Red-shouldered Hawk (near Cave Junction, OR, 07/24/2011)

This agitated youngster whom I displaced from his favorite perch was near the Cave Junction sewage plant.  He kept calling for almost a full hour while I was there.

It was my first trip to Josephine Co and it was a hot weekend, so not many birds were active once it warmed up. Other interesting sightings were several Dusky Flycatchers and a well-seen, crowing Mountain Quail on King Mountain, 3 fly-over Pileated Woodpeckers (likely a family unit) just west of Merlin, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers near the Merlin Rest Area, many Yellow-breasted Chats along the rivers and the glorious absence of several species that I thought I could not miss.


Heto Warbler?

Joe Kaplan suggested that the bird I labeled “Townsend’s Warbler” (taken during a Memorial Day trip in Fields, OR) may in fact be a Hermit x Townsend’s Warbler (or Heto Warbler). See  (here I also rule out Black-throated Green Warbler). He may have a point …

When looking at Hermit Warblers, our eyes are trained to look for hybridization with Townsend’s. Giveaways are yellow on the breast and streaking on the breast. It is relatively easy to detect if the bird has Townsend’s blood in it. There are a good number of hybrids of that type out there, in particular in areas that the birds are known to hybridize (such as the Southern WA Cascades). Only few birds on the other end of the spectrum have been documented. And we just don’t regularly scrutinize every Townsend’s for Hermit genes.

See for a possibly similar bird. Dunn & Garrett’s “Warblers” mentions this rare type of Heto Warbler and shows a plate depicting the front half of the bird.

Here are 2 more shots of the bird in question. You can clearly see the slight yellow wash on the breast. Everything else looks Townsend’s to me. Is there enough evidence to call this a Heto Warbler?

One interesting aspect is of course that this bird was seen and photographed in Fields which might be a little off-track in terms of the regular migration path of hybrid Hermit x Townsend’s Warblers.



My annual Okanogan trip (July 4th weekend, 2011)

This Clay-colored Sparrow 4.0mi up from Chesaw Rd along Nine-mile Rd was a real poser.

I worked hard to find this one just downhill from Cold Springs CG (near Chopaka Mtn trailhead). This Boreal Chickadee was NOT happy …

This cottontail (probably Mountain, but not entirely sure) was on the lawn at Brooks Memorial State Park. He’s the landlord …

Near Chopaka Mtn trailhead was this little Yellow-pine Chipmunk.

Here my posting to Tweeters from yesterday:

I finished with 137 trip birds on my annual July 4th pilgrimage to the Okanogan. On the way up there from the Portland area, I successfully twitched the Black-throated Sparrow in Vantage. I had arrived the night before and when I got out of my car at around 11:15pm, I heard a Sage Thrasher sing softly for about 15min. An excellent start  …
Here the highlights (in no particular order):
-Least Flycatcher (1 at Cassimer Bar; from the Smoke Shop, drive up Cassimer Bar Access Rd to the T, then turn right and go to the end. You should be able to hear the bird from the little parking lot)
-Grasshopper Sparrow (1 at 1.2mi up Soap Lake Rd, then walk east for 150yds along rough dirt road; 1 about 2.5mi up Molson Rd from Chesaw Rd with Savannahs)
-Clay-colored Sparrow (1 point blank in rosehip “tree” at pole at 4.0mi up Nine-mile Rd from Chesaw Rd)
-Flammulated Owl (1 heard from Beaver Lake CG at night)
-Three-toed Woodpecker (pair at 11.2mi in burn up Cecile Ck Rd, this is on the high point of the road, walk 100yds west on road with a yellow gate; if you keep going on Cecile Ck Rd for another maybe 2-3 miles, you will come to a Y, go left here, there will be a bridge in about 0.1mi, there were 2 more birds in 1.1mi from bridge; if you go right at the Y, the road will take you out onto FR39 in about 4.6mi)
-Boreal Chickadee (1 about 0.5mi downhill from Cold Springs CG on road to Chopaka Mtn trailhead, see Opperman for good directions)
-Bobolink (1 at Tonasket-Havillah Rd & Siwash Ck Rd; may access via Fancher Rd not to have to deal with traffic)
-Northern Waterthrush (2 singers at two-bridge slough on the north end of Park City Loop Rd north of Nespelem)
-American Redstart (5 at two-bridge slough on the north end of Park City Loop Rd north of Nespelem)
-Red-eyed Vireo (many in the Nespelem area)
-Forster’s Tern (1 at Okanogan & Columbia River; for the best vantage point go uphill towards Brewster from the bridge over the Okanogan River and scope from a little rise; parking is bad)
With the easy option out for now – FR38 through Salmon Meadows – it is a little more challenging to reach good boreal habitat. I tried 2 new options: Cecile Ck Rd (heads east just south of Loomis) and the Cold Springs CG area near Chopaka Mtn. Both have viable habitat for Spruce Grouse, Boreal Chickadee and Three-toed Woodpecker.
Due to an unfortunate spillage in my car, I had to replace my WA state DeLorme last year. I would seriously recommend not using the latest edition of the DeLorme for the Okanogan Cascades and downgrade or get a forest service map instead. Really, it’s worse than not having anything at all.