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Tag Archives: birding

Female goldeneyes are always hard for me to ID. There are two kinds – Barrow’s and Common. The males are easy to separate so if I see a female and male together, I often assume they are the same species. Last week we saw two females, one with ducklings and one on her own. Looking at the All About Birds site from Cornell University, I think both of these are Barrow’s Goldeneyes. But I could be wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Or maybe it should be End of Winter Birds or Blues. Spring doesn’t begin til Sunday in the northern hemisphere. We still have some snow on the ground but it is decreasing everyday. Say’s Phoebes and Violet-green Swallows are here along the Western and Mountain Bluebirds, Western Meadowlarks and the Dusky Grouse are making appearances too. Here are a few bluebirds and a Western Meadowlark from recent walks on our hill

A friend and I (no dogs, can you believe it?) went birding a couple days ago. We drove down the Methow, up the big river and then north on the east side of the county and back across the Loup. The weather was outstanding. Sunny and bright, cold in the morning but warm enough for light jackets in the afternoon. There were many water birds, few little brown jobs (sparrows and finches and such) and a good number of raptors. It was a good day birding.

One of our favorites was this nearby Pied-billed Grebe eating its lunch. It was very close and gave us such good views! The lump in its throat in the last image is the fish.

We noticed this Bufflehead sitting on a frozen lake separated by a dike from the big river. It was a ‘sitting duck’. Not a good thing in an area where we observed several Bald Eagles, a Cooper’s Hawk and a Northern Harrier. I don’t know if it was injured or it had mistakenly landed on the ice and could not get enough lift to get over the dike to the open water. It would fly low to the ice and land clumsily and finally it walked over to some cattails where it could be under cover while it planned its next move. According to All About Birds, Bufflehead are seldom seen on dry land: females walk only when they lead their ducklings from the nest to the water or when they’re forced to switch ponds with their ducklings.

We saw lots of other birds and had grand views of the mountains to the west. A good day birding.

Our bird list:

Common Loon

Horned Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Western Grebe

Great Blue Heron

Canada Goose

Mallard

American Wigeon

Green-winged Teal

Canvasback

Redhead

Greater Scaup

Lesser Scaup

Common Goldeneye

Barrow’s Goldeneye

Bufflehead

Hood Merganser

Common Merganser

Northern Harrier

Cooper’s Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk

Bald Eagle

Merlin

American Kestrel

California Quail

Ring-necked Pheasant

American Coot

Mew Gull

Mourning Dove

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Rock Pigeon

Northern Flicker

Say’s Phoebe

Northern Shrike

Black-billed Magpie

Common Raven

American Crow

Horned Lark

Black-capped Chickadee

Red-breasted Nuthatch

American Robin

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing

Yellow-rumped Warblee

American Tree Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Snow Bunting

Red-winged Blackbird

House Finch

House Sparrow

Bald Eagles often perch in the snags below our house. I imagine they are hoping for roadkill or spawned out salmon or some other tasty tidbit. Eagles tend to be scavengers rather than hunters around here. This one seemed to take offense that a Black-billed Magpie chose to share its snag perch.

I have found that birds are easier to view when I am in my kayak than when I am walking around. The birds don’t perceive a person in a boat to be as big a threat as a person on the ground. The kayak provides a good point of view for some of the smaller songbirds which often elude me, leaving me to guess their species by a call or a song. I struggle with birding by ear, especially the warblers and Empidonax flycatchers. Except Willow Flycatchers. They have a distinctive call that sounds like ‘fitzbuuu’.

The Pileated Woodpecker was seen from our campsite. The Yellow-rumped Warbler darted back and forth catching bugs above the water. There were baby Song Sparrows along the lakeshore and adults singing and calling from the shrubs above. Red-winged Blackbirds NEVER perch still for me to get a photo. Never. An Empidonax flycatcher waited for insects in between its frequent ‘fitzbuuu’ calls. See the crack in that snag? In the next photo, look carefully for the departing Tree Swallow. They are fast. I waited and waited to get that one image. I have several of the bird’s tail feathers flying away. The Yellow Warbler was lovely in the green alder leaves. Coots were elusive in the marshy area of the lake, quickly gathering their bright orange chicks and moving them into cover. An Eastern Kingbird gracefully hurled a pellet while I was making its photo. I came across the Killdeer family while on a drive about.

Of course, there were loons. And another highlight, not photographed, was a Sora with babies!

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