Posted by: atowhee | May 9, 2015


Nebulosa Press of Ashland, Oregon, is proud to announce the publication of Great Gray Owl in California, Oregon and Washington.  The book is available to order now.

Over 100 full color photos, never before published.ggo-on-sign

Four original full-color maps showing the species’ disjunct breeding range in the three states of the Pacific Slope.  California, for example, has breeding Great Grays in at least four distinct areas with apparent gaps separating each population from the others.  This will not look like the range map in your field guide.

Thorough summary of what is known and unknown about the birds in this area which is the southernmost extent of their range.

Information on the habitat where Great Grays are now breeding and most likely to be seen.

Complete bibliography.

First-ever publication of data on the species’ use of man-made nest platforms in Oregon.2014 GGO 1

If you like owls you’ll love this book. Co-authors Peter Thiemann (also the photographer) and Harry Fuller spent many hours with the owls during nesting season and in the colder months.  Also dozens of field biologists and owl experts across the Western U.S. were interviewed as much of what’s known about this elusive species has never been published.

ggo coverOrder from: Nebulosa Press, 243 Granite Street, Ashland, Oregon.  97520.
Hardbound.  226 pages.  Available June 1, 2015.  Price $28 plus shipping & handling cost OF $5.86.  Peter and harry will be making a series of public appearances to talk about Great Gray Owls in the Pacific Northwest and will have copies of the book to sell.  We will announce those appearances at this URL (web address).  Also copies will be sold through Northwest Nature Store in Ashland.


Posted by: atowhee | May 6, 2015


There were four species of swallow feeding on the little flying insects over Emigrant Lake today: Barn, Tree, V-G and Rough-winged.  Then along comes a lone Vaux’s Swift.  For the first time I got a shot of an individual swift.  Getting the whirlwind of swifts as they funnel into a autumn roost is cool but easy.  Getting one on the wing, gimme a high five…VS-GUD (1280x960) VS-GUD2 (1280x960)A few years back Sandy Komito–yes, that Sandy Komito–stood with me at Ashland Pond and got some very fair pictures of Vaux’s Swifts in the air.  I thought at the time, How can that old guy do that?  I musta been too young, that’s all. Now I’ve done it.  Sandy was my goad and my inspirati0n…if he can do it, I thought… I’m taking a victory lap right now.

My son’s British in-laws would describe my current condition, somewhere between amazement and hubris, as “chuffed.”  Chuffed indeed.

It has already been a good day, more Wilson’s Warblers than Yellow-rumps!WW4 (1280x960)WW2 (1280x960)WW-BRITE (1280x960)Spotty on the shore.SPOT-A (1280x960) TV FACE (1280x960)For awhile I was watching T.V. TV FACE-CLOS (1280x960) WBN-BRITE (1280x960)The many shades of the nuthatch.  The bird sat still but leaves and sunlight moved and altered. WBN-CU (1280x960) WBN-SIDD (1280x960) WBN-SUN (1280x960)   This is Canadian daycare at its finest.  Four adults, twelve students=student/teacher ratio of 3 to 1.  Some non-humans really have family values not just slogans and BS.

CAN DAYCAR (1280x960) OSP-BLUE (1280x960) OSP-CLD (1280x960)Bonus raptors this evening were young Golden Eagle and a White-tailed Kite.  Vetch, meanwhile, purples the hillsides.GE-HI1 (1280x960) GE-HI2 (1280x960) KYT1 (1280x960) KYT2 (1280x960) KYT3 (1280x960) KYT4 (1280x960) LAKE (1280x960)Emigrant Lake, Jackson, US-OR
May 6, 2015 3:45 PM – 5:00 PM. 28 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  26
Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)  2
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  5
California Quail (Callipepla californica)  4
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  1
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  12
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)  1
White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus)  1, Golden Eagle  1 juvenile
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)  1
Vaux’s Swift (Chaetura vauxi)  1
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  X
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)  4
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  30
Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)  2
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  6
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  2
House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)  1
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  2
Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)  2
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)  1
Wilson’s Warbler (Cardellina pusilla)  5
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X

Posted by: atowhee | May 6, 2015


PALE QUAILThis female quail was photographed by Ferrell Squyres on his rural property west of Phoenix, Oregon.


ggo cover

BIRD FESTIVALMTBF COLOR LOGOThe festival is May 29-31, still some time to register.  Based in Ashland, Oregon.

