These field notes are from the Sandpiper, a publication of Yaquina Birders & Naturalists, Lincoln County, Oregon. This group is independent of the Audubon Society of Lincoln City.
Comments about abundance or seasonality refer only to LINCOLN COUNTY.
Many Lincoln Co. birding sites are in the Oregon Coast Birding Trail Guide.
Semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 at ScholarsArchive@OSU).
------------------------------- Month of Sandpiper, Volume 28 ------------------------------- January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations: BEAVER CREEK: creek flowing through Ona Beach State Park, BOILER BAY: State Wayside about 0.5 mi north of Depoe Bay, ECKMAN LAKE: lake 2 mi east of Waldport along HWY 34, HMSC: OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, IDAHO FLATS: large embayment just east of HMSC, LNG TANK: large green Liquefied Natural Gas tank on the north side of Yaquina Bay about 1.5 miles east of Yaquina Bay Bridge, ONA BEACH: State Park about 6.6 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge along HWY 101 at Beaver Creek, SALLYS BEND: large Yaquina Bay embayment east of the LNG tank, THIEL CREEK: creek about 3.5 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge, YBSJ: Yaquina Bay South Jetty.
BLo has completed the report of beached bird surveys along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach for 2006. Surveys were conducted approximately weekly, with B and SLo walking the southern 2.85 mile portion, and L and VO covering the northern 1.75 miles.
Not counting COMMON MURRE chicks, a total of 544 dead birds were counted in 2006, compared to an average of 467 for the previous 28 years.
RHINOCEROS AUKLETS (143) led to the above average total. Unusually high Rhino counts occurred in March (100; previous March high of 13) and November (30; previous November high of 7). Causes of these peaks weren't evident except to say that the March birds were in very poor condition as if from a lack of food.
The WESTERN GREBE total of 43 in 2006 was the highest on record.
Murre chick numbers were low at 29 as were Sooty Shearwaters, which matched last year's record low of 4. This continued the recent trend of low numbers for Sooties.
Thanks to B and SLo and L and VO! It is a phenomenal effort to continue these surveys and to have the results available so soon!
For more information about these surveys, contact BLo (spoon101 [at] peak.org).
On 1/8, JL spotted two probable TUNDRA SWANS flying west over the Newport Bayfront. The morning of 1/23, LB was greeted by an adult and two immature probable Tundra Swans in the pasture near her Logsden home. In one of her photos, they were larger than the nearby 4 WESTERN CANADA GEESE in the pasture.
The high count this month of BLACK BRANT at Yaquina Bay was 162 at Idaho Flats on 1/17 (JL). 5 CACKLING GEESE were at Idaho Flats on 1/22 (JL).
A male EURASIAN WIGEON was detected at Sally's Bend on 1/19 (JL) and at Eckman Lake on 1/26 (RL).
A flock of 120 BLACK SCOTERS were north of Seal Rocks on 12/30 (KM).
A HARLEQUIN DUCK was out-of-place near the Wecoma Dock at the HMSC on 1/22 (JL). At the YBSJ, as many as 6 were enumerated in January (JL; CA); and at least 2 were at Seal Rocks during the 1/20 YBNFT.
A male and a female HOODED MERGANSER took turns being near the HMSC during 6 days in January (JL; BO). They didn't used to be so low in Yaquina Estuary.
The 2 CALIFORNIA QUAIL at J and LM's home near east Sally's Bend since late August lingered into mid-January.
December continued to have an extraordinarily high number of beached WESTERN GREBES with 11 along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B and SLo, L and VO). They also found 2 dead BROWN PELICANS in December. BLo notes that the pelicans "undoubtedly lingered too long."
The continuously squawking GREAT BLUE HERON was last reported flying over the HMSC towards the northwest at 5:38 PM on Dec. 27 (RB).
A GREAT EGRET was along a south Siletz Bay tidal channel on 1/12 (RB) and at Beaver Creek during the 1/20 YBNFT.
On 6 days in January, JL noted an adult, often with an immature, BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON in lower Yaquina Bay. We have had more records this winter than in past years, but this seems to be because their daytime roost is where birders can see them, not necessarily because they are more abundant. Their roost is vulnerable to human disturbance.
The January Lincoln Co. raptor route was done in two sections because of a rain-out on 1/6. The route runs from Alsea Bay north to Lincoln City, inland following Hwy 229 to Siletz and Toledo, and along the Yaquina River back to Newport. WH, WN, and RC did the southern part of the route on 1/6 and the northern portion on 1/13.
Adult Bald Eagles set a new record, and the number of subadults tied the record. But this was the first Dec.-Feb. count without an American Kestrel.
------------------------------------------- Dec-Feb.____ Lincoln Co. 2004- 2005- 2006-2007 Raptor Route 2005* 2006@ 12/9 Jan# ------------------------------------------- Turkey Vulture 0 0-1 0 0 No. Harrier 0-1 1-5 2 1 White-t. Kite 1-3 0-3 2 1 Sharp-shin. Hawk 1 1-2 0 0 Cooper's Hawk 0-2 0-4 2 1 Accipiter sp. 0 0-1 0 0 Red-should. Hawk 0-2 0 1 0 Red-tail. Hawk 10-14 18-22 17 14 Bald Eagle ad. 2-12 8+-16 18 22 " " subadults 1-4 1+-5 2 5 " " unknown 0 0-2 0 0 " " total 4-14 11-21 20 27 Merlin 0 0-1 1 1 Am. Kestrel 1-4 1-5 5 0 Peregrine Falcon 0-1 1-3 3 1 SUM 29-34 41-62 53 46 Counts 3* 3@ 1 1 Miles 119- 119- 118 120 121 120 Hours 7.3- 7- 7.5 6.8 7.5 8 Snowy Owl 0 0-1 0 0 Burrowing Owl 0 0 1 0 +=at least the indicated number was present. * 12/18/2004, 1/16/2005, 2/12/2005.
@ 12/9/2005, 1/21/2006, 2/12/2006, 3/11/2006. The 3/11/2006 count is not included in this Table so that it is comparable to the 2004-2005 winter but is included in the March 2006 Sandpiper field notes.
# Because of rain, the south part of the January 2007 Route was on 1/6 and the northern part on 1/13.
A WHITE-TAILED KITE foraged south of the YBSJ during the 1/13 LCAFT, and 1-2 were near the Toledo Airport on 1/23-27 (CP; SK).
BALD EAGLES have become common along the coast, but two adults taking a bath, belly-deep in Logsden Lake across from the Logsden Store on 1/24 (BLl) is a noteworthy inland record.
At the HMSC, JL discovered a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK on 1/23 and a COOPER'S HAWK on 1/3.
[Image Not Included: Kitty Brigham's Dec. 23 photo of a Red-tailed Hawk along the beach near Seal Rocks. The hovering hawk appears to be shopping for a pre-Christmas feast.]
A juvenile or adult RED-SHOULDERED HAWK was at the Oregon Coast Aquarium/HMSC area on 12/10 and 11 (BLl) and 7 days in January (JL; RL; BO). RL also found a juvenile in north Lincoln City at the junction of East Devils Lake Road and HWY 101 on 1/24.
A PEREGRINE FALCON was reported at Yaquina Head on 12/2, 8, and 23 (BLM).
An AMERICAN KESTREL was at Yaquina Head during 7 days in December (BLM) and at Beaver Creek during the 1/20 YBNFT.
AMERICAN COOTS have made a good showing at Yaquina Bay this winter (KM; JL; RB) after being relatively scarce in recent winters. Some also graced the 1/20 YBNFT at Beaver Creek.
[Image Not Included: Terry Morse's Jan. 21 photo of a second year Glaucous Gull at Nye Beach.]
As many as 7 mostly first-year GLAUCOUS GULLS rested at the "Gull Puddle" near wide parking area at the YBSJ during 8 days in January (JL; WH; CA). At Nye Beach in Newport, TM saw a 2nd year Glaucous on 1/21 and 25. A few Glaucous Gulls regularly occur here in winter (SemiL). I am not sure that there has been an "invasion" of them this year. The apparent increase may be a result of greater interest and more observation effort rather than a real increase in their abundance.
14 CASSIN'S AUKLETS and 3 RHINOCEROS AUKLETS were dead along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B and SLo, L and VO). The number of Cassin's declined from 29 in November.
DD found a rare, dead HORNED PUFFIN beached at Little Whale Cove on 1/9, and BLo said another was beached north of Ona Beach in early January.
BLl recognized a BARN OWL two miles east of the town of Siletz on 12/11 and near Hamer Lake about 4 mi east of Nashville on 1/14.
On 1/21 at D and LF's home at Thornton Creek (which is about midway between Toledo and Eddyville), DF reported:
"Got a real treat tonight. Around 8:30 p.m. I thought I heard a WESTERN SCREECH OWL call. I gave an imitation hoot, and was instantly answered by one about sixty yards away. We carried on a conversation (although I didn't understand what he was saying) for a few exchanges, and then another, presumably the mate chimed in from another 40 yards away. They continued to sing a duet for several minutes, some with my prompting, when from across the canyon on the far hillside, another bird got involved, and, shortly, its mate as well. So Laura and I listened for a few minutes to two Western Screech Owl duets being sung simultaneously. And I actually had the sense, toward the end, to shut up and let the owls talk."
On 1/16, a NORTHERN PYGMY OWL called near LO's north Beaver Creek home.
The healthy, but too-tame BURROWING OWL that attracted too much human attention was captured by the Oregon State Police in Newport on Dec. 14. It was cared for at Chintimini Wildlife Rehabilitation Center near Corvallis until a good release site was decided. On Jan. 5, it was released along the Lincoln County coast at an area that was chosen because it was where they have been found in the past and was away from people and roads (RB).
It has been quite a winter with several windstorms and lots of rain. It has been several years without snow, so we were surprised when there was about 1-2 inches of snow on the ground and beach of Newport on Jan. 11. It was warmer south of Newport, so there was no snow in Yachats, but there was about 2 inches of snow on top of Cape Perpetua (MC). Snow remained on tree branches the afternoon of Jan. 12 on the shady side of HWY 101 north of Boiler Bay. Snow lingered for several days in shady spots with average daily temperatures at the Newport Airport of 30-36 F during Jan. 11-14.
Such cold weather could be expected to affect birds, and it appeared to have resulted in many more VARIED THRUSHES in the lowlands and also with KINGLETS becoming more conspicuous. After there was snow on the ground, Varied Thrushes for the first time ever started feeding at a hanging feeder made for flickers filled with sunflower chips at J and KC's home about 4 miles east of Waldport. Another first for their feeders was a RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET at their peanut butter feeder.
