Date: 7/11/17 1:53 pm From: Joel Geier <joel.geier...> Subject: [obol] Re: juvenile Yellow-rumped Warbler on valley floor
Hi Mark & All,
Breeding of Yellow-rumped Warblers has been documented a few times at low elevation in the mid-Willamette Valley, but it seems to be a fairly rare thing.
If I remember right, Jeff Harding found a family group at Union Hill cemetery at the end of the Scio Breeding Bird Survey route about 4 years back. That's up in the Waldo Hills near Silver Falls so might not be right to call it the "valley floor," more like a corner of the floor where someone kicked up the rug. There are some big old Douglas-firs in and around the cemetery.
Speaking of fledglings, there are a lot of young CHIPPING SPARROWS out right now, at sites with good-quality oak savanna habitat on the west edge of the valley. There has been some discussion about their regional decline, especially out on the valley floor. However there are still some areas with robust populations, and the west edge of Corvallis is one of them.
Yesterday I was looking at a bunch of Chipping Sparrows lined up on a fence line at Bald Hill Farm yesterday (a couple of miles west of the OSU campus) , and had to marvel at the variability in plumage. Some had much paler ear coverts and weaker eye lines than the books generally show. If I'd seen them on their own, I might have tried to turn one or two of them into Brewer's Sparrows. However they were still getting fed by adult Chipping Sparrows.
Another puzzling bird yesterday was a VESPER SPARROW that had paler than normal ear coverts and no discernible eye ring. We've seen and banded a few Vesper Sparrows with no eye ring, and some with with practically no white in the tail, and/or very little chestnut in the shoulders. Birds sure do make it hard on us when they don't follow the rules on field marks! On this one I was halfway tempted to turn it into a female Lark Bunting, and did take some photos to check after I got home. The photos turned out lousy but do show the structure of the bird, and the bill shape, which both point to Vesper Sparrow.
Also in the "frustrating sparrow" department, earlier on I heard what sounded like a GRASSHOPPER SPARROW out in the middle of one pasture. It sang twice, several minutes apart, then clammed up entirely. Also, just to make things more difficult, there was a strong breeze (which can "shift" the apparent location of a singer, a cool but frustrating phenomenon that's sometimes noticeable in grasslands). So I didn't manage to track it down for a visual confirmation. However it was on the same hillside where I heard and photographed one a couple of years ago.
Happy birding, Joel
On Mon, 2017-07-10 at 01:06 -0400, <obol...> wrote:
> From: Mark Nikas <elepaio...> > Date: Sun, 9 Jul 2017 14:45:53 -0700 > Subject: [obol] juvenile Yellow-rumped Warbler on valley floor > > Yesterday I had a juvenile Yellow-rumped Warbler in my yard west of > Eugene > near Fern Ridge Res. In over 20 years here I've never had a YRWA at > any > time in June, July or August. My property is between 2 nearby > forested > hills (Oak Hill and Fir Butte) that have plenty of Douglas Firs in the > mix. > Do Yellow-rumps regularly breed at such low elevation sites? > > Other yard news: > > Western Bluebirds - I've only had a handful of sightings over the > years so > this year's nesting pair is pretty exciting. I put up around 10 nest > boxes > every year so nest sites have been available in the past. > > House Wrens - a pair has nested here annually since 2004. I have 2 > active > nests this year about 20 yards apart but only 3 adult birds. The male > apparently has himself the beginnings of a harem. He seems to favor > the > first nesting female as he attends to that nest box about twice as > often as > the other. > > Great Blue Herons - a small rookery in the firs on Oak Hill is active > again > this year. They first showed up 10 - 12 years ago. This is about a > mile > from the nearest water. > > Common Ravens - I have yet to discover a nest but they are almost > daily > summer birds for well over 10 years. Their activity centers on Oak > Hill. > 1 or 2 birds have been the norm this year until 5 were cavorting > overhead > yesterday. > > Golden-crowned Kinglets - 1 or 2 pairs around this year. Only 1 other > summer I recall them here. That year 1 was feeding a juvenile BH > Cowbird > which was an amazing sight to behold. > > > Mark Nikas