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Grays Harbor Birds — Osprey

On July 11, 2010 my first Grays Harbor Birds column appeared in The Daily World, featuring the Osprey. The photo was about four inches high by five inches wide, and the statistics section was two columns wide and about 1 1/4 inches high, and I misspelled the first Latin name, paldion rather than Pandion. We have come a long way, covering 116 birds and a Leatherback Turtle in those five years. I appreciate having the opportunity to write this column and share my love of birds with you.

Grays Harbor Birds — Violet-green Swallow

Way back in 1965, my toddler-aged daughter and I visited my parents in their Boston Harbor/Olympia home for a week. While hanging diapers on the clothesline I was the object of intense interest by a large flock of Violet-green Swallows. They swirled around me and perched on the clothesline examining me, cocking their heads and chattering away, talking up a storm…discussing me I am sure. Thus began a love affair with these small, beautifully colored birds that has lasted all these years. According to one quote, “…we will call them children of heaven.” (Dawson 1923) I hope you like this photo by Mike Hamilton as much as I do.

Grays Harbor Birds — Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax trailii)

I know what you are thinking; this has to be a common bird to our area because we have a LOT of willow, we have a lot of water, and we have a lot of bugs…perfect, right? Not so fast bug-breath! It turns out they are fairly UN-common to the coast but can be found inland a bit. Still, I have heard their distinctive “FITZ-bew” call in the woods at Grays Harbor College, as well as in the red alder forest out at Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge; there is no other bird that sounds like that….well, unless a crow or a Steller’s Jay is now imitating them.

Grays Harbor Birds — Western Tanager

Western Tanagers are the only tanager regularly found in Washington and are common to our area throughout the summer. But if you see one you can consider yourself lucky; they are pretty hard to spot, despite the male’s brilliant plumage of yellow and black with a bright orange-red head.

Grays Harbor Birds — White-crowned Sparrow

The White-crowned Sparrow is a true bird of the Pacific Northwest, residing here year-round, and considered one of the most common and abundant sparrows of Washington. Here in Grays Harbor, we most often see the subspecies pugetensis, foraging with other White-crowned Sparrows, but also mixing with Golden-crowned, Fox, and Song Sparrows.

Grays Harbor Birds — Bald Eagle

For those of you keeping track of the birds in this column, you’re probably saying, “Hey, didn’t you just do a piece on the Bald Eagle?” And you would be right … I did. But, I am doing so again to make a point. I get asked several times a year about Golden Eagles out on the beach, and while I have learned never to say never, we just don’t see Golden Eagles in Grays Harbor County.
 

Grays Harbor Birds — Northern Shrike

The Latin name of the Northern Shrike means “butcher watchman,” but don’t cue the scary music yet; this bird only targets smaller birds and mammals. Still, with that sort of a name, this bird makes an interesting subject of study. Unfortunately I have yet to see one in my neighborhood, so have to depend on the tales of those who have seen at least one. This photo by Gregg Thompson shows how intently the bird concentrates.