Finding 363 birds in Clatsop County is a lofty goal for 2015

A northern pygmy owl enjoys dinner.

Welcome 2015! Another start for my birding list!

I don’t make resolutions anymore, but I do make goals for my birding. This year, while a lofty goal, I have challenged myself to see every species on the Clatsop County bird list. And although I haven’t put my hands on the official list from the state, I am working off the list Mike Patterson put together several years ago. It lists 363 birds.

I do this only to challenge myself to get out and bird more. I see a lot of birds from the comfort of my living room, but out in the woods I never know what I am going to come upon.

Like the other day at the Mill Ponds in Seaside, I was racing the light from the sun hoping to get around the pond and still be able to identify birds, when I came upon a noisy group of chickadees. I stepped off the path to observe and enjoy the cacophony of chirping, when, wait, what was that movement in the bush? A northern pygmy owl was the reason for the ruckus. It is a small owl and it had just captured its dinner.

In a few minutes, not only were the chickadees upset, but a couple of ruby-crowned kinglets joined the scolding, a northern flicker swooped in to see what was happening and a group of dark-eyed juncos came from behind me to add their chirps to the mix. The boldest of all the birds was the tiniest. A Bewick’s wren was getting close enough to almost touch the owl while adding its loud admonishment.

The owl divided its attention between the live birds and the one he was eating, swiveling its head around several times to look my way as well.

Still interested in getting around the water in daylight, I scurried back the way I came. When I came around from the other way, the bush where all the activity had been was quiet. All the birds were gone. Only three little feathers were left balancing on a branch.

What a great start to 2015 birding!

After spending many pleasurable hours with her avid birder parents, Susan has taken up birding as a passion, to the mixed emotions of her husband Scott. The Boacs reside on the Neawanna Creek in Seaside where their backyard is a birder’s paradise.

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