It has been a busy weekend of volunteering for the Audubon Society of Portland. Sleeping-in was not an option, but I work at home and can nap when I please, so no worries!
On Saturday, Sarah and I helped out at the Festival of the Birds, a celebration of Migratory Bird Day cosponsored by Portland Audubon, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and City of Portland.
I led several birdwalks through Oaks Bottom Urban Wildlife Refuge, Sarah coordinated many events and led a birdwalk of her own, and Andie helped greet guests at the birdwalk registration tent.
Audubon's educational bird celebrities Julio the great horned owl and Jack the American kestrel were there as well.
We tried to limit birdwalk participants to twelve per walk, but my last group somehow swelled to 30 people by the time we reached the wetland.
As we walked along narrow trails, I raced back and forth to make sure everyone could see and identify the birds. Most people had never been birding and were amazed that birds such as great blue herons could exist within city limits!
By the end of the day, we had accumulated an impressive bird list.
Sarah's group had a particularly productive walk, spotting a peregrine falcon and a pair of western kingbirds, which are rare this side of the Cascades.
After a long day of introducing the public to the joys of birding, the three of us celebrated with a pitcher of IPA and sandwiches at the Lucky Lab Tavern.
On Sunday (Happy Mother's Day, Mom) I woke early to lead a field trip at Noble Park for Portland Audubon. I had been looking forward to leading a trip here since I rediscovered the park in February, but the forceast called for rain, so I was unsure if anyone would arrive. The weather was better than expected, and I had a nice group of four to join me in a walk around the park. The birds were pretty slow to wake up, but a few came around. Robins were the only singers to be heard at first, but they were eventually joined by the newly-arrived black-headed grosbeak. Their songs are similar to the robins' but more whistled, less complex, and eager in quality. It seems as if they are saying "Hey! look at me, listen to how fast I can sing!" After a few minutes of singing, grosbeak flew into view with its orange and yellow colors glowing in the sun. This great look was the highlight of the walk.
Down the trail, I showed everyone a nice bushtit nest under construction in a grand fir.
The pair has been working on the nest for about three weeks. Quite a long construction process for such a small bird. We watched the parents bring material into the nest and the walls wiggled as they were reinforced from the inside. As we completed the loop, we spotted a few more birds and everyone was happy to see that a such a great forested park could be maintained within such a rapidly growing metro area.
Birds seen or heard at Noble Woods:
Pacific Slope Flycatcher
Black-throated Gray Warbler