Original Post Submitted to the PBC Newsletter (May 2013 edition)

A glorious Spring is upon us here along the river. Several shades of green await the songbirds as they are returning to wild roses and cornflowers in bloom. The thistle will be ready to seed just in time to feed their young.

This Spring I have counted 34 species of birds along the river. It truly has been an exciting time. A few Cedar Waxwings returned this week, with many more to follow soon.

A lone Great Egret flew in and stayed for two days. He was hanging out near the Great Blue Heron rookery. He continued on his way after the storm had passed. An American White Pelican flew by the morning after the storm, he too was just passing through.

It has been fun to watch all of the Cliff Swallows this month. I stand and watch them flying and catching bugs and then return to their nests within the rocks of the cliffs. They disappear into the rocks only to return to the air a few moments later for more bug retrieval, a sure sign that their young are hatching.

The Great Blue Heron rookery now has 14 chicks. I just love when they are days old and their little heads bob around like bobble headed dolls, it is so cute. One morning as I was watching the nests a Red-winged Blackbird flew into view. He sat on the limb of a tree in the foreground with his bright red and yellow wing bars glistening in the bright morning sun. It was a beautiful contrast to all of the blue and gray of the Herons.

I am now watching two separate covey of California Quail across the river from me. I eagerly await their chicks. The Ring-necked Pheasant chicks should also be making an appearance soon.

Sunday morning greeted me with 51 American White Pelicans sitting on the rocks in the river. The next morning I was greeted by 107 of them. Some were still sleeping while others stood grooming themselves in the early morning light.

I have discovered two Western Kingbird nests. I actually caught the female bringing some nesting material to her nest the other day. In the Ash tree just to the west of her nest sits a male Yellow Warbler singing every morning. The Willows are filled with a flock of them now. I just love walking by there in the mornings.

I am watching two American Robin nests. I don’t see any eggs yet but it should be very soon. Both nests sit below the levee so I can peer into the nests with my binoculars and not disturb anything. If the parent is in the nest when I peer in I am always met eye to eye and I quickly make my exit.

With much patience and lots of observation, I have discovered the nest of a pair of Red-tailed Hawks. I have also discovered where the male has his “prey perch.” This is where he takes his food to sit and eat. The female also goes to the perch when she is not busy in the nest.

My favorite observation this month has been a male Song Sparrow who every morning at 6:30, flies over to the same perch atop a shrub and sings his little heart out. It brings a smile to my heart each and every morning.

If you would like to read about what is happening with the deer, beaver, otter, and more you can catch up by visiting my blog at https://anicraw.wordpress.com 

 

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Memorial Day and Bathing Birds …

 

I walked into town to have coffee with some friends, stopping briefly to pay my respects at the local war memorial. Part of the fun of living in a small town, they respect their loved ones who have fought in wars.

It is a small park that has a marble stone for each war and the names of local veterans who have lost their lives are engraved in the stones. Today flags line the walkway, as do flowers. All the rest of downtown is closed so that people can enjoy a restful day. But of course, the local coffee shop is open for us to enjoy a warm beverage. I had peppermint tea and a bite of a warm almond scone. Delicious, and made in the kitchen just a few feet away.

Walking into town I found a dead White Pelican. You know me, curious to the bone, so I climbed over the levee wall to take a closer look. I couldn’t find any injuries or foul play. Maybe it was just an old bird. I sure hope that was the cause.

Coming home I stopped to watch a flock of Cedar Wax Wings bathing in the river. There were two women and a girl about six years old sitting on a bench. I asked the women if I could show the young girl the birds. They excitingly said yes so I took her over to the wall and handed her my binoculars. She was able to watch the birds bathing and even commented on their beautiful yellow tipped tails. I knew then that she was really seeing them. 

I then shared the binoculars with the two women so that they could enjoy the beautiful birds. Just then an American Goldfinch flew in so they got to see him too.

After they were done watching they told me that one of them had come in from Eugene to meet up with her friend that had drove in from Montana. They thanked me for bringing such beauty into their morning walk.