At least one WESTERN BLUEBIRD near the Yaquina Head Interpretative Center on 1/18 (PR) was our only report. After the 13 Feb. 1995 snow, 8 were at Yaquina Head, 3 near the Newport Coast Guard Station, 1+ at Seal Rocks, and a dozen at the Yachats Cemetery. So bluebirds appear to seek the coastline when it snows very much.
On 1/11 after the snow, BO "had 4 TOWNSEND'S WARBLERS walking around my feet while pecking for food items near the Embarcadero" in Newport.
Feeders at BLl's home near Logsden were "very active during this cold spell" and "24 or so PURPLE FINCHES seem more colorful than ever!"
At the HMSC on 1/11, RL noted "It's been a bit unusual watching the ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD feeding from a feeder covered with snow!" Freezing of hummingbird feeders can present a problem. Locating the feeder near a turned-on light bulb may help keep it warm or, as LM suggests, keep several feeders at the ready and exchange with a frozen one as necessary.
At J and KC's home 4 miles east of Waldport, JC reports "male ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRDS have been doing their mating display since mid-January. Since January 20th, the female Anna's have been collecting cotton for their nests." So the cold may not have deterred them.
A RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER was drilling a cherry tree at King Street in Yachats on 1/11 (fide BB), and another was at Chinook Bend on the Siletz River about 2-3 miles from Siletz Bay on 1/24 (BLl).
After an absence of several weeks, 2 GRAY JAYS returned to BB's feeders in Yachats on 1/24.
RL noted a flock of 12 BUSHTITS at the HMSC on 11/11, and a PALM WARBLER lingering in a pine tree near the USFWS building along the HMSC Nature Trail on 1/25.
An unseasonal adult female HERMIT WARBLER graced RC's and WN's home north of Ona Beach on 1/8. Prior to 1993, we had records in January of 1984 and 1987 (SemiL).
An even more unseasonable CHIPPING SPARROW appeared at CP's Toledo feeder on 1/28. Prior to 1993, we had no records during November-March (SemiL).
A white-throated FOX SPARROW was at J and LM's home near east Sally's Bend in mid-January, and a partial albino DARK-EYED JUNCO was at D and DG's Toledo home in early Jan.
A WESTERN MEADOWLARK was at Yachats on 1/17 (SaL), and as many as 10 wintered at the HMSC during four days in Jan. (JL; BO).
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Cindy Ashy, Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Lydia Bosley, Bureau of Land Management staff at Yaquina Head (BLM), Marsii Charron, Rebecca Cheek, Jorrie and Ken Ciotti (http://www.birdsamore.com), Dick Demarest, Darrel and Laura Faxon (also see http://yaquina.info/ybn/bird/bird.htm#thornton_creek), Dawn and Doug Grafe, Wayne Hoffman, Steve Kupillas, Janet Lamberson, Lincoln City Audubon Field Trip (LCAFT led by DD), Bob Llewellyn (BLl), Sally Lockyear (SaL), Bob Loeffel (BLo) and Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, John and Linda McKown, Larry McQueen, Kathy Merrifield, Terry Morse, Walt Nelson, Bob Olson, Laimons and Vicki Osis, Chuck Philo, Paul Reed, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU), Yaquina Birders and Naturalists Field Trip (YBNFT led by LO).
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations: BEAVER CREEK: creek flowing through Ona Beach State Park, ECKMAN LAKE: lake 2 mi east of Waldport along HWY 34, HMSC: OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, IDAHO FLATS: large embayment just east of HMSC, LNG TANK: large green Liquefied Natural Gas tank on the north side of Yaquina Bay about 1.5 miles east of Yaquina Bay Bridge, ONA BEACH: State Park about 6.6 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge along HWY 101 at Beaver Creek, SALLYS BEND: large Yaquina Bay embayment east of the LNG tank, YBSJ: Yaquina Bay South Jetty.
We have more to learn about BLACK BRANT. At 8 AM on 2/3 while leaving Yaquina Bay on a fishing boat, RL saw a flock of about 25 Brant flying into the bay over the tip of the North Jetty from the northwest and land just east of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on the rocky flats. RL notes: "I have no idea where they were coming from. If they had been roosting on the ocean, I would suspect they would have departed at sunrise and not his late in the morning. Wonder if the could have been getting grit on the beach somewhere?"
A pair of WOOD DUCKS arrived at Beaver Creek in the second week of Feb. (LO).
1-2 EURASIAN WIGEON graced Sallys Bend on 2/3 (JL) and Eckman Lake on 2/2 and 4 (RL; KMe).
HARLEQUIN DUCKS were found at Yaquina Head during 6 days in January (BLM); 3-5 were at Seal Rocks on 2/4 (PS and CK; KMe), and 1 was at the YBSJ on 2/22 (JL).
The most numerous waterfowl during the Feb. 16 YBNFT/GBBC at Alsea Bay were BUFFLEHEADS (338), SURF SCOTERS (201), and NORTHERN PINTAIL (65). All three scoters (BLACK, SURF, and WHITE-WINGED) were just north of Seal Rocks on 2/8 (KB).
Our only LONG-TAILED DUCK report was of one in the ocean at Seal Rocks on 2/4 (PS and CK).
2 EARED GREBES were at the YBSJ on 2/28 (BO).
A FORK-TAILED STORM-PETREL was found dead along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach in January (B and SLo, L and VO), and BO discovered a live one near the third finger of the YBSJ on 2/28.
A single BROWN PELICAN, our first of the year, was flying along the coast about a mile south of Depoe Bay on 2/7 (KMa).
2 GREAT EGRETS were at Beaver Creek on 2/8 (LO), 1 was at Eckman Lake on 2/10 (JL), and, at Alsea Bay, 2 were noted on 1/30 (JW) and 3 or 4 were counted during the 2/16 YBNFT/GBBC.
A BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON continued in lower Yaquina Bay on 2/22 (JL; M and MD).
How will the numbers of GREAT BLUE HERONS at Yaquina Bay change during 2007? Now you have a chance to follow RB's counts since 30 Dec. 2006. What is your guess for how the numbers will go in March? Up? Down? Stay the same? Will there be any signs of migration? What is your prediction for the most that will be counted this year?
No. of Great Blue Herons Within 1 Hour
of Predicted Low Tides Less Than +0.5 Ft
at Yaquina Bay Embayments
- 40- -X X X 20-X X X -X X X 0-X X X '|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''| Jan Mar May Jul Sep Nov
(The Month starts with a vertical line and is divided into thirds. A census in the first third is in the vertical line, in the second third in the first ' and in the last third in the second ')
WH reported our first TURKEY VULTURE at the Lincoln/Tillamook County line at the mouth of the Salmon River on 2/17.
A WHITE-TAILED KITE pair foraged on 2/1 and 2 west of Criteser's Moorage, downstream of Toledo (SK).
There were many BALD EAGLE reports. On 2/5, BLl saw an adult flying up the Siletz River near Logsden "at dusk at tree-top height, while a large fish rolled in a pool, and my dog Dexter played with his ball. It was an idyllic Northwest scene!"
2 COMMON RAVENS harassed a RED-SHOULDERED HAWK at Oregon Coast Aquarium on 1/19, and another Red-shoulder was in that area on 2/22 and 23 (BLl). RL identified a juvenile Red-shoulder along the HMSC Nature Trail on 2/21 and 22, and EH heard a Red-shoulder calling near his home at SE 35th Street in South Beach on 2/25.
An AMERICAN KESTREL was at Yaquina Head on 1/6 (BLM), at Beaver Creek on 2/8 (LO), near Olalla Slough/Toledo on 2/11 (JL), and near the Toledo intersection with HWY 20 on 2/20 (DG).
A PEREGRINE FALCON was at Yaquina Head on 1/30 (BLM) and three days in early February (CA). 1 perched in the "dead alder" at HMSC Nature Trail on 2/7 (JL), and two perched together in Newport on 2/13 (WH fide DG).
No MERLIN reports--they have been scarce this winter!
[Image Not Included: Howard Shippey's mid-February photo of a Bald Eagle flying over his deck near the Newport Bayfront "to an enthusiastic greeting by 'my' neighborhood crows."]
The February Lincoln Co. raptor route was conducted on 2/9 by WH, WN, and RC. The route runs from Alsea Bay north to Lincoln City, inland following Hwy 229 to Siletz and Toledo, and along the Yaquina River back to Newport.
Total raptors were the lowest count in the past two winters, with both Red-tailed Hawk and Bald Eagle numbers down.
Oregon Winter Raptor Surveys are coordinated by the East Cascades Birds Observatory (ECBC) (http://www.ecbcbirds.org/Default.aspx?tabid=73).
------------------------------------------- Dec-Feb.__________________ Lincoln Co. 2004- 2005- 2006-2007___ Raptor Route 2005* 2006@ 12/9 Jn# 2/9 ------------------------------------------- Turkey Vulture 0 0-1 0 0 0 No. Harrier 0-1 1-5 2 1 1 White-t. Kite 1-3 0-3 2 1 0 Sharp-shin. Hawk 1 1-2 0 0 1 Cooper's Hawk 0-2 0-4 2 1 0 Accipiter sp. 0 0-1 0 0 0 Red-should. Hawk 0-2 0 1 0 0 Red-tail. Hawk 10-14 18-22 17 14 11 Bald Eagle ad. 2-12 8+-16 18 22 12 " " subadults 1-4 1+-5 2 5 3 " " unknown 0 0-2 0 0 0 " " total 4-14 11-21 20 27 15 Merlin 0 0-1 1 1 0 Am. Kestrel 1-4 1-5 5 0 2 Peregrine Falcon 0-1 1-3 3 1 3 SUM 29-34 41-62 53 46 33 Counts 3* 3@ 1 1 1 Miles 119- 119- 118 120 117 121 120 Hours 7.3- 7- 7.5 6.8 6.5 7.5 8
+=at least the indicated number was present.
* 12/18/2004, 1/16/2005, 2/12/2005.
@ 12/9/2005, 1/21/2006, 2/12/2006, 3/11/2006. The 3/11/2006 count is not included in this Table so that it is comparable to the 2004-2005 winter but is included in the March 2006 Sandpiper field notes.
# Because of rain, the south part of the January 2007 Route was on 1/6 and the northern part on 1/13.
KMe found about 120 AMERICAN COOTS at Eckman Lake on 2/4 and wrote:
"Many just swam around calmly, but many others dove, and when one surfaced, it held and manipulated plants in its bill in order to ingest them. In several instances, American Wigeon closely attended coots and grab plant mats from them. No coots defended food or even looked bothered in any way when wigeons took food. It almost seemed that coots just assumed wigeons would steal food, so they hauled up enough for everyone. At least one male Gadwall also stole food from coots in the same way."
As a diver, coots can access food that surface-feeding wigeon and Gadwalls cannot.
