Posted by: atowhee | February 28, 2017

GUTTER SNIPE, AN AVIAN MARVEL

Sunshine and Scrub-Jays can make for a marvelous morning.  As I was putting sunflower seeds onto our feeders this morning  a Red-tailed Hawk called from the big cherry tree in our garden.  I didn’t need to look. It was a resident Scrub-Jay doing his imitation to freak out the littler birds.  I would rate his imitation of the hawk to be nearly as good as Melissa McCarthy’s version of Sean Spicer’s spite.  It is safe to assume the jay got many fewer guffaws from his audience.

There is an intersection six blocks from our house that can turn an ordinary dog walk into a birding walk.  Here are at least sixty mature native oaks, some fifty feet tall.  They are survivors on two blocks of an ordinary residential neighborhood where no other native oaks can be seen nearby.  The houses are all pre-1970 so fruit trees, shrubs and bushes are well established providing food and cover for sparrows and their ilk.   There this morning I sighted the Gutter Snipe.

He walked along the gutter chucking out leaves and sticks. In search of grubs or beetles I presume.  Surely he doesn’t believe the fake news about flying earthworms. To be a corvid must assuredly mean being a reality-hugging empiricist.

Pamela Johnston sent me this note about jays on the roof: “Probably larvae, and some other taste temptations. When they pull moss off a roof it’s for the crane fly larvae in it.”gs-1gs-2gs-3gs-4gs-5gs-6gs-7gs-8gs-9gs-10

At this birding spot there is pone house with both seed and nectar feeders in sight of the sidewalk (thanks!).  Across the street is a house with two nectar feeders, one with an electric heater for winter hummers.  Today there was single male present.  In this area a few days ago I saw two different females, probably recently returned from their southerly wintering grounds.ah-fdrbrd

Also feeding in the area were flocks of Junco and House Sparrow.  A Myrtle Warbler came into view.  Three tiny birds landed high up in the oaks.  One advantage of winter birding, no oak leaves.  I could see they were Lesser Goldfinches.  These birds are seen in this spot off and on, though not in warm months.  There is breeding habitat for these grassland lovers.  Maybe they can nest on the margins of a golf course across the street from the oaks.  These oaks are the home of a colony of Acorn Woodpeckers, who were busy overhead.aw-in-sunawp-1awp-2awp-3awp-4In this final shot you can clearly see the spiked tail feathers, used a prop against tree trunks when the bird is hiking up and down vertical trunks.awp-5flkr-x“I know,” the House Sparrow.  “You don’t like me.   My song is less than melodious and you think I am compete with the locals who cry ‘America First.’  But you brought me here for your own purposes and my heritage is to survive. Back home my race is dying in the streets of London, the farm fields of Essex.  You white people came from Europe, too, so why are you blaming me for settling in my new home?”
“Furthermore, you are even meaner to my fellow English immigrant, the starling.  He is a bold and healthy fellow.  Habits are steady, high in family values and he’s clean.   Look at this image, call it ‘Star Wash’.”

hosp-sunstar-wash

GARDEN BIRDSbtsootBushtit. Female Downy.dw-girl

Click here for info on my spring birding class in McMinnville, starting at end of March.

Click here to see my class and speaking schedule for this coming spring, from Yamhill County to Pt. Reyes.

Michelbook & 13th Street, McMinnville, Oregon, US
Feb 28, 2017. 15 species

Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  1
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  3
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  2
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  1
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa)  X
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  10
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) (Setophaga coronata coronata)  1
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  X
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  3
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  X

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