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. There is room only for some of the many Lincoln County sightings to be included here of those sent to me or posted to the Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO) or Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL) email discussion lists.
If you have any field notes to share, please email (range.bayer at gmail.com) or mail (P.O. Box 1467, Newport, OR 97365) them to Range Bayer by the 20th of the month.
Many Lincoln Co. birding sites are in the Oregon Coast Birding Trail Guide.
Semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 are in 1995 Journal of Oregon Ornithology 4:395-543 that is archived at (ScholarsArchive@OSU).
------------------------------- Month of Sandpiper, Volume 30 ------------------------------- January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 -------------------------------
Many Lincoln Co. sites are in the Oregon Coast Birding Trail Guide (http://www.oregoncoastbirding.com/). 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 the 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, YBCBC: Yaquina Bay Christmas Bird Count on 1/3, YBNJ: Yaquina Bay North Jetty, YBSJ: Yaquina Bay South Jetty.
BLo completed the annual report for the 31st year of approximately weekly beached bird surveys along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach. Participants in 2008 included B&SLo, L&VO, and BO. Some of the highlights from BLo's summary are given below.
Birds other than Common Murre chicks totaled 488 in 200, which is slightly above the average annual count for the previous 30 years (471). The most numerous beached birds were Northern Fulmars (209) and murre chicks (107). No rare species were found in 2008.
For the third year in a row, Western Grebe mortality (23) was high, though still short of the 43 recovered in 2006.
Sooty Shearwaters (7) were low for the fifth year running. This is coincident with the declining numbers of these birds showing on their nesting areas on islands south of New Zealand.
Adult Common Murre counts were in the usual range. Murre chick counts were the 3rd highest in the last 10 years, though still way below the high counts of earlier years.
The 8 Rhinoceros Auklets in 2008 is a return to usual levels for this species and contrasts with the 143 and 71 found in 2006 and 2007, respectively.
Thanks to BLo and his team of observers for doing this and to BLo for sharing his results!
The CBC was held in miraculously calm and sunny weather, though it was a bit chilly until mid-day. Still, after the 1/1 storm, none of the 21 field observers and 6 feeder counters were complaining about weather. Species total came to 136 with no rarities and no terrible misses - except nobody could re-find the count week BLACK PHOEBE that was seen at the YBSJ area on 1/2.
Overall numbers of waterfowl seemed low, but possibly birds were more spread out than usual in all the flooded lowlands. The recent storms have finally convinced the BROWN PELICANS to move south but 10 lingered still, along with 1 HEERMANN'S GULL (new to count). Seawatchers spotted NORTHERN FULMAR, SOOTY/SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATER, BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE and all the expected alcids: COMMON MURRE, PIGEON GUILLEMOT, ANCIENT MURRELET, RHINOCEROUS AUKLET, and more than 30 MARBLED MURRELETS. Other good finds were 2 LONG-TAILED DUCKS in Sally's Bend, a single female BARROW'S GOLDENEYE at Seal Rock Stables along south Beaver Creek, 1 WHITE-TAILED KITE, 2 BARN OWLS, 1 NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL, 12 WESTERN BLUEBIRDS reported from 3 different locations, and 2 SLATE-COLORED DARK-EYED JUNCOS. Feeder watchers added 6 MOUNTAIN QUAIL, 4 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS plus a LESSER GOLDFINCH. Despite the recent sub-freezing weather the ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD count continues an upward trend with 48 birds found. MOURNING DOVES were new to the count only 4 years ago; they have been annual since, with 8 reported.
Additional species from count week include GLAUCOUS GULL (1st winter bird seen at the YBSJ parking pullout), CLARK'S GREBE, and SHARP-SHINNED HAWK.
RB's Note. This is the 10th consecutive year that RC has been Compiler, and she has done an outstanding job of organizing this CBC! In her past 4 of 5 CBC's, 130 or more species were found. In the previous 31 CBC's, 130 or more species were only recorded twice (1988  & 1989 ). The species total this year ties this CBC's record of 136 on 2 Jan. 2005. RC, thanks for your efforts!
BRANT numbers were pretty stable at Yaquina Bay embayments in January. During the 1/3 YBCBC, BO & CL counted 185. On 1/5, JL counted 188; on 1/22, RB found 185; and, on 1/28, JL counted 175 Brant lounging at Idaho Flats mudflats and while she was counting, "a dozen or so flew by in the distance." On 1/11 at Idaho Flats, WH observed 105 adults, 13 young of the year, and an additional 29 birds too far away to age; more could have been upriver at Sally's Bend. WH notes that this adult:young ratio indicates "a very poor nesting season in 2008, at least for the Brant that come to Yaquina Bay." YB&N is a project partner of the International Brant Monitoring Project (IBMP) (http://www.padillabay.gov/brant/), and RB relays on significant reports of Brant in Lincoln County to their Observation Log (see link on the left side of their web page).
At dusk on 1/14, JL saw 8 TUNDRA SWANS (including 1 grayish immature) gliding in and settling just off the HMSC Nature Trail. Near dusk the next day, HS spotted 13 swans in the middle of the Sally's Bend.
On 1/11, HH & JS found a drake EURASIAN (COMMON) TEAL with 4 male Green-winged Teal and several females on a small pond along HWY 20 between Toledo and Newport. Several EURASIAN WIGEON were viewed at various locations.
A female BARROW'S GOLDENEYE with its entire bill "as bright as neon orange yellow" (LO) was at Seal Rocks Stables in south Beaver Creek on the 1/3 YBCBC and 1/22 (LO). A male was at the mouth of Schooner Creek in north Siletz Bay on 1/10 (PS& CK), 1/23 (JW), and 1/24 (D&LF).
HARLEQUIN DUCK S were widely distributed with 1-4 at the YBSJ on 1/9 (RA & others) and 1/11 (HH & JS), 4 at Seal Rocks on 1/25 (LO), 1 at Boiler Bay on 1/18 (CG & others), and 5 at Yaquina Head on 1/30 (TH).
2 LONG-TAILED DUCKS were tallied during the 1/3 YBCBC (KM), and our only other report was of "a female Long-tailed Duck flying south with a flock of about 30 Surf Scoters at Boiler Bay" on 1/17 (DvB & others).
KM found a mostly white (leucistic) SURF SCOTER that looked like a miniature Trumpeter Swan at Lost Creek between Newport and Ona Beach during the 1/3 YBCBC.
Although we had records in all months of the year previously, 2008 was the first year in which we had records every month in the same year. As reported in last month's Sandpiper, Brown Pelicans numbered in the low thousands until at least 12/18 (PP) but had declined at Siletz Bay to 200 on 12/21 and 125 on 12/24 (PP). Pelicans were much more abundant in early and mid-December than they have been in past years.
Storms and cold weather may have contributed to the departure of most pelicans by 12/21. HMSC weather data indicate that storms on 12/12-13 had peak gusts of 41-54 mph and that daily low temperatures dipped below freezing (24-30F) on 12/14-17 (http://weather.hmsc.orst.edu/). Another storm with peak gusts of 41 mph was recorded on 12/20-21.
Along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach, 2 adult pelicans were found dead the last week of December (B&SLo, L&VO). It is rare for them to find any, but the total this December is the same as in December 2006, so it is not unprecedented. Since 1997, BLo's team found no pelicans in 1997- 1999 and 2001-2005, 1 in Oct. 2000, 2 in Dec. 2006, and 2 in 2007 (one each in July and October).
In early Jan., reports of many weakened and more than 400 dead and dying Brown Pelicans began appearing in Californian newspapers, the Seattle Times, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, TV stations, National Public Radio (NPR), Sydney (Australia) Daily Telegraph, and elsewhere. Disoriented and starving pelicans were turning up on highways and backyards in California and even discovered in Arizona and New Mexico. This was a very big story, and I Googled over 75 web pages about it. However, some of the stories had obvious errors, which can make one skeptical. For example, MW's story in the Sacramento Bee included a map for Brown Pelicans that shows the Oregon Coast as "New turf in recent years due to warmer weather and water, according to researchers." However, they have been along the Oregon Coast for many, many years.
Stories focused on the cause of the pelican's plight. Initial theories were poisoning by domoic acid (a neurotoxin found in some algae blooms), bird flu, or poisoning from fire retardant used to fight California's wildfires. However, only 4 of 19 pelicans tested positive for domoic acid and levels were low (CPr). On 1/30, CPr wrote: "Experts now suspect the [pelicans] got caught in the winter storms along the Pacific Northwest coast during their southward migration and are now suffering from frostbite, hypothermia and exhaustion, among other ailments, after braving the snow and ice." Hypothermia and exhaustion could lead to disorientation. At one Californian rehab center, 60-65 of the pelicans had dead and blackened skin on their feet and/or feeding pouches that was consistent with frostbite (MW). Some pelicans brought to the Wildlife Center of the North Coast in Astoria also had frostbitten feet and partial amputations were being considered (CPr). Sharnelle Fee of the Astoria rehab center noted that they had not had pelicans with frostbite before (CPr).
Frostbite occurs when skin tissue freezes, and "Windchill is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by wind and cold. As the wind increases, it draws heat from the body, driving down skin temperature and eventually the internal body temperature" (National Weather Service [NWS], http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/windchill/windchillglossary.shtml). The NWS notes that "Wind chill can bring the temperature to below freezing for humans and animals." Other references indicate that humans can differ in when they get frostbite, with people that are wet or who have poor blood circulation being more vulnerable. The duration of exposure is also important in determining when frostbite can occur.
Wind chill charts for estimating when humans develop frostbite have been developed by the NWS (http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/lkn/windchill.php), but I have not found a similar chart for pelicans. At the HMSC (http://weather.hmsc.orst.edu/) on 12/15, the low temperature was 25F and the high was 30F; at noon, the temp was 29F with a 16 mph wind, which is a wind chill of 17F (http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/slc/projects/wxcalc/windChill.php). The wind chill chart indicates that frostbite can develop in humans in 30 minutes with this wind chill or even at a temperature of 35F with a 5 mph wind.
Pelicans were probably more vulnerable to frostbite along the northern Oregon coast. 490 live pelicans were tallied during the 12/14 Columbia Estuary Christmas Bird Count (MP in OBOL). At the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, low temps were 26-31F during 12/14-23 (http://www.wunderground.com/US/OR/Astoria.html).
So it is plausible that some pelicans that lingered in Oregon suffered hypothermia or developed frostbite, especially since they are a warm climate species, may have become wet while trying to feed, and they are generally not sheltered from winds. Waterbirds that normally winter here may have plumage, skin, and blood circulation that insulate them from hypothermia and frostbite. Wintering waterbirds have not been brought to the Astoria rehab center with frostbite (CPr), though they would have been exposed to freezing temperatures that could have caused frostbite in humans according to the Wind Chill chart.
Freezing temps near the Oregon coast where pelicans occur is uncommon but not rare. For example, there were two days when the low was 21-22F and the high was 26-29F at the HMSC in December 1998.
Pelicans lingered too long along the Oregon coast this December. A web search revealed that many Brown Pelicans also got frostbite and had to be rescued when they lingered abnormally long along the East Coast at Chesapeake Bay in February 2007 (http://www.somdnews.com/stories/020907/rectop155026_32083.shtml). Evidently, pelicans sometimes make bad choices, and their "migration" is not as fixed as for some species.
So did any pelicans remain here in January? Or did they learn their lesson and depart for warmer climes? In the 16 January's of 1993-2008, no pelicans were recorded in half the years, there was 1 report in 3 years, 2 reports in 1 year, 3 reports in 2 years (1999 and 2008), and 4 reports in 2 years (1998 and 2003)(FN). Usually singletons were noted, but 2-6 were reported in 1998, 1999, 2003, and 2008 (FN).
