Birding in Place

Quarantined birding for me isn’t much different from non-quarantined birding. We live on a bluff overlooking a creek, river, and ash-dominated floodplain, and I’ve worked from home full-time, in this location, for nearly 1 year. It’s backyard birding as usual except that now it’s spring, so the migrants are passing through (north [or up]) and the residents are setting up territories and building nests.

My office view of my backyard; April 14, 2020; Camas, WA.

On March 24, 5MR Jen kicked off a yard challenge. This generally means counting birds you see or hear in or from your yard. Because I work from home, this feels like one very long birding point count, but with long, nighttime breaks for sleep and many breaks during the day for cheese and crackers (many).

I’ve been participating in this yard challenge since March 24. My office window faces our backyard and my feeders. During the day, I catch what I can while I’m working. After work, I sit outside and catch the late afternoon/evening bird activity.

As of today, April 14, my yard challenge list since March 24 is 47 species.

Here’s a selection of yard birds that I was able to capture with my pretty basic camera. Check out my YouTube channel for videos of a Varied Thrush and a Fox Sparrow.

White-breasted Nuthatch; Camas, WA; April 2020
Golden-crowned Sparrow; Camas, WA; April 2020
California Scrub-Jay; Camas, WA; April 2020
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon); Camas, WA; April 2020
Golden-crowned Sparrow; Camas, WA; April 2020
Northern Flicker; Camas, WA; April 2020
Downy Woodecker; Camas, WA; April 2020
Spotted Towhee; Camas, WA; April 2020
Black-capped Chickadee; Camas, WA; April 2020
House Finch; Camas, WA; April 2020
Bald Eagle; Camas, WA; April 2020
Canada Goose; Camas, WA; April 2020
Song Sparrow; Camas, WA; April 2020
Chestnut-backed Chickadee; Camas, WA; April 2020
Bald Eagles; Camas, WA; April 2020
Black-capped Chickadee; Camas, WA; April 2020
White-crowned Sparrow; Camas, WA; April 2020
Downy Woodpecker; Camas, WA; April 2020

December 1 and 2, 2018

When I grow up, I’m going to establish a local bird “seed area” just outside my town. Here, I’ll regularly distribute high-quality bird seed, and birders will frequent this area and can even bird from their car if they wish (helpful in Oregon when it’s raining). Rare sparrows will visit, and my seed area will become a birding hot spot. Non-birding locals will assume we are up to no good, and that will make us birders feel a little badass for once, outside our birding circle. Nevermind that we are all in Subarus or Priuses.

One of these established seed area hot spots “near” me is in Lane County near the Eugene airport.

After our failed attempt to re-locate the Tundra Bean-Goose at Finley, my birding sister took me to this seed area on December 1, 2018, to see if we could get the recently recorded Harris’s Sparrow. We birded the area for a good 2 hours, and the Harris’s Sparrow did not pop out from the “brambles” (invasive blackberries). My very wonderful consolation prize, though, was a fetching White-throated Sparrow, another “oh you’ll get that species eventually, don’t worry” bird.

Oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada!

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The Bond Road seed area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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A White-throated Sparrow and friends (blurry junco and a white-crowned); the Bond Road seed area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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White-crowned Sparrows and a Golden-crowned Sparrow; the Bond Road seed area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Oh sweet White-throated Sparrow; the Bond Road seed area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Song Sparrow; the Bond Road seed area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Amazon Creek near the Bond Road seed  area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Amazon Creek near the Bond Road seed area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Badass birders at the Bond Road seed area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

New Birds for 2018: 2 (including a Sharp-shined Hawk)
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 257

I re-located the Tundra Bean-Goose at Finley the next day, December 2! No photos. I got too excited, shared my scope with other birders, and then a Bald Eagle flew in and shuffled the deck.

New Birds for 2018: 1
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 258

 

November 17, 2018

The Oregon Birding Association holds a handful of high-quality field trips throughout the year. I attended one on November 17 in and near The Dalles, Oregon, birding in Wasco County and part of Sherman County.

Our birding began at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, an interpretive center and history museum about the Columbia River Gorge. The center’s grounds have some ponds and shrubby areas, making it a pretty birdy spot. I got bird 251 here, a Swamp Sparrow. Unfortunately he was too quick for my point-and-shoot camera, so instead, here are photos from the day of the Swamp Sparrow’s pond, a fetching and cooperative Golden-crowned Sparrow, and a Horned Grebe and some coots.

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The Swamp Sparrow’s pond; November 17, 2018; Columbia Gorge Discovery Center;  photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Golden-crowned Sparrow; November 17, 2018; Columbia Gorge Discovery Center;  photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Horned Grebe and American Coots; November 17, 2018; Celilo Park, Wasco County, Oregon, photograph by Linda Burfitt.

Before heading back to Salem, we headed to “The Hook” in Hood River, Oregon, to see if we could find the Tufted Duck that had been seen for a few consecutive days. We sifted through the hundreds of Lesser Scaups before we finally had to call it a day because it was getting dark out. I would love to have seen this duck 😦

New Birds for 2018: 1
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 251