So I took the long way back east from Portland so I could take my kids to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, where I became a birder back in August 1981. I spent a week there on a junior high school science trip and started my birding life list there. I returned each year at least once, often twice, to search for eastern vagrants during spring and fall migration throughout high school, but haven't been back since.
Mosquitoes were horrible there today, so we just birded from the car. Kids got great looks at some fun birds including Black-necked Stilts, American Avocets, Golden Eagle, and Prairie Falcon. We also got close looks at three Pronghorn.
I love Malheur and am so glad to get to finally share it with my kids, if only for a couple hours on a hot July afternoon!
So last week I got to spend six days camping with my extended family at Milo McIver State Park on the Clackamas River in Oregon. Part of the fun was leading a Bird ID workshop for my kids and their cousins. After a powerpoint presentation on how to ID birds, we did a nice bird walk the next morning where we saw some fun birds including Osprey, Cedar Waxwings, Black-headed Grosbeaks, and Western Tanager. Fun for everyone!
So after our little murre rescue yesterday, I took the kids to Cannon Beach to look for Tufted Puffins nesting on Haystack Rock. The birds were pretty easy to see, but not so easy to show others with a scope as they were mostly flying around and disappearing into their nesting burrows with fish to feed their babies. But some of our group got to see one perched on a ledge for a few moments, while others saw them flying around the rock. And then there were the puffin statues and info right in town. We assuaged our so-so birding results by getting candy at the Buzz candy store in Seaside. Me, I had the chocolate covered bacon!
Last week we were in Utah and I met up with birding buddy Bill Fenimore from Layton to go out and find Flammulated Owls (photo here). Last time I tried with him it was too late in the season, and all we found were Western Screech Owls in Ogden and flying squirrels up the canyon. This time I had the Junior Birdchasers with me, along with their cousins. The Junior Birdchasers are always good luck, so I figured it would be easy.
We met up with Bill at the mouth of Weber Canyon and headed up the back side of the mountain before dark to scope out some nice roadside aspen groves. At dusk we started playing a tape and sure enough we heard a Flammulated Owl reply within five minutes. Unfortunately we couldn't see the bird, so we headed up to the next spot a couple miles along the road.
At the second spot we heard two birds and quickly had one come in right beside the road. Everybody got fantastic looks at this tiny little moth-eating owl that few people get to see unless they make the effort to go out looking for them.
Bill did a great job and my kids got a great look. My kids are still talking about it and will for a long time, I'm sure!
So I'm at Hug Point on the Oregon Coast with my family and the kids find a Common Murre washed up on the beach. It doesn't want to swim away when I put it back in the water, but can't tell immediately what might be wrong with it. I would probably just leave it alone but my six year old is adamant that I should be saving it. So I do a quick search for a local wildlife rescue group and a few minutes later we have a plan to take it to the Seaside Aquarium so that the Wildlife Center of the North Coast can pick it up. An hour later the bird is dropped off. Dad's a hero. Kids are playing in the sand like nothing happened.