This January, we had 11 reports, with their numbers in parentheses: 1/3 (10) on YBCBC (RC), 1/6 (11) near Siletz Bay (MM, fide RL), *1/17 (2) at Boiler Bay (DvB), *1/17 at Yaquina Bay (DvB), *1/18 (1) at Boiler Bay (D& AH; CG & others), *1/20 (6) at Yaquina Bay (JG & NL), 1/22 (5) at Seal Rocks (LO), *1/23 (1) at Boiler Bay (JW), 1/24 (9) near Siletz Bay (MM, fide RL), 1/25 (8) at Depoe Bay (DS), and 1/30 (2 juveniles) at Yaquina Head (TH).
There were many more sightings than in recent years, but 5 of the 11 reports were from out-of-county birders that were in Lincoln County to see the rare LITTLE BLUE HERON (asterisked reports). With the increased observation effort that these talented birders brought, it can be expected to get more pelican reports than we would have had in other years. But even without the asterisked reports, there were more sightings and higher numbers than during January in 1993-2008.
Could this become the second year in a row with records every month of the year? Time will tell...
The LITTLE BLUE HERON first recorded in the Siletz Bay area on 12/11 by BM (fide RL) was observed on 14 days in January by many observers, including many who traveled from outside of Lincoln County to see it. The latest report was 1/31 (EH). TShr posted his 1/22 photos, including one near a GREAT EGRET for size comparison, at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tom_pix/
The Little Blue attracted many skilled Oregon birders, who found many uncommon bird species that would have otherwise been missed.
At least one GREAT EGRET was found during the 1/3 YBCBC, 1/10 & 1/22 at Siletz Bay (many observers looking for the Little Blue), 1/18 east of Waldport (CG & others), and 1/25 at Beaver Creek (LO).
[Image Not Included: Barry McPherson's Jan. 10 digiscoped photo with his cell phone of the Little Blue Heron and part of its reflection at Siletz Bay. The heron was distant, and Barry could see it well in his spotting scope. In digiscoping, a digital camera is put up to a spotting scope eyepiece to take a photo. The results are often quite good. Unfortunately, Barry forgot his digital camera, so he thought "why not try my cell phone camera?" So he digiscoped by putting the camera lens of his cell phone up to the scope eyepiece and took this picture. Not the greatest results, but the photo is still very worthwhile!]
Oregon Winter Raptor Surveys give a good relative index to the abundance of different wintering raptor species and are coordinated by the East Cascades Birds Observatory (ECBC) (http://www.ecbcbirds.org/Default.aspx?tabid=73).
The Lincoln County Raptor Coast Route is about 61 miles and runs along Hwy 101 from the north side of Alsea Bay to Taft area of Lincoln City, with nearby inland valleys; it was conducted on 1/10 by WH, WN, & RC. The Inland or Yaquina River-Siletz Route runs from the HWY 101 Kernville exit along HWY 229 south to HWY 20, then along Business HWY 20 through Toledo and down the Yaquina River along north Yaquina Bay Road, with some digressions; this month it included Hidden Valley; it was done on 1/10 by JL & CP.
The biggest differences in results between routes this month were that Bald Eagles and Peregrines were mostly or only found along the coastal route and kestrels were only recorded inland.
WHITE-TAILED KITES were viewed during the 1/3 YBCBC, the Raptor Routes, and 1 was also found in a field near Logsden on 1/10 & 17 (BLl).
BALD EAGLES were common during the 1/3 YBCBC and Raptor Routes and an adult also flew over the HMSC parking lot, where PR waited to lead the 1/17 YBNFT.
A COOPER'S HAWK was eating a brush rabbit that it had pulled under brush near the Oregon Coast Aquarium Gift Shop on 1/20 (BLl), and another was a regular in January at BB's Yachats home.
RED-SHOULDERED HAWK records were during the 1/3 YBCBC (RC & BLo), at Siletz Bay on 1/8, 10, & 24 (many observers), and at South Beach State Park 1/17 (JL).
On 1/14, BB and a friend drove 5.5 mi. up the Yachats River. They espied a RED-TAILED HAWK feeding on a large salmon carcass at the river's edge--nutrient recycling!
MERLINS continue to be scarce this winter. There were none during the Raptor Routes, and our only report was 1 at Yaquina View School playground in Newport on 1/8 (CP).
Our only AMERICAN KESTREL reports besides during the Inland Raptor Route were during the 1/3 YBCBC and on 1/25 at Beaver Creek (LO).
At Yaquina Head in December, PEREGRINE FALCONS (14 days) were more frequent than BALD EAGLES (9 days) (BLM). During the 1/11 Lincoln Co. Coast Raptor Route at Yaquina Head, WH, WN, & RC saw a large, dark (Peale's) Peregrine, and RC wrote that it:
"was attempting to catch a Pigeon Guillemot on the water's surface. The guillemot had an injured wing and could not dive further than a quick duck below the surface. The Peregrine would swoop down and the guillemot would dunk under for an instant to elude the grab, Peregrine would miss, circle around and gain altitude for the next pass. This went on for about a dozen attempts before the Peregrine managed to snag the guillemot, then lugged it over to a nearby rock. We watched for a while as the Peregrine plucked feathers and tore off and ate hunks. Wow! Never know what you'll see when you're out birding!"
At a bridge in south Siletz Bay on 1/25, RP noted:
"We were still in the car when Rock Pigeons under the bridge flushed. A Peregrine Falcon passed 15 feet from us hot on the tail of one of the pigeons. As we scrambled out of the car, the pigeon was caught and brought to the ground. However, the falcon's victory was short lived as the eagle returned, interested in taking the meal. The falcon took flight again and harassed the eagle while the very lucky pigeon flew off in the opposite direction. The eagle lost interest and headed south, so the falcon returned to look for the pigeon. Instead he found and chased off a second eagle. The falcon returned and performed a circular search for his missing lunch for a while before he too left the area."
Peregrine Falcons were also recorded on the 1/3 YBCBC, chasing European Starlings at Alsea Bay on 1/7 (P&EW), and on 1/23 at Kernville (Siletz Bay)(JW), 1/25 in lower Beaver Creek (LO), 1/26 at Toledo (SK), and 1/28 at Alsea Bay (fide MR).
Lincoln County Raptor Routes Coast_____ Inland___ 12/6 1/10 12/6 1/10 Turkey Vulture 0 0 0 0 No. Harrier 3 1 1 0 White-t. Kite 0 3 8 2 Sharp-shin. Hawk 1 0 1 0 Cooper's Hawk 0 0 0 0 Accipiter sp. 0 0 0 0 Red-should. Hawk 0 0 0 0 Red-tail. Hawk 10 9 9 10 Bald Eagle ad. 6 10 2 0 " " subadults 0 1 0 0 " " unknown 0 0 0 1 " " total 6 11 2 0 Merlin 0 0 0 0 Am. Kestrel 0 0 1 4 Peregrine Falcon 2 4 0 0 RAPTOR SUM 22 28 22 17 Hours 4.5 - 4.3 4.7 Miles 61 - 55 73
We only had 2 reports of 10 or more BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS. Both were for Depoe Bay; RR found 27 on 1/9, and CG & others counted 18 on 1/18. If you see concentrations of 10 or more anywhere along the Oregon Coast, please email oystercatcher researcher Elise Elliott-Smith (eelliott-smith at usgs.gov).
RA and others saw our only MARBLED GODWIT; 1 at Idaho Flats on 1/9.
1-2 WHIMBRELS were at the YBSJ on 1/11 (HH & JS), 1/18 (CG & others), 1/19 (TShe), and 1/20 (JG & NL). A small flock used to winter at Yaquina Bay in the 1970's, but they have largely been absent in winter in recent years.
2 ROCK SANDPIPERS were on the YBNJ on 1/9 (RR). On 1/24, JW counted 4 on the YBNJ and 2 on the YBSJ; they were with Surfbirds, turnstones, Sanderlings, and Dunlin. JW adds: "I think this may be the highest number I've found in one spot ever in Oregon or California." 2-3 were also at Seal Rocks on 1/18 (CG & others).
1-2 immature GLAUCOUS GULLS were widely distributed and reported at the YBSJ on 1/2 (fide RC) 1/18 (D& AH; CG & others), & 1/27 (JL); YBNJ on 1/24 (JW), north of Yaquina Head on 1/9 (RA), near Gorton Road east of Siletz Bay on 1/10 (JL & CP), and at north Siletz Bay on 1/20 (JG & NL).
ANCIENT MURRELET were distinguished during the 1/3 YBCBC, at Boiler Bay on 1/10, 15, 17, & 18 (many observers), at Depoe Bay on 1/24 (JW), and at Yaquina Head on 1/30 (TH). More than 30 MARBLED MURRELETS were recorded during the 1/3 YBCBC, but there were few other reports: Boiler Bay on 1/15 & 17 (DA & GG; DvB & others). Ancients were more frequent.
A BARRED OWL reappeared at D&JD's home south of Depoe Bay on 1/5.
The unseasonably warm weather in mid-January led to a BEWICK'S WREN singing in South Beach (EH).
CP saw a flock of 5 CEDAR WAXWINGS in his neighbor's yard in Toledo on 1/7, and EH also watched 5 in Newport near the OSU Credit Union on 1/23. They were sporadically recorded in Lincoln County in 5 of 20 January's during 1973-1992--they were rarer in February, March, and April, when they were recorded only 2 years each month (SemiL).
4 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS were tallied during the 1/3 YBCBC, and 2 were in South Beach daily in mid- and late January (EH). 1 appeared at DF's Thornton Creek home (about midway between Toledo and Eddyville along HWY 20) on 1/14 and a second showed up on 1/17, which were the first there in several years.
One of their favored winter haunts of WESTERN MEADOWLARKS is Yaquina Head, and they were recorded there 7 days during 12/20-29 (BLM). Other than the 1/3 YBCBC, our only other report was at the YBSJ on 1/17 (DvB & others).
2 LESSER GOLDFINCHES were in South Beach in brush south of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on 1/6 (EH).
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Dennis Arendt, Rich Armstrong, Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Dan van den Broek (DvB), Bureau of Land Management staff at Yaquina Head (BLM), Rebecca Cheek, CoastWatch (a volunteer project monitoring one- mile segments of the Oregon coast; http://www.oregonshores.org/coastwatch.php5?county=Lincoln), Dick & Judy Demarest, Darrel & Laura Faxon (some of DF's bird records are at bird.htm#thornton_creek, Chuck Gates, Jeff Gilligan, George Grier, Thomas Hall, Hendrik Herlyn, Dan & Anne Heyerly, Wayne Hoffman, Eric Horvath, Carol Karlen, Steve Kupillas, Janet Lamberson, Nick Lethaby, Cindy Lippincott, Bob Llewellyn (BLl), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Bill Medlen, Michael Mefford, Kathy Merrifield, Walt Nelson, Field Notes (FN; Lincoln Co. records from the Sandpiper since 1992 are searchable at bird.htm#recent [all lower case letters]), Bob Olson, Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL; recent postings at http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/OBOL.html), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Mike Patterson, Ron Peterson, Chuck Philo, Phil Pickering, Cassandra Profita (CPr)(1/30/2009. Wildlife Center Treats Stranded Pelicans. Researchers Theorize Birds Stayed Too Long in Oregon. The Daily Astorian at http://www.dailyastorian.com/main.asp?SectionID=2&SubSectionID=398&ArticleID=57909), Paul Reed, Maggie Rivers, Roger Robb, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Tim Shelmerdine (TShe), Howard Shippey, Tom Shreve (TShr), Jamie Simmons, Don Stein, Paul Sullivan, Matt Weiser (1/17/2009. Ailing Brown Pelicans May Be Victims of Frostbite. The Sacramento Bee [Sacramento, California] at http://www.sacbee.com/ourregion/story/1549982.html), Jay Withgott, Pat & Elizabeth Wood, Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (YBNFT Field Trip led by PR).
