[birding] Pine Mountain family birding weekend

Joel Geier joel.geier at peak.org
Mon Jul 23 18:21:30 PDT 2007

Hi folks,

Here is a bit more on the Pine Mountain weekend which Judy Meredith
organized on behalf of Oregon Field Ornithologists.

This was a very nice and decidedly low-key gathering -- some parents
with kids, some grandparents with grandkids, some couples, some singles.
We enjoyed some great food at Saturday night's potluck, and some
wonderful music both nights. The East Cascades Bird Conservancy was very
well represented, what a great group of folks!

Looking through the list that Judy posted earlier, I guess the birds
that will stick most in the minds of the kids were:

1) The scads of RED CROSSBILLS (at least 300) which were omnipresent
around the campground, and observed in hordes at close range at the two
water features (the guzzler at astronomer Allen Chambers' residence on
the mountain which he graciously let us watch, and the stock tank at the
bottom of the Pine Mtn road),

birds at the stock tanks,

3) STELLER'S JAYS trying to make room for themselves at the busy guzzler
by giving Red-tailed Hawk calls,

4) The RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRDS that kept zipping through the campground and
homed in on any kids who happened to be wearing red.

For our kids, a beautiful light adult FERRUGINOUS HAWK that was being
harrassed by a NORTHERN HARRIER at the foot of the mountain as we drove
up on Friday will also be unforgettable.

To Judy's list, I would add a possible female ANNA'S/BLACK-CHINNED
HUMMINGBIRD that Ashleigh Dougill called out as it flew past a bunch of
us grownups who were still waking up from a late night of stargazing up
on the mountain.

Celestial sightings included JUPITER and four (five?) of its planets,
the RING NEBULA and another one called the DUMBBELL NEBULA. Jupiter was
especially satisfying since it was low over the horizon, which meant
that the volunteer astronomer (a bearded fellow who was rumored to have
been seen taking in the concert by our campfire earlier in evening,
though it's hard to know who you're talking to in the dark up on the
mountain) had to tilt his telescope down to just the right level that
Wren Tracy was the only one who didn't have to kneel for a good look.

If you haven't been to Pine Mountain Observatory in the summer, I highly
recommend it. The show by volunteer astronomers outside the U of O
observatory is even better than the one on the big scopes. There's
nothing like listening to explanations of red giants, cold dwarfs,
nebulae, black holes and the like while you are standing in the dark,
talking to someone you've never met before and can barely see. The
volunteers who do this are incredible in their ability to explain
cosmology, answer questions, and make sure everyone gets a good look.
There is a box with a suggestion for $5 donations, which is well

ROBBER FLIES and an assortment of BUTTERFLIES were the main insect
attractions (seemed to be a big flight on Sunday as we were driving out,
will have to look those up). CHIPMUNKS were foremost in the minds of
Jambo, Lizzie and Heidi, the three dogs in attendance.

A midday trip to Glass Buttes (NE Lake Co.) along Stauffer Rd. was
mostly a rockhounding trip, but afforded some close looks at sagebrush
habitats and all the cool things that you can find around rock outcrops
in the desert, including a couple of FAST-MOVING LIZARDS. 

We did see a pair of LOGGERHEAD SHRIKES flying around, and I heard a
fragment of a sparrow song wafting in the wind that just might have been
a Black-throated Sparrow ... but the birders with the best ears in the
bunch (i.e. the teenagers) were busy hunting for banded obsidian. I also
saw a "long-tailed" sparrow perched on the north side of Hwy 20 just
after we started home (where Hampton Buttes sort of peter out near the
intersection with Stauffer Rd.). Maybe a Sage Sparrow but it looked like
a good spot for Black-throated Sparrow, so maybe someone else will want
to check this out (the location is in Lake Co. just s. of the Deschutes
Co. line).

Special thanks on this trip go to Timothy Sellers whose donation of
three pairs(!) of binoculars for the family weekends were greatly
appreciated by the kids, especially on the stops around the water
features. It is amazing to see how kids light up when you put a pair of
binoculars in their hands.

Dean "Zamboni Machine" Hale amazed us with his error-free coverage of
all three outfield positions plus shortstop, second and third base,
during the baseball (actually wiffleball/tennisball) on Friday evening.
His celebrated framing hatchet has now made it into the store chest of
family birding weekend items (along with the various kitchen implements
that seem to accumulate with each of these events), so kids at future
events will have the chance to chop wood and hopefully not have any

It was fun to see Marion Davidson, Lorna & Dick "the old-time banjo guy"
and his grandsons Amadeus and Everest who came up on Friday night, Patti
Hale, Howard Horvath, the Tracy & Dougill families, Cynthia Bassett,
Craig & Marilyn Miller, and a bunch of others whom I'm sorry to say I
never got around to chat with but looked like they were having fun. And
a huge thanks to Judy for her efforts in bringing us all together!

The next OFO Family Birding Weekend will be on the north Lane Co. Coast,
at Rock Creek Campground during Labor Day weekend. I've blocked out
three campsites, and John & Anne Gerke have reserved another, so we
still have room for a few more groups (I think the rest of the
campground has filled up by now). That weekend will feature visits to
dunes, sandy beaches, and rocky tidepools, plus in-camp Dippers and a
nice mix of forest/riparian birds within short walks of camp. Please
contact me if you have any questions.

Happy birding,

Joel Geier
Camp Adair area north of Corvallis

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