Posted by on May 10, 2017 in Birding, Gallery, Oregon | 36 comments

It’s always exciting in our cross-country travels to encounter birds that we don’t usually see. But it’s also rewarding to make friends with the birds in our own backyard, and to have the opportunity to observe them as they go about their daily lives.

The birdlife is abundant and diverse in our little corner of the world. Although we haven’t moved our trailer for almost seven months, we haven’t lacked for bird sightings. Every morning, a White-breasted Nuthatch forages in the cedar outside our dining room window. Black-capped Chickadees, Scrub Jays, Stellar’s Jays, and Oak Titmice are regular visitors to nearby feeders, and families of California Quail patrol the grounds, zooming by like wind-up toys.

A serene pond just steps from our trailer shelters geese, ducks, blackbirds, and the occasional heron, even throughout the snowy winter. Come spring, the geese and blackbirds build nests. This year, we’ve been watching the Wood Duck nest box, hoping there will soon be babies.

At Emigrant Lake, just down the road, a large and varied population of woodpeckers fly among the gnarled oaks, entertaining us with their raucous calls on our daily long walks. Bluebirds flash by in a streak of sapphire, and brilliant yellow goldfinches appear in vast flocks, singing their little hearts out. Bald Eagles and Osprey dive for fish, while Red-tailed Hawks soar overhead. Recently, we came upon a fierce, fluffy owlet—and spotted the Great Horned Owl parent in a nearby tree.

It all delights us. But by far, our most extraordinary bird experience this year involved a family of Rock Wrens. Colored pale gray and brown, the diminutive songbirds blend perfectly with their favorite environment of arid, rocky canyons. We’ve spotted a few on our walks around Emigrant Lake, where they hang out on the rocky, boulder-strewn shores, making themselves known by their buzzy trills and comical bouncing movements.

Usually, Rock Wrens nest in rock crevices, hidden from sight. But just a few weeks ago, we discovered a pair of wrens nesting in a most unusual place. Several mornings in a row, we noticed wrens flying in and out of a steel pipe that serves as a gated entry to the lake. When we peered into the pipe, a pile of tiny stones marked the entrance. Rock Wrens have the unique habit of building “walkways” for their nests, and this was a telltale sign that the wrens had chosen the pipe for nesting.

Each morning, we looked forward to visiting the wrens. A couple of weeks passed, and we observed the pair busily foraging and carrying a variety of insects and spiders into the pipe. One day, Eric photographed a wren bringing a small lizard to the nest—our ornithologist friends told us this is highly unusual behavior, and something that had never before been recorded.

We surmised that the eggs had hatched, and were looking forward to seeing the fledglings when they emerged. But late one afternoon last week, Eric rode his bike to the lake to check on the wrens, and sent me a heartbreaking text—“The wren parents were killed today.” Both had been hit by cars while foraging for food along the roadside.

Neither of us could bear the thought of the nestlings starving to death while waiting in vain for their parents to deliver food. Even though we knew there was a slim chance for success, we decided to try to save them.

Equipped with a small cardboard box lined with paper towels and a jar of live bugs, we set out on our rescue mission. As we approached the pipe, we could hear the nestlings calling for their parents. The babies were more than a foot deep into the pipe, and although I was voting for Eric to stick his hand in the pipe, mine was the one that fit. I wedged my hand into the pipe halfway to my elbow, groped around, and one by one, gently dragged the nestlings out. Once secure in their temporary cardboard box nest, Eric fed the hungry babies the bugs he had captured.

We’re not experts in wild bird care, so we turned the wren babies over to Badger Run, a wonderful wildlife rehab center in Klamath Falls. The people there are extraordinarily dedicated, skilled, and compassionate. (And they can use all the help they can get—with no funding from state or federal agencies, they rely on donations and volunteer efforts.) Liz, one of the founding members of Badger Run, has been taking the wren babies along to her “day job” as an insurance agent, because they must be fed every 15 minutes.

As of today, one week after their rescue, the nestlings are thriving. In just a few weeks, they’ll be returned to Emigrant Lake, where they’ll be released back into their home territory. We’re sad that we won’t be here to see them take flight, but we’re preparing to take flight ourselves as we resume our fulltime travels. We’re hoping next fall, if we’re lucky, we’ll see the wrens in our walks around the lake.

Next Up: A Hike In The Enchanted Forest

An Acorn Woodpecker, Always Fun To See

Acorn Woodpecker

Lewis's Woodpecker

Red-Breasted Sapsucker

Red-Naped Sapsucker

Northern Flicker

Wood Ducks At The Pond

Canada Geese And Ring-Necked Ducks

Mama Goose And Gosling

Patrolling Our Site

The Views Are Grand

California Quail

Red Winged Blackbird

Stellar's Jay

Black-Capped Chickadee

Rufous Hummingbird

American Goldfinch

Cedar Waxwing

Bald Eagle

Killdeer

Killdeer Nest

Common Merganser Family

American Dipper And Chick

Western Bluebird

Great Horned Owl

Cute And Fierce Owlet

Rock Wren

An Unusual Place For A Nest

Carrying A Lizard Back To The Nest

Hungry Baby Rock Wrens

Planning The Rescue Mission

Getting The Baby Rock Wrens Out

Successful Rescue!

An Acorn Woodpecker, Always Fun To See
Acorn Woodpecker
Lewis's Woodpecker
Red-Breasted Sapsucker
Red-Naped Sapsucker
Northern Flicker
Wood Ducks At The Pond
Canada Geese And Ring-Necked Ducks
Mama Goose And Gosling
Patrolling Our Site
The Views Are Grand
California Quail
Red Winged Blackbird
Stellar's Jay
Black-Capped Chickadee
Rufous Hummingbird
American Goldfinch
Cedar Waxwing
Bald Eagle
Killdeer
Killdeer Nest
Common Merganser Family
American Dipper And Chick
Western Bluebird
Great Horned Owl
Cute And Fierce Owlet
Rock Wren
An Unusual Place For A Nest
Carrying A Lizard Back To The Nest
Hungry Baby Rock Wrens
Planning The Rescue Mission
Getting The Baby Rock Wrens Out
Successful Rescue!
An Acorn Woodpecker, Always Fun To See thumbnail
Acorn Woodpecker thumbnail
Lewis's Woodpecker thumbnail
Red-Breasted Sapsucker thumbnail
Red-Naped Sapsucker thumbnail
Northern Flicker thumbnail
Wood Ducks At The Pond thumbnail
Canada Geese And Ring-Necked Ducks thumbnail
Mama Goose And Gosling thumbnail
Patrolling Our Site thumbnail
The Views Are Grand thumbnail
California Quail thumbnail
Red Winged Blackbird thumbnail
Stellar's Jay thumbnail
Black-Capped Chickadee thumbnail
Rufous Hummingbird thumbnail
American Goldfinch thumbnail
Cedar Waxwing thumbnail
Bald Eagle thumbnail
Killdeer thumbnail
Killdeer Nest thumbnail
Common Merganser Family thumbnail
American Dipper And Chick thumbnail
Western Bluebird thumbnail
Great Horned Owl thumbnail
Cute And Fierce Owlet thumbnail
Rock Wren thumbnail
An Unusual Place For A Nest thumbnail
Carrying A Lizard Back To The Nest thumbnail
Hungry Baby Rock Wrens thumbnail
Planning The Rescue Mission thumbnail
Getting The Baby Rock Wrens Out thumbnail
Successful Rescue! thumbnail