Many Lincoln Co. sites are in the Oregon Coast Birding Trail Guide (http://www.oregoncoastbirding.com/). 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 the 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.
During November-January, BRANT overwinter at Yaquina Bay embayments where there is lots of eelgrass that they eat, but later some start appearing at a rock shelf on the northwest side of the Yaquina Bay Bridge. The rock shelf does not have any eelgrass. This year, they were first at the rock shelf on 1/31 (WH) and 2/3 (JL). Since then, they are often visited the shelf, especially at low tide, as well as at embayments. WH notes that they may be going to the rock shelf because of the growth of Ulva (sea lettuce) that they also eat. Some counts this February of about 170-180 Brant were very similar to numbers in January, while other counts were lower (JL; RB; SS; LO; PS&CK; GN; PL). However, it is not clear if the lower counts were because some Brant were at a different location in Yaquina Bay, so they were missed. Accordingly, there is no unequivocal evidence that migration was occurring. JL noted that several Brant had leg bands on 2/11; being able to identify individuals helps in determining residency and their movements. YB&N is a project partner of the International Brant Monitoring Project (IBMP) (http://www.padillabay.gov/brant/), and RB relays on sightings of significant numbers of Brant in Lincoln County to their Observation Log (see link on left side of their web page).
Our only GR. WHITE-FRONTED GEESE report was of 2 at Drift Creek Meadows near Siletz Bay on 2/22 (RNa).
During the 2/21 YBNFT, one of the GREEN-WINGED TEAL (Anas crecca carolinensis) near Seal Rock Stables along south Beaver Creek had a horizontal white bar along the body and no vertical bar, so it was a EURASIAN GREEN-WINGED TEAL (Anas crecca crecca), which is also called EURASIAN TEAL or COMMON TEAL. As reported last month, one was also noted near Toledo in January. Hybrids between these two subspecies also occur in Oregon, and GG's page to identify them is very helpful (http://thebirdguide.com/identification/Eurasian_Teal/teal_hybrid.htm).
1-3 EURASIAN WIGEON lingered at Idaho Flats on 2/7 & 15 (PS&CK; A&ES) and at Beaver Creek on 2/22 (RNa).
The male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE reported last month at north Siletz Bay near the mouth of Schooner Creek continued until at least 2/16 (DSm).
7 male CANVASBACKS swam in front of the wildlife viewing platform at the Port of Toledo on 2/16 (PD).
HARLEQUIN DUCKS were at Yaquina Head during 4 days in January (BLM). 4 were also at YBSJ on 2/7 (PS&CK), and several graced Seal Rocks on 2/15 (A&ES) and the 2/21 YBNFT (LO).
3 NORTHERN FULMARS and 1 BROWN PELICAN were found dead in January along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO).
In January, live pelicans were noted more frequently than normal as reported in last month's Sandpiper, and they were also at Yaquina Head until at least 1/13 (BLM). In February, pelican status was similar to that of February's in previous years. Pelicans were rare with only 2 reports: 2 flying north of Ona Beach on 2/1 (VO) and 1 at south Siletz Bay on 2/2 (MMe fide RL).
2008 was the first year that we had at least one live Brown Pelican report each month of the calendar year. However, our string of months with pelican sightings started in February 2007--we have 24 months of sightings in a row! Will our string be broken this March?
1 LAYSAN ALBATROSS, 10 BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS, 104 NORTHERN FULMARS, 6 PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS, and 13 SOOTY SHEARWATERS were among the many seabirds found during the 2/21 Bird Guide's pelagic trip (GG).
The LITTLE BLUE HERON first recorded on 12/11 near Siletz Bay continued with reports on 1/31 (EH), 2/12 (DSt), 2/15 (DSm), 2/16 (A&ES), and 2/22 (DSt).
The Little Blue has been well-publicized. On 2/6, while RB was doing a Yaquina Bay Brant count at Sally's Bend, two birders were driving by when they saw RB's scope and binoculars that identified him as a fellow birder, so they stopped and asked him if he had just seen the Little Blue Heron. They said they had been driving around Yaquina Bay but had not been able to find it. RB gave them directions to where they might see it at Siletz Bay.
A GREAT EGRET was also occasionally noted with the Little Blue, and 3 were at Beaver Creek during the 2/21 YBNFT (LO). On 2/24, MaR spotted a Great Egret with 20+ GREAT BLUE HERONS across Lint Slough from the Waldport High School--perhaps they will nest in that area?
On 2/10, JL heard "Squawker" flying over the HMSC. It is a GREAT BLUE HERON that nearly continuously calls while flying. It was last noted at the HMSC near dusk last Sept. (RB), so it has apparently been somewhere else for about 4.5 months. Perhaps it migrated? Census data at Yaquina Bay reveal that part of the Great Blue Heron population migrates.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS have not been reported recently, but DD found an immature perched near Oregon Coast Aquarium on 2/13.
[Image Not Included: Janet Lamberson's Dec. 11 photo of an adult BROWN PELICAN perched on a rock at the Yaquina Bay South Jetty. Will any be found in March or will our string of 24 consecutive months of sightings be broken?]
BALD EAGLES are very frequent at Yaquina Head, even in the nonbreeding season of seabirds, as they were noted during 16 days in January (BLM).
We only had one report of a RED-SHOULDERED HAWK this month. For several weeks in early Feb., MiR & DC of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department observed one at South Beach State Park. It "seems to be digging up worms with its talons in our grass at the South Beach office south of our campground." RB does not think this behavior has been noted for them before in Lincoln County, but Googling the Internet for "Red-shouldered Hawk worms," reveals that this behavior has been seen elsewhere (e.g., go down page at [on 21 March 2009, the citation but the text of this article is no longer available for free] http://www.bioone.org/doi/pdf/10.3356/0892-1016(2007)41%5B254:EHBRHB%5D2.0.CO%3B2?cookieSet=1). So it may be a common behavior for Red-shoulders.
The COOPER'S HAWK at Oregon Coast Aquarium was back on 2/26 (BBu fide BLl).
PEREGRINE FALCONS were recorded during 8 days in January at Yaquina Head (BLM). On 2/2, BM saw a Peregrine land and feed on a dead bird on Nye Beach (Newport) until beach walkers spooked it away; it is not known if the Peregrine had earlier killed the bird and had flown away after being previously disturbed or if it was scavenging. On 2/9, KB saw an adult Peregrine (Tundra form) perched in a tree at Devils Punchbowl (Otter Rock). 1-2 were also viewed during the 12/14 Coast Raptor Route and at Seal Rocks on 2/15 (A&ES).
Oregon Winter Raptor Surveys give a good relative index to the abundance of different wintering raptor species and are coordinated by the East Cascades Birds Observatory (ECBC) (http://www.ecbcbirds.org/Default.aspx?tabid=73).
The Lincoln County Raptor Coast Route is about 61 miles and runs along Hwy 101 from the north side of Alsea Bay to Taft area of Lincoln City, with nearby inland valleys; it was conducted on 2/14 by WH & RC. The Inland or Yaquina River-Siletz Route is about 55-73 miles long and runs from the HWY 101 Kernville exit along HWY 229 south to HWY 20, then along Business HWY 20 through Toledo and down the Yaquina River along north Yaquina Bay Road, with some digressions and can include Hidden Valley; it was done on 2/7 by JL & CP; on 2/7, fog from Kernville to Siletz may have obscured some raptors, especially kites.
For the 3 surveys of each Route this winter, Red-tailed Hawks were the most numerous raptor along both routes, except in January for the Coast Route when they were a close second to Bald Eagles. The biggest differences between routes for these surveys were that harriers, Bald Eagles, and peregrines were mostly or only found along the Coast Route and kestrels were mostly recorded along the Inland Route.
This winter, no Red-shouldered Hawks or Merlins were recorded along either Route. Similarly, none were noted for the combined Coast & Inland Routes during the 2007/2008 winter. However, 1 of each was tallied during 1-2 surveys during the 2006/2007 winter.
Lincoln County Raptor Routes Coast_________ Inland_______ 12/6 1/10 2/14 12/6 1/10 2/7 No. Harrier 3 1 2 1 0 0 White-t. Kite 0 3 1 8 2 0* Sharp-sh. Hawk 1 0 1 1 0 0 Cooper's Hawk 0 0 0 0 0 0 Accipiter sp. 0 0 0 0 0 0 Red-shld. Hawk 0 0 0 0 0 0 Red-tail. Hawk 10 9 11 9 10 17 Bald Eagle ad. 6 10 6 2 0 2 " subadults 0 1 0 0 0 0 " unknown 0 0 1 0 1 0 " total 6 11 7 2 0 0 Merlin 0 0 0 0 0 0 Am. Kestrel 0 0 1 1 4 3 Peregrine Fal. 2 4 2 0 0 0 RAPTOR SUM 22 28 25 22 17 22* * Fog from Kernville to Siletz may have obscured raptors.
On 2/15, PVB wrote that he had a "wonderful time watching a VIRGINIA RAIL feeding with and close to a WILSON'S SNIPE, caught in the sun with colors glowing, on a small mud bank in a Road's End pond" north of Lincoln City.
We had several BLACK OYSTERCATCHER reports but only 1 this month with 10 or more. KB found 10 at Devil's Punchbowl (Otter Rock) at high tide on 2/9. If you see concentrations of 10 or more anywhere along the Oregon Coast, please email oystercatcher researcher Elise Elliott-Smith (eelliott-smith at usgs.gov). RB suspects that many oystercatchers may migrate to the Oregon Coast in winter and that accounts for the large flocks that are sometimes present. Unfortunately, they are not well monitored in winter-- it would be great if someone did regular counts at high tides (which seems to be when flocks are most apt to be visible) at favored locations such as Depoe Bay and Seal Rocks to see how regular these flocks are and their peak numbers.
1-2 ROCK SANDPIPERS were at Seal Rocks on 2/16 (A&ES) and the YBSJ during the 2/21 Bird Guide's pelagic trip (GG).
Singleton GLAUCOUS GULLS were identified at Seal Rocks on 2/7 (PS&CK), at YBSJ on 2/15 and Boiler Bay on 2/16 (A&ES), and at Yaquina Bay for Bird Guide's 2/21 pelagic trip (GG).
A rare HORNED PUFFIN was found dead on 1/7 along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO). A live one flew by during the 2/21 Bird Guide's pelagic trip (GG). The pelagic trip also recorded 40 MARBLED MURRELETS, 26 ANCIENT MURRELETS, 114 RHINOCEROS AUKLETS, and 2,000 CASSIN'S AUKLETS as well as other alcids (GG).
[Image Not Included: Roger Robb's Jan. 9 photo of 5 of 27 BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS roosting at Depoe Bay in a flock. Note that even with its bill tucked under its wing to conserve heat, an oystercatcher's eye is vigilant!]
Single BAND-TAILED PIGEONS appeared at Olalla Lake north of Toledo on 2/19 (CP) and 3 days later at J&KC's home east of Waldport. Most will arrive later.
