by Jim Rogers
Jim Rogers has been birding and compiling bird count records in Curry County for over 30 years. He regularly shares his observations with KAS members in the Bird Notes column of the Storm Petrel.
Click here for archived notes, or here for the Christmas Bird Counts
Late Winter - Early Spring 2013
Jan 15 – Tim Rodenkirk observed a Rough-legged Hawk up Bethel Rd. north of Langlois on the Coos/Curry County line. This species was noted in Curry County in numerous locations this winter. It is often absent in Curry Co. winters and nests in the Arctic. He also noted the Prairie Falcon that has been overwintering in the Floras Lake area. Terry Wahl et al spotted a Northern Mockingbird up Euchre Creek near Valley Flora. During the winter period Terry noted 15-20 Palm Warblers on the family ranch in lower Elk River.
Jan. 17 – Knute Andersson spotted a Palm Warbler at the Port of Port O.
Jan. 22 – Neil Holcomb saw a Golden Eagle up Elk River near Butler Creek, a Dipper at Laird Lake, and a Snow Goose with a flock of Canada Geese at Euchre Creek.
Feb. 1 – Tim Rodenkirk and Knute Andersson noted the Say’s Phoebe overwintering at the Blue Silos.
Feb. 2 – Tim Rodenkirk saw an overwintering Snowy Egret and a Swamp Sparrow about 1.4 miles up Jerry’s Flat road in a backwater along the Rogue River. He also found a Short-eared Owl up Pistol River.
Feb. 11 – Tim Rodenkirk heard from Lucas Brug that Curry’s first ever Summer Tanager was caught by a cat but released in good condition in Brookings around the first of the month. The bird, a young male, was seen and photographed by Andrea Souler. Tim & Holly R. hiked up the Illinois trail and reported lots of Acorn Woodpeckers in the Biscuit Fire snags and brush. They also saw the Euchre Creek Snow Goose.
Feb. 13 – Sheila Chambers’ abundant bird flock has drawn the attention of a Cooper’s Hawk and a Northern Harrier. They turned up with the Pine Siskin eruption and have been thinning the flock. They recently discovered the tasty Eurasian Collared-Doves – yum!
Mar. 3 – Ryan Merrill was creeping along the Southern Oregon coast 5-8 miles offshore on a NOAA cruise. The previous day he saw over 500 Parakeet Auklets in many small flocks in Coos & Curry Co. flying to the WSW. He also saw a Laysan Albatross in Coos Co., but on this day, doing basically the same transect, he saw no Parakeets. This is a remarkable tally, considering that Parakeet Auklets are usually found at least 50 miles offshore. Ryan is a North American Birds Regional Editor for Washington. In addition in Curry Co. he recorded 9 Northern Fulmars, 2 Black-legged Kittiwakes, 8 Western Gulls, 8 Herring Gulls, 2 Glaucous-winged Gulls, 293 Common Murres, 1 Pigeon Guillemot, 1 Ancient Murrelet, 32 Cassin’s Auklets, 70 Parakeet Auklets, 2 Rhinocerous Auklets, and a Dark-eyed Junco.
Mar. 20 – Terry Wahl heard his first Whimbrel of the spring on the family ranch in the Elk River estuary. He reported that the Palm Warblers are down to two.
Mar. 23 – Trent Bray found a Say’s Phoebe in the Pistol River area.
Mar. 27 – Tim Rodenkirk found a Common Eider in Coos Bay off Fossil Point – the first ever recorded in Oregon! Far’s I know it’s still there.
Mar. 30 – Tim Rodenkirk heard his first-of-spring Vesper Sparrow up Floras Creek.
Lois Miller reports a huge warbler flock in her plum trees when they were blooming. She tallied about 20 Yellow-rumps (mostly Audubon’s with a few Myrtles, as well as Townsend’s, and Orange – crowned singing like mad. For a few days she had a different Merlin hanging out at her place (a Taiga rather than a Pacific). She notes there’s been a Bald Eagle at the Port keeping the gulls on their toes.
Apr. 7 – In Coos Co. Tim R. tallied over 400 Sooty Shearwaters just offshore.
Apr. 12 – Terry Wahl reports lots of Whimbrels heading north over the ranch. Several Palm Warblers and Yellow-rumped Warblers are on the ranch and he heard a Lapland Longspur this morning. The Aleutian Canada Geese are starting to come in. A lot of Double-crested Cormorants have been flying by. A Snow Goose spent the winter on the ranch (not the same one that overwintered at Euchre Creek).
Apr. 13 – Diane Cavaness took her middle school Birding Club to Crissey Field State Park where they tallied 24 species on a beautiful sunny day. Their tally included Chipping Sparrow, not an easy species to find in Curry Co. The kids got great looks at Red Crossbills.
We’ve had a couple of Saw-whet Owls calling for many hours at a time for the past several weeks. At first they seemed to call 24/7, but now it’s just at night. Carrie was startled to have a Barred Owl yell at her in the orchard when she woke it up in the middle of the afternoon right over her head...HOOOAW!! We have a male Rufous and a male Allen’s Hummingbird as well as lots of females coming to our feeders. Usually we just have Allen’s with an occasional brief visit by a Rufous.
That about sums it up; please e-mail me or phone 332-2555 with interesting bird sightings.