Also I am leading a trip to see and count Yellow Rails at Klamath Marsh on June 19-20. Contact Klamath Bird Observatory to sign up.

Posted by: atowhee | May 5, 2015


There are many flowers in the May woods.  This one always stops me. PE BEE PE1 PE2 PE5The Latin name of this flower, commonly called pussy ears, commemorates Dr. William Tolmie.   He was raised and educated in science and medicine in Georgian-era Scotland, a key center of science at that time. Tolmie was an important figure in the Hudson’s Bay Company’s affairs in the Pacific Northwest from the 1830s onward. He was stationed at Fort Vancouver (WA), Nisqually (WA) and other posts before following the British flag north to Victoria.  He was an avid student of natural history and collected many new species  including several bird skins he presented to Townsend and Nuttall when they arrived from Boston in the 1830s.  One warbler, MacGillivray’s, bears the Latin name of Oporornis tolmiei.  Near the mouth of the Nisqually River and adjacent to Nisqually Wildlife Refuge is Tolmie State Park, a fine birding spot.



Posted by: atowhee | May 3, 2015


Today was the first field trip for my OLLI class on birding the Klamath Knot.  We visited two locations and each presented us with a single bird I would not have expected.  It was very nice to see the scuffling oriole males, hear the endless song of several Black-headed Grosbeaks, chase Yellow and Wilson’s Warblers through the thicket, trace slow-moving Warbling Vireos through new spring foliage.  But those were the sightings one expects here in southern Oregon in early May.  Then we found a single Ash-throated Flycatcher in the riparian habitat of North Mountain Park. Later and a mile away at Ashland Pond we spotted a single young Black-crowned Night-Heron.

There have been hundreds of checklists submitted for Ashland Pond and for all weeks of the year over multiple years.  Only one previous Night-Heron was reported there, in mid-September.B-C-N YNG1 (1280x960) B-C-N YNG1-2 (1280x960)

This far south of the Rouge River the night-heron is not expected and is uncommon at best. This young bird may be just wandering around looking for good hunting spots while the adult birds do this year’s nesting.

The Ash-throated Flycatcher is seen occasionally over the summer at North Mountain and may even nest in the area.  It is never as evident as the more obvious kingbirds and wood-pewees that nest in the park.ATF SIDE-VU (1280x960)Female Anna’s drinks deeply, thinks deeply.A-H DRINK1 (1280x960) A-H GLANC (1280x960) A-H THINK (1280x960)  B-F UPP (1280x960) HANGOUT (1280x960)Sharing the raft. MORE TURTLS (1280x960) N-M DEER (1280x960) SUPER MOM (1280x960)If you had to convoy nine ducklings you’d have grass hanging from your jowls, too.  Mother-of-the-year nominee, if you ask me.

The White-breasted Nuthatches were carrying food into a nest hole they have used at least three straights springs along the main trail at North Mountain.  Meanwhile, momma Tree swallow was pushing grass into a nest box there in preparation for the year’s nursery business.tree-tailtree-tail2tree-tail3tree in hole TREE TOPP (1280x960) TREE TOPP2 (1280x960) TREE TWO (1280x960)

North Mountain Park, Jackson, US-OR
May 3, 2015 9:10 AM – 10:25 AM.  33 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  14
Green Heron (Butorides virescens)  1
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  X
Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)  X
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon))  X
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  1
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  3
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  1
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  3
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  2
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
Ash-throated Flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens)  1
Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus)  2
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  X
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  20
Oak Titmouse (Baeolophus inornatus)  2
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  2     carrying food to nest hole
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  1
Wilson’s Warbler (Cardellina pusilla)  2
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  2
Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)  1
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)  6
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  5
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)  1
Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)  6
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  2
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  4

