Thursday, June 17, 2010

Oregon trip - Part 3

On our last full day in Oregon, we woke to beautiful clear skies, and high hopes of ticking off a few more species, before driving back to Portland in the evening.  Steve picked us up again at our motel in the morning, this time we were joined by another birder who was hoping to fill in a few species on her Oregon list (her ABA list was over 700 already - a pretty amazing feat - maybe someday I'll get there too.)  I do not remember all the places that we went in search of birds this day.  One place I do know that we hit was an area known as the "GW burn" where we had brief looks at Three-toed Woodpecker (not long enough for a photo though) and much as we tried,were not able to relocate the bird or a nest cavity.  We moved on to another area where we added Pileated Woodpecker to our growing list of picidae, but off in the distance I spotted something that was easily as exciting as any species we'd seen yet.

That seemed like a pretty big owl... but wait - that's a young bird with some downy feathers still... a fledgling Great Grey Owl!!!  We "oohed" and "ahhed" about this bird for a while, discussed what a great sighting this was, how some of us had never seen a fledgling Great Grey, and speculating that an adult must be pretty close by.  As we were leaving it started to vocalize - then we heard another owl answering it!  Following the voice of the second bird rather than finding the adult, we found a second fledgling!
Hard to top something like that!  Continuing around the area, we heard a few woodpeckers, and found some excellent examples of their work:
 Black-backed Woodpecker cavity - note how deeply the bottom edge is beveled.

Three-toed Woodpecker cavity - less beveled than the Black-backed's work.

Not a nest cavity, but a perfect example of a Pileated Woodpecker's work-working abilities, when there is good food to be had.

Another bird in this area that I was not expecting but always happy to see were a few Grey Jays:

And soon after, keeping with the "grey" theme, we encountered a beautiful adult Great Grey Owl.
After sightings like this, the rest of the day was gravy.  Another location we stopped at proved to be Lewis's Woodpecker heaven - I lost count of the number when I realized that there were more than a dozen just in one area, though they tended to remain just beyond the reach of my lens for good photos.
I love these beautiful, colorful woodpeckers!  And that wasn't the end of the day's color - we were treated to short performances by Varied  Lazuli Buntings, as well as by the usually skulky MacGillivray's Warbler.
And, of course, if you are speaking about color west of the Rockies, you can't leave out the colorful Western Tanager.
We wrapped up our day later in the afternoon with some nice close-up looks at very curious Pygmy Nuthatch.

We then loaded things up into the rental car and headed back to Portland, where we spent the night at a very plush comfortable hotel near the airport thanks to some amazing pricing we got to

Oregon is a beautiful state, and although we really only saw a very small part of it, thanks to the scenic coastlines, wonderful people, and great birding opportunities, it was a great trip that I would recommend to anyone - birders and non-birders alike.