Diario del proyecto Inland Pacific Northwest Raptor Migration 2021

02 de diciembre de 2021

November Summary

Top 5 Species (November):
Red-tailed Hawk -- 70 obs
Rough-legged Hawk -- 20 obs (new to Top 5)
Bald Eagle -- 18 obs (-1)
Northern Harrier -- 11 obs (returned to Top 5)
American Kestrel -- 10 obs (-1)

Top 5 Species (Overall):
Red-tailed Hawk -- 332 obs
American Kestrel -- 66 obs (+2)
Turkey Vulture -- 61 obs (-1)
Bald Eagle -- 58 obs (new to Top 5)
Osprey -- 53 obs (-2)

Total Species Overall: 29

Top 5 Observers (Observations):
birdwhisperer -- 295 obs
@cgates326 -- 52 obs
@masonmaron -- 47 obs
@andybridges -- 40 obs
@the-catfinch -- 38 obs

Top 5 Observers (Species):
birdwhisperer -- 20 species
cgates326 -- 14 species
@jnelson -- 13 species
masonmaron -- 11 species
the-catfinch -- 11 species

Species Still Not Observed: White-tailed Kite, Snowy Owl, Northern Hawk-Owl, Spotted Owl, Boreal Owl, Gyrfalcon

New Species in November: None

**Counties Needing Observations: WA -- Columbia -- OR -- Gilliam, Jefferson

News and What to Expect in December: Wow, we are on the last leg of our journey. Thirty days from now, this project will come to a close for the season, thus ending 3 years I've done this project. I wish it hadn't ended so soon but that's how life goes. My biggest goal is to get some new species added. On average and including the coastal survey group, our projects get about 30 species per year. If we were to end the project today, we'd have the 2nd worst record in terms of variety, all because we didn't get one species. I've been successful in getting 30 for the project in both 2019 and 2020 and I'm not stopping now. But with a report of a Snowy Owl in Pendleton, Oregon and a Gyrfalcon in Wallowa, Oregon, I see myself getting busy. Any chances of me revisiting my Blue Mountain Boreal Owl for an iNat-able documentation is out of the question now since the mountains are now under 8 inches of snow, but you might still be able to get it on Mt. Rainier if you're lucky.

Observation of the Week goes to myself because I'm selfish. But come on, look at this male American Kestrel! I've never seen a kestrel so close to my property let alone so cooperative with me standing so close for that fantastic image. Our smallest falcon, kestrels are pretty good mousers and they're better at it than the cats. You can see them in most open habitats sitting on wires, making them a common species for the project, as you can see above. You can see the image here and hopefully you can get a photo too of this adorable little kestrel.


I've chosen jnelson's Great Horned Owl from Harney as the Observation for the Month because I think it's a good discussion species. Recently, I've been helping to implement the new avian taxonomy to iNaturalist but I figured out during this that one of these new changes will be the addition of 3 new Great Horned Owl subspecies. Oh boy, that's no good. It's hard to explain the situation in one paragraph but I agree there are some subspecies but individual variation really blurs the lines with other subspecies. The iNat revision will put all southeastern Oregon owls in the new subspecies pinorum. But Nelson's photo shows a bird that looks remarkably pale, almost like unto pallescens of the southwest deserts. That should be way out of range for them and being a sedentary species, the chances are that much more decreased. My theory, Great Horned Owls are polymorphic, like Red-tailed Hawks. I say this because there are owls in Walla Walla, which is the type locality of lagophonus, that are paired with an owl as dark as saturatus in the Haida Gwaii or some pale enough to be pallescens like Nelson's owl. How factual that is, we'll see but I can see for certain the owl in the link is paler than it should be.


When I wrote the monthly post last time, the project was at 686 observations. Since then, we've sailed high and above to get 911. That puts us a whole 6 observations away from breaking our 2020 record. I think I can say we got this in the bag, this week is all we need, especially with the inflow we're getting. This also leaves me hopeful we can break our 2019 record, which is currently 147 observations away (1058). We just need to keep up the good work and with Christmas Bird Counts coming up, we're giving plenty of opportunities. Good luck!

Ingresado el 02 de diciembre de 2021 por birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

25 de noviembre de 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Hope you're all having a good day with family. If you want the weekly news, 42 observations added in the past week puts the project's total count to 868. We are now literally fifty more reports away from breaking our 2020 record and that was my goal all along, to surpass our all-time low. And if we continue strong, we'll break the 2019 record.

