Feb. 21 Nora and I were at Joe Dancer Park after noon, and it was not raining, though it had been raining and more was coming in. One brief encounter with a bird curious about my pishing into a berry thicket. Wow, pretty bird in many subtle ways:He’s got it all going, right? The chevron-marks on the chest, the yellow lower mandible, the clear eye-ring, a bit of a crest because he’s pished off at me and the dog, those long toenails for digging the duff up, and even a water drop poised beneath his left foot to confirm that the outdoor humidity here is at 100.1%. He out-foxed every other bird on the trail this afternoon.
For the first time I saw a brush rabbit at Dancer Park. Got a photo. Its binomial is Sylvilagus bachmani, named after Audubon’s good friend, Rev. John Bachman. In fact Audubon’s two sons married Bachman’s two daughters. Bachman helped Audubon find his first Bachman’s Warbler in South Carolina where the good reverend lived. Bachman also wrote all the text for Audubon’s last work, on American mammals. Bachman was a world-reknowned mammal man in his day.
I have learned that the brush rabbit is found along the Pacific Coast from the Columbia River southward. The species adheres to Allen’s Rule which means as you move south the habitat becomes dryer and the local brush rabbits have longer and longer ears.
The Red-breasted Sapsucker was again in the forest along the river about fifty yards west of the skateboard structure. And that is also the area where the Anna’s Hummingbird is often seen on the tip of a bare landscape tree. He was there today and a second male was on the far side of ball diamonds along the river after it has turned north.
First: the riverside hummer, then the one often near the skateboard course:
Flickers were calling and Robins singing. The river was raging. Everything was saturated from repeated rains. Moss, lichens, bark and ferns were all wet sponges of varying capacity. Even when there is no atmospheric rain, the forest precipitation continues from the dripping ends of plants.
There were a few small insects in flight. A local insect expert tells me this: “they are most likely a fungus gnat that lives in moist soil with high organic matter. The gnats are very small 1/16-1/8 inch and black. They are often described as looking like small mosquitoes. They can be a problem in greenhouses living in the potting soil. Although they are usually minimally active in the cold weather, they can survive extreme cold. It is most likely that the activity was associated with the warmer days.”
Sometimes in these dark winter days a bit of blazing purple prose is a fine thing. Herewith some words from William Leon Dawson in his muti-volume classic on the birds of California (1923): “Sure enough, there came the guardian angel (?) …or was it the blue-coated gendarme noisily brandishing a flaming sword? ‘Jayick! Jayick!”‘ It is he! It is he! The sweet, authentic devil, the California jay! He, the malaprop, the impertinent, the sly wag, thief, scoundrel, outcast, jackal of the bush, bon homme libre, as innocent as morning, as industrious as noon, as wicked as night.”
In a hurry, as is so oft the case:
Give us this day our daily Red-tail:
Joe Dancer Park, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Feb 21, 2017 1:30 PM – 2:15 PM. 12 species
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) 1
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) 2
Red-breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber) 1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) 4
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) 4
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) X
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) 2
American Robin (Turdus migratorius) 40
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) X
Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca) 2
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) 15
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) 1