Our first RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD arrived on 2/4 at J&KC's home about 4 miles east of Waldport.
On 2/4, female ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRDS began collecting seed fluff for their nests at L&JM's home near the east side of Sally's Bend, and they were also collecting nesting material at J&KC's home about 4 miles east of Waldport on 2/7. LM put out some dried cattails on 2/6, and Anna's have been collecting the seed down since then. On 2/27, BLl saw an Anna's going to its nest at Oregon Coast Aquarium--the nest "is on a pine branch and is made of lichen." Anna's and Rufous were both at BB's feeder in Yachats on 2/14.
On 2/7, MA had a dead sapsucker at her Newport home (fide DD). CP visited and determined that it was an adult RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER X RED- BREASTED SAPSUCKER because it had characteristics of both.
An uncommon BLACK PHOEBE was reported at the YBSJ area on 1/2 (fide RC). MH had our next sighting at Nye Beach (Newport) on 2/4 (MH); other birders also found them there on 2/14 (MMo), 2/15 (A&ES), 2/16 (DSm), 2/19 (DSt & KM), and 2/22 (RNa). This is only our 6th record since 1995, with 3 of 5 of the earlier reports during December or January (FN). Our first record was in January 1976, and there were only a total of 2 records prior to 1993 (SemiL).
Signs of Spring! Beaver Creek hosted our first reports of VIOLET- GREEN SWALLOWS on 2/15 (A&ES) and TREE SWALLOWS on 2/22 (RNa).
AMERICAN DIPPERS aren't often reported, but PS&CK found one at the west end of Van Duzer corridor on 2/7. The same day they also discovered a white AMERICAN ROBIN just west of Otis. In spring, white or light-colored robins are occasional.
WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS continued until at least 2/19 at L&JM's home near the east side of Sally's Bend. 2-3 were also at EH's South Beach home through 2/17.
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS are on the move with some arriving for the first time at RNe's Newport feeder on 2/11. They were singing at Beaver Creek during the 2/21 YBNFT (LO).
9-12 WESTERN MEADOWLARKS graced the HMSC on 2/11 & 24 (JL), and 6 were near the Newport LNG tank on 2/20 (RB).
A male LESSER GOLDFINCH lingered at L&JM's home near the east side of Sally's Bend until 1/24.
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Melody Ashley, Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Kim Boddie, Philip Van Bruggen (PVB), Bureau of Land Management staff at Yaquina Head (BLM), Brent Butler (BBu), Rebecca Cheek , Jorrie & 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), Dennis Comfort, Dick Demarest, Pat Dickey, Greg Gillson, Bird Guide Pelagic Trip out of Newport (BGPT; info about pelagic trips, http://thebirdguide.com/pelagics/), Wayne Hoffman, Eric Horvath, Matt Hunter, Carol Karlen, Janet Lamberson, Pete Lawson, Bob Llewellyn (BLl), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Linda & John MacKown, Kate Madison, Barry McPherson, Michael Mefford (MMe), Molly Monroe (MMo), Russ Namitz (RNa), George Neavoll, Robin Nelson (RNe), Field Notes (FN; Lincoln County records from the Sandpiper since 1992 are searchable at bird.htm#recent [all lower case letters]), Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL; recent postings at http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/OBOL.html), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Chuck Philo, Maggie Rivers (MaR), Mike Rivers (MiR), SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), David Smith (DSm), Don Stein (DSt), Shawn Stephensen, Andy & Ellen Stepniewski, Paul Sullivan, Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (YBNFT Field Trip led by LO).
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations (numbers refer to the site number in the Oregon Coast Birding Trail Guide (http://www.oregoncoastbirding.com/): BAYVIEW PASTURE: pasture/field near creek about 0.4 mile east of junction of North Alsea Bay Road with South Beaver Creek Road, BEAVER CREEK (#78, in part): creek flowing through Ona Beach State Park, BOILER BAY (#59): State Wayside about 0.5 mi north of Depoe Bay, ECKMAN LAKE (#84): lake 2 mi east of Waldport along HWY 34, ECKMAN SLOUGH (#84): slough between Alsea Bay and Eckman Lake, HMSC (#75): OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, IDAHO FLATS: large embayment just east of the 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 (#77): State Park about 6.6 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge along HWY 101 at Beaver Creek, SALLY'S BEND (#66): large Yaquina Bay embayment east of the LNG tank, YBSJ (#71): Yaquina Bay South Jetty.
BRANT numbers at Yaquina Bay were variable in March, though not as variable as the weather! On 3/2, JL saw 175 at Idaho Flats. On 3/6, RB found only 6 Brant at Yaquina Bay embayments (all at Sally's Bend) and 163- 168 Brant at 3 PM on the rock shelf on the northwest side of the Yaquina Bay Bridge--there were two people with unleashed dogs that were walking on the shelf towards the Brant, so that area may not always be their "refuge" from disturbance. The morning of March 13 at low tide, RB found no Brant at the rock shelf to the northwest of the Bridge, but at embayments, he saw 6 Brant at Sally's Bend and 162 Brant at Idaho Flats. The afternoon of 3/20, JL estimated 195 Brant along the sand beach just east of the HMSC Nature Trail--they were flushed by a jogger along the trail. JL's 195 is also the largest count at Yaquina Bay so far this winter/spring. More recent counts at Idaho Flats have been lower, with 116 on 3/26 (JL) and 60 on 3/29 (RB). YB&N is a project partner of the International Brant Monitoring Project (http://www.padillabay.gov/brant/), and RB relays on sightings of significant numbers of Brant in Lincoln County to their Observation Log (see link on the left side of their web page).
On 3/13, RB saw what appeared to have been birds feeding at a herring spawn near the Yaquina channel at the east side of Sally's Bend, since an estimated total of 1,930 SURF SCOTERS, SCAUP, BUFFLEHEADS, COMMON GOLDENEYES, AMERICAN WIGEON, MALLARDS, and at least 2 EURASIAN WIGEON drakes were aggregated and feeding like they do at a herring spawn at Yaquina Bay (see "Birds Feeding on Herring Eggs at the Yaquina Estuary, Oregon," http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/Condor/files/issues/v082n02/p0193-p0198.pdf).
A pair of WOOD DUCKS was in the "middle" pool of Newport (Big Creek) Reservoir on 3/18 (BLo). They have often nested nearby, with family broods in the middle pool.
HARLEQUIN DUCKS were reported daily at Yaquina Head in Feb. (BLM), and RA also found them in Lincoln Co. during the 3/7 Corvallis Audubon field trip. On 3/29, LO viewed 6 at Seal Rocks.
Bayview Pasture has been used as a high tide roost for shorebirds in winter, but the 3/20 YBNFT visited during low tide, so it was not surprising that no shorebirds were visible. However, Bayview Pasture is also important for waterfowl. In the lower marshy area, there were 6 obvious pairs of WESTERN CANADA GEESE and one singleton. None of the geese had neck collars that could be used to identify individuals. There were also 2 AMERICAN WIGEON.
The rarest bird during the 3/20 YBNFT was a male EURASIAN WIGEON at Eckman Slough (RB). Eckman Lake had 8 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 25 GADWALL, 16 BUFFLEHEADS, 15-30 feral or wild MALLARDS, 2 AMERICAN WIGEON, and 1 AMERICAN COOT during the YBNFT (RB).
While watching birds at the apparent herring spawn on 3/13, RB heard a COMMON LOON call, uncommon, but not rare, for here. During a 20-minute watch from 10:55-11:15 in SW Newport on 3/31, RB saw flocks of 8, 2, and 13 loons flying towards the west or northwest at about 100-300 ft above ground level--distance, viewing angle, and light conditions precluded identification, but at least one was clearly an adult COMMON LOON in breeding plumage. They apparently were flying out from Yaquina Bay.
During a half-hour morning seawatch north of Ona Beach on 3/3, RC estimated 400+ NORTHERN FULMARS in a steady stream moving south. In Feb., 6 fulmars were found dead along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO).
Night-heron is an appropriate name! RB discovered an immature BLACK- CROWNED NIGHT-HERON feeding on a lawn and pavement of the HMSC at night, starting on 3/3. It was often out only on nights when the ground was wet, so whatever it was eating on the ground was common enough for it to keep coming back. RB saw earthworms out on the HMSC pavement on wet nights in March. Because it stealthily walked out under some light poles, it could be seen well enough to identify with binoculars. It startled very easily and was not in a place that was easy for birders to see without disturbing it. RB invited LCBNO and people attending the 3/19 Yaquina Birders & Naturalists meeting to see it after the meeting. J&PL took up the offer and were rewarded by being able to watch it as it moved between the light and shadows of a lawn and the pavement of a parking lot. JL brought her spotting scope and thought she saw it pick up and eat a worm. JR and TB also saw it, and RB last saw it on 3/23.
On 3/25, JL spotted an adult Black-crowned Night-Heron roosting in the bushes at the edge of the west log pond south of the HMSC and near Oregon Coast Aquarium.
MR appreciated 26-43 GREAT BLUE HERONS perched in trees at Lint Slough across from the Waldport High School during mid-March, but they were gone by the 3/20 YBNFT. On 3/13, there were 2 GREAT EGRETS with the Lint Slough herons (MR). Perhaps they were considering whether to nest there or not. In the past, the first hatched heron eggs at Yaquina Bay were found on about April 15 and incubation is about 25-29 days (http://www.birdweb.org/), so the first heron eggs would be laid about March 17. Other Great Egret reports include one at Idaho Flats on 3/25 (TW; JL).
Squawker, the heron that nearly continuously calls while flying, flew over the HMSC on 3/24 & 25 (JL; TW).
The Lincoln County Inland or Yaquina River-Siletz Raptor Route is about 55-73 miles long and runs from the HWY 101 Kernville exit along HWY 229 south to HWY 20, then along Business HWY 20 through Toledo and down the Yaquina River along north Yaquina Bay Road, with some digressions and can include Hidden Valley. It was done on 3/13 by JL & CP. The big difference from their previous routes this winter is the arrival of TURKEY VULTURES, which were the most abundant raptor they found. Other raptors included RED-TAILED HAWK (11), adult BALD EAGLE (5), and one each of WHITE-TAILED KITE, COOPER'S HAWK, and AMERICAN KESTREL. Oregon Winter Raptor Surveys give a good relative index to the abundance of different wintering raptor species and are coordinated by the East Cascades Birds Observatory (ECBC) (http://www.ecbcbirds.org/Default.aspx?tabid=73).
CP had our first TURKEY VULTURE this season at his Toledo home on 3/9; RL first saw one at Nestucca Bay (Tillamook Co.) on 3/5.
RL greeted the first OSPREY of spring, the pair returning to Eckman Lake on 3/12, and PW saw one there the next day, too. The 12th is 1 day earlier than they were first found there in 2006 and 2007 and 6 days earlier than in 2008 (FN).
Single WHITE-TAILED KITES were discerned on 3/1 at Logsden (BLl) and on 3/24 & 25 at the HMSC (JL; TW).
On 3/12 over the Newport Bayfront, PD witnessed a BALD EAGLE being chased by gulls and then within a couple of minutes a RED-TAILED HAWK being chased by crows! A few days earlier, JL watched a Red-tailed flying over Idaho Flats that was relentlessly harassed by a Common Raven and two crows.
The afternoon of 3/5, BB closely studied the plumage of a SHARP- SHINNED HAWK in her Yachats yard as it tore off feathers from a VARIED THRUSH it had captured.