Yesterday was really exciting for me, so the Observation of the Week goes to myself. While driving the road that hugs the Union/Baker county border, a Red-tailed Hawk take off from the field, flew past us, then looped back until it landed directly above. When I saw it in flight, I saw the bright white uppertail coverts and the person I was birding with saw the thin patagium and white underwings. As I leaned dangerously out my car window and taking photos of the bird above me, I saw the white throat, unmarked flanks and a heavily retained molt. This hawk is not a local. I think it's a give or take case, a more lightly marked abieticola or a more heavily marked borealis. Either way a vagrant that shouldn't be here, but maybe not so much. Maybe I'm just the luckiest hawk watcher out there, or these vagrants are more common than reported as this'll represent my fifth or sixth abieticola/borealis Red-tailed. You can see my photos here:


While you all eat a delicious turkey today, we are approaching the last week of November. Raptors are definitely coming in in strong numbers. Besides my vagrant Red-tailed, I also got two Harlan's (my fourth of the season), a Sharp-shinned, Rough-legged Hawk, a bunch of kestrels and my favorite spot, a Northern Pygmy-Owl. It is a perfect time for raptor watching, especially since the first snow fell this week. Good luck to you and have a good day!

Ingresado el 25 de noviembre de 2021 por birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

21 de noviembre de 2021

Winter Arrivals

Thirty observations brings the total observation count over 800. For mid-November, this is good news for me but we shouldn't let up. Let's continue heading towards that thousand observation goal. And if it helps with motivation, we're only 90 away from breaking last year's record.

It was difficult to chose the Observation of the Week. We have a very nice Rough-legged Hawk posting, I had a sleeping Great Horned, and I had my first encounter with a dark morph Ferruginous Hawk. But out of all of that, I think the prize goes to @nmrveji for a photo of a Black Merlin. To the best of knowledge, this does not only mark our very first Black Merlin in the three years I've been doing this project, but also our first non-Taiga Merlin. They can be discerned by the much more common and expected race of Merlin by the lack of white bands on the tails (some can have up to at least 3 incomplete bands), dark head that obscures the teardrop stripes below the eye, and underparts more heavily marked. You can see the photo here:


Not only has this been a good week for raptors, it's also looking to be a good year for finches. It is only mid-November and we are seeing numbers of redpolls and White-winged Crossbills that haven't been seen in Washington or Oregon since the 2012-2013 winter. This "irruption" is looking to be quite spectacular and it might also be a good sign for us raptor watchers. These high counts of winter species might also mean we'll see an unusual increase and southward migration of the Arctic 3; Rough-legged Hawk, Snowy Owl and Gyrfalcon. I can feel it, this winter is going to be good.

Ingresado el 21 de noviembre de 2021 por birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

10 de noviembre de 2021

Two Weeks Worth

It has been crazy two weeks, hence why I haven't posted, but with the additions of 84 observations, we now sit at 760 reports this project season. This little push in reports now puts us on pace to break last year's record and possibly even the 2019 season. So keep up the good work!

The Observation of the Week (Oct 28-Nov 3) goes to @joy41 for an image of a perched juvenile Northern Harrier at Summer Lake, Oregon. I always find aging harriers really difficult but this one we can tell is a hatch year individual based on the relatively unstreaked underparts and strong rufous wash. Females tend to be more brownish or whitish with heavily streaked underparts. But you get those oddballs that blur the lines with aging, we're just lucky this one is so easy!


The Observation of the Week (Nov 4-10) goes to @flammulated for a Northern Saw-whet Owl in the Steens, Oregon. This is the fourth saw-whet owl of the project but by far the best quality image yet. What amazes me about these little owls is how often they're overlooked. I read a post at Rocky Point Bird Observatory that they caught and banded 1,000 saw-whets this fall season! Imagine if we could find them at their day roosts as often as they are caught. Just wow!


Winter is starting to set in and it looks like we have a good winter ahead of us. I'm seeing an redpoll irruption that is long overdue in the West, so what does that mean for other species? Could this be the year of the Snowy Owl? Gyrfalcon? Only one way to find out.

Ingresado el 10 de noviembre de 2021 por birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

01 de noviembre de 2021

October Summary

Top 5 Species (October):
Red-tailed Hawk -- 43 obs
Bald Eagle -- 14 obs (new to Top 5)
Great Horned Owl -- 12 (returns to Top 5)
American Kestrel -- 9 (-1)
Merlin -- 8 (new to Top 5)

Top 5 Species (Overall):
Red-tailed Hawk -- 235 obs
Turkey Vulture -- 60 obs
Osprey -- 52 obs
American Kestrel -- 49 obs (+1)
Swainson's Hawk -- 44 obs (-1)

Total Species Overall: 29

Top 5 Observers (Observations): birdwhisperer 205 obs, @cgates326 48 obs, @masonmaron 41 obs, @andybridges 40 obs, @jnelson 17 obs

Top 5 Observers (Species): birdwhisperer 18 species, cgates 14 species, masonmaron 10 species, andybridges 9 species, jnelson 9 species

Species Still Not Observed: White-tailed Kite, Snowy Owl, Northern Hawk-Owl, Spotted Owl, Boreal Owl, Gyrfalcon -- 6 species

New Species in October: Rough-legged Hawk -- 1 species

Counties Needing Observations: WA -- Columbia -- OR -- Gilliam, Morrow, Jefferson

News and What to Expect in November: The next thirty days, we should be keeping our eyes out for winter specialty species. That includes Rough-legged Hawks, Gyrfalcons and Snowy Owls. Thought your best chances of seeing these species is in December, they can show up around now. Also look for other, more common wintering species like Harlan's Hawk or vagrant Red-tails. In fact, I might've spotted an Eastern Red-tailed today in Idaho, unfortunately not within the perimeters of the project but it could end up here.

For the week of October 21-27, I'm nominating myself for the Observation of the Week for a fine Red-tailed Hawk in Walla Walla. What can I say about them, they're fantastic and honestly, I can't wait for my mind to go through the loops when the migrants come and I have to sort them out. You can see my photo here:


Observation of the Month goes to @joy41 for a photo of a Bald Eagle in Summer Lake, Oregon. The national bird, it looks like he's kind of sick of the photographer. But we can all agree raptors always have a perpetual glare. Link to that photo below:


In terms of pacing, the project is now at 686 observations! If we post up to 30 observations per week in order to break our 2020 record, and if we want the all-time record, we need at least 40 observation per week to break it. However October was not the best month for new observations, when there's just as many cool stuff about. So just take pictures, even if it's the Red-tailed in your neighborhood. Good luck to you all and I hope you have a good month.

Ingresado el 01 de noviembre de 2021 por birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

21 de octubre de 2021

Eagles and Owls

Twenty-four observations were added during the week and there's more to come since I have a half a dozen or so that still needs uploading. Weather is not holding up in the eastern side of the state, so though birding is slow, we can still look forward to what's next.

The observation of the week goes to @chrisrohrer for a photo of a Great Gray Owl blending into the forest of the Okanogan region. As I continue to tell everybody, this region in north-central Washington is a raptor magnet and it's a shame no one really birds the area. But when you see one of the largest owls in the Americas, it's definitely a thrilling experience. You can see the image here:


As for the following week, you folks need to hold up the team. Starting Saturday, I start my vacation to the Oregon coast so I won't be within the project's perimeters. I'm hoping that my pelagic trip won't be cancelled but the ocean is not being very cooperative. But even if it's a no-go, I'm stilling be birding along the coast for most of the weekend. So photograph some raptors while I'm gone and make me jealous!

Ingresado el 21 de octubre de 2021 por birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

14 de octubre de 2021

Lucky Hawks

Sixteen new observations join our little collage. Not a lot but just remember, if we are going to break last year's observation count, we need to add at least 31 observations per week. If we want a record-breaking year, we need to add 44 observations a week to break our 2019 record.

Observation of the week goes to @teachertom for a photo a juvenile Broad-winged Hawk in Frenchglen. I initially identified this bird when Tom posted this image to ABA group on Facebook. And I'm sure you can guess my excitement when I learned today that he's an iNatter too. This observation also represents the third Broad-winged Hawk of the season! To all the doubters who said they don't occur in eastern WA and OR, take that! This is just another testament to why a project like this is so vital in understanding raptor behavior. What also impresses me about this sighting is how late this bird is. At Lucky Peak in Boise, peak Broad-winged season is the third week in September and seeing any hawks at all after October is rare. You can see this awesome photo here:


It's still owl season, though the mountains just became a little inaccessible. From coming into work this morning, the Wallowas and Blue Mountain were crispy white with the first snow of the season. I went up last Friday looking for Barred Owls. I was able to obtain an audio of a saw-whet owl that you can barely hear at the end but couldn't get the Barred. I'm going to out again this weekend looking for more saw-whets in Baker County, though the Boreal Owl I couldn't record two weeks ago is really tempting me to go back. So get out, photograph some raptors and good luck to you all!

Ingresado el 14 de octubre de 2021 por birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

07 de octubre de 2021


Looks like we're having a relapse after the great success we've had. Only 21 observations have been added and that puts us just below the 555 mark. I will go out later this week to see owls though. Maybe I'll get a Barred. Either way, I'll help keep us on track.