The peak counts of BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS were 11 at Yaquina Head on 2/9 and 17 at Depoe Bay on 2/10 (CA). On 1/31, one foraged on the beach at the mouth of Starr Creek in Yachats (SaL).
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS used to overwinter, but the only report this month was of one at Idaho Flats on 2/2 (JL).
A "couple of hundred" SANDERLINGS (our most numerous wintering shorebird) escorted KB during her beach walk at Lost Creek north of Ona Beach on 2/8.
Our only ROCK SANDPIPER report was of 5 at the YBSJ on 2/22 (M and MD).
At Depot Slough in Toledo on 1/28, PD saw 1 WILSON'S SNIPE sunning near 2 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS; 4 other snipe walked up into the willows, but came back in about 10 minutes to also be in the sun.
There was a good effort to find GLAUCOUS GULLS in February, and they were regularly reported.
A variety of alcids were found beached along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach including 3 rare HORNED PUFFINS, a MARBLED MURRELET, 4 RHINOCEROS AUKLETS, and 1 CASSIN'S AUKLET (B and SLo, L and VO).
Live alcids include COMMON MURRES near Yaquina Head on 1/12 and 13 and rafting off Colony Rock colony on 1/21 and 30 (BLM) and an ANCIENT MURRELET inside the Yaquina Bay jetties and a small number of Marbled Murrelets in the ocean between Newport and Seal Rocks on 2/2 (RL). A Rhino was in the ocean between Newport and Seal Rocks on 2/3 (RL), and near the surf zone at Seal Rocks on 2/4 (KMe); a total of 15 were at Boiler Bay and Depoe Bay on 2/7 (DT).
Early bird BAND-TAILED PIGEONS occasionally show in winter, and one was at RL's feeder near Waldport on 1/31, at J and KC's home about 4 miles east of Waldport on 2/10, and at DG's Toledo home on 2/11.
CP glimpsed 2 MOURNING DOVES at Milepost 6 on north Yaquina Bay Road on 2/3.
Our first BURROWING OWL record was in 1969, and they were found here mostly in the 1970's.
The cute, healthy, but too-tame Burrowing Owl attracted much human attention last November and December after it was reported in Newport at the Health and Wellness Center. It was the most seen and photographed Burrowing Owl in Lincoln County.
It also attracted much human concern. The Newport News-Times newspaper mistakenly reported that this might have been the first time that one was seen along the central Oregon coast. It also suggested that the owl may have been transported here by a delivery truck. So some thought it was a victim of human intervention to be here.
There were also concerns that there was something wrong because it stood on one leg--but birds often stand on one leg to conserve heat, analogously to us when we put our hands in our pockets on a cold day. JL saw it switch legs to stand on, so both legs were OK.
There was a report of a person buying a mouse to feed it because of concerns that it was not eating. Feeding this owl could have caused it to lose a healthy fear of people and linger longer than it should. Feeding bears and raccoons is not advised, and there are cases of where even Great Blue Herons and Brown Pelicans have tamed down to their detriment when given handouts. Feeding hummingbirds and seed- or suet-feeding birds at feeders doesn't create the problems or be detrimental to their health that feeding other wildlife can cause.
It was so tame that there were concerns about its health, so it was captured by the Oregon State Police on Dec. 14.
This owl, its tameness, and human intervention have been much discussed in the Sandpiper and OBOL.
Chintimini Wildlife Rehabilitation Center near Corvallis determined that it was healthy. They cared for it until a release site was decided.
On Jan. 5, it was released along the Lincoln County coast at an area that was as far away from people as possible but still in habitat where they have been seen in the past in Lincoln County (RB).
Shortly after it was released, I posted background about this bird to OBOL and the Lincoln County rare bird alert email list and asked:
"The Burrowing Owl may move from where it is released. If you see a Burrowing Owl in Lincoln County in the next few months, please do not publicize its location and please do not approach or feed it. Please contact Range Bayer (541-265-2965) or Tami Wagner or Dr. Doug Cottam of the ODFW (541-867-4741)."
In addition to emails about the past history of Burrowing Owls in Lincoln County, I also sent a press release about the Burrowing Owl to the Newport News-Times, but no article was printed. I also sent updates to the ODFW, Chintimini, and USFWS.
On Feb. 8-10, an unbanded Burrowing Owl was seen about 0.4 mile from the release site (JL; DD; RC, WN and WH; CA). They did not publicize the owl, upon my email request of Feb. 9, when I notified our Lincoln County email group that one had been found "along the Lincoln County coast" and asked "If you see the Burrowing Owl, please do not disclose its location. The risks of people approaching it too closely and not leaving it alone are too great." And if seen, I again requested that it be reported to the ODFW or I.
I did not see any bands on the legs of the Burrowing Owl when it was released. Chintimini Executive Director JP confirms that it was not banded and that they have been federally directed to not band rehabbed birds.
While it is possible that the Feb. owl may have been a second Burrowing Owl, it is very likely that it was the recently captive owl. We only have had one other Burrowing Owl in Lincoln County since 1992 in 2002, so having a second one is unlikely, especially since it was near the release site, chose a location near people, and was not very wary of people--just like the owl that was captured and released.
One recipient of my Feb. 9 email strongly disagreed with my request to not disclose its location:
"If more people saw this creature, more people would get to know its particular story and learn what not to do in the future. It could be the 'poster bird' for observing and appreciating animals from a distance and why to leave them alone. You are in effect killing this story and in the process killing this educational opportunity, not to mention the connection people seem to have for owls and the many benefits that can have."
However, I was the one who first posted about the Newport Burrowing Owl to OBOL and to Lincoln County birders, so that many people could see it. I have heard the complaints from some locals that "birders" were the cause for the owl's tameness and capture. I have participated in the educational discussion on OBOL and in the Sandpiper about this owl. It was already a "poster bird." I was also involved in its release. "Been there, done that." After all that has happened with the Newport Burrowing Owl, I have no urge to publicize the location for it or a similarly tame Burrowing Owl that chooses to be near people.
About two weeks after the postings in early January about the Newport Burrowing Owl "poster bird" on OBOL, a Great Gray Owl was reported in the Willamette Valley on OBOL with some birders shining spotlights and laser beams on it to get its attention. Some birders also raised the ire of nearby property owners. Is there a lesson to learn from people and the Burrowing and Great Gray Owls?
- - - - - -
The previous latest dates for a Burrowing Owl in Lincoln County were Feb. 9 (1975) and Feb. 10 (1972)(SemiL). Interestingly, the latest date in Coos County is also Feb. 10, according to Alan Contreras' "Birds of Coos County, Oregon."
There was hope that it had migrated because there were no reports for a while after Feb. 10. Then on 2/22, birders from out of state found it, and JL spotted it that evening.
Near dusk on March 6, JL saw "somebody creeping up to it for a flash photo."
The recently captive Burrowing Owl or one that is acting tame like it is lingering here unnaturally late...
- - - - - -
As I wrote in the Nov. and Dec. Sandpipers, I believe that we need to respect wildlife and leave wildlife wild, even if the wildlife appears tame. Not disturbing wildlife is recommended (e.g., ethics-b.htm). As the American Birding Association's "Principles of Birding Ethics" (http://www.aba.org/bigday/ethics.pdf) states:
"Everyone who enjoys birds and birding must always respect wildlife, its environment, and the rights of others. In any conflict of interest between birds and birders, the welfare of the birds and their environment comes first."
If there wasn't a need for this, the ABA would not have given it as one of their principles.
If you see a Burrowing Owl in Lincoln County in the next few months, please do not publicize its location and please do not approach or feed it. Please contact Range Bayer (541-265-2965) or Tami Wagner or Dr. Doug Cottam of the ODFW (541-867-4741).
Our first RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD was at GT's Depoe Bay feeder on 2/5, and then at EH's South Beach home on 2/17, J and KC's home east of Waldport on 2/18, and J and JG's Yachats home on 2/23. An ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD was carrying nesting material at Depoe Bay on 2/7 (DT). J and JG write about Anna's at their Yachats home:
"Last fall we had a male and a female. About Christmas the female disappeared, and we had only the male. Grevillea victoreae is our best winter bloomer with lots of orange flowers continuously all winter, and the hummingbirds love it."
On 2/7, MW visited his dentist GH in Toledo (fide HS). MW was amazed to see a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER! His dentist had also identified it using a field guide prior to MW's appointment (fide HS). Our only previous records for Yellow-bellieds are for 7/17/1977, 8/4/1998 (probable), and 3/21/2000 (SemiL, FN). They can be difficult to distinguish from the similar Red-naped Sapsucker, for which we only have 3 records (4/25/1982, June 1995, and 5/22/1999) (SemiL, FN). Now doesn't this want you to go to a dentist to see what rare birds you may find?
The most numerous bird during the Feb. 16 YBNFT/GBBC at Alsea Bay was AMERICAN CROWS (470). They are a significant part of the bird community in our estuaries.
WESTERN BLUEBIRDS were at Yaquina Head during 9 days from 1/1-20 (BLM).
All Feb., PD notes that an EURASIAN STARLING in her Toledo neighborhood was sounding exactly like a RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD.
A PALM WARBLER was at the South Beach Marina on 1/27 (JA), 2/4 (PS and CK), and 2/7 (JL). Two were photographed near the HMSC on 2/22 (M and MD).
A flock of 40 RED CROSSBILLS were at BB's Yachats home on 2/3, and a flock of 6 or so remained to feed on sunflower seeds almost daily in mid- February.
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Jim Arneson, Cindy Ashy, Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Kitty Brigham, Bureau of Land Management staff at Yaquina Head (BLM), Rebecca Cheek, Jorrie and Ken Ciotti (http://www.birdsamore.com), Dick Demarest, Mike and MerryLynn Denny, Pat Dickey, Jim and Janice Gerdemann, Dawn Grafe, Gregory Herkert, Wayne Hoffman, Eric Horvath, Carol Karlen, Steve Kupillas, Janet Lamberson, Bob Lewellyn (BLl), Sally Lockyear (SaL), Bob Loeffel (BLo) and Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Kate Madison (KMa), Kathy Merrifield (KMe), Walt Nelson, Field Notes (FN, Lincoln County records from the Sandpiper for rare bird species since 1992 can be searched for at bird.htm#recent), Bob Olson, OBOL (Oregon Birders On Line; recent postings with info about joining is at http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/OBOL.html), Laimons and Vicki Osis, Chuck Philo, Jeff Picton, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU), Howard Shippey, Paul Sullivan, David Tracy, Gordon Tracy, Jean Weakland, Mark Worden, Yaquina Birders and Naturalists Field Trip/Great Backyard Bird Count (YBNFT/GBBC [http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/] led by RB).
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations: BEAVER CREEK: creek flowing through Ona Beach State Park, BOILER BAY: State Wayside about 0.5 mi north of Depoe Bay, ECKMAN LAKE: lake 2 mi east of Waldport along HWY 34, HMSC: OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, IDAHO FLATS: large embayment just east of HMSC, LNG TANK: large green Liquefied Natural Gas tank on the north side of Yaquina Bay about 1.5 miles east of Yaquina Bay Bridge, ONA BEACH: State Park about 6.6 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge along HWY 101 at Beaver Creek, SALLY'S BEND: large Yaquina Bay embayment east of the LNG tank, YBSJ: Yaquina Bay South Jetty.
[Image Not Included: Terry Morse's March 3 photo of a beached "sea parrot" Horned Puffin at Nye Beach. Note the large "parrot" bill.]
Beached birds continued to garner interest. BLo started his surveys along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach in January 1978. So this is the 30th year of surveys, this year by his team (B and SLo, L and VO). Details about their January-March 2007 surveys are at 2007-beached.htm. A summary follows.
During 1 January-March 2007, the four most numerous species on the beach of BLo's team were Rhinoceros Auklet (57), Horned Puffin (17), Fork- tailed Storm-Petrel (15), and Northern Fulmar (8). They recorded 20 species of birds.
The mortality thus far in 2007 is exceptional. The total in 2007 through March is the second highest overall and was among the top three years for seven species: Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, Black-legged Kittiwake, Marbled Murrelet, Parakeet Auklet (very rare), Rhinoceros Auklet, Horned Puffin (rare), and Tufted Puffin (rarer than beached Horned Puffins during January-March).
The 2007 results have the most parallels with 1980, which had the third highest total. These were also the top two years for Horned and Tufted Puffins, and, the number of Rhinoceros Auklets in 1980 (12) was also above average. However, 1980 differs from 2007 in that the third greatest number of Common Murres was found in 1980, but a below average number was found in 2007 (2).
1990 is also similar to 2007 because it was the third highest year for Rhinoceros Auklets and Horned Puffins.
The two greatest years of beached Rhinoceros Auklets in January-March have been 2006 and 2007.
CoastWatch, a project of Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition, involves volunteers who adopt and monitor one-mile segments of the Oregon coast (http://www.oregonshores.org/coastwatch.php5?county=Lincoln). Their surveys extend geographical coverage. In March 2007 as reported through March 26, the four most abundant beached birds found by CoastWatch volunteers in Lincoln County were Rhinoceros Auklets (12), Horned Puffins (9), Northern Fulmars (5), and Common Murre (3).
So the two most abundant species were the same as found by BLo's team in January-March and CoastWatch in March.
The cause of this exceptional mortality is thought to probably be related to poor ocean food availability or feeding conditions.
[After printing of Sandpiper: Evans, Jason. 2007. Unusual Seabird Mortality Recorded on the Oregon Coast. April 6, Newport News-Times.]
If you are walking a Lincoln County beach and find a dead bird, please leave it if it is on a beach covered by a beached bird route! If you remove it, you can hurt someone's research results.
There are now several established beached bird routes in Lincoln County (e.g., BLo's team, the USFWS, and COASST.org). On a beached bird route, each dead bird is identified, counted, and recorded, so we would prefer that you leave it alone, but you can record and report it.
In particular, BLo requests that beached birds along CoastWatch Miles 208-213 be left in place, so that it might not affect the results of surveys that he started in 1978 and that his team is continuing.
The COASST.org map on 3 April 2007 (http://coasst.org/default.cfm?fa=Who&fsa=COASST%20Map®ion=OR) indicates that they have beaches at Road's End and Nelscott in the Lincoln City area, Devil's Punchbowl near Otter Rock, Agate and Nye Beaches in the Newport area, and two beaches near Mile 196 north of Yachats. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to see if they have more beaches.
CoastWatch volunteers (http://www.oregonshores.org/coastwatch.php5?county=Lincoln) monitor beaches and can record or photograph dead birds present on their beaches without removing them.
To find out if someone is doing a route for a particular Lincoln County beach other than BLo's team for 4.6 miles north of Ona Beach or COASST, contact Roy Lowe, USFWS (867-4550, Roy_Lowe@fws.gov).
The peak count of BRANT at Idaho Flats in March was 182 on 3/14 (JL). On 3/15, RA and others also found 150-200 at the YBSJ, where spring- migrating Brant show up.
A pair of CANADA GEESE rested at a Yachats Community Park pond on 3/15 (BB).
An EURASIAN WIGEON lingered at Beaver Creek during the 3/17 YBNFT and at Sally's Bend on 3/22 (JL).
On 3/5, MN discovered a female and 3 male HARLEQUIN DUCKS on the rocks at the base of Lion's Head at Yaquina Head. 2 were at Seal Rocks during the 3/17 YBNFT, and some were also at Boiler Bay on 3/25 (D and AH).
CALIFORNIA QUAIL are generally scarce here, but two have intermittently visited L and JM's home east of Sally's Bend since late August and continued through at least mid-March.
It is sometimes asked if loons can ever be heard here? On 3/6, JL heard a COMMON LOON calling near the HMSC Nature Trail, and, on 3/16, KB and RB heard a loon calling at Sally's Bend.
A LAYSAN ALBATROSS was seen about 33 miles west of Newport during the 3/25 Bird Guide pelagic trip.
A probable FORK-TAILED STORM-PETREL flew in a big, fast circle around JL at the YBSJ on 3/8.
Our only BROWN PELICAN report was of a single flying by Yaquina Head in the early evening of 3/12 (CA).
On 3/1, JL spotted a GREAT BLUE HERON in a tree at the lower Yaquina Bay colony, which is in a sensitive location because of its proximity to development. On 3/14, JL spotted about 50 flying in a "swarm" above the colony. In 2005, JL saw over 100 flying and circling on 3/9 after they were apparently startled and also a "huge swarm" on 3/10. In 2006, 30 were noted swarming over the colony on 3/18. So this "swarming" appears to occur in March and is noteworthy. Whether it is related to disturbance by humans or a Bald Eagle or serves in courtship or other nesting function is unknown. Thanks to JL for discovering and reporting it!
RB's heron censuses continued at embayments (see below). The numbers are relatively unchanged, which fits the idea that Great Blue Herons are not migratory here. But will there be any surprises? What is your guess for how the numbers will go in April? Stay the same? What is your prediction for the most that will be seen this year?
No. of Great Blue Herons Within 1 Hour of Predicted Low Tides
Less Than +0.5 Ft at Yaquina Bay Embayments
(Idaho Flats, Sally's Bend, and mudflats south of Sally's Bend)
50- 40- 30-X X XXX 20-X X XXX 10-X X XXX 0-X X XXX '|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''| Jan Mar May Jul Sep Nov
One GREAT EGRET was in both north and south Beaver Creek during the 3/17 YBNFT. The first one at Yaquina Bay in months was at Idaho Flats on 3/22 (JL). Will this be the year that they will nest at Yaquina Bay?
A few GREEN HERONS used to overwinter, but now they seem to be all migrants with the first at Yaquina Bay on 3/22 (JL).
Our latest report of a BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON was of an immature in lower Yaquina Bay on 3/6 (JL).
Our first TURKEY VULTURE sighting was on 2/17 at the Salmon River along the Tillamook/Lincoln County border (WH). Early birds do not necessarily linger or are joined by others. Our second report was of two in Newport by RF and CG on 3/2, followed by one on 3/5 at HMSC and Logsden (JL; BLl).
RL saw our first OSPREY at Eckman Lake on 3/13, which was four days earlier than last year.
A WHITE-TAILED KITE hung in the sky very much like a human's kite over the HMSC Nature Trail on 3/18 (RB).
We had many reports of BALD EAGLES.
An adult gray male and a brown (female or immature male) NORTHERN HARRIER were noted at the HMSC in early March (JL).
On Jan. 30, RL saw a RED-SHOULDERED HAWK chasing a RED-TAILED HAWK near the HMSC Nature Trail--a NORTHERN HARRIER also became involved.
[Image Not Included: Howard Shippey's Feb. 26 photo of an immature Sharp- shinned Hawk in a tree near his Newport Bayfront home. The dark leaves are of English Ivy--note the ivy's fruiting bodies to the lower left, characteristic of when ivy goes arboreal.]
On 3/20, NC was driving across the Yaquina Bay Bridge when he happened to see a PEREGRINE FALCON flying so close that he could see it in detail with his unaided eyes. The BLM noted a Peregrine at Yaquina Head during three days in early February, and 1-2 were noted at HMSC or Newport Bayfront during several days in March (JL; PL)--also see following pictures and section.
There were several AMERICAN KESTREL sightings, but no MERLINS! Merlins seem to have been very scarce this winter.
[Image Not Included: Howard Shippey's photos of a Peregrine Falcon perched on a Sitka Spruce near the Newport Bayfront in late March and taking off in pursuit of a meal.]
HS has been noticing lots of PEREGRINE FALCON action at his apartment near the Newport Bayfront. He writes about one of his observations in late March:
"I looked out the window, saw a big splash near the breakwater, with what I thought looked like a Peregrine emerging with a bird flapping in its talons to a height of about 10 feet above the surface of the Bay, beating its wings hard to lift the load. Just as I'm stepping up to my big binocs, it dropped its victim into the water. By now I'm looking through 20x binocs on a tripod, and I can see that sure enough, it is a falcon ... but where did its intended victim go? I've only ever seen falcons snatch ROCK PIGEONS out of the air, which they subdue quickly ... but this bird was still alive and struggling, and where I expected to see a dead or wounded pigeon floating on the water, there was not so much as a feather floating! The intended victim had completely disappeared, and the Peregrine flew up to rest in a tree near my deck (that's him in the pix above)."Three days later, HS saw that:
"The falcon swooped down over the hill, on the hunt as I have seen many before, but rather than pull up over the Bayfront in pursuit of ROCK PIGEONS, this one continued out over the water of the Bay, wing tips nearly touching the water on downbeats. Watching now through 20x binocs, I saw him make a beeline for a scoter or similar diving duck, which looked up just in time to dive in alarm ... then target another duck, which dove in alarm ... and another ... and like a pinball game, I watched the falcon target duck after duck after duck until he disappeared from my view around the LNG tank.
"I've seen Bald Eagles dive on ducks from time to time, but I never even imagined that a Peregrine would bother with a duck sitting on the surface of the water. Why would he risk getting wet, and struggle so hard, when pigeons remain easy and plentiful in every direction?"
On 3/7, SaL was surprised by a lone AMERICAN COOT walking back and forth along the Alsea Bay Port docks. They are pretty social and have been present in good numbers at Alsea and Yaquina Bays, but seeing a singleton up on a dock is out of the ordinary.
