Skip navigation

Category Archives: birds

These images are from an August camping trip to the Okanogan Highlands.

A quick google search shows lots of meanings for Yard Bird so I probably ought to clarify. A yard bird in this context is new bird species to add to the growing list of birds we have observed in or from our yard. Our list is pretty diverse.

Now that nesting season is over, I decided to put out a sunflower feeder so I could see what birds are out and about. What a surprise when, the very next day, a White-headed Woodpecker showed up. These birds do live around the Methow Valley but mostly in mature pine forests so he was a bit out of his normal habitat. We enjoyed watching him for a few minutes. He gathered the sunflower seeds and stashed them in the snag and before leaving, he checked out the finch feeder too. Judging by the shape of the red patch on his head, I think the bird is a juvenile male. A female would have no white and an adult male would have a more complete red patch. Learn more about White-headed Woodpeckers here.

The next day, a flock of Red-winged Blackbirds cleaned out the feeder and later, came back and seemed upset that I did not refill it for them.

Of course, we saw lots of other birds while camped in the Okanogan Highlands. Here are a few of them plus a chipmunk that lived in our campsite. Its main job was to drive Luna nuts.

Well, my mother probably would not have enjoyed watching Turkey Vultures. But I do. They are a social bird that roosts in groups and scavenges for food together. With a wing span of over 70 inches and weighing more than four pounds, they can lift off easily in warm air, seemingly effortlessly. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “Turkey Vultures lack the vocal organs to make proper songs. Most of their vocalizations come down to a form of low, guttural hiss made when they are irritated or vying for a better spot on a carcass. They also may give a low, nasal whine while in flight.”

I have never seen a Turkey Vulture nest. There are lots of vultures around here and I wonder, are they all part of a non-breeding gang of teenager vultures?

A couple days ago, I noticed several vultures in the draw below our driveway. Looking closer later in the day, Ken discovered a dead deer. It probably had been hit by a car on the highway and managed to get this far before it died. The number of vultures increases each day and I don’t expect the carcass to last much longer.



Speaking of motherhood, and fatherhood, a pair of Mountain Bluebirds has chosen one of our nest boxes to set up housekeeping. This is very exciting! Normally both Mountain and Western Bluebirds nest reasonably far away from our house so we see them only on our walks or at the bird bath. The box they’ve chosen is attached to the bottom of our deck and easily seen from inside the house and from the porch so we get to see them often. The Violet-green Swallows who have traditionally used this box are not happy.

%d bloggers like this: