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Corvus caurinus

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    PNW, USA

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  1. Corvus caurinus

    Bewick's Wren?

    The strong white supercilium and plain gray-brown back say this is a Bewick's.
  2. Corvus caurinus

    Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk?

    In addition to the belly band, another way to tell that it's a Redtail is something called a "dark patagial mark" which is this thing on the underside of the wing: It's a unique mark that shows up on all Red-tailed Hawks, though on lighter birds it can be fainter and harder to see. Hawks are tricky but less confusing when you know more little diagnostic tricks like this!
  3. Corvus caurinus

    Black Mystery Birds

    I don't think they're Red-winged Blackbirds because I'm not seeing any red on their wings, and I think it would show in that position for the birds on the right side of the photo with the top side of their outstretched wings showing. It looks like their tails are pretty short, so in all they look more like Brown-headed Cowbirds to me.
  4. Corvus caurinus

    Hawk In Fluvanna county, VA

    Do you remember if it was more of a lemon yellow, or more reddish or orange? Some raptors can have orange-ish undersides, like Red-shouldered Hawks, adult Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks, Northern Harrier juveniles and females, and American Kestrels. If it was a really yellowy yellow, could it have been an Eastern Meadowlark? They have a black V mark on their breast that wraps around kind of like the reddish-brown collar on the bird in the picture you posted. They're often seen perched on telephone lines.
  5. Corvus caurinus

    Tri-colored Heron

  6. Corvus caurinus

    Brewer's Blackbird?

    Would a Rusty's plumage be this...not-rusty this early? I'm not familiar enough with them to know. I would say that's definitely not a grackle bill, though, so it's one of those two blackbirds. Here's a Brewer's headshot for comparison, a Rusty's bill would be thinner but from the reference photos I'm looking at sometimes it's subtle enough it's hard to tell the difference.
  7. Corvus caurinus

    What is your 3 Best Lifers?

    I am completely incapable of brevity and should probably just make a dedicated birding blog already, but for now here have almost 1000 words about nine of my more memorable lifers. If I'm not getting myself a reputation for never shutting up about birds, is there even a point? For the rarity/difficulty to find: California Condor at Pinnacles NP (then NM) in California, April 2009. I was on a camping trip with a family friend when a condor flew directly over our campsite, the sunlight reflecting off the tag on its wing. Snowy Owl at Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually NWR in Washington, November 2012. There were two perched on the beach waaaaaaay out there in the delta, two rare blurry white blobs in the scope. This was on a college ornithology class field trip, and after winter break I ran into one of my classmates who had gone home to Mt. Vernon, WA and taken close-up pictures of Snowies that were just hanging out on top of buildings downtown. There hasn’t been a significant irruption close enough for me to get to since. Someday... American Three-toed Woodpecker at Bethel Ridge Road in Washington, May 2016. This was on a woodpecker field trip at the annual Wenas Creek Audubon campout where we also saw White-headed Woodpeckers, Williamson’s Sapsuckers, Northern Flickers, and Black-backed Woodpeckers. Helps when the field trip leader is the biologist studying their nesting habits in that area! For the effort: Williamson’s Sapsucker at Scout Lake in Oregon, May 2016. I’d just finished college at the end of March and spent all of April visiting my parents in Boise (and accumulating 7 new lifers.) This was the unexpected Day 3 of my road trip back to Olympia, with the previous night spent sleeping in my car at a rest stop...Day 2 had been my day at Malheur NWR and I underestimated its size, if you want to get anything done there it’s definitely more than just a day trip. So, Day 3, I don’t have a smartphone or a wifi connection for my laptop so I’m relying on paper maps to get me back home, and paper maps unfortunately don’t have an eBird plugin to tell me about the latest sightings. I chose a burned spot at random in the central Oregon Cascades to look for high elevation woodpeckers (this was before the big woodpecker trip later in the month) and by luck or intuition this tiny lake turned out to have a male Williamson’s actively drumming. He made me run around the lake several times trying to find him, of course, and I got rained on and fell down the hill and was picking ticks off myself for days, but it was worth it. Hermit Warbler at Capitol Forest in Washington, May 2017. I live at the northern terminus of the Hermit Warbler range, and it’s also the hybridization zone with Townsend’s Warblers. You really can’t assume you’re seeing a “pure” individual by song alone, but these tiny, deceptively adorable yellow-faced jerks like to play hide-and-seek at the very tops of tall conifers. In 2016 I tried six different times to see one and had no luck. My first try in 2017 I spent three and a half hours looking, then went back the next day and spent eight full hours before finally getting several terrible pictures just before it got too dark to do so. I’d been so busy with work that this was my first lifer of 2017 so I’m glad it was a hard-earned one. Ferruginous Hawk at Badlands NP in South Dakota, September 2017. A nemesis bird for SIX YEARS. I get one to two weeks each winter in Santa Rosa, CA visiting my mom over Christmas, and until my equally unsuccessful month-long stay in Boise those were my only shots at seeing this bird. This last September, on my long Tennessee-to-Washington road trip when my long-distance relationship upgraded to no-distance, my (non-birder) fiancee is actually the one who pointed this hawk out to me while I was driving. It was on the ground terrorizing the prairie dogs along Sage Creek Rim Rd. For the surprise: White-tailed Tropicbird at Hawai'i Volcanoes NP in Hawaii, June 2013. I (unfortunately) wasn’t in Hawai'i for the birds, so I didn’t do as much pre-trip research as I would have otherwise because I wasn’t the one choosing where we went. So I had NO IDEA that these birds nest in the craters of active volcanoes until I saw one flying through the Kīlauea crater like there wasn’t a towering cloud of toxic fumes just outside of its flight path. That’s one way to avoid nest depredation! Short-eared Owl at Mima Mounds NAP in Washington, January 2015. The sun had set, the mist was rising thick from the prairie, my glasses kept fogging up, the gate was about to close, and I had underestimated the time it would take to complete the loop trail. I was all but running to get to my car in time when this winged silhouette ascended from the mist and stopped me in my tracks. My glasses still kept fogging up but I got a good (if foggy) view through my binoculars. Black Swift at Chinook Pass in Washington, May 2017. Another serendipitous incident of right place, right time. I was driving to the Wenas campout and took a break at a scenic viewpoint of The Mountain to catch the sunset. Turns out there’s this short snippet of time just at sunset when the parent swifts return to their waterfall-hidden nest with their throat pouches full of bugs, and I happened to be right above one of those nests as they flew in. I confirmed it later with a swift biologist at the campout that there was an active nest at that location. Black Swifts are objectively one of THE coolest birds.
  8. Corvus caurinus

