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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 — 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 - Hermit Thrush

The Hermit Thrush is one of three spot-breasted thrushes that makes its home in Grays Harbor, and if you see one of the three in winter, more than likely it is a Hermit Thrush. It is one of the most widely distributed forest-nesting migratory birds in North America and the only forest thrush whose population has remained stable over the past 20 years. Most who know this bird talk about its ethereal song; it can be heard at this web site http://birdweb.org/birdweb/bird/hermit_thrush

Grays Harbor Birds — Long-eared Owl

From time-to-time, I stray from the path of Grays Harbor Birds to show something out of the ordinary, remarkable, or just plain interesting. This qualifies, but the possibility is we may yet see this bird in our neck of the woods. There are changes taking place in the traditional habitats, and there are exciting discoveries being made, drawing large crowds to observe the unusual. Gregg Thompson found and photographed two of these visitors to the west side of the Cascades. Now if we can just convince them to try our woods, I bet they would stay.