Monday, March 17, 2014

The Wonderful World of the Willamette Valley

On Friday we drove south from Portland in search of woodpeckers and owls.

We found our woodpeckers in some big oaks outside of Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge.

 A Lewis's Woodpecker flew from this club-shaped branch before we could take a picture.

This Acorn Woodpeckers was much shyer than the ones we know in Washington County.

 
After Ankeny, we walked the dog through Willamette Park in Corvallis. This big, lovely park had an active Great-blue Heron Rookery in the tall cottonwoods across the river.

We then paused for happy hour on the third floor of Sky High Brewing in Corvallis. The views and beers were terrific.

Our last, and best, stop of the day was off a road by the Bald Eagle roost near Tangent. The eagles roost in this stand cottonwoods during the winter and we counted at least 25 adult and immature eagles perching for the night. The real attraction, however, was the abundance of Short-eared Owls working the fields on both sides of the road.

 
We've never seen so many owls doing so many things! They rested on the ground, hunted from the air, and communicated by clapping their wings together beneath their bellies and making hoarse, cat-like calls. We counted six short-eareds at one time, but there were probably more. We also heard a Great-horned Owl and a Western Screech-Owl calling in the distance.

 
We watched and listened to the owls until the sun set behind the coast range and the moon rose over the Cascades.

 
This early evening show was easily one of the best birding experiences we've ever had in Oregon.

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