    Pacific West

    Do you know where specifically you want to go in Olympic NP? It's a BIG park and there's no through roads so many destinations are hike-in only. Depending on where you want to go, it can be a 2 1/2 to 4 1/2 hour trip from Seattle plus summer tourist traffic. Unless you want to do things in Seattle (beautiful city with lots to do) or hit up Mt. Rainier (totally worth it, by the way, but you definitely need at least a full day to appreciate it), it might be worth making Port Angeles your base camp because it's closer (and also cheaper!) Port Angeles itself also has some good birding spots - the waterfront and pier, Ediz Hook, and the nearby mouth of the Elwha River. Salt Creek County Park to the west of the Elwha mouth is also a good spot. Farther out of the way to the east is the Port Townsend area, the Sequim area, and the area around Dungeness NWR. Some popular and car-accessible ONP locations with my top 4 bolded: Lake Crescent, Marymere Falls, Sol Duc Hot Springs, Sol Duc Falls, Hurricane Ridge, Hoh Rainforest, Lake Quinault, Elwha River Valley, Lake Ozette, Rialto Beach, Ruby Beach, and the Kalaloch Beaches. Some specialty birds I don't think you have much or at all in San Diego: Varied Thrush, Black Swift, American Dipper, Harlequin Duck, Sooty Grouse, Red Crossbill, Evening Grosbeak, Gray Jay, Chestnut--backed Chickadee, Pacific Wren, Black Oystercatcher, Bald Eagle, and Ruffed Grouse. Keep in mind that August is one of the quieter times of the year for us, barring shorebird migration from mid to late August - good places for that on the coast include all around Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay. If you're up for the trip and one of the scariest roads in the state, Neah Bay is always worth a visit. It's on the Makah Reservation and you'll need to buy a $10 Recreation Pass, good for the calendar year, to park near the beaches. You can buy the pass at Washburn's General Store and the Makah Mini-Mart. Watch out for dogs in the road, lots of them roam free. You can find Tufted Puffins at Cape Flattery in August, possibly the most reliable place in the state. Hobuck Beach, the Wa'atch River Valley, the Tsoo-Yess River Valley, Bahokus Peak, and just the waterfront of the bay itself are all good areas. I lived in Clallam Bay on the western end of the Olympic Peninsula for a year and I still know the area decently well, so let me know if you want specifics for anywhere! For that matter, I've lived in various places in Western WA most of my life and I've been all over, for birds and school and otherwise, so any questions about the greater area at all are welcomed - I'm guilty of blabbing about WA geography (and birds) for hours, if allowed. Mt. Rainier is your best bet if you want to go for any alpine and subalpine species like Gray-crowned Rosy Finch, Pine Grosbeak, Northern Goshawk, Townsend's Solitaire, Clark's Nutcracker, or White-tailed Ptarmigan. Boreal Owls and Spotted Owls are around but hard to find. The big draw in late summer is the spectacular wildflowers so expect big crowds. Sunrise and Paradise are the two biggest spots, with Sunrise at 6400 feet being the highest point on the mountain you can reach by car. Ohanapecosh is a large tract of intact old-growth forest and would be your best bet for Spotted Owls. I could type so so so much more but I think this is enough of an essay for one post already!
  9. Corvus caurinus

    Any Lifers?

