[midvalleybirds] Re: A lot of Cowbirds--Corvallis

clearwater at peak.org clearwater at peak.org
Tue Jan 22 06:10:14 PST 2019

Hi Caleb & All, 

As Paul mentions, Willamette Valley dairies often have flocks of wintering cowbirds. And Campus Way where you were walking goes past the OSU research dairy. 

In southeast Polk County, the dairy along Oak Hill Rd. near Buena Vista regularly hosts many dozens of Brown-headed Cowbirds. For the Airlie-Albany CBC we broke the 200 mark twice with counts of 232 and 289 around 2003-2005, and topped 50 at least three other times. I suspect they're there in similar numbers every year, but it takes some luck and/or patience to catch the main flock close to the road. 

Speaking of enormous flocks of agriculture-associated birds, on Sunday while driving up to attend Ron Wyden's town hall meeting in Dallas, I noticed several hundred Rock Pigeons spread out like plovers in the field just south of the elevator in Rickreall. I was running late so I didn't stop to count them, but it's the most pigeons that I've seen in a long time. 


From: "Paul Sullivan" <paultsullivan at onlinenw.com> 
> Subject: [obol] Re: A lot of Cowbirds--Corvallis 
> Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2019 20:21:33 -0800 
> Caleb, 
> A great place to look for cowbirds is in large blackbird flocks at dairies 
> in the Willamette Valley. I have seen a gathering of ~100 cowbirds in a 
> flock of 100's of blackbirds at a dairy NE of McMinnville. I keep looking 
> for a rusty blackbird in those flocks. 
> Paul Sullivan 
> ------------------------- 
> Subject: A lot of Cowbirds--Corvallis 
> Date: Mon Jan 21 2019 21:28 pm 
> From: caleb AT centanni.com 
> Hi all, 
> Today while walking out to the Irish Bend Covered Bridge on Campus Way west 
> of the OSU Campus, I saw something I've never seen before. In the distant 
> Starling/Blackbird/Robin flock, which typically contains many Brewer's 
> Blackbirds, a few Red-wings, and no other icterids, I started noticing 
> small, short-billed birds. I initially wrote them off as Brewer's Blackbirds 
> at weird angles, because there were at least five and I assumed that this 
> was too many Cowbirds to be in one place in the Valley in the winter. I then 
> noticed some much closer birds in an Ash tree, and as I studied them I was 
> surprised to find that at least five were Cowbirds. Turning attention back 
> to the larger flock, now closer in the grass, I realized that a significant 
> portion of the blackbirds present appeared to be male Cowbirds. In the next 
> few minutes I estimated at least 30 in total, way more than I've ever heard 
> of in the valley in January. Does anyone have input on how unusual this is? 
> ... 
> Good birding folks, 
> Caleb Centanni 
Joel Geier 
Camp Adair area north of Corvallis 

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