Monday, April 22, 2013

Band-taileds building

About three years ago, I started this blog to document the natural history of my neighborhood, but lately I tend to post about trips that Sarah and I take well away from our house. Well, I finally have something to write about in our own backyard: a Band-tailed Pigeon nest!

During the last few weeks, we noticed the big purple pigeons perching and singing near our house.

On the 16th, I noticed a pair perched on a wire just outside of the yard.

A few minutes later, I watched one fly into our pyrocantha tree (which we have been planning to remove) with a twig in its bill. This was probably a male delivering nesting material for the female to put it in place. For the next six days, the male continued to bring her sticks. Today I looked into the pyrocantha  from a respectful distance and saw one of the adults (they take turns incubating) on the nest.

We put off some work in the backyard so as not to disturb the pair during the nest-building. Funny how birders can be held captive their own house by a couple of pigeons!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Birding, Blues, and Herps

Last week we took a trip to the beach for the Pacific City Birding and Blues Festival.
On the way, we visited our old Hillsboro neighborhood to look for a wayward Loggerhead Shrike. We had no problem finding the bird perched on fence post near a corporate parking lot. A few minutes later, the shrike dove to the ground and returned to the post with an eight-inch garter snake that it gulped down like a fat piece of spaghetti before we could get our camera ready.

  Our loggerheaded friend spent the next ten minutes basking in the sun with a belly full of snake.

During the weekend, we helped lead two walks through the soggy forests of Nestucca Bay Wildlife Refuge. The highlight of both days' walks was the thump-thump-thumping of a Ruffed Grouse drumming somewhere in the forest.

The walks also produced some great amphibian encounters, such as this chorus frog posing alongside some tiny mushrooms. It rained pretty hard during the walk on Sunday, so we are looking forward to what should be a dry field trip this Sunday at Dawson Creek Park.
Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tryon Creek

 Wednesday was the last dry day of the week, so Sarah and I took a walk through Tryon Creek State Park.

We had hoped to find some Barred Owls, but we settled for dozens of singing Pacific Wrens, mats of waterleaf, and a few tiny mushrooms. Plenty of birds were active high in the trees, but the most memorable sighting was on the ground. Sarah found a dead shrew on the trail and it appeared to be moving. Either it was a tiny zombie or something under it was was trying to carry it away.

I rolled the carcass and found a burying beetle, the first one we've ever seen in Oregon. We moved the body to the side of the trail where the beetle can cover it with leaves and store it for the next generation.