Celebrating World Migratory Bird Day!
Hey Everyone! I’m back with another blog for you all. It’s finally here. World Migratory Bird Day has finally arrived! It’s a day on which we all stop and take time to appreciate the birds around the world and focus on actions we can exercise to protect our avian companions. Cape Perpetua Visitor Center took part on this glorious day by hosting a bird bioblitz, led by Paul Engelmeyer (manager of Portland Audubon’s Ten Mile Creek Sanctuary), and invited anyone and everyone to participate. In case you didn’t know, a bioblitz is an activity that involves surveying an area within a certain time period to record all the living species within it. In our case, the focus was birds! The plan was to gather at the visitor center, and then split up into groups and visit different trails and do some birding. We had a good turnout! At 10:00 am, the visitor center opened and 20 people showed up for the bioblitz. Paul encouraged everyone to download an app called iNaturalist, which would allow everyone participating to upload their observations into a database so that anyone who has the app can use it to get an idea of wildlife present in the area. After a quick explanation of the app, we all broke up into three groups and headed off to different locations.
I paired up with four other birders and headed to the Cape Perpetua Campground to bird. The campground is along a stretch of road that has forest characteristics. Tall trees, shrubs, and a small creek make up this awesome campground. Unfortunately for me, the dense vegetation proved to be a challenge for birding from the very beginning. We could hear the birds, but spotting them was the real task. Multiple times we caught glimpses of colorful flying bodies quickly darting between trees. By the time I rushed my binoculars to my eyes to get a better view of the bird, it was too late. The crafty little birds had already disappeared from my line of sight. I know what you’re thinking, “But, Edder, why don’t you identify them by sound? Birds tend to have unique calls”. Alas, my birding experience isn’t at that level…yet. As we progressed onto the trail, we came across a section that had a wider open area and smaller trees. This is where we finally caught a glimpse of a small yellow bird that kept eluding us. The identity? Wilson’s Warbler. It’s a small yellow round bird with an olive back and a prominent black cap. We heard its call throughout the forest and actively searched for it. Our elation was high when the warbler finally came out in the open and stayed still for us. Immediately after that, we spotted another great bird, the Black-headed Grosbeak. Males have an orange-cinnamon coloration with a black head, black and white wings, and thick conical bills. Females have a more drab coloration with white streaks on their head.
Those two birds were new to me, and I didn’t know their identity. Thankfully, I had three experienced birders in my group, and they were extremely helpful in pointing out bird calls and identifying the species making the sound. My favorite one is that the call of a Black-headed Grosbeak sounds like a sneaker squeaking on a gymnasium floor. Or that Steller’s Jays have a wide array of calls in their repertoire, and can even imitate other birds such as Red-tailed Hawks! As we rounded a corner, we came to the end of the trail and spotted some more common birds, such as an American Robin and Steller’s Jay. We spent some more time, but didn’t spot any new birds. However, we did hear two calls that belong to a Pacific Wren and Hermit Thrush. At that point, we checked our clock and realized it was already 1:00. Our time was up, the event was done, and we headed back to the visitor center.
Upon arrival, we all rendezvoused at the front of the visitor center and discussed our walks. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see many birds. It was pretty late for birding and not many were out, even at the shore (it’s like they knew we were looking for them). Nonetheless, we were all excited about getting together to hike and search for birds. It’s experiences like this that highlight an important aspect of World Migratory Bird Day, spending time outdoors and immersing in nature. The day was beautiful in Oregon, and even the sun was out to make the day more enjoyable. Not only did we all have fun despite not finding lots of feathery flying creatures, but it was fun meeting new people and relishing in our joy for the hobby. We even got some hikers interested in the event, and had a blast answering any bird-related questions they had. Because, in the end, it’s all about sharing the joy of the great outdoors and ways in which everyone can contribute to avian conservation.