On 3/21 at Yaquina Head, CA:
"saw 2 pairs of BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS flying in wide circles/ovals for extended periods of time calling loudly. It was a different call than their normal flight calls and different from the calls they make when defending territory. The pairs were taking turns at first and then both pairs simultaneously."
Spring arriving shorebirds include GREATER YELLOWLEGS near the HMSC on 3/5 (JL) and 2 WHIMBRELS near the HMSC on 3/23 (birders from Bend--fide JL).
Night artificial lights may affect shorebird distribution and activities. In Newport, the Shilo and Hallmark Motels have bright lights that illumine the nearby beach. On 3/16 and 23, KB and RB saw 100+ small shorebirds that appeared to be SANDERLINGS at 9-10 PM on the lighted beach. Some were moving as if they might be foraging; others briefly formed dense aggregations.
Our first CASPIAN TERNS passed Boiler Bay on 3/25 (D and AH).
2 ANCIENT MURRELETS, which have been seldom reported this winter, were at Boiler Bay on 3/25 (AH).
Many rare HORNED PUFFINS washed ashore dead (see Beached Birds above), but a few were found alive and taken for rehab to Oregon Coast Aquarium (fide RL), and SS saw a live one along the Yaquina Bay North Jetty on 3/24.
An unusual number of TUFTED PUFFINS were also beached. Prior to this year, Bird Guide's pelagic trips did not find any Horned or Tufted Puffins during 11 pelagic trips in February-March to Perpetua Bank (32 miles off Yachats) or to 20-23 miles off Depoe Bay or Newport. However, Bird Guide's preliminary report by Greg Gillson for their 25 March 2007 trip stated:
"Rhino numbers were high. I estimate about 500 birds, though there may easily have been more. Some were in view nearly all day, with some small flocks. ... We recorded an Oregon record 7 live HORNED PUFFINS from 15-33 miles offshore, and 2 dead ones floating about 15 miles offshore. Adding to the fun, we saw 3 TUFTED PUFFINS between 20-30 miles offshore."
So it appears that Horned and Tufted Puffins were closer to shore along the Lincoln County coast in 2007 than in previous years. Rhinoceros Auklet numbers appear to be up in March 2007, but, in 2006, when the most beached Rhinoceros Auklets in the past 30 years were found, few were observed during the March 26 Bird Guide pelagic trip.
The first landing of COMMON MURRES at Yaquina Head (Lion's Head) was on 2/15 (BLM); they come and go early in the season and the next report of them on Lion's Head was on 2/25 (BLM).
A couple of MOURNING DOVES were near Waldport on 3/22 (BH).
The unbanded BURROWING OWL that was probably released by Chintimini Wildlife Rehabilitation Center along the Lincoln County coast was last reported on March 11 (JL). It has lingered long after the previously latest departure date of Feb. 10 in Lincoln County (SemiL) and Coos County (Alan Contreras' "Birds of Coos County, Oregon).
LO heard the first BARRED OWL calling at north Beaver Creek on 3/5 at 5 PM.
SHORT-EARED OWLS used to be regulars in winter, but our only report this year is one that CA found perched on a fence at south Siletz Bay on 3/13.
[Image Not Included: Kitty Brigham's Dec. 27 photo of a male Anna's Hummingbird with a backdrop of ocean breakers north of Seal Rocks.]
2 ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRDS were noticed at the HMSC on 3/13 (JL) and 3/23 (birders from Bend--fide JL)--on 3/23 there were also 2 RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRDS there. Rufous Hummers have returned in force, with J and KC's feeders about 4 miles east of Waldport hosting around 24 on 3/12 during the "evening frenzy."
2 GRAY JAYS showed up again at BB's Yachats home on 3/12.
On 3/4, our first TREE SWALLOW appeared at Thornton Creek about midway between Toledo and Eddyville (DF) and Logsden (BLl). VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS arrived at Logsden Lake on 3/13 (BLl), frequently cruised the Yachats Community Park ponds on 3/15 (BB), and were near Waldport the next day (BH). As PH was leaving her South Beach home for a school field trip on 3/13, she called her mother CS out of the car "to point out the swallows swooping overhead! What a joy!"
BLl detected a BROWN CREEPER at Logsden on 3/4--they are probably common but are rarely reported.
MARSH WRENS were "tuning up" at Beaver Creek during 3/17 YBNFT.
BLl first heard AMERICAN ROBINS giving loud territorial songs at Logsden on 3/10.
A PALM WARBLER was in the courtyard of the EPA building at the HMSC during 3/5-23 (JL), and perhaps a different one was west of the HMSC on 3/15 (RA and others).
BO heard our first ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER near Nye Beach in Newport on 3/26. TOWNSEND'S WARLERS continued to feed at BB's Yachats feeders on 3/9.
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS overwinter along the coast, but, like further inland, there is also an influx of migrants in March. The first ones singing were reported in Newport on 3/20 (RB), and they arrived and began singing at Thornton Creek on 3/25 (DF).
The FOX SPARROW with the aberrant white-throat that had graced L and JM's feeders east of Sally's Bend this winter was unexpectedly found dead on 3/14.
WESTERN MEADOWLARKS were regularly noted at the HMSC/Oregon Coast Aquarium area in March (JL; DG; BLl), with a peak count of 5 on 3/15 (JL), and one singing during 3/8-13 (DG; JL).
RED CROSSBILLS lingered near BB's Yachats home on 3/9.
EVENING GROSBEAKS have been scarce this winter, and CP reported about a half dozen in Newport on 3/26.
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Rich Armstrong, Cindy Ashy, Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Kitty Brigham, Bureau of Land Management staff at Yaquina Head (BLM), Jorrie and Ken Ciotti (http://www.birdsamore.com), Neal Coenen, Darrel Faxon (some of DF's bird records are at bird.htm#thornton_creek), Roy Filby, Dawn Grafe, Cathy Grimm, Bird Guide Pelagic Trip (BGPT; as reported by Greg Gillson; info about pelagic trips, http://thebirdguide.com), Dan and Anne Heyerly, Wayne Hoffman, Phoebe Horvath, Bettye Hunt, Janet Lamberson, Pete Lawson, Bob Llewellyn (BLl), Sally Lockyear (SaL), Bob Loeffel (BLo) and Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Linda and John MacKown, Michael Noack, Bob Olson, Laimons and Vicki Osis, Chuck Philo, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 at ScholarsArchive@OSU), Howard Shippey, Claire Smith, Scott Spangenberg, Yaquina Birders and Naturalists Field Trip (YBNFT led by LO).
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations: BEAVER CREEK: creek flowing through Ona Beach State Park, BOILER BAY: State Wayside about 0.5 mi north of Depoe Bay, HMSC: OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, IDAHO FLATS: large embayment just east of HMSC, LNG TANK: large green Liquefied Natural Gas tank on the north side of Yaquina Bay about 1.5 miles east of Yaquina Bay Bridge, ONA BEACH: State Park about 6.6 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge along HWY 101 at Beaver Creek, SALLY'S BEND: large Yaquina Bay embayment east of the LNG tank, YBSJ: Yaquina Bay South Jetty.
A CoastWatcher from Lincoln City reported finding headless birds on the beach to PJ. Is this a sign of satanic rituals? Probably not.
The Birds of North America account for GREAT HORNED OWLS states: "Headless prey offer strong evidence for owl predation" (Einarsen 1956:34 [see citation in photo below]). But Einarsen did not make that suggestion and does not mention that Great Horned Owls ever did so. Indeed, he mentions that Great Horned Owls have a preference for first picking off the neck meat of birds and then feeding on breast muscle. During a walk with KB of her CoastWatch Mile 208 north of Seal Rocks in early March, RB noted that the heads of a couple of beached birds were intact but that the neck was picked almost surgically clean to the bone like the picture below for Great Horned Owls.
Einarsen notes that SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS and House Cats at least sometimes remove the heads of birds. A cursory Internet search revealed that other predators that at least sometimes remove the heads of bird prey include Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Short-eared Owl, "owls," and weasels. I suspect that other predators or scavengers may also do so at least occasionally.
So, a headless beached bird can indicate a predator or scavenger, although it is uncertain which species it may be.
[Image Not Included: Cropped Fig. 6 photo in Arthur Einarsen (1956, Determination of Some Predator Species by Field Signs, Oregon State College, Studies in Zoology No. 10). His figure caption states: "Skeleton of a cock pheasant from which all the meat has been leisurely removed by a horned owl. Notice the neck has hardly a morsel of beat left between the vertebrae." The head at the lower left remains. Some beached birds near Seal Rocks have similarly picked necks.]
JL spotted 4 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE flying low and to the north over the HMSC Nature Trail on 4/20. At least 4 flocks of 150 to over 400 loudly calling white-fronts per flock flew north over the HMSC between 6-8 PM on 4/25 (RB). At Cascade Head (Tillamook Co.), PP tallied 550 in 3 flocks on 4/27, and at Boiler Bay on 4/28, PP and DT noted 330. We did not have any reports of flocks of geese flying westerly across the Coast Range along the Siletz, Yaquina, or Alsea watersheds like we have had in the past (Bayer, R. D., R. W. Lowe, and D. Faxon. 1995. Spring and fall migration of geese across the Coast Range of Lincoln Co., Oregon. Oregon Birds 21:10- 12.)
BLACK BRANT were also on the move with 600 passing Boiler Bay on 4/28 (PP and DT).
HARLEQUIN DUCKS graced Yaquina Head during 5 days in March (BLM), and as many as 10+ were at YBSJ on 3/26-3/30 and 4/30 (R and NA; KM; JL).
On 4/1 at Boiler Bay, 500 SURF SCOTERS were flying mostly north while 700 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS were mainly going south (PP). Then there were southerly flights of 100-1,000 Surfs and 200-700 White-wings on 4/9, 14, and 22, respectively (PP). On 4/28, 1,500 Surfs again headed north like we would expect during spring migration, but 400 White-wings were still flying mostly south then (PP and DT).
Ever wonder where our SURF SCOTERS have been or migrate to? Satellite or radio transmitters have been put on some SURF SCOTERS captured at San Francisco Bay by the U.S. Geological Survey (fide GG). Some of these scoters were along the Oregon Coast. Select "Migration Maps" button at http://www.werc.usgs.gov/scoter/2006/ and then select individuals 64226, 64227, 64228, and 64230 that were recorded along the Oregon Coast and migrated north up the Washington and British Columbia coasts and the crossed over to Great Slave Lake, Great Bear Lake, or Lake Athabasca in the Northwest Territories. Others may also have been along the Oregon Coast.
Our only LONG-TAILED DUCK was one at Siletz Bay on 4/14 (PO).
