbler was on Grizzly Peak.
Hermit Warbler 2014_07_04_19448

Posted by: atowhee | July 13, 2014


Drone image of flying eagle wins first drone-cam contest. See it here.
I don’t know the species, will see what I can find out.

Posted by: atowhee | July 13, 2014


Here are four shots of Burrowing Owls near Vacaville. Taken by my friend Grace Ruth:DSC_0006




Posted by: atowhee | July 13, 2014


I have confirmed there are least four fledging-age Western Screech Owlets in their hollow tree in Lithia Park. During the mid-day heat today I stopped by. Two in the hollow of the tree…two more near the main trunk of a bushy laurel (Oregon myrtle) tree about ten feet south. Here’s an owlet gallery for a blistering hot Sunday afternoon. Let sleeping owlets lie.
big eyesstaredThese first three images show the youngest-looking owl, perched, awake, on the edge of the opening in the nest tree. Shows different moods.

look up

sibling owlsHere we see the young owl in foregroudn with older, darker plumaged sibling (lesser pale feathers of the nestling left) in the background.



tree1Fledgling #1 above, #2 below.


Posted by: atowhee | July 13, 2014


I took three biology students from Oregon State University up to Howard Prairie. We did not find a Great Gray Owl in any of the usual hunting sites. But we found lots of other mountain species. Best find was pair of feeding Evening Grosbeaks about one mile south of Howard Prairie Resort on the lakeside.


There are extensive baked mudflats along the lake’ shore due to the low water level. Ideal for local and migrating shorebirds. We found a few Spotted Sandpipers, a few Killdeer, two Greater Yellowlegs and a flock of a few dozen Least Sandpipers. On a rocky spit there were two snoozing Caspian Terns next to a flock of Ring-billed Gulls. One White Pelican paddled about in a small cove, looking like a small sailboat.
One first year Bald Eagle was perched near the nest on the south end of the lake. We later saw an adult bird in a tree along the shoreline.
Lazuli Bunting were singing in several places, including meadows along Keno Access Road. We found one Tree swallow carrying food to a nest hole, probably a second clutch as the same hole was being used back in May.TRSW WITH FD-1
Our flycatcher line-up was Olive-sided, Wood-Pewee, Dusky and probable Willow. There were Hermit and Yellow-rumped Warblers. An Orange-crowned was in willows along Dead Indian, east of the meadow with Sabdhill Cranes which is east of Lily Glen. Any young crane was hidden in the grass.crane rouge Somehow we missed Mountain Chickadee. At one meadow along Keno Access Road the Western Tanagers were fussing about and making themselves known.
Least chipmunk, on alert.lst-chpmk

Posted by: atowhee | July 11, 2014


Western Screech-Owls, Lithia Park There are three owlets visible in the hollow trunk, upper back, far right and lower left. I am told there are five owlets in this nest site this year.
owlet cu-x

owlet sleep

owlets two

Here is what I believe to be the father of the owlets, in his private roost box about 200 yards from the nest tree. He and the female now have the task of feeding and training their litter.


2014 07 09_Willow-Witt Ranch, Ashland OR_8057_edited-12014 07 09_Willow-Witt Ranch, Ashland OR_8076_edited-1
These photos were taken the morning of the 9th of July. The fledgling owlet was on the trunk, then joined by its mother. Photos from Cathy Beck, a birder visiting from Bend.

2014 07 09_Willow-Witt Ranch, Ashland OR_8071_edited-12014 07 09_Willow-Witt Ranch, Ashland OR_8064_edited-1 I await word from the landowners about whether the owlet has been seen since and has made it up into the trees where it will be safer. Great gray Owlets are always flightless when they fledge, making them vulnerable to all sorts of mishaps.

Posted by: atowhee | July 11, 2014


Sadly it’s more sad news for those of us who cherish our fellow creatures, particularly those with feathers. It seems a certain faction of bipedal hominids can imagine only one way to use the planet: destructively with as much profit as quickly as possible. Until we stop measuring the value of every action simply in dollars and consider the effect on ourselves and our biospehere, our environment will continue to devolve.

In the past few days it’s been pointed out that bees are not the only target of the increasingly popular, relatively recent pesticides known as neo-nicotinoids.* These man-made poisons are destroying bird populations as well. Rachel Carson, please come back!
Don’t think we can wait for Monsanto and BASF to self-regulate, do you?

Even when some humans say they trying to do the right thing by the planet, they then use a technology that ignores secondary consequences. Sure, solar power’s a fine idea. But when you build big thermal solar plants that bake birds in the air, perhaps it’s not such a good idea.
Corporations build such huge installations because they are more efficient and profitable, not because they make any ethical or environmental sense. Money trumps every other consideration until the populace demands action. The birds, unfortunately, have no voice in their own fate.

Small, localized solar installations that use passive receptors don’t create the creature-melting heat, but they are not nearly the sort of investment that garners millions of dollars. Until we put a price tag on emissions, environmental and health destruction and other secondary effects of our energy industry, the folks in charge will continue to make all decisions based on one thing: how much profit. That’s the lesson taught in MBA courses the world over. Money is your friend. Money, of course, cares naught for birds or bees.

* Neo-nicotinoids are pesticides developed in the past thirty years and play a crucial role in GMO crops as they’re the poisons that GMO plants are immune to. The neo-nicotinoids are designed to kill all the “bad guys” making for bigger crops and bigger profits. What the poison-makers don’t tell us: neo-nicotinoids kill lots of good guys, too. Is it worth having cheaper corn and soybeans but lose our birds and bees? Not if anybody bothers to think beyond the bottom line.