LAST UPDATED April 20, 2013
Late Fall/Early Winter 2012-13
Oct. 13 – Dave Irons, Shawneen Finnegan, Anne & Dan Heyerly came down from Portland to search for the rarities that were being seen in Curry County during those heady days. They were greeted by heavy mist and wind at Floras Lake preventing the finding of the very rare Cassin’s Sparrow that had been recently spotted there. They headed down to Pistol River in search of the Worm-eating Warbler where they found a massive flock of chickadees mixed with warblers. Anne got a brief look at it but the others struck out.
Oct. 16 – Stefan Schlick came down from Hillsboro to Pistol River but was unable to spot the Worm-eating Warbler, but did find a Tropical Kingbird.
Oct. 17 – Tim Rodenkirk came down to Floras Lake from Coos Bay on a nice sunny, windy day. No Cassin’s Sparrow, but lots of interesting birds. About 2,000 Cackling Geese were in the air and on the fields. Three Lapland Longspurs flew overhead. Lots of gulls and Brown Pelicans flying south. Distant Sooty Shearwaters and a dozen Pomarine/Parasitic Jaegars in a half hour heading south. A Palm Warbler was along the road leading to the lake and a Say’s Phoebe, apparently the usual over-wintering bird was at the blue silos. In the fields among a large Killdeer flock was a single Pectoral Sandpiper.
Oct. 28 – Knute Andersson and Lois Miller reported a few Black-legged Kittiwakes in Port Orford.
Oct. 30 – Tim reports the late Pectoral Sandpiper is still on the fields in the Floras Lake vicinity. There’s also one Swamp Sparrow at the lake.
Nov.7 – Terry Wahl had 3 Tropical Kingbirds at the family ranch in the lower Elk River which makes at least 6 in Curry County this fall.
Nov. 14 – Neil Holcomb found a pair of Redheads at the south end of the Pistol River lagoon.
Nov. 15 – Diane Cavaness reports two White-throated Sparrows, two Varied Thrushes and a Slate-colored Dark-eyed Junco in her yard in Brookings.
Nov. 20 – Wendell Wood reported a single Greater White-fronted Goose at the mouth of the Chetco. Also there were 3 Heerman’s Gulls and a half dozen Black-legged Kittiwakes flying very low and occasionally landing between the waves.
Nov. 23 – Knute saw at least 6 Palm Warblers, possibly quite a few more between the Blue Silos and Floras Lake. There was also the probably over-wintering Say’s Phoebe at the silos. In the field on the way into the lake he counted 3,000 Cackling Geese.
Nov. 25 – Knute reported a late Tree Swallow at the Hughes house on the way out to Cape Blanco.
Dec. 1 – Neil Holcomb reported that Nancy Treneman found a Snow Goose among the 280 or so waterfowl in the south end of the Pistol River lagoon.
Dec. 2 – A Crested Caracara has been hanging out on the wrong side of the Coos/Curry line on a private ranch north west of Langlois and is still there. Coincidentally, one that has been spotted in Del Norte County for some time has disappeared.
Dec. 15 – Mark Stevens, who lives just north of Brookings, has had a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker coming to his feeder since around the 1st of Dec.
Dec. 18 – The Crested Caracara was seen in Curry County for several days by the landowner and has now moved back north into Coos. Caracaras are large falcons that mostly eat carrion. They are found in Texas and New Mexico and throughout Mexico. With their white head and tail they at first appear to be a Bald Eagle when cruising overhead, but their white wing tips give them away.
Dec. 18 – Sheila Chambers spotted a Brown-headed Cowbird fighting for food with the Brewers and a few Red-winged Blackbirds at her place south of Brookings. A few winter along the coast but most head for southern Calif. and NW Mexico.
Dec. 20 – Terry Wahl still has a Lark Sparrow hanging out at the family ranch in lower Elk River. Alan Contreras notes that they are occasionally found in winter in the Rogue Valley. They mostly have sense enough to winter in Mexico. Terry notes that Palm Warblers have been abundant this winter. He’s had as many as 9 on the ranch and thinks there are more around. Earlier in the week he found a Northern Mockingbird up Floras Creek at Valley Flora.
Dec. 23 – The Port Orford Christmas Bird Count got off to a wet start with 2.4 inches of rain during the night and early morning, but by late morning it stopped and the rest of the day was dry with a light breeze. The ten participants tallied 132 species and 11,153 individuals. The star of the show was the Crested Caracara which, along with Prairie Falcon, American Kestrel, Merlin and Peregrine Falcon made five falcon species. For awhile we thought we had Gyrfalcon as well, but after reviewing Lois’ photo, the experts determined it was just a Peregrine (albeit a chubby one). The other major rarity was a Hermit Warbler foraging in the grass with the juncos. It should have been in Mexico or Central America. Other birds of interest include Eurasian Wigeon, Black Scoter, American Bittern, Green Heron, 6 Rough-legged Hawks, Black-legged Kittiwake, Ancient Murrelet, Short-eared Owl, Say’s Phoebe, Palm Warbler, Lark Sparrow, and Lapland Longspur.
Dec. 30 – Lois saw the Caracara flying over the marsh on the Cape Blanco road just before the road goes up to the Hughes House, and, to my knowledge, it hasn’t been seen again.
Jan. 2, 2013 – Jim Heaney saw a very early (over-wintering?) Turkey Vulture in lower Sixes River while searching in vain for the Caracara.
Jan.17 – Terry Wahl reports 15-20 Palm Warblers on the family ranch in lower Elk River. The Lark Sparrow that showed up on the ranch on Dec. 20 was last seen shortly after New Years.
Jan. 17 – Knute Andersson saw a Palm Warbler at the Port of Port O.
And that’s all she wrote. Please let me know of your sightings: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last updated Jan. 18, 2013