Some of the smaller birds at Malheur Wildlife Refuge.


Townsend’s Solitaire



The first time Debbie and I visited the Wildlife Headquarters at Malheur we had our eyes on the pond.  We could see it from Sod-House Road and the pond was loaded with waterbirds.  Well, the ducks are going to have to wait.  As we entered the well maintained grounds at the Center there was the sound of all kinds of passerine birds.  There were birds here there and everywhere but the song of one of them stood out to me.

It was the call and song of a Townsend’s Solitaire.  This bird was new to us and that is always exciting. The Townsend’s Solitaire sings throughout the fall and winter to set up and hold its winter territory. Violent fights may break out in defense of the winter territory, because owners of large, berry-rich territories survive the winter at higher rates than solitaires on small territories with few berries.  Read more here.

As we moved along we could see some excitement ahead.  There were 3 or 4 birders in and amongst some bushes volleying for a position to see/photograph something on the ground.  They had THAT LOOK.  Must be something important.  Debbie became focused on a bird she could see by one of the feeders so I stealthed  ahead to find out what these other birders were catting at.  Okay, I see it.  Click goes my camera, a Fox Sparrow.

Fox Sparrow


I’m thinking “what’s the big deal?”  We see these birds often enough on the Oregon Coast.  I have to remind myself that many people never have a chance to see a Fox Sparrow.  They are uncommon in Harney County.  Pretty lucky we are.



Now I go over to see what my sweetheart has discovered.  She is focused on a bird on the ground below a feeder.  New bird!  I haven’t seen this bird before but I new right off what it was…A Golden-crowned Sparrow.  Very un-common in Eastern Oregon.

Golden-crowned Sparrow

What a delight!  This particular bird doesn’t have a full display of crown-colors but the sighting is still great.

I finally get my face unglued from my camera to look around and no Debbie.  Like the little girl she is she’s off exploring again.  Then I see her.  Over by a service road by some bushes, maybe chokeberries, with the sun behind her she’s shooting again.  This looks serious so I go over to make sure she is safe, what with all these vicious birds around.  Debbie found a mini-flock of Ruby-crowned Kinglets.  These little birds are almost impossible to photograph because they are tiny, active like little fleas and like to stay in shadowy, thick brush and trees.  We got a couple of usable shots.




On this last photo for today notice the red on the bird’s head.  They will flash this crown from time to time.  Someday I will get that shot.  Happy Birding!

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

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One Response to Some of the smaller birds at Malheur Wildlife Refuge.

  1. LottaTidbits says:

    Good post Oly. I’m sure glad I have you to protect me! All those ferocious birds are daunting.

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