During seawatches at Boiler Bay, 300-500+ RED-THROATED LOONS flew north during 4/1, 9, 14, and 28 (PP). On 4/28, PP and DT also noted 2,500+ PACIFIC LOONS. While fishing about a mile off Seal Rocks on 4/20, SK noted flocks of loon sp. flying north all day long.
A rare YELLOW-BILLED LOON visited Siletz Bay on 4/14 (PO).
Often missed, 2-4 EARED GREBES were at YBSJ on 3/26-30 (KM; R and NA).
A rare MANX SHEARWATER passed Boiler Bay on 4/1 (PP).
13 FORK-TAILED STORM-PETRELS were beached long 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B and SLo, L and VO). Starting in 1978, this is the second-most in March; last year was the most with 14.
We had a pouch full of BROWN PELICAN sightings in late April along the open coast. These included 5 off Little Whale Cove (south of Depoe Bay) on 4/23 (DD); on 4/26, 1 near Seal Rocks (KB) and a flock at Yaquina Head (CA); and, on 4/28, 1 at Boiler Bay (PP and DT), and 2 near Seal Rocks (KB). Historically, we have had April records in 1933, 1941, and 1967, but they were absent in April in spite of much better observation effort during 1970-1981. Then in 1982, 1987, and thereafter they have again been regularly reported in April (SemiL, FN). So their status in April has changed back and forth over the years. It will probably be June before they appear inside Yaquina or Alsea Bays.
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS are present year around, but some migrate. Their spring northerly flight is subtle and can be missed, especially since at a quick glance they appear like geese. Our first report this spring is PP's report of 35 flying north at Boiler Bay on 4/1. The morning of 4/5, DP saw flocks of 21 and of 150+ flying north past Cape Foulweather. On 4/23, RL noted a flock of about 120 flying north over the HMSC. On 4/27, PP noted a total of 60 in two flocks at Cascade Head (Tillamook Co.).
2 GREAT EGRETS were at Yaquina Bay on 4/7 (JB), and 1-5 were counted at Idaho Flats on five days during 4/14-27 (RB; JL).
[Image Not Included: Wendy McAtee's April 23 photo of an adult Great Blue Heron and part of its reflection along a rocky intertidal channel north of Seal Rocks. At least one adult heron also frequents the nearby sandy beach. Some herons occur along the open coast.]
RB's counts of GREAT BLUE HERONS at embayments of Yaquina Bay continued (see below). No apparent change. This fits the idea that they are not migratory here, though there was a very small increase of about 5 herons from 27-29 herons in late Dec.-March 3 to 33-34 during March 16- April 23--a change too small to show on the graph below. But will counts remain steady in May? Young usually don't start to show up until June.
No. of Great Blue Herons Within 1 Hour of Predicted Low Tides Less Than +0.5 Ft at Yaquina Bay Embayments(Idaho Flats, Sally's Bend, and mudflats south of Sally's Bend)
50- 40- 30-X X XXX XX 20-X X XXX XX 10-X X XXX XX 0-X X XXX XX '|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''| Jan Mar May Jul Sep Nov
[Image Not Included: Kitty Brigham's April 3 photo of an Osprey searching the ocean north of Seal Rocks for a meal.]
OSPREY returned to their nest on the lights atop the pole at the Waldport High School football field by 4/22 (JW). A nesting platform was installed near the Port of Alsea docks on 4/25 (JW; BB). BB notes "the platform is the same design as Yachat's pole, except it has an extra kink, making it form a "W" instead of the Yachats "Y."
There were many BALD EAGLE reports, especially at Yaquina Head where they attempt to prey on nesting seabirds; 3 subadults were there one afternoon in early April, and 2 adults flew together on 4/7 (CA). Another adult was perched in the lower Yaquina Bay Great Blue Heron colony on 4/27 (JL). Eagles can also prey on herons.
On 4/20, ODFW biologist DC (fide DG) reported that an adult Bald Eagle was "electrocuted near our office at South Beach and brought to us by the Oregon State Police. The eagle had just caught a gull, and they apparently hit the power lines together. The gull actually lived a few moments, and power was knocked out at our office for 15 minutes."
A male NORTHERN HARRIER lingered at the HMSC on 4/19 (JL), and a COOPER'S HAWK was in Newport on 4/28 (CP).
MERLINS have been scarce with no reports during February-March. Their most frequent month in the past has been April (SemiL), and this April does not appear to be the exception. Singletons were at the HMSC Nature Trail on 4/20 (JL), Sally's Bend on 4/25 (CP), Boiler Bay on 4/28 (PP and DT), and near Oregon Coast Aquarium on 4/30 (JL).
A PEREGRINE FALCON was at Yaquina Head 2 days in March (BLM) and on 4/4 and 8 (CA); 1 was at Sally's Bend on 4/1 (CA).
3 WHIMBRELS were at Idaho Flats on 3/29 (M and MD), and then numbers then began picking up. Highest counts were 56 at Yaquina Bay during the 4/14 LCAFT and 90 at Boiler Bay on 4/28 (PP and DT).
A MARBLED GODWIT was at Yaquina Bay during the 4/14 LCAFT, and 6 were near Nye Beach in Newport on 4/20 (JL).
4/28 was a big day for shorebird migration at Boiler Bay with 8,000+ WESTERN SANDPIPERS, 1,800 DOWITCHERS, 800+ DUNLIN, and a RED KNOT (PP and DT).
A ROCK SANDPIPER was with SURFBIRDS and BLACK TURNSTONES at the end of YBSJ on 3/30 (R and NA).
PP noted 500+ BONAPARTE'S GULLS migrating north past Boiler Bay on 4/1. The same day, CA noted at least 26 on the water at YBSJ, and an adult BALD EAGLE flew by with a Bonie in its talons.
An uncommon from shore SABINE'S GULL passed Boiler Bay on 4/14 (PP), and a GLAUCOUS GULL was at YBSJ on 3/30-4/6 (R and NA; WH).
4 CASPIAN TERNS per minute were streaming north past Depoe Bay cliff on 4/6 (DS).
At least 100 PIGEON GUILLEMOTS were at Boiler Bay on 3/30 (R and NA); 250 there on 4/9 (PP). At Boiler Bay, there were 4 MARBLED MURRELETS on 3/30 (R and NA) and 7-18 on 4/1, 14, 22, and 28 (PP).
Two rare PARAKEET AUKLETS washed ashore during 3/8-9--1 along long 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B and SLo, L and VO) and another at Yaquina Head (BLM). At Yaquina Head, 2 HORNED PUFFINS were found in March (BLM). 12 rare HORNED PUFFINS, 5 TUFTED PUFFINS, and 40 RHINOCEROS AUKLETS were also beached north of Ona Beach in March, which is unusual (B and SLo, L and VO). These results are most similar to 1980, but there are also similarities to 2006 because both were in the top three years for Fork- tailed Storm-Petrel, Parakeet Auklet, Rhinoceros Auklet, and Tufted Puffin. January-March results are analyzed at 2007-beached.htm.
BAND-TAILED PIGEONS had arrived and were plentiful by mid-April in South Beach (KS), Toledo (DG), and Waldport (RL).
At north Beaver Creek, LO heard a BARRED OWL calling on 4/26. The unbanded BURROWING OWL that was probably released by Chintimini Wildlife Rehabilitation Center along the Lincoln County coast was last reported on April 1 (CA). It has lingered long after the previously latest departure date of Feb. 10 in Lincoln County (SemiL) and Coos County (Alan Contreras' "Birds of Coos County, Oregon).
The spring's first VAUX'S SWIFT were in Toledo near the Thriftway store on 4/29 (JL).
ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRDS remained at Yachats on 4/6 (BB).
On 4/7, DF found this spring's first HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER at Thornton Creek about midway between Toledo and Eddyville. This is early--our earliest date through 1992 was 4/20 (SemiL). But it is not clear if this is an aberrant individual or part of the spring influx.
2 WESTERN KINGBIRDS, our first this season, were along 3 Rocks Road in north Lincoln Co. on 4/27 (PP).
The 3 GRAY JAYS at BB's Yachats suet feeder continued on 4/6 and 27.
Other spring arrivals include BARN SWALLOW at Waldport on 4/5 (BH), PURPLE MARTIN at the HMSC on 4/15 (RB), and CLIFF SWALLOW at the Ship Support Building at HMSC on 4/20 (JL).
On 4/22 about 4 miles east of Waldport, J and KC noted that CHESTNUT- BACKED CHICKADEES had been bringing moss into their nest boxes for several days. On 4/22, they started their "pillow top" by gathering cat fur by the mouthfuls and carrying it back to their nests. You can watch a video clip of one collecting fur at: http://birdsamore.com/videos/cbch-fur.htm
SaL notes that 4/21 YBNFT participants to the Cape Perpetua Giant Spruce spent several minutes at the tree to simply appreciate it and photograph it, and Cape Creek was gorgeous in its spring florals. Their bird of the day was WINTER WREN.
A VARIED THRUSH was lost about a mile offshore of Ona Beach on 3/29 (SK).
Our latest PALM WARBLER was at the HMSC on 3/29 (M and MD; RL), and spring arrivals include WILSON'S WARBLER at Newport Reservoir on 4/23 (BO) and COMMON YELLOWTHROAT in Toledo on 4/25 (CP).
DF found lots of Myrtle YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS passing through Thornton Creek during 4/6-7. Our latest date for them through 1992 was 5/14 (SemiL).
Other arrivals include AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES at Beaver Creek on 4/21 (LO) and BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD at Beaver Creek on 4/26 (LO) and two days later in Toledo (CP).
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Richard and Nanette Armstrong, Cindy Ashy, Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, John Bell, Kitty Brigham, Bureau of Land Management staff at Yaquina Head (BLM), Jorrie and Ken Ciotti, CoastWatch (a volunteer project monitoring one-mile segments of the Oregon coast; http://www.oregonshores.org/coastwatch.php5?county=Lincoln), Doug Cottam, Dick Demarest, Mike and MerryLynn Denny, Darrel Faxon (some of DF's bird records are at bird.htm#thornton_creek), Greg Gillson, Dawn Grafe, Wayne Hoffman, Bettye Hunt, Phillip Johnson, Steve Kupillas, Janet Lamberson, Lincoln City Audubon Field Trip (LCAFT led by DD), Sally Lockyear (SaL), Bob Loeffel (BLo) and Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Linda and John MacKown, Kathy Merrifield, Field Notes (FN, see "Search" or "Recent Lincoln County Bird Field Notes" links at top of bird.htm [all lower case letters] for Lincoln County records from the Sandpiper since 1992), Bob Olson, Paul Osburn, Laimons and Vicki Osis, Chuck Philo, Phil Pickering, Dave Pitkin, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 at ScholarsArchive@OSU), Don Stein, Keith Stratton, Dave Tracy, Jean Weakland, Yaquina Birders and Naturalists Field Trip (YBNFT led by SaL).
