News Archive

From Our President: The Mystery of Birding

Each fall, I anticipate the arrival of the first White-throated Sparrow at our feeder. We usually see only one or two individuals that stay from November to March or April. Then they leave, presumably to fly north to find breeding territory along the west coast or interior of Canada—or as the biologists say, to achieve their biological potential. When the sparrows arrive for the winter, I always wonder where they have been since last spring. Did they find a mate and adequate habitat to breed successfully? Why do we never see more of them? Are they the same birds that appeared last year at the feeder? Always mysteries without answers.

From Our Treasurer: Looking Forward

For me, November is a month for preparing and looking forward—preparing (somewhat regrettably) to spend more time indoors than out, harvesting and preserving for later use the late-season produce from my urban garden, anticipating the more regular appearance of our backyard winter bird populations, looking forward to the holiday season and the Christmas Bird Count … the list goes on. 
As Lane County Audubon’s treasurer, I have a few preparatory duties in November too, such as beginning to prepare LCAS’s financial reports as the year draws to a close, planning next year’s budget, and writing this column asking for your continued support of our organization. 
In reviewing our financial reports, I’m always struck by how many ways we serve our members and other Lane County residents—young and old—by celebrating and educating them about birds, wildlife, and the habitats they depend on.

From Our President: Birds on the Move

One reason I love spending time in my garden is just to be outdoors. Gardening is a great excuse to be in the yard and watch birds at the same time. If I had not been checking the fruit trees the morning of August 31, I would not have seen the dark bird in the lower field sallying out from the bird boxes and flying back to perch, catching insects. It gradually made its way from box to box, up toward my garden area. I grabbed the binoculars (I keep them nearby) and saw it was a Black Phoebe! This was the first sighting for the species on our property, and it made my morning! Its plumage was not the bright black of an adult, so I assume it was a first-year bird exploring the area. It spent about 15 minutes in my view, then flew up and over some trees to the north.

From Our President: NAS Convention Report

In mid-July, I attended the National Audubon Society (NAS) convention held at Skamania Lodge above the Columbia Gorge in Washington. I had never attended before because the last convention in our region was 15 years ago! Chapter leaders, NAS Board members and staff from all over the United States, and international partners were there—over 500 people in all! I met and visited with folks from around the country and Mexico. At every event, people were friendly and eager to meet each other. Over the weekend, concurrent sessions covering nine topic areas were held. It was difficult to decide what to attend.

Report on June Bird Walk at Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

Avocet chicks at the Fern Ridge Wildlife Area, Eugene, OR
(Photo: American Avocet adults and chicks at the Fern Ridge Wildlife Area, Eugene, OR)
John Sullivan
About a dozen birders met at the Royal Avenue entrance to the Fern Ridge Wildlife Area for the June 15th Third Saturday Bird Walk. We began the morning in the native wet prairie near the west end of Royal Avenue, where we were immediately treated to nice views of singing Grasshopper Sparrows. This area is one of the few breeding sites for Grasshopper Sparrows in Lane County. One adult Grasshopper Sparrow carried a beak-full of caterpillars and other bugs, apparently indicating a nearby clutch of nestlings. Western Meadowlarks and Savannah Sparrows sang from fence posts, while many dozens of Cliff Swallows foraged for insects over the prairie around us.

From Our President: The Pleasures of Summer Birding

Summer birding at our house revolves around keeping the hummingbird feeders full, monitoring the nest boxes, and watching the various species of hatchlings beg for food from their frenzied parents. The juveniles are so vulnerable as they learn to fly, watch for predators, and fend for themselves. They are usually loud and rather conspicuous. Watching them is entertaining but at times nerve-wracking.

Backyard Birds II (A 37-Year Pursuit of 100 Species)

Steve Gordon

At the end of 2011, our backyard list stood at 97 species after 36 years of watching birds at our home in the Friendly Neighborhood (see the March 2012 Quail). This is an update for 2012 and early 2013. I’m sure all avid Quail readers have been waiting anxiously to see when and if the 100-species threshold could be reached.

On May 18, while sitting on our deck, my wife Susan and I counted eight Cliff Swallows overhead  (#98). After the March 2012 snow storm, the birch tree across Van Buren Street was taken down. On May 19, before it was felled, it was the perfect perch for an Olive-sided Flycatcher (#99). The next bird seen or heard in or from the yard would be the magical number 100.