    Last lifer of 2017 was a Phainopepla in Northern California in December - unusual location, apparently it's just the abundance of mistletoe at this one state park. First lifers of 2018 are an Ancient Murrelet at Yaquina Head off the Oregon Coast, and a highly cooperative Northern Saw-whet Owl that's been sitting at about eye level height in the same tree in the parking lot of Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually NWR for weeks now. The first time I went looking for the owl, it wasn't there - the ONE day it wasn't there - but I went back and got to see it yesterday. Took me until May in 2017 to see anything new so here's hoping I keep up the momentum this year!
  10. Corvus caurinus

    Frustrating Experiences with Non-birders!

    Sometimes when people see me using my binoculars, they ask what I'm looking at. If I say the actual species of birds I'm seeing, every time without fail I get a confused look in response that gives off the impression it's the first time they've ever heard those species names in their life. If, wanting to avoid that, I just say "birds," every time without fail the other person turns out to be another birder who then says "Yes, but which ones?" I think I'm just doomed to awkwardness forever, what can you do ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  11. Corvus caurinus

    SC Sparrow??

    Looks like an immature White-crowned Sparrow
  12. Corvus caurinus

    Your current nemesis bird...

    Two weeks ago I finally saw a Ferruginous Hawk, after five years of trying in the brief windows of time each year I'm anywhere near their regular range. Still working on Black Scoter and Long-tailed Duck, I try for them every winter but between inclement weather, short daylight hours, the long drive to the coast, and school and/or work keeping me busy - no luck.
  13. Corvus caurinus

    Red-eyed Vireo?

    The yellow throat and low contrast on the facial markings makes me think more Philadelphia Vireo than Red-eyed.
  14. Corvus caurinus

    September cross-country trip birds from TN, IL, SD

    Thank you both! I hadn't considered a towhee - too used to the sounds their western counterparts make - but I see now how that could fit. I also edited the vireo checklist to upload the original audio too for comparison, unfortunately it's the longest audio clip I have and the sound quality is shot because my camera takes nice photographs but terrible audio.
  15. Earlier this September my long-distance relationship upgraded to a no-distance one and that meant driving 2600 miles from the Southeast to the Northwest. I’m from Washington State and know my local birds well, but I’m not as familiar with East Coast specialties, especially not during fall migration. The focus of the trip was moving but I got several chances to bird along the way and got some (usually terrible) pictures or audio of anything I was uncertain about. Some of these I’m more confident I can ID than others, but it’s still always good to have a second opinion, especially when you don’t know the species as well. Most of them are potential lifers. some terrible quality audio from Wilson County, Tennessee DSC_0237 vree sound brown rd.wav DSC_0273 vree sound 2 brown rd.wav NO CLUE what's making this sound. Around 6PM on 9/15/17 https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S39459310 Around 10AM on 9/18/17, some kind of vireo singing but I'm not familiar enough with East Coast birds to tell which. Eldon Hazlet SP in Clinton County, Illinois I'm 95% sure this is a Black-throated Green Warbler but it's worth double checking. What throws me off is that I could not see any kind of streaking on the sides, but the lighting was terrible so that doesn't help. 6PM 9/18/17 Badlands NP in Jackson County, South Dakota Vesper sparrow??? 12:30PM, 9/22/17 On the same afternoon, here's the bird I'm most concerned about confirming, because if I'm correct it's a nemesis bird I've been after for FIVE YEARS, with a narrow two-week window every winter when I'm visiting family in California over winter break. These are two sets of photos taken around a half hour and a couple miles or so apart, so I'm not sure if it's of the same individual or not. Didn't get any clear views of the underside of this bird. It's hard to tell if its legs are fully feathered or not. It was hunting prairie dogs and perched on the ground for a moment after an unsuccessful attempt. I'm hoping for Ferruginous Hawk, based on the amount of white, the rufous back and shoulders, and slate-blue flight feathers with bright white streaks. It was too far off to really tell how long its gape and beak were. This bird had the same white streaks on its flight feathers and rufous shoulders. Again, hard to tell if the feathering extends all the way down its legs, the fluffy part stops before its feet but there might be reddish feathers below that? I'm trying to be careful that I don't blow the ID of this due to extreme wishful thinking, I'm extra cautious about an ID when it's possibly a nemesis or other much-desired bird. DSC_0237 vree sound brown rd.wav