Ashland Pond, Jackson, US-OR
May 3, 2015 10:50 AM – 11:35 AM.  25 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)  3     mother with 2 ducklings
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  X
Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)  1     immature bird, unusual here
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  2
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  5
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  X
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  1
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  1
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  12
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  1
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  1
Oak Titmouse (Baeolophus inornatus)  1
House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)  1
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X     saw one Robin chasing away a cowbird female
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  2
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  X
Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)  1
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)  2
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)  1
Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)  X


Klamath Bird Observatory is sponsoring an overnight trip to Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, June 19-20.  Those of us on this trip will help the refuge biologist survey for this elusive, hard-to-find nocturnal rail.  If you are interested contact me or Klamath Bird Observatory in Ashland.

Klamath Marsh is the largest known nesting area for this species on the Pacific Slope.


Posted by: atowhee | May 2, 2015


AM OWLLife is irrespressible around here now. GROUNDLINGS MAD BLOOMMadronein bloom.  Mule’s ears. MULESERS P2430853 (1280x960)Larkspur seem to have invented purple.AVEG (1280x960) MILLI-1 (1280x960) MILLI-2 (1280x960) poppees (1280x960) SAV SPAO (1280x960) SAV SPAO2 (1280x960) stj (1280x960)

Posted by: atowhee | May 2, 2015


eg eetz2They’ve been named “evening grosbeaks” but they showed up just after dawn today, peeping to one another the whole while.  They settled into a large oak next door and breakfasted on the the oak’s tassels that would become acorns in a non-grosbeakian universe.  They were present and audible for two hours.  I did not mange to find a single female in the flock of at least a score or more. EG EETZ3 (1280x960) EG EETZ4 (1280x960) eg sitz-a eg-uppp

bull flufBullock’s Orio,e make at Ashland Pond, fluffing his feathers.

bull side

buor backd
Hawthorn in spring splendor.
haw briteWe had to travel up to Newberg, Oregon, and back on Thursday-Friday. We saw several fishing Osprey along the route.
osprey up
At a horse ranch on Parrett Mountain east of Newberg there were as many birds as horses. A pair of Violet-green Swallows were nesting in one box and House Wrens nan adjacent box about three feet away.

VGS1 (1280x960)

VGS-BEAUTY-A (1280x960)






HOUSE WRENHOUSE WREN SONG HWS2 HW-SINGOUT (1280x960)Callthis one “The Flower Wren Song.” HW-SONG1 (1280x960) HW-TAIL

Posted by: atowhee | April 29, 2015


There were a number of birds I spotted today around water.  Some of the ones I spotted were, in fact, Spotted, as well.  Spotted Towhee, for example, at Ashland Pond.  Males calling out their territorial intentions.  And then there was a pair of Spotted Sandpipers for the second straight day.  They copulated on a pondside log.  This not being a frat party or Vegas hotel suite I took it their intentions were to propagate the species.  Sex for procreation, that’s their intention as with most birds.  But with many birds there is no such thing as loyalty among “paired” birds.  Promiscuity is rampant among species from ducks to kingbirds.  If these shorebirds had appeared before the Supreme Court on the recent marriage lawsuit, the Spotted Sandpipers I spotted would have muddied the waters.  How they will raise young on the mudflats of the pond, enclosed as they are by dense brush and marauded regularly by raccoons and other predators…we shall see.

Speaking of young, mother Wood Duck now has only two ducklings…the third having gone into nature’s ever-hungry maw some way or other.  As it nimbly cross the log I thought to myself, ‘this bird is spot on.’

