A hot time in Central Oregon

Last weekend, for the sake of our somewhat sensitive dog, we escaped the high temperatures and fireworks of Portland for the high temperatures and no fireworks of Central Oregon.

During previous Fourth of July weekends, we birded as much of the area around Sisters as possible, maximizing our species list. This year, our top priority was to prevent heat exhaustion.

Upon our Friday arrival, we realized it was too hot to hike through wildfire sites in search of woodpeckers, so instead we birded from the porch of the house we borrowed from our friends.

We waited until after sunset to bird the wildfire sites. The Common Poorwills we'd hoped to hear were keeping quiet, but Common Nighthawks flew inches from our faces, we found a rubber boa, and we managed to avoid hitting a deer. A very successful nighttime cruise! 

Saturday was not as hot as Friday, but we still played it safe by birding in places with cold water in sight. We cooled our heels in the chilly waters of Cold Springs while trying to spot the Dusky Flycatchers and MacGillivray's Warblers that were hiding in the shrubs. 

The water in the Metolius River is always cold and the air felt about ten degrees cooler when we stood on the shore. Among the many birds also enjoying the river were a pair of adolescent Common Mergansers, Western Wood Pewees with a nest, and an especially brilliant Western Tanager.
It was hot again on Sunday, so by lunchtime we weren't birding with a lot of motivation. With a little luck, however, we found the best bird of the trip. While driving through Sisters, we saw a single Pinyon Jay flying overhead.

We followed it as best we could from our car and eventually heard some quail-like calls coming from a large ponderosa pine.

It was a Pinyon Jay fledgling perched low in the tree! Its parents occasionally came down to feed it while we watched. It had been several years since we'd seen one of these birds and we'd never seen one so young, so we were happy to call it a day and retreat indoors.

Before returning home on Monday morning, we were treated to one more local specialty. A White-headed Woodpecker, never a guarantee around here, was picking arthropods from the bark of pines just steps away from the house. We could hear it claw its way around the trunk and gently tap into the bark to access ants or other invertebrates.

We captured it in a typically bad photo. That's the bird on the lower left side of the tree. We're looking forward to an upcoming optics and digiscoping upgrade. More details to come.


  1. Great trip. I am jealous of the Rubber Boa; that would be a life herp for me.

  2. Wow a rubber boa! I drove around Sisters one morning looking for those damn jays and had no luck. I wish I could upload a photo here because I have the same photo of Jake in the Cold Springs, in almost exactly the same spot (not that there's a lot of spots there...). Love that first mountain shot!

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