Notes, birds, nature, meanderings.

Musings about birds, nature, and our meanderings on the Central Oregon Coast

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pacific City Birding and Blues Festival 2011, Nestucca Bay NWR

As I mentioned in my previous blog (Pacific City Birding and Blues Festival 2011, Whalen Island), this past Saturday we drove up to Pacific City to participate in the annual Pacific City Birding and Blues Festival. In the afternoon we joined a group of about 20 people at the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Dawn Grafe, Paul Sullivan and Carol Karlen were our leaders for the afternoon outing.  Warm sunshine and mild temperatures made conditions near-perfect for our walk.  Several swallow boxes enticed both TREE and VIOLET GREEN swallows, and our three leaders set up scopes and expertly pointed out the differences.

Moving the scopes to overlook the valley, We spent some time looking down at the flocks of WHITE CHEEKED GEESE, while Dawn explained that the refuge was home to several sub-species of both the CACKLING and the CANADA species.

I'll never be an expert, but seeing both ALEUTIAN CACKLING and DUSKY CANADA geese side-by-side in the scope revealed the obvious differences that are so hard to distinguish when you see them alone.


While we watched, large groups of the geese lifted into flight, and our leaders told us to scan the sky for a predator.  An adult BALD EAGLE came into view, soaring overhead.  We later saw two juvenile bald eagles in flight.

We divided into smaller groups, and Dawn lead our group down a trail to the river (the trail is not yet open to the public).  First stop was to observe the RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRDS who have recently arrived.  A female found a perch not far from us.


The highlight of the day was when someone heard the call of a RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET.  While our group watched in awe, the little male, displaying his red crown, made his way through the branches to a tiny stream trickling along the paths edge.  From only a few breathless feet away, we watched him splash in the water.

As he hopped up to a branch, another kinglet made her way to the stream and bathed.  Dawn went back to alert the group behind us to be silent and watchful as they approached, and we headed on down the trail.

Along the trail, we were delighted to see several wildflowers in bloom, including Rattlesnake Plaintain, Bleeding Heart, Wood Sorrel and others. 

Down at the bottom, we spotted several RED BREASTED MERGANSERS, BUFFLEHEAD and distant gulls.  The other group joined us briefly as we spotted a small group of ducks -- once we had the scopes set up, Paul informed us that, in addition to the easily identified MALLARDS, we were looking at one GREEN WINGED TEAL and two female HOODED MERGANSERS.  Not rare, but an exciting find!


Heading back up the trail, we enjoyed a couple of shy SONG SPARROWS and loud, but even more shy PACIFIC WRENS (heard only).  Our final treat was a HUTTON'S VIREO - I mistakenly said "Kinglet", but Dawn corrected me and the group went through the book while she pointed out the distinguishing features.

After parting with the group, we ended the day with dinner at the Pelican Pub, followed by the sponsored concert featuring Ty Curtis.  It was our first experience with guided field trips.  We enjoyed the leadership, the company and the birds, blooms and blues.  Mark your calendar so you don't miss next year's event!


  1. Dawn,
    Thanks so much for sharing the bird list! You've inspired us to start our own. Now the only problem will be how we'll be able to spot anything on our own without your "eagle eyes" on the trail with us?! I hope our paths cross again, and we'll certainly be making your beautiful blog a regular stopping point! Warmly, Cyndi

  2. Your husband's eagle eyes caught as many as I did - the group of us made a great team! I realized as I was re-reading the blog just now that the Vireo was not the "final treat" -- it was the TOWNSEND'S WARBLER high in the fir tree that Dawn heard and your husband spotted!