On 3/16, a male NORTHERN HARRIER swooped down outside RL's office window at the HMSC and then flew up off the ground with a small snake in its talons. It was immediately chased by a female harrier until it was out over the bay and the female gave up her attempted theft. Perhaps their interaction was also related to courtship. In any case, the snake was ill- advised to be out--the high temp at the HMSC that day was 51 F, so perhaps it was a bit sluggish.
A PEREGRINE FALCON was recorded at Yaquina Head during 16 days in Feb. (BLM). The afternoon of 3/27, TS saw a Peregrine hunting along South Beach State Park, and "it flew in right over a crowd of 30-40 people!" Evidently, this one is at least somewhat habituated to people!
SD discovered 4 BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS at the Yaquina Bay North Jetty on 3/17--singletons are uncommonly reported there, so 4 are rare for that site. 1 was also at the easternmost finger jetty along the YBSJ on 3/30 (JL). If you see concentrations of 10 or more anywhere along the Oregon Coast, please email researcher Elise Elliott-Smith (eelliott-smith at usgs.gov).
We only had one report of a WHIMBREL, but it was probably the same one as noted earlier in winter, since it was along the YBSJ on 3/30 (JL).
ROCK SANDPIPERS were at Yaquina Head on Feb. 1 & 3 (BLM), but we had no reports for March. In the past, they were most frequently found during November-February, though we 3 years with records in early May (SemiL).
On 2/28, RC spotted 30+ BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES wheeling and diving in the surf, feeding just north of Ona Beach. About 10 were in same area on 3/3 (RC), and 1 was at the Beaver Creek outlet at Ona Beach on 3/13 (PO & JA). There were also a few at Boiler Bay on 3/13 (JG).
1 GLAUCOUS GULL was at Boiler Bay on 3/13 (JG), and 1-2 were at the YBSJ on 3/7 & 3/10 (RA; WH). WH notes that one of the 3/7 birds "has been around quite a bit over the past several weeks" and that he has studied "a total of at least 9 distinguishably different ones since the first of the year." The same number of birds can be coincidentally counted on several days, but that does mean they are the same birds--it is important to identify individuals by bands or individually identifiable plumage, if possible, to see how long each may remain.
The mornings of 3/30 & 31, hundreds of gulls were gliding/flying north along the coastline in SW Newport--four 1-minute counts on 3/31 ranged from 5-19 gulls/minute (RB).
Few birds washed ashore along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach in February, and there was only one alcid: 1 RHINOCEROS AUKLET (B&SLo, L&VO). A live Rhino was at Boiler Bay on 3/7 (RA).
On 2/28 in nearshore water north of Ona Beach, RC "picked out at least 8 MARBLED MURRELETS who were interacting -- flying about in pairs, landing suddenly, then flying on." Our only report of them was of several at Boiler Bay on 3/13 (JG).
BLl first reported the female ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD nesting at Oregon Coast Aquarium on 2/27. On 3/26, nestlings were spotted (BLl).
On 3/8, over 50, mostly RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRDS and some Anna's were at J&KC's feeders about 4 miles east of Waldport; on 3/12, they had 44 at 6 feeders, and others were going to 8 other feeders; they were going through 6 cups of sugar water per day! On 3/24, they estimated 80-100 (e.g., http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vElWFyKOU4). Keeping feeders clean is critical for the well-being of the hummers, and guidelines for feeder care and identifying Pacific Northwest hummers are at MP's http://home.pacifier.com/~mpatters/archive/humm/humm.html
[Image Not Included: Cindy Hanson's March 26 photo of a female Anna's
Hummingbird at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. The female is snugly tucked down
into her tightly woven nest cup with a feathered top on a shore pine
branch. The nest exterior includes lichens and blends well with the
According to the Birds of North America Online, an adult female has an average bill length of 0.7 inch (17 mm) and weight of 0.14 oz (4.0 g). So one weighs less than an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, and you could mail 7 and still be under the 1 oz limit for a first-class stamp!
Note the white line over the eye--a female Rufous does not have this (p. 298 of Sibley Guide to Birds).]
Our only BAND-TAILED PIGEON reports were of singletons east of Sally's Bend on 3/2 (L&JM) and in the Yachats area on 3/14 (PE). Most arrive, and they become regular, in late March to early April (SemiL).
TW discovered 1 EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE in the pines along the HMSC Nature Trail on 3/13. CP also saw 2 in differing plumages along with some MOURNING DOVES in a backyard along San Bay-O Circle in north Newport on 3/31--the landowner said the Collared-Doves had been around for "a while." Our first records for Collared-Doves were in May/June 2006 (FN). In 2007, we had a smattering of sightings in May and one record in August, and in 2008, there were some records in April/May (FN).
On 3/26, TS appreciated a MOURNING DOVE in South Beach on SE 35th in the wetlands and wondered if they nest here or if this was just a migrant passing through? During the 1995-1999 Oregon Breeding Bird Atlas project, Mourning Doves were confirmed as nesting in Lincoln County. In recent years, they were uncommonly found during the nesting season, and presumably were nesting. We also had occasional winter records this winter and in the past (SemiL). However, like for elsewhere in Oregon, it is not clear if the Mourning Doves present here in winter (or March) stick around to nest or if others migrate here to nest (e.g., see p. 304 of 2003 Birds of Oregon: A General Reference). There is a lot we don't know, especially for the movements of individuals! While a "species" may be present for a long period, this may be a consequence of a series of different individuals passing through in succession rather than the same individuals remaining the whole period.
[Image Not Included: Gloria & Herb Baum's March 18 photo of a wisp of lichen, a smudge of moss, and a Winter Wren perched on a branch south of Depoe Bay. The wren's short tail is cocked up and barely visible. The Winter Wren's bubbly song (play audio at http://birdweb.org/birdweb/bird_details.aspx?value=search&id=341) brightens gloomy days. Per unit weight, the Winter Wren at about 0.3 oz delivers its song with 10 times more power than a crowing rooster (http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Winter_Wren.html).]
On 3/23 & 24, BLl heard a BARN OWL and a WESTERN SCREECH-OWL at Logsden. The Barn Owl "flew over and as well as screeching, it did a series of clicking sounds, very easy to hear."
An uncommon SAY'S PHOEBE visited the HMSC the morning of 3/10 (RL & DG). RL saw it fly "to the marsh edge where it was perching on pickleweed and hawking insects."
Our only WESTERN BLUEBIRD report was for Yaquina Head on 2/10 (BLM), and our only HERMIT THRUSH was at Ona Beach on 3/13 (PO & JA).
4 VARIED THRUSHES lingered at LO's north Beaver Creek home until at least 3/26.
CP had our first report of a singing YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER at his Toledo home on 3/30.
JL reported our first singing WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW--it was at the HMSC on 3/25. This is about when spring migrants first show up.
WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS lingered in Toledo in mid-March (DG) and east of Sally's Bend through at least 3/19 (L&JM).
5-12 WESTERN MEADOWLARKS graced the HMSC on 3/10, 13, 24, & 31 (DG; JG; JL), and a LESSER GOLDFINCH continued at L&JM's home east of Sally's Bend until 3/10.
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Rich Armstrong, Jay Avery, Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Tim Bellmore, Bureau of Land Management staff at Yaquina Head (BLM), Rebecca Cheek, Jorrie & 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), Sam Davidson, Pat Dickey, Paul Engelmeyer, John Gatchet, Dawn Grafe, Wayne Hoffman, Janet & Phil Lamberson, Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO) (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LCBNO/), Bob Llewellyn (BLl), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Linda & John MacKown, Field Notes (FN; Lincoln County records from the Sandpiper since 1992 are searchable at bird.htm#recent), Roy Lowe, Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL; recent postings at http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/OBOL.html), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Pam Otley, Mike Patterson, Chuck Philo, Maggie Rivers, Jim Ruzicka, Trent Seager, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Tom Wainwright, Pat Wood, Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (YBNFT Field Trip led by RB).
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations (numbers refer to the site number in the Oregon Coast Birding Trail Guide (http://www.oregoncoastbirding.com/): BEAVER CREEK (#78, in part): creek flowing through Ona Beach State Park, BOILER BAY (#59): State Wayside about 0.5 mi north of Depoe Bay, COQUILLE POINT: southeast corner of Sally's Bend at about mile 3.5 along north Yaquina Bay Road, ECKMAN LAKE (#84): lake 2 mi east of Waldport along HWY 34, HMSC (#75): OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, IDAHO FLATS: large embayment just east of the HMSC, ONA BEACH (#77): State Park about 6.6 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge along HWY 101 at Beaver Creek, YBSJ (#71): Yaquina Bay South Jetty.
On 4/15, one CACKLING GOOSE hung out with 6 Brant at Idaho Flats (TW). They were first noted migrating north on 4/18 (PP; Bird Guide Pelagic Trip out of Newport), and were occasionally noted through 4/28 at Boiler Bay (PP). A flock of migrating Aleutian Cackling Geese was spotted at Alsea Bay on 4/19 (RL) and Otter Crest on 4/25 (WH).
On 4/14, RB was amazed to see a flock of about 100-120 noisy GR. WHITE-FRONTED GEESE flying SOUTH over the HMSC; they did not turn in at Yaquina Bay. Our next report was of flocks flying north (as they are supposed to do in spring!) on 4/19 (TC; RN; RL; CP). Many observers saw and/or heard them migrating north until our last report on 4/28 at Boiler Bay (PP). Our only report of white-fronts on the ground was on 4/20, when RL counted 65 white-fronts fly in and then land at Idaho Flats. It was a very impressive migration, and USFWS biologist RL writes:
"Perhaps this is a sign of things to come in the future. I was at a goose management meeting in mid-April and learned that the white-fronted goose population has increased tremendously due to 20 years of conservation efforts. The Pacific Flyway population target is a 3-year average of 300,000 birds, but currently the population is at 450,000 and growing. ... As you know the Aleutian cackling goose has followed the same recovery path and is now at twice the number of birds for the population objective."
So the migration of Cackling and White-fronted Geese overlapped. Before the 4/21 Shorebird Sister Schools Program field trip began, some of us saw several goose flocks flying north, including one flock with about 300 White-fronted Geese with 4 Cackling Geese lagging slightly behind (RB), so there could also be mixed flocks.
BRANT do not overwinter at Boiler Bay or at Depoe Bay, just to the south of Boiler Bay, but they migrate by during migration. On 4/20, DS detected 158 Brant on the ocean south of Depoe Bay.
Brant were seen migrating north along the coastline. Most reports were during morning seawatches by PP or PP & WH at Boiler Bay, where there was an average of 23/hr on 4/18, 433/hr on 4/22, 267/hr on 4/23, 229/hr on 4/24, 102/hr on 4/25, 24/hr on 4/26, 27/hr on 4/27, and 73/hr on 4/28. So peak migration along the coastline may have been around 4/22.
At Yaquina Bay, where some Brant winter, the peak counts of the 2008/2009 season were on 4/3 (216), 4/6 (242), and 4/17 (195-205) (JL; RB), and numbers declined thereafter.
However, Alsea Bay (where Brant sometimes appear only during spring migration) had the most Brant on the water of any location, since MR estimated about 500 west of the Alsea Bay Bridge on 4/22, and RL found about 600 in the same area and photographed some of them on 4/25. When RL closely examined his photos, he discovered that two of the Brant had been banded at Wrangle Island (a Russian island in the Arctic Ocean that is on the 180 degree meridian)!
YB&N is a project partner of the International Brant Monitoring Project (IBMP) (http://www.padillabay.gov/brant/), and RB relays on sightings of significant numbers of Brant in Lincoln County to their Observation Log (see link on the left side of their web page).
