J2E BSWA Bird Walk Tour May 15, 2021
By Dave Hibbs
The clear, cool morning bird walk began by the lower pond with tree and cliff swallows clearing the sky around us of bugs we couldn’t see. The black phoebes perched on the dock grabbed a few, too.
This bird tour of the Ehlers’ J2E Tree Farm was led by two marvelous birders, Joel Geier and Tim Johnson. I appreciated not just Joel’s ID skills but his ecological understanding of the different birds. Tim’s ability to hear and ID birds by ear makes me very, very jealous. They were both very patient and enthusiastic with the twenty-or-so of us who joined them that day.
We were led up a broad drainage that is outstanding bird habitat, a diverse mix of hardwood trees and shrubs with young and older conifers. There were more service berry bushes than I have seen anywhere in Oregon; they are great berry producers for birds, bears and people. The slope rising to the north of the drainage had oaks recently released from Douglas-fir. The slope to the south was recently thinned Douglas-fir.
The MacGillivray’s warbler is an uncommon, stunning warbler that put on a show for us. Well, he was putting on a show for the female warblers, but we got to watch. Picture a bright yellow bird that had its head and neck dipped in black ink and then white eye-liner applied above and below each eye. Singing its heart out.
We identified 43 different birds and learned a lot about some of them. I will try to remember some of their calls the next time I am out in the woods. There were many side conversations going on throughout the morning, so I know much more was being learned than just bird songs.