Posted by: atowhee | April 29, 2016

DISCOVERIES AT DAWN

We are staying at Green Springs Lodge at about 4600 feet in the Cascades in Jackson County, OR.  We had to be in Medford by 745AM today so we were up early.  As soon as I stepped outside into the chilly dawn (temp about 36 degrees) I heard the song of a Hermit Thrush nearby.  In the background was the trumpeting of a Red-breasted Nuthatch but it was the music of the thrush that promised a day to remark on.

Not many miles down the road about 627AM we saw a Great Gray Owl hunting in a meadow along the roadside not far from Howard Prairie Lake. The owl didn’t pose for a picture.

Around 8AM I was with Nora at Ashland Pond and there were a half dozen Green-winged Teal there, not a common bird at that location.  Also heard both a Yellow-breasted Chat and a Black-headed Grosbeak singing.  No sight nor sound of oriole.GWT-SWMS (1280x960) GWT-SWMS2 (1280x960) MALL TALKS (1280x960)

The lone male Mallard there was speaking in loud declarative sentences.

Returning back to the Cascades in the early afternoon there was a Wilson’s Snipe atop his favorite fence post right along Dead Indian Memorial at Howard Prairie.  I believe it was too cold (below 50) for any snipe winnowing.   But this bird DID pose for pictures as we didn’t get out of the car.SNP-HP1 SNP-HP2 SNP-HP3

Tree Swallow on tree top.TSW HIGH

Anna’s Hummingbird male, alert sentinel always. ANN ALERT (1280x960) GCS BEAUTY (1280x960) GCS FACING US (1280x960)

Golden-crowned Sparrows can still be found around here…but not for much longer.  They gotta get to breeding territory before their feathers begin to fade.

Birder alert: the mosquito density at Ashland Pond (on scale of 0-10) is about a six.  On a warmer day it’ll be a blood-thirsty crowd that greets your bare flesh.

The chief birds of Green Springs Lodge:CHKEN

JOHN BURROUGHS’ FAVORITE SINGER

John Burroughs on the Hermit Thrush, written in 1863:

“Ever since I entered the woods, even while listening to the lesser songsters, ort contemplating the silent forms about me, a strain has reached my ears from out of the depths of the forest that is to me the finest sound in nature,–the song of the hermit thrush.  I often hear him thus a long way off…I detect this sound rising pure and serene, as if a spirit from some remote height were slowly chanting a divine accompaniment.  This song appeals to the sentiment of the beautiful in me… It is very simple, and I can hardly tell the secret of its charm.  “Oh spheral, spheral!” he seems to say; “O holy, holy! O clear away clear away!  Oh clear up, clear up!” interspersed with the finest trills and the most delicate preludes.  It is not a proud, gorgeous strain, like a tanager’s or grosbeak’s; suggests no passion or emotion, –nothing personal,–but seems to be the voice of the calm, sweet solemnity one attains to in his best moments….

“He [Hermit Thrush] is not much in the books.  Indeed, I am acquainted with scarcely any writer on ornithology whose head is not muddled on the subject of our three song-thrushes, confounding either their figures or their songs.”

Burroughs would be happy to note that we can now—150 years later—at any time hear good recordings of songs of “his” three thrushes: Hermit, Wood and Veery.  Plus we can now point out to his shade that we recognize Gray-cheecked, Bicknell’s and Swainson’s as fellow members of the song-thrush tribe in North America.  One of Europe’s finest singers (along with nightingale and skylark) is the similarly plumaged Song Thrush who fills the role played in the Americas by thrashers and Mockingbirds.

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