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations: BEAVER CREEK: creek flowing through Ona Beach State Park, BOILER BAY: State Wayside about 0.5 mi north of Depoe Bay, ECKMAN LAKE: lake 2 mi east of Waldport along HWY 34, HMSC: OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, IDAHO FLATS: large embayment just east of HMSC, LNG TANK: large green Liquefied Natural Gas tank on the north side of Yaquina Bay about 1.5 miles east of Yaquina Bay Bridge, ONA BEACH: State Park about 6.6 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge along HWY 101 at Beaver Creek, SALLY'S BEND: large Yaquina Bay embayment east of the LNG tank, THIEL CREEK: creek about 3.5 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge, THORNTON CREEK: about midway between Toledo and Eddyville along HWY 20, YBSJ: Yaquina Bay South Jetty.
New Lincoln County NAMC Compiler JWs did not receive information about the NAMC until May 7. So the announcement was late for the May 12 and 13 NAMC, the dates given on the East Cascades Bird Conservancy's web site (http://www.ecbcbirds.org/Projects/NAMC/tabid/69/Default.aspx). Fortunately, on May 12, there were previously scheduled field trips at Yaquina Head (Bonding with Birds organized by CA and a Yaquina Birders & Naturalists field trip for International Migratory Bird Day [IMBD]) and Lincoln City Audubon had three IMBD field trips in the Lincoln City area. In addition, 16 individuals contributed observations for one or both days.
Compiler JWs's email on 5/20 indicates a total of 116 species were reported for Lincoln County for both days. 105 species on May 12 and 84 species on May 13. Unfortunately, many species were missed. The Coos County NAMC recorded 140 species.
Highlights: Merlin, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Tufted Puffin, and Eurasian Collared-Dove.
The Lincoln Co. bird web page has been updated! It is at bird.htm. See it for links to Lincoln Co. bird information, including information about wildlife rehabilitation and dealing with conflicts with wildlife. Check it out!
On 5/15, the USFWS' RL wrote: "Migration of Canada/Cackling geese that nest in Alaska and Canada is now complete. Small numbers of White- fronts and Brant are still moving north. Beginning about now and continuing into early June we have been documenting northbound movement of "local" western Canada Geese. We believe this is a movement of nonbreeding or failed breeding birds heading north to a molting area, which is likely the lower Columbia River. Local breeders now have young or are still incubating and they end up molting with their broods. We began documenting this in 1994. Last year we obtained the earliest observation date (May 11) and the latest (June 5). I would appreciate it if you would all record any observations of these birds and report them to me (Roy_Lowe@fws.gov). Please report the date, location direction (we have 1 or 2 observation of birds going south), number of birds, observer and any notes including time. You don't really need to know subspecies because all of the others are gone now and these are the big honkers."
This year BB saw the first flights of Westerns over Yachats on 5/13, and she also had the latest report I am aware of on 5/29. RL has received over 100 reports and welcomes more.
Western Canada Geese goslings were seen with parents in Yaquina Bay across from the Toledo boat ramp, downstream of Toledo, on 5/15 (SK)
Flocks of GR. WHITE-FRONTED GEESE flying north continued to be often seen in early May (many observers), and much less often in late May with the last report on 5/28 at Boiler Bay (WH).
A rare ROSS'S GOOSE flew north with Aleutian CACKLING GEESE past Boiler Bay on 4/29 (PP). This is only our second record. PP also had the first when he detected one flying with Aleutians past Boiler Bay on 4/20/2000 (SemiL, FN).
A pair of GREEN-WINGED TEAL dabbled in the shallows of north Seal Rocks on 5/8 (KB). They are normally at freshwater, but sometimes alight along the coast during migration.
HARLEQUIN DUCKS continued at Yaquina Head in early and late April (BLM), and EM & SN counted 8 along the YBSJ on 5/27.
MOUNTAIN QUAIL appeared at Yaquina Head on 4/25 and continued until at least 4/29 (BLM).
2 CALIFORNIA QUAIL intermittently visited L & JM's home east of Sally's Bend from late August through 4/10. That is the longest period that they have been reported here. California Quail were also found at Yaquina Head on 4/4 and 4/10 (BLM). The last week of May, DF "saw a covey of California Quail near the 10 mile marker on the Nashville-Eddyville highway in eastern Lincoln County, and was informed by local residents that they are common there."
PP's Boiler Bay seawatches showed high numbers of mostly PACIFIC LOONS migrating north during May as well as many RED-THROATED LOONS with fewer COMMON LOONS.
PP detected a rare MANX SHEARWATER during his Boiler Bay seawatch on 5/9.
5 dead NORTHERN FULMARS were counted along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach in April (B and SLo, L and VO). This is a bit more than usual.
[Image Not Included: Kitty Brigham's May 12 photo of two flocks of Brown Pelicans flying north over the shore edge past Seal Rocks.]
BROWN PELICANS were frequently reported along the open coast in May, but our only report inside a bay was by JWk for Alsea Bay on 5/19. The most pelicans tallied were 85 at Boiler Bay on 5/11 & 26 (PP).
Looking similar to geese, DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS also migrate north along the coast in spring, and our latest reports were of flocks during 5/16-28 (RC; BB, SaL, CT; WH).
"Squawker," the continuously squawking GREAT BLUE HERON had not been heard since last Dec. 27. But JL heard and saw it at the HMSC at 8:15 PM on 5/12 and it landed in a spruce tree along the HMSC Nature Trail on 5/16. JL notes that it is in adult plumage but has one flight feather missing from the right wing.
RB's counts of Great Blue Herons at embayments of Yaquina Bay revealed a sudden abrupt increase (see graph below). From late Dec. through May 9, 27-34 herons were counted, then the number about doubled to 62 on May 22!
What caused this change?
Some young birds hatched this year such as European Starlings are already out and about. But herons are not starlings. With good light and a 45X magnification, RB determined that all 62 had white "caps," but juveniles have dark caps. So the increase was not from an influx of juveniles.
The influx could also be caused by nearby herons going to the estuary embayments to feed. But RB has not found enough nearby herons to account for this increase.
This influx is not something new. RB expected it, and that is one reason why a column about GBH numbers started in the March Sandpiper. With frequent enough censuses it shows each year.
The explanation that RB favors is that although herons can be found here throughout the year, a sizable portion of the population, perhaps about 50%, migrates. Such partial migration is known in other birds, but is difficult to discern if we are only sensitive to the possibility of migration when 100% of the population comes or goes.
If the influx represents emigrating herons, did they arrive at Yaquina embayments between May 9 and May 22 as indicated by counts? Censuses of feeding areas tell us nothing about what is going on at nesting areas. In past years, the first hatched Great Blue Heron eggs hatched here on about April 15--since incubation takes about 27 days, the first eggs were laid about March 19. During incubation and for 3-4 weeks after hatched, at least one adult would be present at the nest throughout the day to incubate or brood the young. If young first hatched about April 15, both parents could be out at feeding areas at about May 15. So the May 22 increase could represent when both parents from at least some nests are out together feeding at embayments.
The breeding phenology of at least one parent incubating or brooding at the nest, also points out another problem with the theory of no migration here that one may assume by the apparently stable numbers from Late Dec.-May 9. If there was no emigration, why didn't the numbers of herons decline by about half during late March-May 9?
Censuses of feeding areas are useful but can be misinterpreted without knowledge of where birds are when they are not feeding.
If 62 adults have already been counted, what will the peak number be? Stay tuned!
Great Blue Herons Within 1 Hour of Predicted Low Tides Less Than +0.5 ft at Yaquina Bay Embayments (Idaho Flats, Sally's Bend, and mudflats south of Sally's Bend)
70- 60- X 50- X 40- X 30-X X XXX XXX X 20-X X XXX XXX X 10-X X XXX XXX X 0 '|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''| Jan Mar May Jul Sep Nov Feb Apr Jun Aug Oct Dec
1-3 GREAT EGRETS foraged at Idaho Flats until at least 5/27 (JL; RB), and at least 1 was at Alsea Bay on 5/12 (WH). But there is no indication that they may have tried nesting.
Ever wonder what OSPREY are hunting for near the surf? TM saw an Osprey pulling up a redtail surfperch (Amphisticus rhodoterus) near Nye Beach on 5/18. An Osprey surprised drivers on the Yaquina Bay Bridge, when it flew over cars on 5/17 (KS).
As reported last month, one adult BALD EAGLE hit a power line in South Beach and was electrocuted. This prompted concerns about its mate. But perhaps it has already found another partner as JL noted 2 adults within 20 feet of each other at Idaho Flats on 4/30. The morning of 5/9, JL reports: "One pair of eagles was wading together in thigh-deep water in Wecoma Cove (the embayment just off the HMSC public parking area). The other pair copulated at Idaho Flats off the east side of the HMSC nature trail adjacent to the EPA building. When I saw the second pair, I went back to check on the first pair, and they were still there, so there definitely were two pairs."
A WHITE-TAILED KITE was at Three Rocks Road in north Lincoln County on 5/7 (PP) and at Idaho Flats on 5/20 (RB).
After having no MERLIN reports in February-March, singletons were found starting on 4/20 as reported in last month's field notes and continued with singletons on 4/29 at Beachside State Park south of Waldport (DT) and on 5/12 at Yaquina Head (RL) and at Siletz Bay during an Audubon Society field trip led by DD.
Single PEREGRINE FALCONS were noted along at several coastal locations on 5/17 (BB, SaL, & CT), 5/18 (DS & DD), 5/28 (WH), and 5/31 (LO). On the other hand, HS notes that he has been living near the Newport Bayfront for four years, and this is the first spring that a Peregrine has not regularly been here--they disappeared about the same time that a pair of Bald Eagles arrived and started hanging out along the breakwater.
Departures include AMERICAN COOT at Eckman Lake on 5/5 (JWk). Probably nesting was a SORA at Three Rocks Road in north Lincoln County on 5/7 (PP).
PP's Estimated Average Shorebirds/Minute Passing Boiler Bay during 45-225 Minute Morning Seawatches
225- WESTERN SANDPIPER X B 200- X i 175- X r 150- X d 125- X s 100- XX X / 75- XX X m 50- X XX X X i 25- XXXX X XX n 0- X X XXXX X XXX X |''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|'' 10 13 16 19 22 25 28 1 3 6 9 12 April-----------------|---May-------- B 5- WHIMBREL X i 4- X r 3- X d 2- X XX s 1- X XX XX / 0- X X XXXX X XXX X m |''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|''|'' i 10 13 16 19 22 25 28 1 3 6 9 12 n April-----------------|---May--------
PP's 11 days with seawatches during 4/14-5/13 at Boiler Bay help show when peak shorebird migration may have occurred. His seawatches that varied in length from 45 to 225 minutes occurred during 5:45-9:45 AM. Ideally, there would be seawatches every day during the peak period, but this is not feasible.
