Date: 7/7/19 8:52 am
From: Wayne Hoffman <whoffman...>
Subject: [obol] Re: Breeding Catbirds- Coos County prior to 2014?
Nice summary, Tim - 

My recollection from OBOL posts is that there also may have been an increase in breeding season detections in riparian places on the east edge of the Cascades in recent years - maybe the same kinds of habitat that Northern Waterthrushes use?  Can anyone confirm this?

So possibly the coastal occurrences are part of a larger pattern of range expansion westward?


On 7/7/2019 11:31:17 AM, Tim Rodenkirk <timrodenkirk...> wrote:
Range Bayer provided me with some great info on the 2014 breeding catbirds at the Hatfield Marine Science Center up in Newport.  This was the first verified breeding record in western Oregon as well as the first Lincoln County record with an article about it in OR Birds Vol 40, no. 2 (2014). Chuck Philo found the first bird on 18 June 2014. It was heard singing off and on by various observers after this with the latest singing noted on 17 July by Mike Patterson. On 25 Jul Mike Patterson observed two birds and on 27 July Larry McQueen noted that one of the two birds was a juvie. Birds were observed up through 1 September.

So onto Coos County.

The first record in coastal Oregon was a singing bird I stumbled upon on my way to Malheur for the Labor Day Weekend on 25 May 2005 on the North Spit of Coos Bay. I think I had to call Dave Lauten and Kathy Castelein at a nearby phone booth (cell phone not- I use to carry a roll of quarters in my truck and called from the phone at the BLM boat ramp many a time).  They came to look for it later AM without luck.  I was gone for 10 days and did not check that location again for about two weeks. We all figured it was a one hour wonder and left it at that.

On September 15 the same year I was doing a botanical survey with another Botanist just south of the spot I heard the singing bird in the spring- maybe a quarter mile south.  I was with another Botanist.  While in the dense willow I distinctly heard a catbird meowing.  It was close to where my partner was looking for lichens.  I yelled at her not to continue on towards the bird but she did not hear me and crashed through the area totally unaware of the bird (she is not a birder so had no clue what I was calling her about).  It was so close to my late May observation I assumed it must be the same bird stopping again on its migration south. Breeding never even entered the equation for me.

Fast forward. On 5 July 2013 I found another singing catbird, this near the original singing bird in 2005 but across the road and just beyond a little slough where I had found several rarities over the years.  I was dog walking and hearing the bird was totally unexpected.  I alerted the locals and several people came out and heard (and a few saw) the bird.  It was heard singing from 5-13 July at which time it was no longer heard.  It was off a side road maybe 50 to 100 feet in dense veg and hard to actually ever see.  Once it stopped singing I assumed it was gone and did check the site a few times later but never heard anything and assumed it had moved on.  No one else ever birds this location (not on the birder radar for sure) so there was really no follow up to definitively say this bird was actually gone once the singing stopped. Once again, breeding was not something I ever imagined would even be possible.

The next year the Newport breeding catbird was found.

On 23-25 June of 2015 Joe Metzler had a singing bird on the south end of the N Spit of Coos Bay.  It was in an extremely difficult location to check (you need 4x4 and have to drop tire pressure to 20 lbs and then hope you do not get stuck in a truck- Joe was on ATV working out there).  I think he knew about the breeding the year before and may have looked for it some afterwards, but I am not sure how much time Joe put into it.

Lincoln County 2018- Chuck Philo scores again. Finds a catbird on 30 June at Beaver Creek. There was an observation of two birds on 1 July and I think many now assumed breeding (Range notes that other checklist should be checked to see if there was any other evidence of breeding).  No detections after 18 July (at least on eBird). And now 2019 sightings in same area- Bill Tice mentions maybe seeing a second bird?  

Millicoma Marsh 2019.  Singing bird found on 12 June- still singing at sunrise this AM on 7 July.  Not sure anyone would find this bird singing later in the AM, or even know it was there. On my two later AM attempts I have seen no sign of the bird.  Gotta be at least attempting to breed but not sure I will ever be able to verify it- not enough birders on the south coast to regularly look for evidence of breeding at this site.

The AZ State Park, Curry County bird that Jim Johnson found on 10 June this year I think I last saw singing on like 25 June. It has not been heard lately, could it still be there somewhere?  Is there anyone down there to really check?

Anyhow, in retrospect, I think there may have been catbirds breeding along coastal Oregon prior to 2014 but we will never know for sure.  If anyone wants to come down and check on either the Millicoma Marsh or AZ State Park birds it would be great- there may even be multiple birds when you start looking : )

Happy Birding all!
Tim Rodenkirk
Coos Bay

PS: and what about that catbird on private land up in Tillamook this spring?

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