Date: 8/6/17 4:55 pm
From: Joel Geier <joel.geier...>
Subject: [obol] A few surprising oak savanna birds in recent days
Hi all,

Even though "Oregon" Vesper Sparrows seem to be done nesting now
(fledglings left the last known nest around July 25th), I've still been
out to monitoring sites in northern Benton Co. most mornings, to try to
get follow-up sightings of color-banded juveniles.

Along with Vesper Sparrows I'm still seeing lots of juvenile sparrows in
these oak savanna habitats, in particular CHIPPING SPARROWS which seem
to have had a good nesting year.

For most of the season I've mostly been seeing Chipping Sparrows mainly
close to woodland edges, with just occasional forays out into more open
areas. But now numerous family groups are foraging out in the middle of
upland prairie/pasture areas where there are just a few widely scattered
hawthorns or small oaks -- basically, the same habitats that Vesper
Sparrows are using.

On Friday morning, at one point I wound up watching close to 30 Chipping
Sparrows that flushed from areas of short grasses and were sitting up in
a couple of small clumps of trees. "Sitting" is the wrong word because
Chipping Sparrows don't like to sit still. They're constantly bickering
and chasing each other around in the upper branches of whatever tree or
shrub they're perched in. I've learned to look for sparrows that are
sitting still, just occasionally ducking as squabbling Chipping Sparrows
fly by. Those will often be the VESPER SPARROWS.

OK, Chipping Sparrows aren't so surprising for oak savanna/prairie
habitat, nor are LAZULI BUNTINGS which have also been thick lately. But
I've been surprised by how regularly WILSON'S WARBLERS venture out into
isolated trees, 150 m or more from the closest forest edge.

BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLERS are also pretty regular out in these open
habitats. Today I watched one being persecuted by House Wrens and a
whole assortment of juvenile sparrows -- White-crowned, Song, and
Chipping Sparrow plus Oregon Junco -- when it tried to forage among the
branches of a big old oak that fell down this past winter.

Yesterday a couple of HUTTON'S VIREOS also ventured out into this area,
following a line of oaks. Even more surprising was an OLIVE-SIDED
FLYCATCHER that perched atop a snag, about 80 m out from the forest

But the bird that really prompted this posting was a juvenile BROWN
CREEPER, preening as it clung to the trunk of an oak, way out in the
middle of the savanna. It even casually lifted up one leg to scratch the
back of its head, while it held onto the vertical trunk with the other
foot. I have some friends who are avid and impressive rock-climbers, but
I doubt if any of them would ever attempt that maneuver!

Happy birding,

Joel Geier
Camp Adair area north of Corvallis

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