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Grays Harbor Birds — Great Horned Owl

I think everyone knows what a Great Horned Owl (GHO) is, as most of us grew up with this bird somewhere nearby. When we think of the sound an owl makes, it is usually the call of the GHO we think of or imitate. Many of us grew up reading Winnie the Pooh, and knew Pooh’s friend Owl, a Great Horned Owl.

Grays Harbor Birds — House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)

The House Finch is one of our most common feeder and yard birds, and can be seen almost anywhere in Grays Harbor. Unlike the other introduced/unwelcome outsiders (European Starlings and Eurasian Collared-Doves), this bird is quite popular with most who appreciate not only its red coloring (at least on the male) but also its long and cheerful song. This photo of a brightly colored male was taken by Mike Hamilton.

Grays Harbor Birds: Great Blue Heron

I would guess that everyone has seen one of these birds standing in a ditch or slowly stalking its prey, completely focused on whatever it has in its sight. I often see 10 or 12 of them standing in the water just below Highway 109 before it heads up into the s-curves at Grays Harbor City. I still watch them as they stand for long moments, waiting until just the right time to strike. They seldom miss. It’s all very Zen, and I can almost feel my breathing slow and my body relax as if in tune with the heron’s concentration. This photo by Mike Hamilton shows the successful catch of a tadpole, hopefully a bullfrog, a real pest in our neck of the woods.

Grays Harbor Birds — Cooper’s Hawk

This photo by Gregg Thompson is a newly fledged Cooper’s Hawk, closely watching something, probably a bug. Notice the total concentration, an intensity common to raptors, and youngsters learning what is edible and what may harm.

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 — 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.