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July 2012 – Chris Llewellyn's "Birds Eye Views"
 

Month: July 2012

Many of the Birds We See in Baja

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also occur  in different areas we visit at different times of the year and are in different stages of development at that time.

This is the Lazuli Bunting.  We see these little beauties every once-in-a-while in non-breeding plumage while they are in Baja.  Baja Sur is part of their winter and migration range.  Lazuli Buntings add a welcome splash of color for us to enjoy.  5-6″.

So imagine our surprise when, one morning, I look outside through our Bandon home’s living-room window  to see a Lazuli Bunting near our bird feeder.  We are on the edge of their breeding range here on the Oregon Coast.  I have lived here nearly 35 years and never saw one before other than in Baja.  Looks like this bird is all decked out for the honeymoon.

Lazuli Bunting

Although I have never seen the next bird in Baja Sur, sources tell me they do winter there.  I’ve been hoping to get a photo of this sparrow for a long time.  Well, this has been a very good year for many birds (good numbers) and I did get a chance to see and shoot the Lincoln’s Sparrow at Redmond’s Pond in Bandon.  That’s down by the jetty. Like the Lazuli Bunting, saw the bird once, shot before asking any questions, never saw either of them again.  Sometimes I’m just plain lucky!  Notice the buffy Malar and chest.

Lincoln’s Sparrow

Yes, I am bouncing around a lot between Bandon and Baja.  Both places are fantastic birding areas and have much to offer.  Right now I’m looking out over our pond.  I see Cedar Waxwings, Black-headed Grosbeaks, American goldfinches,Black Phoebes, Purple Finches, Wood Ducks, what else?…Oh, Red Breasted Nuthatches, Black-capped and Chestnut-sided Chickadees, Western Tanagers, ..Oh, and there’s a Hairy Woodpecker and a……………………….!

Okay Chica, I get it.

 

Oly’s side note…Both the Lazuli Bunting and Lincoln’s Sparrow photos were featured in The Audubon’s Quarterly for our area of the Oregon Coast.  Happy birding!

Oregon Coast Birding

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I guess you know it’s been a while.  Thank you to those who have emailed telling us y0u miss our posts.  It’s nice to be missed.  But, just because we have not blogged lately doesn’t mean we haven’t been birding.  We just haven’t been Baja Birding.

You will most likely be getting blogs on Oregon Coast Birds now as that’s what birds we are currently shooting.  However, Baja Birders will see many of the same species that we have shared with you in Baja.  Like the Oregon Coast birds photographed below.

Ok….I’ll tell you.  I’ve debated and debated….and…debated, about sharing our personal life experiences with you.  But…after all…we are doing that by sharing our passion in birding.

Many of you know that I have ovarian cancer, stage IV.  There is not a stage V.  This is part of the reason Chris is dedicating a portion of any profit from his awesome book Birds We See in Baja California Sur, Mexico to M.D. Anderson in Houston, TX.

I was diagnosed with this incurable disease in 2005.  That’s when our lives really changed.  Although, we did not start birding daily until after our Africa trip in 2008.  My Dr.’s gave me 5 months to live and it has been 7 1/2 years.  Pretty good, eh?  Anyway….my very good oncologist Dr. Brett Cook, at North Bend Medical Center here in Oregon, suggested we return from our time in Baja for more treatment.  I will be undergoing my 4th round of chemotherapy over the next four months.

So…that’s why  you will be seeing some beautiful Oregon Coast Birds of the great Pacific Northwest in our future blogs.  So…we sure hope you enjoy them as much as you do our Baja Birds.  Oh and, I must say, you will see a little more green background in the Oregon bird photos than you are used to seeing in the Baja Birds photos!

Let’s go birding……  We have a new birding place, Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge nearby.  So, of course we wanted to check out the Marsh Birds.  This is one of the first places we went upon our return from Baja.  We even took Mom and our dear friends Ed and Sharon and had a picnic out there.  It really is beautiful.

We also took our 12 year old great niece Payton along for a bird in the marsh.  She will make an excellent birder very soon.  The first little pretty we saw was the Marsh Wren.

Marsh Wren

A common and noisy inhabitant of cattail marshes, the Marsh Wren sings all day and throughout the night.  They seem to actually throw their voice like a ventriloquist so it’s hard to pinpoint them unless they are visible.

Wrens Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Small brown bird with thin bill.
  • Tail often held upright.
  • Dark cap.
  • Whitish eyeline.
  • Bold black-and-white streaks on back.
  • Buffy flanks, whitish chest.

Immature Description

Juvenile similar to adult, but lacks bold streaking on back and has only an indistinct eyestripe.

Range Map

Marsh Wren Range Map

Of course, the more we looked, the more we saw.  Funny how that happens.

Here is a shot of the beautiful little Common Yellowthroat.  This was the first time we had seen and shot it while birding in Oregon, although we have seen and shot it while Birding in Baja.

Common Yellowthroat

A skulking masked warbler of wet thickets, the Common Yellowthroat is far more frequently heard than seen. Its “wich-i-ty, wich-i-ty, wich-i-ty” can be heard from the Yukon to Newfoundland, and from southern Florida to southern Mexico.

Appearance

Warblers
Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Small songbird.
  • Plain olive green back, wings, and tail.
  • Yellow throat and upper chest.
  • Male has distinctive black mask.

Male Description

Back, wings and tail plain olive. Chin, throat, and upper chest bright yellow. Belly whitish. Dusky flanks. Bright yellow undertail coverts. Broad black mask extending from side of neck through the auricular area and from the eye to the forehead. Whitish to grayish line above black mask separating it from the olive crown.

Female Description

Female similar to male, but face olive and underparts paler. Indistinct eyering. May occasionally have faint black mask.

Immature Description

Immature resembles adult female. First year male with faint black mask, becoming fully adult-like by spring.

Range Map

Common Yellowthroat Range Map

and the Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Not all streaky brown birds are impossible to identify: Take a closer look at this one and you’ll see an understated but distinctive sparrow with a short tail, small head, and telltale yellow spot before the eye. Savannah Sparrows are one of the most numerous songbirds in North America, and while sometimes overlooked, are likely visitors across the continent. In summer, they don’t hesitate to advertise their location, belting out a loud, insect-like song from farm fields and grasslands.

Keys to identification

Sparrows
Typical Voice

  • Size & Shape

    Savannah Sparrows are medium-sized sparrows with short, notched tails. The head appears small for the plump body, and the crown feathers often flare up to give the bird’s head a small peak. The thick-based, seed-eating bill is small for a sparrow.

  • Color Pattern

    Savannah Sparrows are brown above and white below, with crisp streaks throughout. Their upperparts are brown with black streaks, and the underparts are white with thin brown or black streaks on the breast and flanks. Look for a small yellow patch on the face in front of the eye.

  • Behavior

    Savannah Sparrows eat seeds on or near the ground, alone or in small flocks. When flushed, they usually fly up, flare their short tails, and circle around to land some yards away. In spring and summer, males sing their dry, insect-like melodies from exposed, low perches such as fenceposts. Also, listen for a thin, high-pitched tsss call.

  • Habitat

    Savannah Sparrows breed in open areas with low vegetation, including most of northern North America from tundra to grassland, marsh, and farmland. Even in winter, you’ll find Savannah Sparrows on the ground or in low vegetation in open areas; look for them along the edges of roads adjacent to farms.

Range Map

Savannah Sparrow Range Map
We ended up spending several hours in this little marshy area.  It’s a new marsh and we are excited to see what additions will be made.  That’s all for now but we have lots more Pacific Northwest Birds to blog about!  Happy Birding!