[birding] Peterson & Ward butte grassland/savannah birds

Joel Geier jgeier at attglobal.net
Thu May 11 13:43:00 PDT 2006

Hello folks,

Bob Altman and I went up Peterson Butte in Linn Co. this morning (11 
May) to check on the grassland bird habitat, and also did a drive-by of 
Ward Butte and a couple of roads that are usually good for Streaked 
Horned Larks.

On Peterson Butte, we heard two Vesper Sparrows singing, which is fewer 
than Bob remembered from this spot ca. ten years back. We did not detect 
any Grasshopper Sparrows (which had been present then). The habitat is 
getting more grown-in with non-oak trees, and several species of 
invasive Eurasian thistles are degrading the remaining grassy habitats.

We did find more brushland/savannah species including decent numbers of 
Lazuli Buntings and Chipping Sparrows, one Black-throated Gray Warbler, 
and a White-breasted Nuthatch, plus assorted mixed-forest species 
(including one Western Wood-Pewee but surprisingly no Pacific-slope 
Flycatchers in the maples). A male Western Kingbird was calling by the 
dairy farm on the west side of the butte.

At Ward Butte, we saw a pair of Vesper Sparrows and four Western 
Kingbirds, but again did not detect any Grasshopper Sparrows. We did not 
detect any Western Meadowlarks in either spot.

We checked several (usually) reliable gravel roads for Horned Larks but 
did not hear or see any. We did see one pair of Northern Harriers NW of 
Peterson Butte, then later a female harrier near Ward Butte, and one 
more Western Kingbird at a farm/rural residence between the two buttes.

Overall it seemed like we found good diversity but low numbers of the 
expected species compared to past years.

Good birding,

Joel Geier
jgeier at attglobal.net

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