Category Archives: birding

#snowonthealsea

We’re enjoying a snowday from home today.  Snow on the beach is such a rarity on the Oregon Coast and I got to kinda see it once…at midnight…from a distance…lit by my camera flash…see here: Snow on Tillicum Beach

Today I’m enjoying it from up the Alsea River.

alsea river snow
Alsea River at head of tidewater

We had plans for going to Newport to volunteer at the Family History Center and then do our weekly grocery shopping.  But caution prevails today.

driftboat in snow
timeout for snow

Some don’t mind travelling on snow days but the duck route isn’t any different than any other day on the river.

ring-necked ducks, alsea river
Ring-necked ducks

Most of the snow fell before the tide started going out this morning.

snow level meets tide level
Snow level meets tide level on the Alsea

Salmonberries first gathered weeds from the high river last month and now snow.

salmonberries gathering snow
Salmonberries gathering snow on the Alsea

 

Diving Duck?

At first I thought this was a mallard hen.  But I’ve never seen a mallard dive underwater and swim.  This one dove several times in the tidewater of the Alsea River.  Watch the video and tell me if you think this is a mallard.  A still photo of her is below the link to the video.

Mallard Hen Diving – Video

mallard hen?
Mallard Hen?

And I love the colors on the Wood ducks!

Wood Duck Couple
Wood Duck Couple

Merganser Chicks in Formation

The Merganser chicks’ wings are developing.  They aren’t big enough to fly yet but they can dive and they look like they are flying under water.

Short wings of juvenile Common Mergansers
Short wings of juvenile Common Mergansers

Mama Merganser is on the left in the next photo.  Compare her wings, which include a white patch, to her chicks.  They’ve had their nap and are now ready to get back to business.

common merganser female with chicks
Mom getting her chicks prepared for take-off

Before this family landed on the rocks of the Alsea River, Mama Merganser was chasing something in the river.  I couldn’t see what it was but 2 Mallards also came from across the river quacking at the same thing.  Whatever it was never came back.  The Mallards didn’t even have chicks with them.  I thought it was cool that they joined forces with Mama Merganser.

Common Merganser with 11 chicks
Common Merganser with 11 chicks!

With as many predators who love the tender merganser veal I’m always impressed by the number of chicks a mom is able to raise.  This mom has eleven chicks and it is probably due to their strict obedience to her.

Nesting birds at Seal Rock, Oregon Coast

Western Gulls and Cormorants nest on the rocky cliffs on the Oregon Coast.  The gulls are near the top while cormorants like a more risky location.

western gull chicks and adults
Chicks are very well camouflaged

I think seagulls hatch laughing.

western gulls
Western Gulls – HA HA HA ha ha

Cormorant chicks apparently hatch pooping.  If you see streaks of white on the cliffs, look for a nest at the top of the white streak.

Cormorant chicks on the nest
Cormorant chicks on the nest

The Great Blue Heron nests in tree tops but fish in rivers, bays and tidepools.

great blue heron tidepooling
Great Blue Heron like tidepooling for a different reason

I love the contrast of colors on the Pigeon Guillemot: black body, white patch on wings, red legs.

Pigeon Guillemot
Pigeon Guillemot

The mouth lining is also bright red-orange during courting season.  The Pigeon Guillemot is one of the few members of the auk and puffin family to lay 2 eggs.  They also feed in shallower water.

pigeon guillemot
Red mouth and red feet makes it harder to tell when foot is in mouth – which, as we know, can happen a lot during courtship

Mink vs Mallard – Act II

How lucky are we to see this again!!

I saw 2 groups of Mallard ducks across the river.  They stopped to look at something on the riverbank of the Alsea River.  I saw a very small mink running along the bank so I started recording.  Mama-Mallard kept her 5 babies safe again!

If you watch where the duck is looking you’ll see movement under the brush.  That’s the mink.  He dives in after them and Mama scatters her ducklings.  This is a larger mink than I saw at first so I’m wondering about a mink family living nearby???  How cool is THAT!

Click/tap the link to watch the YouTube video:  https://youtu.be/9T_Nh9kePiA

Mink waits for opportunity to snatch a mallard duckling
Mink waits for opportunity to snatch a mallard duckling

East Texas Backyard Critters

I apologize for the lack of focus on some of these but they are timid little guys.

The cardinal is one of my favorite birds because of the male’s bright red color.

cardinal
Cardinal

The Blue Jays in Texas look quite different from the Stellar Jays I’m use to west of the Rockies.

blue jay
Blue jay

The squirrels don’t look any different from my point of view though.

squirrel and blue jay
Keeping an eye on each other

This little Mockingbird might have left the nest too early.

Mockingbird fledgling
Mockingbird fledgling

It mostly hopped across the yard a few jumps then flapped his wings in that quivering kind of way that baby birds use.

mockingbird fledgling trying to fly
I saw Mama do this

When I saw the chicks coming out on the Martin house deck I knew the fledge was close.  It was early morning and the windows were dripping with dew.  I went out on the deck to take some photos and the camera lens kept fogging up.  Combine that with the breeze blowing the branches in front of the bird house and it took a while before I could get a photo.  These are not Martins.  Maybe starlings?

Not Martins in the Martin house
Not Martins in the Martin house

We were gone for a couple days and didn’t see the chicks again.  But something stinky must have happened inside.

Turkey vulture on Martin house
Turkey vulture on Martin house

I’m not giving them their cleaning deposit back!

Spring on the Alsea River

A male Rufous hummingbird finally found our feeder today.  He guards it ruthlessly.

male rufous hummingbird
He’s the boss

Rufous hummers are very territorial.  He is chasing off 5 or 6 other hummers.

Everybody likes the salmonberries – especially the Robins

robin in the salmonberries
Robin in the Salmonberries

The crawdad is almost the bottom of the food chain around here.  They are the scavengers who feed on dead fish flesh.  The diving ducks eat the crawdads – unless we eat them first.

crawdad
Crawdad!

The mallards are enjoying all the fresh green moss growing on the river bottom and banks of the Alsea.

mallard hen and drake
Mallard Couple

The new growth of spring is such a vibrant green!

Alsea River at Tidewater, Oregon
Alsea River at Tidewater