Hailey Walls

Oaks Bottom Bird Song Walk 4/12

Round two of our Tuesday morning bird song walk at Oaks Bottom was another success. It was a bit chillier this week but somehow we still didn’t get rained on. We had good turnout again with 26 people on the walk. Last week was just crazy with nests and a huge species count. I assumed it was a lucky day and didn’t get my hopes up for matching all of that success. At Cooper’s Mountain we started off in the first week with a Great Horned Owl that never reappeared so I was prepared for a less exciting 2nd walk this year too.

We started off by heading to the Cooper’s Hawk nest we had found last week in hopes that it hadn’t been destroyed in a recent windstorm. On our way over to that spot someone in our group spotted a pair of Bushtits building a nest in a tree right along the parking lot. We got to watch the pair jump in and out of the “dirty sock nest” as someone described it. We found the Cooper’s Hawk nest intact and super active just a little bit beyond the Bushtits. The crow neighbors were still giving it their best effort trying to drive off the hawks, and the hawks were fighting back. We had some dramatic aerial battles happen quite close to the group.

The path down into Oak’s Bottom had the usual suspects. We picked up a Varied Thrush this week singing in the trees in Sellwood Park. I kept mistaking it for the sound of some squeaky brakes down the block (I was hearing squeaky brakes for the record and the words you might use to describe that noise are pretty similar to what you’d say about a Varied Thrush!) We eventually heard both sounds just moments apart and got to confirm both IDs.

We saw the Spotted Towhee in exactly the same spot as we had the week before and this time around I caught one of them jumping into the brambles with a beak full of nest materials. So now we have 7 different species with nests to watch this spring!

Just down the path from the towhee nest the trail splits. Right as we reached the split I heard, loud and clear, one of my favorite bird songs of all time from the brushy area ahead – Oh sweet canada-canada-canada! I immediately turned around and confirmed via grinning with Christine (my east coast birding buddy). And it sang again for us to make it obvious. White-throated Sparrow! It’s an east coast bird, but a very frequent vagrant, so it’s not exactly “rare” in the area, but it was a new bird for a lot of the group. And it’s an exceptionally cute sparrow with really striking markings. Also, personally, I just love its song so much that I was excited to share that part with the group. We spent a long time trying to get a look at the sparrow and eventually about half of the group did see it for a brief moment. But, it wasn’t the most cooperative bird so some people never got a chance to see it. Hopefully it is sticking around and maybe will be less shy next week.

We saw more of our standard birds after that, and eventually made our way down the path that had been flooded the week before. The trails are back to passable now so we can hang out around the water a bit more in future walks which is exciting. We had lots more bird activity in the area and made our way to a pretty solid species count by the time we stopped to go over our list. We were just shy of our record from last week so I didn’t submit the list as we walked towards the parking lot. As we headed out for the day a Peregrine Falcon flew over the group, bringing our total up to 41 species. An impressive bird to end an impressive day!

Our eBird checklist for the day can be seen here: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S35874792

And if you would like for me to add you to the checklist, email me here: hailey@haileywalls.com