[Image Not Included: Phil Pickering's April 22 photo of somewhat synchronized Brant and Green-winged Teal (see pair above the lead Brant and pair above left) migrating north low over the ocean at Boiler Bay. These were part of the 600 Brant and 4,000+ Green-winged Teal that Phil saw during his 6:45-9:45 AM seawatch. This is partially cropped from http://philliplc.com/images/bb0902.jpg]
2 pairs of WOOD DUCKS were at the new Oregon State Parks property in Beaver Creek on 4/11 (CP, RC & WN). Another pair was in alders near BR's Newport home on 4/25--a first for that location.
Our latest EURASIAN WIGEON was a drake at Seal Rock Stables in South Beaver Creek on 4/9 (LO).
On 4/6, BMe appreciated a pair of CINNAMON TEAL at Siletz Bay (fide DG). On 4/19, RN discovered another in north Beaver Creek. Cinnamon Teal are not found every year. Starting in 2000, we did not have any records in 2000, 2001, and 2007 (FN).
During the 10 Boiler Bay seawatches, the peak northerly migration passage of GREEN-WINGED TEAL was on 4/22, with an average of 22/min (PP; PP & WH). About 2/min passed on 4/27 & 28 and 0-0.02/min passed during the other seawatches.
HARLEQUIN DUCKS were recorded during 13 days in March at Yaquina Head (BLM). The biggest count was of 6 at the YBSJ on 4/13 (JL). Two were also noted during the 4/18 Bird Guide Pelagic Trip and at Boiler Bay on 4/22 (PP).
10 morning seawatches that were 45-210 min long were conducted at Boiler Bay during 4/8-28; 8 by PP and 2 by PP & WH. Their records indicate that peak SURF SCOTER migration was on 4/22 & 23 (average of 17 and 22/min, respectively); rates averaged 2-8/min during other seawatches. WHITE- WINGED SCOTERS were much less common and averaged 0.1-1.1/min during each seawatch.
The first-ever CALIFORNIA QUAIL at J& KC's home about 4 miles east of Waldport appeared on 4/3 and was photographed eating English Daisies (http://www.birdsamore.com/videos/quail-california-daisy.htm)!
On 4/11, MOUNTAIN QUAIL and RUFFED GROUSE were heard at the new Oregon State Parks property in Beaver Creek (CP, WN & RC).
For the 10 seawatches during 4/8-28, peak RED-THROATED LOON migration was on 4/8 (average of 33/min) and 4/24 (19/min); rates averaged 1-8/min for other seawatches (PP; PP & WH). Peak PACIFIC LOON migration was during 4/23, 24, & 25, with an average of 133-310/min; the average rate was 14- 50/min for other seawatches. COMMON LOONS were the least common loon and averaged 0.1-1.9/min for the 10 seawatches. During the morning of 4/22, LT saw 300-400 Pacific Loons diving and feeding on a bait ball for several hours at Depoe Bay.
A rare MANX SHEARWATER as well as 200 BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES, 2 LAYSAN ALBATROSSES, 250 SOOTY SHEARWATERS, and 15 NORTHERN FULMARS were surveyed during the 4/18 Bird Guide Pelagic Trip. From shore, singleton Manx Shearwaters were observed about a half-mile or less from shore during Boiler Bay seawatches on 4/18 & 24 (PP) and 4/26 (PP & WH).
Beached NORTHERN FULMARS increased in March with a total of 13 along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO). This is the fourth highest March since BLo began surveys in 1978, but is much less than the 103 maximum in March 2008.
It's official! The 2-year streak of BROWN PELICAN sightings each month in Lincoln Co. ended in Feb., as we had no March reports. Therefore, we will also not have records each month this year, like we did in 2008. But pelicans arrived in April as DS spotted 8 on 4/7 at Depoe Bay. The next day, PP counted 53 during a 60-minute seawatch at Boiler Bay, and we had 11 other sightings since then.
After a hiatus since 2/22, BMe saw the LITTLE BLUE HERON on 4/5 where Drift Creek empties into Siletz Bay (fide RL). It is beginning to show some blue/gray feathers.
Our only GREAT EGRETS were 3-4 at Idaho Flats on 4/7 & 17 (RB; JL). During a very distant, insufficient view of the Yaquina Bay Great Blue Heron colony where they were discovered perched last summer on 4/30, RB saw nesting herons, but no egrets. But egrets could have been obscured. Egrets have not been documented as nesting in Lincoln Co.
On 4/2, TS found two roosting BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS (one immature and one adult) near the HMSC, and JL also saw both of them there on 4/29.
On 4/30 at Alsea Bay, MR noted that "all of a sudden all the gulls flushed, and here's a hungry young BALD EAGLE in hot pursuit of an OSPREY. They got very close until the Osprey dropped its fish. Then the eagle dropped down to the sand bar, retrieved the fish and flew off." A couple of weeks earlier at Alsea Bay, MR had seen an immature eagle approach a harbor seal from behind until the seal lunged at it.
There were 6 days of PEREGRINE FALCON records in March at Yaquina Head (BLM). Singletons were also noted at Idaho Flats during the 4/21 Shorebird Sister Schools Program field trip (DG), Boiler Bay on 4/25 (PP & WH), Yaquina Head on 4/26 (WH), and Newport on 4/28 (BMc).
We had a single MERLIN record in Jan., and none since then until April. However, April is the month in which they are most common (SemiL), and this year does not appear to be an exception as we had 4 reports of singletons at Boiler Bay on 4/8 (PP), Yaquina Bay on 4/18 (TC), Beaver Creek on 4/19 (GG), and Idaho Flats on 4/22 (PP). We had no kestrel reports.
On 4/27, PP writes:
"It's just after 10 PM with a light fog forming over the beach, and it sounds like the entire shorebird migration is going directly over my house 1/4 mile inland in Lincoln City. Since dark I've been hearing a literally non-stop cacophony of various peep [small shorebirds] and SHORT- BILLED DOWITCHER calls, presumably still hundreds of birds per minute moving. Fun!"
RB estimated several thousand peeps during the 4/21 Shorebird Sister Schools Program field trip at Idaho Flats. During the 10 Boiler Bay seawatches from 4/8-28, the peak rates of peeps were on 4/27 (average of 198/min) and 4/28 (101/min) (PP; PP & WH). 90% or more of these peeps were WESTERN SANDPIPERS. Based on PP's Boiler Bay seawatches in recent years, their peak migration was on 4/21 in 2005, but during the first week in May in 2006-2008 (FN).
For the Boiler Bay seawatches, an average of 6 dowitchers/min were noted on 4/23 and 3/min on 4/22 & 27; otherwise, 0-1/min were recorded (PP; PP & WH).
The only ROCK SANDPIPER was detected on 4/17 at Seal Rocks (fide GG). For records through 1992, they are uncommon after March, but we have had at least three records in early May (latest 5/10 in 1980) (SemiL).
Other noteworthy shorebirds observed during Boiler Bay seawatches included: 1 GOLDEN-PLOVER sp. on 4/22 (PP), 1 MARBLED GODWIT on 4/24 (PP), and 3 RED KNOTS on 4/27 (PP). PP & WH saw 500 WHIMBRELS (4/min) pass on 4/25.
No Willets were reported, but it is not known if this is because they were truly absent or rare or because observation effort to detect and report them was inadequate.
[Image Not Included: Roy Lowe's April 25 photo of a Western Sandpiper in breeding plumage at Alsea Bay. At a distance, especially in winter, they look pretty nondescript, "just a peep." But take another look!]
Singleton GLAUCOUS GULLS were reported at the YBSJ on 4/2 (TS), Idaho Flats on 4/12 (RB), and Yaquina Bay on 4/18 (TC; Bird Guide Pelagic Trip).
BONAPARTE'S GULLS in partial breeding plumage were at Idaho Flats on 4/7 (JL). TC viewed a pair of SABINE'S GULLS at Seal Rocks on 4/16, which are uncommon in spring (SemiL; FN).
Our first of year CASPIAN TERN arrived at Idaho Flats on 4/7 (TW; JL).
The 4/18 Bird Guide Pelagic Trip located 3 TUFTED PUFFINS. Onshore, 1-2 puffins were noted in 5 of 10 Boiler Bay seawatches (PP; PP & WH).
14 MARBLED MURRELETS were tallied during the 4/18 Bird Guide Pelagic Trip, and 4-15 were found during 10 seawatches at Boiler Bay (PP; PP & WH).
The 4/18 pelagic trip found 35 ANCIENT MURRELETS, and 2-13 were recorded onshore during 4 of the of 10 Boiler Bay seawatches (PP; PP & WH).
2 COMMON MURRES and 2 RHINOCEROS AUKLETS were found dead along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO). These are within the usual range for March. 15 or more live Rhinos were observed at Boiler Bay during 10 Boiler Bay seawatches, with an apparent peak on 4/24 & 25 when 600+ and 150 were recorded (PP; PP & WH). 1 live Rhino was also noted north of Ona Beach on 4/23 (RC).
25 CASSIN'S AUKLETS were noted during the 4/18 Bird Guide Pelagic Trip, and 1-2 were surveyed during only 3 of 10 seawatches at Boiler Bay during 4/8-28 (PP; PP & WH).
Single, sporadic BAND-TAILED PIGEONS had arrived in March, but small flocks were coming daily to J&KC's feeders by 4/3. 30+ were at L&JM's feeders at Coquille Point in late April, and a MOURNING DOVE also visited there every few days.
EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES were first found in May 2006 (FN), but 2009 appears to be the spring when they are most frequent. As noted last month, we had sightings for the first time in March. This month, our reports include 5 courting on 4/2-16 in Yachats (PF), 3 on 4/6 in Newport (RF & CG), 1 on 4/14 at Wandemere (RC & WN), and 3 on 4/17 near NW Brook Street in Newport (PR).
VAUX'S SWIFTS arrived at Big Elk between Elk City and Harlan on 4/23 (fide CP).
HS has been visiting a RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD nest in South Beach. On 4/26, the chicks had grown appreciably since his previous visit, but their eyes did not appear to have opened. HS noted just 4 feedings in approximately 2 hours.
Our first PURPLE MARTINS were espied at the HMSC on 4/16 (RB).
Our first (and so far only) BARN SWALLOWS were at the new State Park in Beaver Creek on 4/11 (CP, RC & WN). Barn Swallows used to be ubiquitous (SemiL) and taken-for-granted. Who would have guessed such a change in status? That is a good reason to record "common" birds now because they may not be so common in the future, and we may not accurately predict the status of species in the future.
[Image Not Included: Bob Loeffel's photo of a line of burrows (darkened circles) below the vegetation in an ocean side bank north of Ona Beach. On 4/30, Bob saw Northern Rough-winged Swallows flying into at least two of the burrows to nest. In another photo, a pair of Rough-wings was perched on the branch above the "X" near a burrow. The swallows did not have the dark breast band that distinguishes Bank Swallows. Pigeon Guillemots also nest in burrows in ocean side banks near Seal Rocks.]
On 4/20, RBe was hiking and found a pair of BUSHTITS working on a nearly finished nest in South Beach. The nest was well camouflaged, but RBe was drawn to it because one of the birds was noisily calling.
DG discerned a BROWN CREEPER in the Siletz area on 4/18-19 and heard one singing near her Toledo home on 4/26.
The 4/18 YBNFT on the Cape Perpetua Giant Spruce Trail was serenaded continually by WINTER WRENS (Sal & BB). That is good habitat for them!