SPOTTED GALLERYsposa loggd SPOT ON1 (1280x960) SPOT ON2 (1280x960) SPOT ON3 (1280x960)

SPO SAND1 (1280x960)

FURTHER SPOTTINGS OF LATECRO D-FLIES2 No, Virginia, they are not refueling. MORE D-FLIES P2430656This Red-tail is doing his symmetrical molt.  Asymmetry could be deadly. RTH MOLTD SOSP WHISTL (1280x960) W-STARIt is good these days to see any amphibian of any kind anywhere, even this big invasive brute.  Not his fault we humans brought his kin out to the arid west: FROG UP (1280x960)P2430649 (1280x960)My first Green Heron of the year, Ashland Pond yesterday.GRN HRN1 (1280x960)Make yourself at home, deer. P2430648 (1280x960)Here’s one of those grosbeaks who can’t stop singing.BH-=GROSFemale Bullock’s Oriole so there must be cottonwoods nearby. FEM BULLThis guy was upa tree when my dogs went past, no wonder they call ’em “ground squirrels.” GROUND IN-TREE

Posted by: atowhee | April 29, 2015


At Avenue G Ponds west of White City this morning the male Great-tailed Grackle was ina tree proclaiming his supremacy. His mate was foraging in the marsh nearby. They are vanguard of the latest avian invasion from the south as Jackson County’s avian population continues to gather new species coming up from California.GTG FEML (1280x960)

GTG MALE (1280x960)

The combination of heavy human-caused habitat change and climate change are making southern Oregon evermore comfortable for some adaptable species, mostly from California. The grackles began their invasion from the southwest a couple decades back.



Some highlights of changes in local bird populations since 1975 and the publication of “The Distribution and Occurrence of the Birds of Jackson County, Oregon.”

Canada Goose      1975: “very common to uncommon migrant and winter resident”

Now: abundant year-round resident

White-tailed Kite: 1975: no record
Now: breeding resident in grasslands where voles are plentiful

Red-shouldered Hawk 1975: no record

Now: common breeding, permanent resident in several habitats

Wild Turkey         1975: no record; later introduced

Now: abundant breeding resident in oak and deciduous forest

Eurasian Collared-Dove   1975: not present anywhere in North America until 1980s

Now: now abundant residents in low elevation manmade habitats

Burrowing Owl      1975: “formerly bred throughout the county”

Now: rare wintering bird

Barred Owl         1975: no record

Now: present as breeding population in some suburban areas

Anna’s Hummingbird        1975: “rare winter visitor and a regular uncommon summer visitor”

Now: year-round resident (males) and common low elevation breeder

Black Phoebe              1975: “rare regular summer resident”

Now: year-round resident in riparian habitat

Horned Lark                1975: “fairly common permanent resident in the White City area”

Now: rare visitor

Purple Martin             1975: “formerly nested in dead snags on the shore of Hyatt Reservoir until the snags were removed about 1960.”

Now: being encouraged to nest around Denman WMA

Starling                        1975: arrived in 1954

Now: one of the most abundant birds in Jackson County

Great-tailed Grackle   1975: no record

Now: summer breeding bird at Denman WMA, first Christmas Count record in Medford, 2014.

Ken Denman WMA–Ave. G Ponds, Jackson, US-OR
Apr 29, 2015 10:10 AM – 10:55 AM.  14 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  16
Gadwall (Anas strepera)  4
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  20
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)  1
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  2
American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)  1
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
Sora (Porzana carolina)  1
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  20
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)  15
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  6
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  60
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)  15
Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus)  2


Posted by: atowhee | April 28, 2015


amgoThese first three photos are by Karl Schneck at his home east of I-5 on North valley View Road.  I especially enjoyed the line-up of Zonotrichia sparrows including the less-than-common White-throated. brto wt_gc_wc sparrowTwo shots of a Western Kingbird at Indian Tom Lake in Siskiyou County:WEKI BEND (1280x960) WEKI UP (1280x960)White Pelicans, like small stranded ships in a sea of grass.  In Klamath Basin, Oregon side of the border.wpel fliz wpel loafrs wpel standzYHB DIRECTYellow-headed Blackbird at Indian Tom Lake. Below: an Avo-set.AVO-SET1

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