June 21, 2014
I woke to a gorgeous Summer Solstice in the Columbia River Gorge & decided to stay close to home today with a hike out my back door. As I grabbed my gear I saw a Pileated Woodpecker in the snag across from my deck – a good omen!
There’s a bird magnet in the form of a crippled old tree at the top of Burdoin Mountain that I like to watch. The first birds I saw there this morning – a baby Rufous-sided Towhee and it’s parent screeching at him to take cover.
When the babe was safely tucked away the parent came back out to keep his eye on me. I decided to take better cover & crept behind a wild rose bush. I am loving my new Tamron 150 – 600 mm lens and how much closer I can zoom in on birds and wildlife!
Near the old tree I kept seeing a flash of brilliant yellow. A baby Evening grosbeak!
Then this little Lark Sparrow showed up, a bird I’ve only seen a couple of times! Instead of hauling my tripod with me I decided to convert it into a monopod since I hadn’t done that yet. My camera with a long lens gets quite heavy & it’s easier for me to rest it on my tripod when a bird actually ‘poses’ for me. The monopod worked out great once I got used to it!
I noticed this cocoon with emerging caterpillar type bugs on the rose bush I was using for a blind. Anyone know what it is?
Decided I didn’t want those bugs to land on me, so I headed back into the forest & found this little guy looking like he was napping. With his eyes open.
I love this section of Burdoin Mtn – I’m surrounded by tall trees that I can stand next to and watch for birds. This is the area where wood-pecking birds hang out. A hairy woodpecker flew from tree to tree, then landed on this snag & posed for a fraction of a second!
I love these colorful Red-breasted Sapsuckers – they’re quieter than the woodpeckers but easier to spot because of their red heads. He came by later with a beak filled with bugs and I thought I heard the sounds of babies nearby, but did not see a nest.
This little bird was a first sighting for me – my best guess is Yellow-rumped ‘Audubon’s’ Warbler. I don’t remember hearing his song, just that he swooped in on the snag where the woodpecker had just been.
I thought it fitting as I left the forest & headed up my path home, a Pileated Woodpecker appeared again! He was halfway up the tree before I could get my camera ready. I need to practice my ‘quick draw’ more!!
Yesterday I went to Conboy National Wildlife Refuge and posted my photos from that adventure on my Facebook Page if you’d like to take a look.
Monday I have a date with Columbia River birds and Tuesday I’ll be back up at Conboy. I LOVE summer!!
June 10, 2014
The Columbia River Gorge is filled with magnificent birds, but for today my focus is the Osprey. I’m regularly watching ten nests dotting the Columbia River between Bingen and Lyle with an occasional foray over to Oregon’s side of the river to watch a few more.
Like most other things – the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.
For example, I had no idea they were hawks! I wondered how much longer I would have to wait to see baby Osprey. Did they mate for life? These and other pressing questions led me to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds.
Osprey build their nests in open areas on tall snags, treetops or artificial platforms. Most of the nests I’m watching are over water on channel markers and pilings or near the water on utility poles.
Ospreys build their nest with sticks – I’ve watched them carry sticks that look like branches. The nests are lined with bark, grass and assorted findings to make a comfy abode for the family.
Osprey eat fish. 99% of their diet is live fish. They carry their ‘catch’ head first for less wind resistance.
I’ve watched them pluck fish out of the river but didn’t know they can dive up to three feet to catch it!
They live 15 to 20 years and mate for life or until one dies. Osprey lay 1 – 4 eggs that hatch on separate days, the first chick emerging up to five days before the last one. The incubation period is 36 to 42 days and nesting period is 50 – 55 days.
Nesting Ospreys defend only the immediate area around their nest rather than a larger territory; they vigorously chase other Ospreys that encroach on their nesting areas. I’ve also seen them chase Bald eagles away from their nest area!
“After the 1972 U.S. DDT ban, populations rebounded, and the Osprey became a conservation success symbol. But Ospreys are still listed as endangered or threatened in some states—especially inland, where pesticides decimated or extirpated many populations. As natural nest sites have succumbed to tree removal and shoreline development, specially constructed nest platforms and other structures such as channel markers and utility poles have become vital to the Osprey’s recovery.” To learn more about Osprey and other birds go to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds.
Prior to 1972, the average American consumer was told that DDT was safe to use. There are many chemicals on the market today that we’re told are safe to use. Over the last twenty years I’ve quit using any of them and my garden has filled with an abundance of birds, butterflies, bees and more. If you want more colorful flying beauties in your life it’s simple to eliminate weed and bug sprays from your habitat.