PP found our only AMERICAN PIPITS at Boiler Bay, on 4/8, 24, & 27.
First of season warbler reports included COMMON YELLOWTHROAT at south Beaver Creek on 4/9 (LO) and WILSON'S WARBLER in Newport on 4/13 (BR). Our latest TOWNSEND'S WARBLER was at Yaquina Bay on 4/18 (TC).
On 4/11, CP and WN & RC walked around the new Oregon State Parks property in Beaver Creek and found a CHIPPING SPARROW and a LINCOLN'S SPARROW. RC remarks that it is "A really nice spot for a spring birding walk!"
CP appreciated a VESPER SPARROW at the Toledo Post Office on 4/16. This is only our 4th record since 1992, and our first spring record since 1988 (FN, SemiL)! So it was a very good find!
Last reported dates for sparrows includes a LAPLAND LONGSPUR in full breeding plumage at the YBSJ on 4/15 (photographed by ME) and FOX SPARROW in Newport on 4/21 (CP). A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW was in Toledo on 4/12 (CP) and in Newport on 4/13 (BR); one that wintered at Thornton Creek between Toledo and Eddyville lingered until at least 4/17, when it was singing (DF); another lingered at L&JM's Coquille Point home until 4/28.
Other spring arrivals include: EVENING GROSBEAK at J&KC's home east of Waldport on 4/6; but they did not become widespread until 4/24-29 (BR; DG; CP); AMERICAN GOLDFINCH at Coquille Point on 4/17 (L&JM), BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD at HMSC on 4/22 (RL), BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK at Coquille Point on 4/30 (L&JM). A partially albinistic HOUSE FINCH appeared at feeders at the USFWS Building at the HMSC on 4/20 for the 3rd spring in a row (RL)-- RL's photos of it are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/24707703@N06
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Renee Bellinger (RBe), Bureau of Land Management staff at Yaquina Head (BLM), Rebecca Cheek, Jorrie & 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), Tom Crabtree, Mark Elliott, Darrel Faxon (some of DF's bird records are at bird.htm#thornton_creek), Roy Filby, Peggy Fulkerson, Greg Gillson, Dawn Grafe, Cathy Grimm, Bird Guide Pelagic Trip out of Newport (BGPT, fide GG; info about pelagic trips, http://thebirdguide.com/pelagics/), Wayne Hoffman, Janet Lamberson, Sally Lockyear (SaL), Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO) (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LCBNO/), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Linda & John MacKown, Barry McPherson (BMc), Bill Medlen (BMe), Russ Namitz, Walt Nelson, Field Notes (FN; Lincoln County records from the Sandpiper since 1992 are searchable at bird.htm#recent [all lower case letters]), Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL; recent postings at http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/OBOL.html), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Chuck Philo, Phil Pickering, Paul Reed, Maggie Rivers, Bill Rogers, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Howard Shippey, Tom Snetsinger, Don Stein, Linda Taylor, Tom Wainwright, Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (YBNFT Field Trip led by SaL & BB).
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations (numbers refer to the site number in the Oregon Coast Birding Trail Guide : BEAVER CREEK (#78, in part): creek flowing through Ona Beach State Park, BOILER BAY STATE WAYSIDE (#59): about 0.5 mi north of Depoe Bay, DEVIL'S PUNCHBOWL STATE NATURAL AREA (#63): south of Cape Foulweather, HMSC (#75): OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, IDAHO FLATS: large embayment just east of the 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, MIKE MILLER PARK (#76): county park 1.2 miles south of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on the east side of Hwy 101, ONA BEACH (#77): State Park about 6.6 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge along HWY 101 at Beaver Creek, ROAD'S END STATE RECREATION SITE (#46): north of Lincoln City, SALLY'S BEND (#66): large Yaquina Bay embayment east of the LNG tank, THORNTON CREEK: about midway between Toledo and Eddyville along HWY 20, YBSJ (#71): Yaquina Bay South Jetty, YAQUINA HEAD OUTSTANDING NATURAL AREA (#65): headland north of Newport (vehicle entrance fee).
PP & WH recorded the last flock of GR. WHITE-FRONTED GEESE (550) during their 5/9 seawatch at Boiler Bay. The only report thereafter was on 5/25, when JW saw one amongst a flock of north-bound Canada Geese at Boiler Bay.
BRANT migration continued. High totals include 250 in the "Newport area" on 5/20 (RA) and 175 past Boiler Bay on 5/22 (DB). 10 remained at the rock shelf north of the channel, west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on 5/30 along with 1 pale-bellied BRANT at YBSJ that may have been an "American" or Atlantic Brant (Branta bernicla hrota) rather than the Black Brant (B. b. nigricans) that we usually have (WH). Drop-outs regularly occur during migration where they do not over-winter as were 18 Brant resting on the sand in Yachats Bay on 5/30 (BBa). YB&N is a project partner of the International Brant Monitoring Project, and RB relays on sightings of significant numbers of Brant in Lincoln County to their Observation Log (see link on the left side of their web page).
The ODFW introduced WESTERN CANADA GEESE into the Florence area-- previously they did not nest along the coast. A late May northerly migration of them started. It may be a molt migration of nonbreeders and is monitored by RL of the USFWS. This year northerly flights were reported from 5/17 through the end of the month (WH; LH; CW; GC; BOl, YBNFT; BM; DB; TW; CL; RL; JW; PI). On 5/25 over Newport, they were flying low (between 50 and 100 ft), and TW noticed that many were missing a few primaries, so their molting had already started.
HARLEQUIN DUCKS were noted during a 5/9 Boiler Bay seawatch (PP & WH), 5/10 Lincoln Co. Big Day (RP, DG, KS, EA, & CH), and 5/19, the high count of 7, at Devil's Punchbowl (RH).
Our only RUFFED GROUSE and MOUNTAIN QUAIL were noted during D&LF's 5/1 Big Day at their Thornton Creek farm.
Albatrosses are rarely seen from shore, but PP detected 1 BLACK- FOOTED ALBATROSS about 1.5 mile off Boiler Bay on 5/7 and 2 about 2 miles out on 5/12.
In April, 12 dead NORTHERN FULMARS were found along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO). BLo started that beached bird route in 1978, and this is the third highest total of fulmars in April, but far below the 49 in April 2008 (BLo). They also found 6 beached SOOTY SHEARWATERS.
PP detected a rare MANX SHEARWATER about 1/4 mile off Boiler Bay during his 5/21 seawatch.
Storm-Petrels are uncommonly observed from shore; however, PP espied 1 LEACH'S STORM-PETREL during his 5/12 Boiler Bay seawatch and 1-3 FORK- TAILED STORM-PETRELS on his 5/7 & 12 seawatches. BBe discovered a freshly dead Fork-tailed on the beach north of Yaquina Head on 5/19.
BROWN PELICANS were commonly reported and numerous along the coastline. The first report this month was of 150 during WH's 5/2 Boiler Bay seawatch. They seemed extraordinarily numerous in early May with 100 or more often reported during 5/2-11, with a peak count of 900 during PP's 6:00-10:30 AM seawatch at Boiler Bay. Fewer than a hundred were regularly noted later (many observers).
In the past 10 Mays, we have had records of a single AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN in 2003 and 2008 (FN). This year on 5/8, one was also noted with Brown Pelicans at the Yaquina Bay Bayfront and jetties (HS; WH; BOb).
RP, DG, KS, EA, & CH did a Lincoln Co. Big Day on 5/10. A great find was an AMERICAN BITTERN at Beaver Creek, which has good habitat for them. This is only our 5th total record since 1999 (FN). Freshwater marsh birds such as bitterns, Virginia Rails (only reported during the 5/1 & 5/10 Big Days), and Soras (no reports this month) are very under-reported in Lincoln County.
A GREEN HERON flew over North Yaquina Bay Road in front of PR's car south of Toledo on 5/3. Another was located during the 5/10 Lincoln Co. Big Day (RP, DG, KS, EA, & CH).
Squawker, the heron that continuously calls while flying was heard and seen on 5/21 & 27 at the HMSC (RB) --the first reports since March.
We had no reports of GREAT EGRETS this month, which is surprising, since in recent years they have been frequent enough that we have wondered if they might have nested. On 5/17, WH spotted a CATTLE EGRET flying north along the coast at Boiler Bay before heading inland. RL had our last report of a Cattle Egret at the Lincoln Co. Fairgrounds in Nov. 1999. Who would have ever guessed that we would have more Cattle than Great Egrets this month? After all the interest in the Cattle Egret invasion in the 1970's (they first arrived here in 1975 [SemiL]), who would have predicted that they would have become so rare?
Many OSPREY nests were noted, one of the more unique new locations is on a navigation marker at ... Yaquina Bay (CR).
An adult male (i.e., gray) NORTHERN HARRIER foraged over the HMSC Nature Trail on 5/20 (RB) and was our only report for May. They may be nesting in South Beach.
Our latest MERLIN was being chased by an American Crow over the HMSC Nature Trail on 5/1 (JL). 1 PEREGRINE FALCON was spotted from Boiler Bay during 3 seawatches during 5/7-12 (PP; PP & WH).
We have records throughout the year for Spotted Sandpipers (SemiL), but they are most apt to be found as summer residents, winter residents, or migrants in May at specific sites. Generally, they are found in freshwater or in upper portions of estuaries. In May, they often even show up along the open coast. Usually, only singletons or pairs are noted, but this year, RB discovered a flock of 10 along the western shore of Sally's Bend on 5/14, and JL found 2 along the surf at Yachats on 5/16 and 3 at the north Yaquina Bay Jetty on 5/17.
Image Not Included: Gloria and Herb Baum's May 17 photo of 2 Spotted Sandpipers along the Yaquina River near Elk City. Gloria observes:
"This particular couple was obviously courting. Well, the male was doing his best anyway, with all his dancing and jerking around. He looked like Tom Jones singing a song!"
Most of us would also assume that the dancing bird is a male. But we probably would be wrong. Seattle Audubon's Birdweb.org notes about Spotted Sandpipers (SS):
"Spotted Sandpipers are polyandrous--the female breeds with more than one male. Females are fully dominant; they are larger than males and arrive first on the breeding territory. The female stakes out a territory and displays to attract a male. ... The female lays 4 eggs, and then leaves the male to incubate them while she finds another mate. In this way, she may breed with up to four males, each of which will raise a clutch. The female will often raise a final clutch herself. ... The young leave the nest soon after they hatch. The male tends the young for at least four weeks, although they find their own food. Some populations are monogamous, and in those instances, the female will help tend the young."
However, the gender of the displayer is not as certain as Seattle Audubon suggests because Oring et al. in SS states:
"Female performs most courtship on her territory. Males also court females to which they are attracted. Courtship involves Aerial Flight Display, singing on the ground, ritualized nest-building, and ground Courtship Display."
Identifying the gender of Spotted Sandpipers based on external appearance appears to have some uncertainty as Oring et al. in SS write:
"Females up to 20-25% larger in mass than males. ... Sexes similar in plumage, but females usually have larger spots extending farther down the lower belly than those of males."
The variety in the breeding of Spotted Sandpipers has only been studied well at two sites in Minnesota by Oring and others. Even in such a small locality, there is plasticity in whether their nesting system is polyandrous or monogamous as noted by Oring et al. in SS:
"Females attempt to acquire multiple mates, and males perform majority of incubation and brooding duties. Initially females pair monogamously, and many, but not all, share parental duties. As additional males arrive on breeding grounds, females compete for them."
