Sunday, March 17, 2013

Birding in the Desert and the Rain


Last week I visited the rivers and canyons of southwest Colorado and southeast Utah.

The scenery was amazing, but birds were pretty scarce, at least by western Oregon standards.

It has been a dry and cold winter here, and I suspect that there is less food for the birds than in the mild Northwest.

 
I did see a few birds here and there, including a pair of Red-tailed Hawks engaged in a courtship flight.

The day after I returned to Portland, Sarah and I drove to the coast to look for some winter visitors. We found more species of birds during a couple hours of birding Tillamook County than I had in four days on the Colorado Plateau.

The highlight of the day was an adorable Snow Bunting working the edge of the parking lot at Barview Jetty.

A day later, we visited Newport to view the congregation of ducks that had gathered to feast on recently spawned herring eggs near the South Jetty of Yaquina Bay. Most of the ducks were Surf Scoters and Greater Scaup, but we managed to spot a smudgy Long-tailed Duck before the flock dispersed. We also spotted several Harlequin Ducks, Common Goldeneyes, and Black Scoters in the bunch. As is often the case in Newport, the rain was pouring down, so we returned to the beach house to dry out and watch Rufous Hummingbirds at the feeder.

Three feisty males jockeyed for feeder supremacy. They granted a female Anna's Hummingbird access to te feeder, but chased away the male Anna's as soon as he appeared. Spring is coming!

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