PP found that WESTERN SANDPIPERS were usually the most numerous shorebird by far. For example, on 4/30, Western Sandpipers constituted 95% of the total shorebirds estimated. The peak of Westerns seems to between 4/29 and 5/9 (see above), like PP's peak "peep" counts for his seawatches in 2006. In contrast, PP's seawatches in 2005 revealed that the peak "peep" migration was on 4/21.
DUNLIN were usually the second-most abundant shorebird, and they seemed to have two peaks: 4/30 (about 9/min) and 5/10 (about 2/min).
DOWITCHERS appeared to have a single peak on 4/28 (10/min), with a sharp decline after 4/30.
As in the past 2 years, WHIMBRELS appeared to have more than one peak (see above graph) with PP recording the greatest number on 5/10 (about 5/min).
Questions have been raised if shorebirds feed in patches of the introduced eelgrass, Zostera japonica. At Sally's Bend on 5/3 or 5/10, JL saw SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, WHIMBRELS, MARBLED GODWITS, WESTERN SANDPIPERS, DUNLIN, and LONG-BILLED and SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS doing so.
On 4/29 at Beachside State Park south of Waldport, DT estimated 10,000 passing WESTERN SANDPIPERS, 2,000 DUNLIN, 500 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, 200 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, 100 LEAST SANDPIPERS, and 20 or less of other shorebirds.
In May, migrating SPOTTED SANDPIPERS appear at saltwater locations where these normally freshwater birds are not found at other times. This year was no exception with singletons in lower Yaquina Bay during 5/12-5/25 (CA; JL; RB)
At 8:32 PM on 5/7, a flock of 12 loudly calling WHIMBRELS circled about 100-200 ft above Idaho Flats as if they were trying to gather all Whimbrels in the area before flying west between the HMSC and Oregon Coast Aquarium (RB). Such evening, apparently roosting flights between Yaquina Bay and the ocean are common while they are present.
A single LONG-BILLED CURLEW stopped at Idaho Flats on 5/4-5/7 (DD & KN; JL) and passed Boiler Bay on 5/11 (PP).
1-8 MARBLED GODWITS were often reported from 4/29 into May in Yaquina Bay or along the coast. The latest were 2 at Idaho Flats on 5/24 (JL).
While helping with the Shorebird Sister Schools Program field trip on 5/1, DD saw a first of the season RUDDY TURNSTONE in breeding plumage at Idaho Flats. Others included 6 at Nye Beach in Newport on 5/8 (CA) and 3-5 at Boiler Bay on 5/9 & 11 (PP).
2 RED KNOTS passed Boiler Bay on 5/9 (PP), and 1 dropped out at Idaho Flats on 5/17 (JL & WN).
On 5/5, BB and SaL did their CoastWatch Mile at Beachside State Park and found about 60 SANDERLINGS feeding on mole crabs (Emerita sp.), many of which had egg masses.
BD spotted a rarely reported SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER at Idaho Flats on 5/12.
D & LF found a WILSON'S SNIPE in their upland marsh and at a pond in a pasture at their Thornton Creek home during 5/8-9. One may wonder if they will nest there. In the Oregon Breeding Bird Atlas, snipe were only noted as possibly nesting in the northeast part of Lincoln County--they were seen winnowing at the high elevation Lost Prairie marsh.
RED-NECKED PHALAROPES can be exceedingly numerous or hard to find during spring migration. This May, they were abundant along shore. PP first reported them on 5/11 at Boiler Bay, when he estimated 36,000+ passing during 3.75 hours. Many others also reported them near shore, and DS had our latest report of 200 about 2 miles south of Boiler Bay on 5/29. Some have lingered into early June (SemiL). But our only reports in a bay was of 4-9 near the HMSC on 5/25-27 (JL; RB).
At Boiler Bay on 5/1, PP detected a JAEGER, rare in spring, and an uncommon adult FRANKLIN'S GULL. A HEERMANN'S GULL at Boiler Bay on 5/9 (PP) is early, though one arrived on 5/12 in 1992 (SemiL).
Departing gulls: MEW GULL at Sally's Bend on 5/13 (CA) and a GLAUCOUS GULL lingering at the "gull puddle" of the YBSJ to at least 5/21-27 (WH; RH; EM & SN).
Throughout May, singleton and pairs of MARBLED MURRELETS were often seen nearshore just north of Seal Rocks (KB), and, at Boiler Bay, PP regularly noted them with a peak count of 36 on 5/26.
On 5/26 at Boiler-Bay, PP also observed 3 ANCIENT MURRELETS--a rare find for April-May (SemiL).
While fishing for halibut off Newport on 5/25, RL saw small numbers of CASSIN'S AUKLETS.
Four beached RHINOCEROS AUKLETS were recorded in April along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B and SLo, L and VO). This is higher than usual because it is the third highest year since BLo started surveys in 1978. Live ones were often reported at Yaquina Head and Boiler Bay, with a peak count of 600+ at Boiler Bay on 5/26 (PP & WH).
WH discovered a rare, live HORNED PUFFIN about 1/4 mile off Boiler Bay on 5/28.
After the concern about beached, dead TUFTED PUFFINS during January- March, live Tufted Puffins put on the best show in recent years. At Boiler Bay, there were 1-5 on 4/30, 5/10, and 5/26 (PP). At Yaquina Head, CA's Bonding with Birds group also recorded 5 Tufted Puffins on 5/26. On 5/27, EM & SN saw one at Boiler Bay and also one swimming and diving about 10 ft off the YBSJ in the ocean.
Our first EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES this year were 3 or more at PF's feeder in Yachats almost daily during at least 5/5-13 (PF, SaL). Another was at the HMSC on 5/15 (JL & RL), and 6 were at SF's home in Newport on 5/19 or 20. They were first recorded here last year.
A MOURNING DOVE appeared at L & JM's home east of Sally's Bend on 4/7, and 2-4 were present daily there in mid-May. Another was at RC & WN's home north of Ona Beach on 5/16.
BO spotted the first VAUX'S SWIFTS (14) flying over his home in north Newport on 5/3.
A WESTERN KINGBIRD visited Toledo on 5/22 (CP). Westerns have white outer tail feathers. A kingbird that apparently had no white feathers was noted on 5/15 at the HMSC, but the white feathers may have been missed (RL; JL). If it didn't have white feathers, it may have been a Tropical Kingbird, though we have no records of them in spring (SemiL), and the Birds of Oregon also does not include any records of them during March- June.
JL spotted a HORNED LARK feeding south of the YBSJ road and southeast of the "gull puddle" on 5/18. This is only our 3rd record since 1998 (SemiL, FN)--our previous record was in the same area on 1/24/2004 (DF).
Perhaps the most common time to see WESTERN SCRUB-JAYS here is in May, and this year is not an exception. Our first ones this year included singletons at north Beaver Creek on 5/15 (LO) and SW Newport on 5/19 (RB) and 2 north of Ona Beach on 5/21 (RC).
CLIFF SWALLOWS have been absent for the past 2 years at D & LF's Thornton Creek home, but JL found 40 or more building nests under the eaves of the Ship Support Building at the HMSC on 5/10.
SWAINSON'S THRUSH arrived first at Thornton Creek on 5/9 (D&LF).
A pair of WESTERN BLUEBIRDS visited a feeder north of Yachats during 5/20-21 (BB). They are rarely reported near the coastline during their nesting season.
A brilliant blue adult male MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD was found at Yaquina Head during March 5-11 (BLM). This is only the 5th record for Lincoln County (SemiL; FN), with the 4th record at Thornton Creek on 8/27/2003 (DF).
D & LF heard a BROWN CREEPER in timber of their Thornton Creek home on 5/9. Creepers are often missed here.
A NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD was at Three Rocks Road in north Lincoln County on 5/7 (PP) and in South Beach on 5/15 (EH).
PP found our first AMERICAN PIPIT of 2007--one was at Boiler Bay on 5/9. Our first CEDAR WAXWINGS were a flock of 12 at north of Ona Beach on 5/16 (RC).
PP discovered a YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT singing near his Lincoln City home on 5/17. This is our 5th semimonthly period that they have been reported--the fourth period was during May 20-27, 2002 at D River (PP) and at Three Rocks Road in north Lincoln County (PP; JS) (SemiL, FN). Because of the distance between those two areas, the sightings in 2002 could be considered two different records.
SONG SPARROWS with fledged young were at north Beaver Creek on 5/15 (LO).
Our first BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK arrived at J & KC's home about 4 miles east of Waldport and BB's Yachats home the same day: 4/29. They waited a few days for DG's Toledo home.
A rare ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK appeared at DF's brother's home at Thornton Creek on 5/27.
RL spotted a first year male BULLOCK'S ORIOLE along the HMSC Nature Trail on 5/15.
A total of 60 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES in several flocks flew north over Boiler Bay on 5/11 (PP). This year, they graced PK's Siletz feeders for the first time in nearly 20 years.
[Image Not Included: Wendy Schouviller's photo of an adult male American Goldfinch perched on a shore pine with an ocean background just north of Seal Rocks. Too bad this can't be shown in color!]
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Cindy Ashy, Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Kitty Brigham, Bureau of Land Management staff at Yaquina Head (BLM), Rebecca Cheek, Jorrie and Ken Ciotti (http://www.birdsamore.com), CoastWatch (a volunteer project monitoring one-mile segments of the Oregon coast; http://www.oregonshores.org/coastwatch.php5?county=Lincoln), Dick Demarest, Bruce Dugger, Darrel and Laura Faxon (some of DF's bird records are at bird.htm#thornton_creek), Stan Ferguson, Peggy Fulkerson, Dawn Grafe, Wayne Hoffman, Eric Horvath, Rich Hoyer, Penelope Kaczmarek, Steve Kupillas, Janet Lamberson, Sally Lockyear (SaL), Bob Loeffel (BLo) and Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Linda and John MacKown, Terry Morse (http://home.teleport.com/~tmorse/), Eddie Mundall, Steve Nelson, Walt Nelson, Kathleen Nickerson, Field Notes (FN, see "Search" or "Recent Lincoln County Bird Field Notes" links at top of bird.htm [all lower case letters] for Lincoln County records from the Sandpiper since 1992), OBOL (Oregon Birders On Line; recent postings with info about joining is at http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/OBOL.html), Bob Olson, Laimons and Vicki Osis, Chuck Philo, Phil Pickering, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 at ScholarsArchive@OSU), Howard Shippey, Jamie Simmons, Don Stein, Keith Stratton, David Tracy, Claire Tucker, Jean Weakland (JWk), Janelle Wesley (JWs).