Saturday, May 07, 2005

Wildlife Viewing

Lost and found: The birding world has been abuzz the past week with the discovery -- 60 years after its last confirmed sighting in America -- of an ivory-billed woodpecker in an Arkansas swamp. Gene Sparling reported the first recent sighting of the bird in February 2004 after canoeing through a bald cypress swamp in the Big Woods Preserve, then two top ornithologists, Tim Gallagher of Cornell University and Bobby Harrison of Oakwood College in Alabama, toured with Sparling and saw the assumed-extinct bird. A few months later, a University of Arkansas graduate student videotaped the elusive bird, proving that the sightings were not a hoax. The ivory-billed woodpecker is the largest woodpecker in the country and the second-largest in the world. It once thrived in the swampy bottomland hardwood forests of the Southeastern United States.

Nesting or not? Barry Hobbs is keeping a close eye on some birds that have been visiting his property. He photographed the birds and wrote a week ago, "We spotted a pair of these white-throated sparrows in our back yard in South Salem, and it appears that they are nesting in the yard next door. Our bird books all agree that they are out of their range and shouldn't be in this area." John Lundsten of the Salem Audubon Society confirmed that the birds are white-throated sparrows but is curious about the nesting behavior. "As far as I know, nesting has never been confirmed in Oregon," he said. Hobbs replied: "We will keep an eye on them and see if we can spot a nest or maybe wait for fledglings."

Willamette Valley: A red-naped sapsucker is being seen in Corvallis. A cattle egret is at a large pond near Alvadore, where a brant was seen in a flock of geese. Six black-necked stilts were at Fern Ridge Reservoir. A calliope hummingbird was at a feeder in Brownsville.

Olympic Peninsula: The hunt is on for 20 or more monk parrots, a non-native bird that has created a flutter in Kitsap County, on the east side of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. The Port Orchard City Council has ruled that a company can upgrade a cell phone tower only on the condition that the lime-green monk parrots that are nesting on it are safely captured. That was the recommendation of Jeff Davis, a state wildlife biologist who advised the council that the neotropical birds, native to South America, can mean trouble. "Parrots have been known to spread diseases and can have a long-term ecological impact to native wildlife," he told the council. They can, however, be confined and make fine pets.

Whale watch: Gray whales are being seen in Hood Canal in the south end of Puget Sound, but biologists say the best place on the Washington Coast to see them is at La Push, where calves and their mothers often swim close to the shoreline. La Push is near the northwest corner of Washington. A pod of a half-dozen transient killer whales is attracting attention in Hood Canal, where they've been dubbed "The Slippery Six" by locals. The orcas have been seen around the canal since Jan. 24. Gov. Christine Gregoire has approved legislation designating the orca Washington's official marine mammal.

Oregon Coast: A horned puffin and a Manx-type shearwater were seen flying past Boiler Bay. A bird believed to be a black tern was at Lincoln City. A common redpoll visited a feeder at Bay City. Two scrub jays were at Nehalem. A flock of 20 marbled godwits were at the south jetty of the Columbia River.

Columbia corridor: A black-necked stilt was seen at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, on the Washington side of the Columbia River. Two red-breasted mergansers were near the mouth of the Sandy River. Two redheads and four white-throated sparrows were at the Vanport Wetlands in North Portland. A calliope hummingbird was at a Southeast Portland feeder.

Southern Oregon: A Sabine's gull stopped at the Kirtland Road sewage ponds in White City, near Medford.

Central Oregon: A black phoebe is being seen in Bend.

Southeast Oregon: A black phoebe was at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge all last week.

Central Washington: Spring maintenance on the Tieton River Nature Trail, at Oak Creek Wildlife Area near Yakima, Wash., is complete after fallen trees and rock slides were removed. "This trail provides plenty of opportunities for viewing deer, elk, birds, even lizards and rattlesnakes," said Bruce Berry, assistant manager of the wildlife area. The trail can be accessed by crossing the walk bridge adjacent the Oak Creek headquarters off Highway 12, then the trail winds upstream following the Tieton River for nearly five miles. Oak Creek headquarters requires a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife day-use vehicle permit. "You may even be lucky enough to spot our resident golden eagle pair, which are incubating eggs in their nest now," Berry said. Hikers share the trail with mountain bikers and rock climbers, and pets must be kept on leash. It is a favorite trail of Yakima-area birders.

No comments: