May was an exciting month for rare migrants in Cowlitz County. The headliner had to be the county's first ever record of Black-throated Sparrow. The bird was seen and photographed in a Woodland yard on the 20th and seen briefly the next morning before it disappeared. Primarily a species of the arid southwest U.S., there are a few nesting on arid slopes near Vantage in eastern Washington, but to find a migrant west of the Cascades is very rare.
Other birds recorded less than annually included a Swainson's Hawk seen soaring over the Woodland Bottoms for a few minutes on the 4th, before disappearing to the south. A Wilson's Phalarope was seen by a number of people when it spent the 10th in a Woodland Bottoms pond. Starting on the 15th a Yellow-breasted Chat spent at least 6 days singing at Willow Grove, to delight of many.
While not showing on this list, a hybrid Lazuli x Indigo Bunting was found singing on territory near Cougar on the 29th. With only a handful of records in Washington state, this spot has become famous among folks who are into these phenomenon, since this is the 5th consecutive year for this hybrid at this location.
Lastly a migration extravaganza was witnessed on the 5th as 4000 Band-tailed Pigeons streamed north along the Columbia River at Kalama in a half hour.
Another year with a nice start, mostly due to a fine Christmas Bird Count on New Years Day. The headliner was the second ever record of Rusty Blackbird for Cowlitz County found on 52nd Ave in west Longview. A Sora found the same day on Washburn Road was very unusual for winter. Keep those reports coming.
Willapa Hills Audubon's recent field trip to local birding locations at an industrial park, a sewage lagoon and a mothballed nuclear power plant was featured in Longview's The Daily News. The participants spotted 51st species that morning including a rare (for Longview) red-shouldered hawk at Willow Grove.
On December 27, during his daily walk around Lake Sacajawea in Longview, John Green found a dead Bald Eagle at the edge of the lake. It is illegal to collect wild birds, per the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, so he did not touch the bird, determined to find the proper action to take.
Upon arriving home, he called Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, who were not interested (maybe not their jurisdiction) and recommended to call Portland Audubon. Audubon gave him the number for the Federal Fish and Wildlife office. These folks have committed to picking up the bird, which upon their direction was stored in a plastic bag in his freezer. They advised that there is a demand for Native American ceremonial use and the feathers will be donated after a necropsy is performed to determine cause of death.
It has been determined that the eagle died in a collision with a motor vehicle probably in flight over the Washington Way bridge.
On September 20th Audubon Society of Portland’s wildlife rehab clinic released a male adult Bald Eagle at noon at Willow Grove Park.
The injured eagle had been picked up in the Abernathy Creek watershed suffering from lead poisoning caused by ingesting dead animals that had been shot. Vets repaired broken tail feathers using feathers from four other eagles in a process called “imping.”
About 20 people were able to watch the release, despite short notice. Several WHAS people attended, including Tom Finn, Bob Reistroffer and Darrel Whipple.
Cliff Mass provides some interesting news of how the weather radar can be used to track and check on bird migration. Over the last week we had mostly wind from the south and birds don't like headwinds. Recently this has changed and now the birds are really on the move.