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Tag Archives: birds

If you spend much time hiking or camping in the Cascades, sooner or later, you will be surrounded by Camp Robbers and I hope they are the avian kind. Canada Jays (formerly known as Gray Jays) are pretty birds that enjoy people. They know that people come with food and the jays seem to know if they are sweet and cute, eventually, someone will give them a handout. Sky and I saw this group on one of our hikes last week.

Remember the long warm days of summer? Night skies full of endless stars and a comet too? T shirts, shorts and sandals? Oh yeah. This is the time of winter when it seems that summer will never come. Living under pandemic rules for nearly a year, making each day seem more or less the same, doesn’t help. Well, here’s a memory of summer.

Lewis’s Woodpeckers nested on our hill last year. It was a first for us. The dead trees that burned in 2014 must have finally reached the point of good rot for easy cavity excavating. There were probably four of the colorful woodpeckers but I never saw more than three at a time. There were at least two different cavities that were in use. I photographed them over the course of a couple of days in July til I got distracted by the comet and camping activities. Just yesterday I finally got round to processing those images. There were over 400!

I think it’s worth it to click through all of the images to enjoy the colors and movements of the Lewis’s Woodpeckers. They are an exotic looking bird for this part of the world.

 

Maybe November is the longest month. November 2020 for sure. Now I know why I have traveled in November the last two years. October is a lovely month in the Methow. I’ll have to rethink my travel plans for next year.

The weather brought early snow which seemed wonderful at first and for sure, groomed ski trails are in terrific shape for so early in the season. Walking, that’s another thing. The trails are icy and uneven and the rest of the snow is crusty and dangerous for the dogs. Some days we get sun which is glorious and watching it unfold across the hillsides is a sight to be seen. But many days are gray. Gray. Like today.

The birds don’t seem to mind too much, except for when it snows. We keep the feeders filled and I think they appreciate it. One morning, there was a leucistic House Finch. Leucism is a partial loss of pigmentation, which can make an animal have white or patchily colored skin, hair, or feathers.

These bright red birds are delight to see anytime but in the snow their vibrant color really pops! Crossbills are a member of the finch family – like American Goldfinches, House Finches, Pine Siskins and Pine Grosbeaks. They use their crossed beaks to break into pine cones and get the nutritious seeds. They will also come to feeders for sunflower seeds. I have read that if they have sufficient food, they can breed anytime of the year. Before the fire we observed them here year-round. Now they are just an occasional visitor to our feeders. They must miss our pine trees as much as we do.

We just returned from a winter trip to Yellowstone National Park. For some people, that might seem counter intuitive but for me, it’s been a long time coming – a real bucket list trip. Now that I’ve gone once, I can’t wait to visit there in the winter again.

While we saw lots of charismatic megafauna and I had opportunities to photograph many of them, my favorite photos from the trip are these of the Common Ravens in the Tower Junction area. This pair seemed to dominate the parking lot where there was a dumpster, recycling bins and toilets. I have no doubt that they are true scavengers living off what we humans leave behind. I think they also were very used to people and have probably been fed many times. When another pair of ravens flew overhead, these two hopped up and down on a snowbank making threatening calls. I think they were saying “Get out of here, this is our place.” They are beautiful and smart birds.

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