The degree of polyandry also depends upon the age and experience of females, with yearling females averaging 1.4 mates and 3-year old females averaging 2.2 mates (Oring et al. in SS). The eggs a female lays for one male may be fathered by a different male in a previous mating (All About Birds in SS).
Only about 1% of bird species are polyandrous (Sibley in SS). In polyandrous species, females are usually larger and more brightly colored, and this reversal from assumption led to John James Audubon mistakenly identifying the gender of phalaropes in his plates (Ehrlich et al. in SS).
The Spotted Sandpiper appears to be the only species nesting in Lincoln County that is likely to be polyandrous, though Killdeer can also sometimes be (Brunton in SS). Red and Red-necked Phalaropes are polyandrous and regularly migrate through without nesting. Wilson's Phalaropes are polyandrous and nest in the Willamette Valley and eastern Oregon (Birds of Oregon: A General Reference), but they are rare here.
The plasticity that we know about in their breeding is important to note. Things are not as certain in nature as we often assume!
1 GOLDEN-PLOVER sp. and 1-2 LONG-BILLED CURLEWS migrated by Boiler Bay during 5/9 & 10 morning seawatches at Boiler Bay (PP & WH). Our only MARBLED GODWIT was also there on 5/9 (PP & WH).
2-82 RED KNOTS passed during 3 Boiler Bay seawatches on 5/9-21 (PP, WH). On 5/9, a flock of 20 landed on the beach in front of DT's family at Beachside State Recreation Site, about 4 miles south of Waldport.
A well-described AMERICAN AVOCET visited Yachats State Park on 5/11 (SE fide BBa). This is only our 7th record for Lincoln Co. (SemiL; FN).
Our only WANDERING TATTLER was discerned during the 5/10 Lincoln Co. Big Day (RP, DG, KS, EA, & CH).
WHIMBRELS had a good showing. High counts late in May were at Idaho Flats near the HMC Nature Trail and included 51 on 5/26 (DB) and 105 on 5/28 (TW). Nonbreeders typically oversummer, but migrants being appearing the first week of July, so keep any eye open for Whimbrels in June to see if they will oversummer this year!
RED-NECKED PHALAROPES are sometimes numerous in estuaries in May, but this year only about 3-100 were noted in lower Yaquina Bay on 5/4-5 (WH). Their migration was heavy along the coastline on 5/9, 12, & 21 when 2,000+; 40,000+; and 10,000, respectively were estimated during morning Boiler Bay seawatches along with 5-8 RED PHALAROPES during the 5/9 & 12 seawatches (PP & WH; PP; DB). Our latest reports were of 3-20 Red-necks during Lost Creek State Park (south of Newport) and Boiler Bay seawatches on 5/25 (DB; JW).
1 BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE was beached in April along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO).
Our latest GLAUCOUS GULLS were singletons at Road's End State Recreation Site on 5/10 (MS), and Yaquina Bay North Jetty on 5/17 (RA). WH found a breeding-plumaged MEW GULL at Boiler Bay on 5/17, and this was our only report of them this month.
In the past, we did not have any HEERMANN'S GULL records prior to June, but May records (and even April in 1991) started in 1989 (SemiL). In the past 10 years, we had first sightings of Heermann's in May of 2003 (5/2), 2004 (5/18), and 2007 (5/9) (FN). This year, 1-3 were detected at Boiler Bay during four 5/11-28 seawatches (PP; DB) and at Little Whale Cove, south of Depoe Bay, on 5/30 (DS).
ELEGANT TERNS first appeared here in 1983 and are not recorded every year. Most records in Lincoln Co. have been in August-Sept., but we had earlier records in 1990 (7/22), 1992 (6/28 and early and late July), 1994 (7/24), 1997 (6/10 and 4 records in July), and 1998 (6/22, 6/28, and mid- July) (SemiL; FN). This year, an Elegant Tern was reported near Devil's Punchbowl on 5/17 (BSt fide GM). However, this seems early for Elegant Terns and details sent to me by GM that it was a tern smaller than a Caspian Tern with a light-colored bill did not rule out the more probable Common or Arctic Terns. PP saw 1-7 COMMON TERNS during morning Boiler Bay seawatches on 5/12, 12, & 21; JW saw 28 Common or Arctic Terns passing Boiler Bay on 5/25. On the other hand, Brown Pelicans and Heermann's Gulls are arriving earlier now than they used to, so an early Elegant Tern is possible, but we need details.
Many COMMON MURRES, PIGEON GUILLEMOTS, and RHINOCEROS AUKLET were noted during seawatches. Beached birds in April included 2 murres and 1 Rhino in April along north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO).
Other alcids included 1-14 MARBLED MURRELETS during 12 morning seawatches at Boiler Bay in May (PP, WH; RH; JW). Additionally, they were noted during the 5/10 Lincoln Co. Big Day (RP, DG, KS, EA, & CH). DB also censused 36 during a 7:30-8:30 AM seawatch at Lost Creek State Park (south of Newport) on 5/25: "Nearly all were on the water just past the breakers. Two were still in black and white plumage." On 5/17, WH also saw one in nonbreeding plumage at Boiler Bay.
1-3 TUFTED PUFFINS were viewed at Boiler Bay during 8 Boiler Bay seawatches during 5/7-26 (PP; PP & WH; DB). 2 late ANCIENT MURRELETS lingered at Boiler Bay on 5/10 (PP & WH). PP garnered our only CASSIN'S AUKLET (1) during his 5/7 Boiler Bay seawatch.
EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE reports continued with 2 in Toledo on 5/3 (CP), 1 at widely separated locations in Newport on 5/8 (PR; BM), 4 at Alsea Bay on 5/11 (MR), and 2 at north Alsea Bay on 5/19 (BH).
1 MOURNING DOVE was near Yaquina Head on 5/14 (DB), and 4 were north of Alsea Bay on 5/19 (BH).
On 5/17, G&HB found a BARN OWL parent snoozing near its alert chick under a concrete bridge over a stream in eastern Lincoln County.
We had four VAUX'S SWIFT reports: 5/10 Lincoln Co. Big Day (RP, DG, KS, EA, & CH), 5/15 in CP's Toledo chimney, 5/16 in Newport (BOl), and 5/17 at Boiler Bay (WH). A BLACK SWIFT was detected at Boiler Bay on 5/17 (WH)- -starting in 2002, we have had scattered records of them each year except in 2006 (FN).
D&LF appreciated a RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER on their 5/1 Big Day at their Thornton Creek farm. Sapsuckers are usually found in Lincoln Co. in fall-winter.
Some spring arrivals: HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER and PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER on D&LF's 5/1 Big Day at their Thornton Creek farm and OLIVE- SIDED FLYCATCHER at Mike Miller Park during the 5/23 YBNFT (BOl).
AMERICAN CROWS, jays, and COMMON RAVENS are particularly vulnerable to West Nile Virus. In Oregon, the peak of bird infections has been in August and early September (USGS). In humans, the peak infection is during May-October, when mosquitoes are most abundant (LCCHS); no human cases of West Nile Virus have been reported yet in Lincoln County (KR, LCHHS). About 80% of infected people show no symptoms--the best defense against West Nile is to prevent mosquito bites (TD, LCHHS, KR), see LCCHS for doing so.
In Lincoln County, this virus was first discovered on 26 Sept. and 4 Oct. 2006, when 2 crows in the Depoe Bay and Newport area tested positive (TD; LCCHS). One dead crow found in Beverly Beach State Park on 6 Sept. 2007 also tested positive (LCCHS). Anyone finding a freshly dead corvid with no visible physical injury in Lincoln County should call 541-265-4127 to ask about testing (LCHHS). It is best to avoid direct contact with any dead birds, so use disposable gloves or invert a plastic bag over your hand.
At Yaquina Head during the 5/23 YBNFT, 2 COMMON RAVENS flew in, selected a Common Murre to harass and finally made off with the murre egg (BOl).
13 pairs of TREE SWALLOWS nesting in boxes at BLl's home near Logsden in May. This month we had 6 widespread reports of BARN SWALLOWS, which is a more positive sign of their status than last month.
Our only BUSHTITS were noted during the 5/23 YBNFT at Mike Miller Park (BOl). BROWN CREEPERS are also often missed, and our only reports this month were during D&LF's 5/1 Big Day at their Thornton Creek farm and the 5/10 Lincoln Co. Big Day (RP, DG, KS, EA, & CH).
A NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD was in J&KC's backyard about 4 miles east of Waldport on 5/30. They are most frequent during May-June, though they have occurred throughout the year (SemiL). In the past 10 years, we have had a few records each year except in 2003 & 2005 (FN).
Our only AMERICAN PIPIT was at Road's End State Recreation Site on 5/10 (MS).
More spring arrivals: HOUSE WREN, and HERMIT WARBLER on D&LF's 5/1 Big Day at their Thornton Creek farm, WARBLING VIREO at Toledo on 5/3 (CP), CEDAR WAXWING at east Sally's Bend on 5/19 (J&LM), 1 VESPER SPARROW near the Newport Reservoir on 5/29 (EH), and 1 male ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK at B&PR's feeder in Newport on 5/31. Rose-breasted's have been reported in May during 4 of the past 6 years (2003-2008), after being rare previously (FN). There were many reports of Black-headed and Evening Grosbeaks.
D&LF viewed our latest WHITE-THROATED SPARROW during their 5/1 Big Day on their Thornton Creek farm.
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Eli Adam, Rich Armstrong, Betty Bahn (BBa), David Bailey, Gloria & Herb Baum, Range Bayer, Bob Berman (BBe), Jorrie & Ken Ciotti, Gert Carey, CoastWatch (a volunteer project monitoring one-mile segments of the Oregon coast), Terry Dillman (14 Sept. 2007, West Nile Virus Shows Up Again, Newport News-Times), Sheila Evans, Darrel & Laura Faxon (see his Oregon Coast Today articles), Dawn Grafe, Chris Harver, Louise Hemphill, Wayne Hoffman, Eric Horvath, Rich Hoyer, Bettye Hunt, Penny Ittner, Janet Lamberson, Cindy Lippincott, Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO), Lincoln Co. Health & Human Services (LCHHS), Bob Llewellyn (BLl), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, John & Linda MacKown, Barry McPherson, Guy McWethy, Field Notes (FN; Lincoln Co. records from the Sandpiper since 1992 until June 30 at bird.htm#recent), Bob O'Brien (BOb), Bob Olson (BOl), Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL; recent postings), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Ram Papish, Chuck Philo, Phil Pickering, Paul Reed, Maggie Rivers, Bill & Pam Rogers, Candace Rogers, Kate Rowland (6 August 2008, West Nile Virus Still Active in County, Newport News-Times), Matthew Schneider, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Howard Shippey, Khem So, Spotted Sandpiper (SS) refs. (http://birdweb.org/birdweb/bird_details.aspx?value=search&id=155; Oring et al. 1997. Spotted Sandpiper, The Birds of North America Online. Cornell Lab of Ornithology at http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/; Brunton, D. H. 1988. Sequential polyandry by a female Killdeer. Wilson Bull., 100: 670-672; Ehrlich et al. 1988 at http://www.stanford.edu/group/stanfordbirds/text/essays/Polyandry.html; http://sibley.enature.com/reference/reference_topic.asp?SectionID=31&TopicID=1; http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Spotted_Sandpiper/lifehistory), Bob Stallcop (BSt), Don Stein, Dave Tracy, U.S. Geological Survey: West Nile Virus Maps--Bird--Oregon (USGS), Tom Wainwright, Conrad Willet, Jay Withgott, Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (YBNFT Field Trip led by BOl).
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