Under her wing

Upon first glance there was something a bit odd, a bit unusual about this female Ruffed Grouse. She just seemed a bit bigger, a bit puffed out compared to other females we have seen. It didn’t take long to figure out what was going on as you can only keep a clutch of fidgety Ruffed Grouse chicks still and under wraps for so long.

At first these little guys were just peeking out from under Mom’s wing a little cautious but ever so curious.

Yet within a minute or two they began to emerge from under cover.

Then in the blink of an eye they were darting out and into the tall grasses in search of a meal and quickly disappearing from sight.

We counted six little grouse emerge from under mom’s wings that morning. Each darting off into the cover of the grasses and the whole gang disappearing just as quick as they appeared.

More birds and berries

The Chokecherries were the big hit on the menu this week. Just like the Western Tanager family a group of American Robins found them to their liking as well.

In fact they were head twistingly irresistible.

It’s amazing to watch them slurp them down in a single gulp and man the seeds in chokecherries are large.

Just like the Tanager family we watched earlier in the week the adults took time demonstrating where and how to eat this fall treat.

Parting ways

Late summer is always a bit of a down time for birders living in the more northern reaches. A time when the forest goes eerily silent and a feeling of loss seems to enter your heart. Thus it was a wonderful surprise to see this Warbling Vireo hop into plain sight a few days ago. While they look a bit low keyed they are prolific singers who had graced our forests with their songs most of June and early July. Then silence.

Birds and berries

Just a week or so ago we noticed a flurry of activity in the serviceberry and chokecherry bushes nearby as family of Western Tanagers moved back and forth between the two. It appeared that on this day the fledglings were being taught an invaluable lesson and getting a good meal as the result. While the male seemed to fly in and out of the bushes quickly picking a berry and flying up into a Douglas Fir tree to consume his meal mom gathered the two young ones and showed them how it was done.

A fledgling taking stock of the work ahead.

While the fruit was abundant the picking was not always easy and at times a bit of aerial acrobatics was required as mom show the kids how it was done.

As much of the natural landscape disappears it is evident that we need to consider other species in how we landscape our yards and what better way than by planting some berry producing shrubs and trees for the birds. This article contains just a few suggestions that might help.

In the fir: American Goldfinch

This summer a family of American Goldfinches has made their home in the fir trees nearby. Many a day have been brightened by their singing and the flight call as they move from treetop to treetop. A few weeks back we watched this male Goldfinch searching the ends of the branches in a tree with abundant fresh growth.

The trees were teaming with small caterpillars and this guy looks to have found a nice meal that afternoon.

Meal devoured and a victory pose well struck.

Have a wonderful weekend.


A male Yellow-rumped Warbler bringing home a mouthful to feed the family. It’s hard to believe that while this photo was only taken just a few weeks ago the Yellow-rumped Warblers have already left our forests for the season. August is always a strange month and now that most of the migratory birds have left just seems stranger.

Before you leave: the boys

Well another week has come and gone and while a few Calliope Hummingbirds are hanging around the neighborhood the number have decreased significantly this past week. By all accounts we have only observed two this week. Therefore another tribute to this mighty little hummingbird is in order. While last week we featured the females this week we feature a handful of the many photos of the boys we collected over the summer.

We sure will miss that little flash of brilliant color.

Until next year we bid you adieu.

We sit you a wonderful weekend.

A ray of sunshine

It’s a been a summer filled with smoky skies and when the sun was out it seemed dulled and lacking that cheery-summery feeling. However, even when skies were hazy and the sunlight dimmed, there were always male Western Tanagers to illuminate the haze filled skies .

With a brood to feed this male was busy collecting mouthfuls of flying ants to bring to the nest. We watched him make several trips to an ant nest a black bear had recently exposed behind a pile of rocks.

Like an atomic fireball they filled the summer skies with an yellower-yellow and orange-orange. Even when we could only hear their “Chib-it” sounds from the treetops above we knew the sun was in the sky.

And when the ants had retreated into their nest wasp was on the menu.

We are not sure how much longer you will be around but based upon previous years it will only be a week or two but one thing is certain. You have provided us with a ray of bright crisp sunshine this summer and we can’t thank you enough.