I’m back home now, getting in just ahead of a down pour. I ran out and planted six more green bean sprouts that popped out over night. The rain will be a welcomed drink for them. We are supposed to get rain for the rest of the day. It’s warm out though, the front door is open as I sit here typing.

Sorrow Along The River

The meadow at the edge of town was bursting at the seams last week with wild roses, cornflowers, and five other species of wildflowers. It was a glorious sight to take in each morning.

The willows were leafing out and the does were becoming active and moving down from the hills. I see them moving about every morning.

A male Song Sparrow who lives just southwest of the Great Blue Heron rookery pops out every morning at 6:30 and sings his little heart out. My heart smiles every time I see and hear him.

and then

Sunday morning I went out for my daily walk when I stopped in horror as I neared the end of the levy. The goats were there. The town that I live in thought it would be clever to release goats to do some clearing in and around the levy. Their timing was disastrous. All of the wildflowers were gone, the willows had been striped of their leaves, seven bird nests were missing. The Thistle that was to feed the American Goldfinch families was gone.

I could no longer hold back the tears when I looked over to see the shrub where my favorite little Song Sparrow used to sit. The shrub was completely stripped of its leaves.

I knew the goats were coming, I even had a proposal ready to present to the city counsel on Tuesday. Instead, I stood before them and spoke of my sorrow.

I have stayed away from the meadow until this morning. My heart truly ached as I looked at what was a beautiful meadow reduced to now what looks like a war zone.

Shame on you Pendleton policy makers …

Spring Along The River

In the blink of an eye, on May 1st I woke to Spring along the river.

The birds felt it, the trees felt it, the deer felt it. We all looked around and knew that winter was gone.

The otter family that  lives across the river from me came out to play. There are six of them. They all look fat and happy, they have survived winter just fine. I got to watch them playing and wrestling with each other on the waters edge. There is a slight hill just west of their den and what a treat it was to watch them slide down the hill and splash into the river. I truly believe that God created otters to keep a smile on our faces.

About a half mile east of the otter den is a beaver den. One morning recently I watched him eating freshly sprouted  willow branches. He would reach up above his head and pull the limb down to him and then sit and nibble away on the branches. One branch was just a little to high for him to reach so he stood up on his hind legs and balanced himself with his tail as he reached both of his front feet up into the air and finally was able to grab ahold of the branch. What fun it was to get to witness that.

Earlier in the month I watched a crow pick up a peanut from the ball field outside of town. It took it up into a tree and peeled off the shell. It then peeled off the paper like skin from the nut before eating it. I had no idea they were so picky.

If you keep walking east from the ball field you come to a small farm that has three goats. Two of the goats have really been in the “courting” mood. They run up a small hill of dirt and get up on their hind legs and then come back down as they ram each other in the head. I could actually hear the sound of their skulls pounding into each other. One of them then would smack its lips together over and over before allowing the other to mate. I thought they were both male, maybe not. They are hairy goats so I am not able to see certain parts of their anatomy, if you know what I mean. The third goat is a female, she would just sit and watch the other two. The behavior went on for five days before they returned to their normal behavior.

Six geese also live on the farm, one of them has turned up missing. I am hoping it is sitting on eggs.

Across from the farm and up on a hill to the north I saw a pregnant doe last week. I have so wanted to find one before it is time for them to give birth, thank you Lord. The willows are all in bloom along the river so the does have been moving down and taking up residence. Any day now I should be seeing fawns.

This morning I got to watch a Coopers Hawk land in a tree and preen for a bit before taking flight back over to the north. What a beautiful bird.

I have had lots of bird sightings this month, I have just sent my article off to the editor. When it is printed I will post it here rather then repeat everything.

I am looking daily for the reappearance of the Red Fox pair, so far no sightings. I did watch a pair of coyotes hunting together a few weeks ago though.

That’s all for now, I have a feeling I will be posting regularly now that life is back in abundance along the river.