This whole issue makes the Oregon statewide initiative (vote is set for November) on GMO product labelling crucial. Of course, the makers of neo-nicotinoids and GMO seeds do not want the mere consumer to be bothered with scary words like “genetically engineered.” Some people might actually refuse to buy GMO products, if they are given the choice. So far, only Vermont in the US requires GMO food products be labelled. Dozens of other coukntries have national GMO labelling requirements, of course.

Posted by: atowhee | July 10, 2014


Those of us who live on the Pacific Slope are neighbors to many fine trees. There are the coast redwoods, tallest living thing on earth today. They love fog and pass the centuries get ever taller. The occasional fire makes little impression. The average few-hundred year old redwood will make you feel very small indeed. Here in the Klamath Knot we have more species of evergreen than anywhere else on earth, from western juniper to towering ponderosa. In northern California you get oaks from the evergreen live oak to the stately valley oak. We even have a dryland willow here in southern Oregon, the scouler willow. But of all our barky neighbors, none intrigues as much as the madrone.
Its wood is very hard but has little use beyond the fireplace as it is prone to crack and splinter as it dries.
And this time of year you can stand near a madrone and hear it. Not wind through the leaves. Not buzzing or fizzing of insects, this is the tree making soft sounds all by itself.
The madrone’s outer layer of bark dries, cracks, kirnkles and then rolls into little tubes and falls off onto the grouknd. Each step of this process on a hot dry day gives off a soft sound like a small crackling flame.

P2070260 (1280x960)
As it peels off th eouter layer the upper branches and trunks of the madrone are a smooth reddish-brown.
Though a broadleaf tree the madrone is evergreen in that it keeps leaves all winter. Right now madrone are shedding leaves just as they shed their outer skin. In late, dry summertime the madrone begins to drops leaves but never becomes bare limbed. P2070259 (1280x960)
The madrone is not given to straight trunks nor great height. it is found near the coast from southern California north into British Columbia.
APRIL 19 004

Arbutus menz.
The madrone gets its Latin name from Archiblad Menzies. Arbutus menziesii. Dr. Menzies was the physician and naturalist on Captain Vancouver British expedition along the Pacific Coast of North America in the late 19th Century. Many new plant and animal discoveries were made by him on that voyage. Menzies is also commemorated in the Latin names of the Douglas-fir and false azalea. He was the first European to note the redwood but later scientists described and named it.

Posted by: atowhee | July 10, 2014


The breeding season is nearly over for most of our local species. It is the season of early migration and dispersal. That was clear at Emigrant Lake today. A female merganser with her half-grown ducklings. Visiting species who don’t breed at the lake: Caspian Terns and Ring-billed Gulls, including first-year birds. Shorebirds on migration: Lesser Yellowlegs and WesternLeast Sandpipers.

BALD1Bald Eagle.

Action on the beach. Great Blue Heron and young Ring-billed Gull in the air. Caspian Terns loafing. Mallards dabbling as ever.
This strolling Turkey Vulture had been getting a drink while the heron looked on, perhaps wondering if the vulture would leave behind some odour that would drive off any edibles.
BIG GUYS ON BEACH (1280x960)



COME-A (1280x960)

COME-C (1280x960)Common Merganser female with ducklings. There were eight of those altogether.P2070154 (1280x960)

GREEN UPGreen Heron in the air

GREEN-H2 (1280x960)

Trio of young Osprey on platform, soon to fledge it appears. When parental Osprey are unhappy with the youngsters, do they mutter, “Don’t be an Osprat?”

WESAN1 (1280x960)
Western Least Sandpiper, one of dozens at the south end near Quarry Road trails.
WESAN4 (1280x960)



Emigrant Lake, Jackson, US-OR
Jul 10, 2014 11:15 AM – 12:35 PM. 27 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) 44
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 70
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) 9
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) 3
Green Heron (Butorides virescens) 1
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) 3
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) 4
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) 1
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) 1
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) 1
Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) 3
Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri)Least Sandpiper 60
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) 3
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) 4
Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans) 1
Ash-throated Flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens) 4
Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis) 3
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) 3
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 6
Common Raven (Corvus corax) 3
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) 1
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) 2
Oak Titmouse (Baeolophus inornatus) 2
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) 2
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) 1
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus) 1
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus) 25

Pennyroyal, a weed from the Old World, is now blooming in scattered clumps and clusters on the dried portion of the lake bed. Stepping through it you release a pungent mentholated aroma, the smell of a hot summer day. Out language is certainly stuck with an impoverished vocabulary for describing scents, as opposed to colors.
One other plant in bloom: starthistle. It is showing its friendly yellow blooms on otherwise barren ground. Don’t believe. Once you’re in touch with it, the true prickliness of its personality is painfully evident.
I rarely notice turtles at Emigrant Lake. Today I saw two. Perhaps the water is so warm it reminds them of what their parents warned them about: stay our of the soup.
Nora will size 11 sneaker she dredged up from the bottom of the lake:P2070186 (1280x960)

Posted by: atowhee | July 9, 2014


JULY 9 Report from vicinity of Grizzly Peak GGO nest: no sighting of owlet tonight. Female adult was in area where owlet was seen this morning. She used three different perches between 530pm and 730pm. This area is adjacent to where the nest is and has now been taped off to prevent anybody wandering through.
The adult gave some soft “whoo-whoo” calls, and spent some time looking down to area where owlet may be hiding.
P2070102 (1091x1280)
Other sounds was a continually calling Flicker, far-off thunder from the dark clouds over the Soda Mountain Wilderness to the south and one rapid drum sequence from a distant Pileated Woodpecker. Also a Western Tanager gave a few lackadaisical calls at long intervals.
Also, a treetop squirrel got her full attention for about a minute as she looked straight up.

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