[midvalleybirds] Vesper & Chipping Sparrows flocking for migration

clearwater at peak.org clearwater at peak.org
Sat Sep 7 19:45:53 PDT 2019

"OREGON" VESPER SPARROWS still at nesting sites have been forming larger flocks over the past couple of weeks, very intent on foraging to build up fat reserves before they migrate south for the winter. In one of those flocks, on a ranch near Wren this morning, I was happy to see a banded nestling that we haven't seen since it fledged at the end of May. It was with a flock of about 8 others, one of which was a banded adult female that fledged on the same ranch last year, but nested at Bald Hill Farm this year during May & June before returning to its natal site in late July. The same pasture had a flock of about 8 CHIPPING SPARROWS. 

Also present was a flock of about 8 WESTERN BLUEBIRDS that included several still-spotted juveniles, from a late brood I guess. 

A couple of BLACK PHOEBES continue in the area from a family that seems to have nested along the Marys River. Seeing them reminded me that I haven't been hearing or seeing Western Wood-Pewees in the area lately. 

In a negative development for Vesper Sparrows, it looks like a ranch in Kings Valley (off Price Creek/Pit Rds) is being converted to crop farming. A pasture where I found three males singing at roadside in May/June now has a lush stand of one of Oregon's newest commercial crops (cannabis/hemp), and a much larger area is being plowed up in preparation for next year. This ranch sold last year, and is under new ownership now. It looks like the long-term plan is to do something other than livestock grazing on the land, and likely much less compatible with the habitat requirements of Vesper Sparrows. 

Joel Geier 
Camp Adair area north of Corvallis 

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