Observation of the week goes to @philkahler for a sleepy looking Great Horned Owl in Walla Walla. This is always an easy species to see in my opinion but it's always fun to see them because... well they're owls. It gives me more motivation to see if I can record the pair calling at house. You can see the photo here:


Not much to say in the ways of news. I think I mentioned this in my last post, but I heard a Boreal Owl the other night, though unfortunately, I couldn't make an iNat-able observation. It represents the 2nd Union County record, the first was three weeks after I was born. I may try again for that owl but I don't want to stress him out. Good luck to you and see some hawks and owls!

Ingresado el 07 de octubre de 2021 por birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

02 de octubre de 2021

September Summary

Top 5 Species (September):
Red-tailed Hawk -- 90 obs
Turkey Vulture -- 17 obs (+2)
American Kestrel -- 11 obs (returns to Top 5)
Northern Harrier -- 9 obs (new to Top 5)
Sharp-shinned Hawk -- 8 obs (new to Top 5)

Top 5 Species (Overall):
Red-tailed Hawk -- 174 obs
Turkey Vulture -- 50 obs (+2)
Osprey -- 49 obs (-1)
Swainson's Hawk -- 44 obs (-1)
American Kestrel -- 34 obs

Total Species Overall: 28

Top 5 Observers (Observations): birdwhisperer 170 obs, @andybridges 40 obs, @cgates326 35 obs, @jnelson 16 obs, and @uta_stansburiana 15 obs

Top 5 Observers (Species): birdwhisperer 15 species, cgates326 10 species, jnelson 9 species, andybridges 9 species, and @wyattherp 7 species

Species Still Not Observed: White-tailed Kite, Rough-legged Hawk, Snowy Owl, Northern Hawk-Owl, Spotted Owl, Boreal Owl, Gyrfalcon -- 7 species

New Species in September: Northern Goshawk, Broad-winged Hawk -- 2 species

Counties Needing Observations: WA -- Ferry, Columbia -- OR -- Gilliam, Morrow, Jefferson

News and What to Expect in September: As many of you are aware, each month has a different theme. July is wrapping up the breeding season of nesters. August is where we see all the local juveniles mastering flight and hunting. September is migration month and you need to watch the sky. While October... that's owl month. I don't know what makes this month so special but for some reason, this is the best time of year to go owling and be successful in hearing or seeing owls. In fact, I did a little owling last night and I got something that'll might make everyone jealous. Only problem is, I tried but could not record him... a Boreal Owl.

I only see it fitting to make the Observation of the Month be on the same species that I've been begging birders to fit, so without further adieu, @masonmaron gets the spotlight with his dark morph Broad-winged Hawk near Chelan. His report represents the second BWHA this year and the third one since I started this project in 2019. I am certain that BWHA are much more common than reported, we just need to find them and hopefully photograph them when we see them. You can see this excellent spot here:


That's all I need to say for now. Just go out, photograph some raptors, if you have a free night, try recording some owl calls during night trips. We are just under the 500 observation threshold for this project and I really want to surpass the previous year's in observations. We're halfway over, and we are on pace to break the 2020 record, but not 2019. Photograph, photograph, photograph. Good luck to you all and hope you get some good hawks and owls!

Ingresado el 02 de octubre de 2021 por birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

30 de septiembre de 2021

Banding the Hawks

Thirty-seven observations is not a lot but it was a wild week. As you will come to know in a minute, it was ridiculously hard for me to chose an observation for the week. There were so many good spots! I photographed a juvenile California Red-shouldered Hawk near Pendleton. On the same day, I ran into Jamie Simmons and he has submitted a couple of Red-tails while he was on this side of the state. Mason Maron got to photograph several Accipiters while they were being banded. Mason also photographed the second Broad-winged Hawk of the project. Another user submitted an amazing closeup of a Great Horned Owl. But the winner out of all these sightings... is Ken Chamberlain.

@kenchamberlain gets the Observation of the Week because his photo of a banded Sharp-shinned Hawk is simply amazing. You can see all the minute details in the face, the dark nape that confirms the id. It's just a work of art. And I hope soon, I can attend a banding season at Mount Hood or maybe Chelan.


I'll post again in a couple of days but there's not much left to say that I haven't already said in previous post. Last week to see Broad-winged Hawks people, and October is a great time to look for owls, especially Boreal. Good luck to all of you!

Ingresado el 30 de septiembre de 2021 por birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario