Bird list for Riverbend Trails
8am. - 10:30am.
Weather: Mostly sunny, 58 - 66 degrees.
Leaders: Dan Gleason and Priscilla Sokolowski.
Most common birds:
American robins and houses finches (approx. 7 of each.)
In the days prior to our Bird Walk, I had concerns about our group taking up too much space in the Heart and Vascular Patient parking lot so I drove over to the hospital and explored the other parking options. The north entrance goes to the public parking structure but also has some free street parking before it dead-ends at an access point to the trail system. I made some annotated screenshots of the hospital complex and put them on a webpage which I included in the email announcement sent to all BOGS members. I didn't survey our group to see where they had parked, but there were plenty of parking spaces left for patients after our group of 12-15 had arrived. (I think we had 15)
Before we began walking, we convened in a large circle and I made some announcements. I introduced Dan and Barbara Gleason as well as Jim and Sue Anderson; pointing out that both of these men had survived much longer than the prognoses they had been given a few years ago. We gave them a round of applause.
I spoke about keeping masks on and keeping safe distances.
I also mentioned that one of the tragic consequences of over-crowded hospitals was the cancelation of surgeries due to lack of rooms of post-surgical recovery. I didn't find out until the next day that one of the people whose surgery had been delayed was our own Bird Walk leader Steve Barron. A letter Steve wrote to the Register Guard revealed that fact as well as the fact that he had cancer. His letter was a plea to those who have not yet gotten vaccinated to do so.
I'm happy to report that the hospital expedited Steve's surgery and scheduled it for the first week they resumed surgeries. Since then Steve has been doing great.
The Trails behind Riverbend Hospital offer lots of nice flat paved surfaces for people with walkers or wheelchairs. We chose this location so that Dan Gleason and Jim Anderson could join us and share their knowledge with us.
As we began our walk, the usual Swallows were seen nesting on the hospital buiding itself. Janet recorded Barn Swallows and either Violet-green or Tree Swallows
Unlike previous Summer birding trips to this location, we had very little activity at the beginning of the paths under the area with the widly spaced tall Doug Fir trees. On some trips we've seen several species of newly fledged birds being fed on the ground by their parents - Juncos, Finches and a few others. Not this time. We didn't find many birds until we got to the North-South running paths along the river side channel. Someone did find a small feather which Dan thought might be an Owl feather.
HOWEVER! On our way back to the parking lot, Don DID capture some House Finches feeding their young family.
I think it was Sue Anderson who told me these cone-bearing trees were true fir trees.
At the end of the first trail towards the river channel, we turned went South first, and as soon as we were out in the bright sunlight we encountered what Janet dubbed as a "grand central station" tree. This was an elderberry bush (or tree) and the birds were loving it. Cedar Waxwings, Robins including juvenile Robins with speckled breasts. There was another tree that was popular with the birds in the same area.
Don caught a Juvenile Robin taking a bird bath!
In that same area one or more Brown Creepers weren't the least bit bothered by our presence. One of them had a Downy woodpecker 1 or 2 feet below it. One Brown Creeper flew down to the base of a tree within 6 feet of Don. Naturally it was on the opposite side of the tree from me and when it did show itself, I was in such a hurry to photograph it I ended up mostly with photos which were out of focus. I rarely get a good shot of a Brown Creeper!
We stayed in this hotspot of activity for a while, spreading out and watching birds all around us.
Folks did take the opportunity to ask Dan Gleason questions about various things. Here, Betsy is discussing something with him.
There were Western Wood Pewees in the same area. They were seen here, and heard in several other places along the trails.
The Wood Pewees were very active.
Juvenile California Scrub Jays take quite a while to molt into a normal looking shape and colors.
Red-breasted Nuthatches were busy getting food to take back to their nests.
We turned around and took the north branch of the trails, which gives a view of the McKenzie River.
Here, Aiden, Betsy, Janet and Steve enjoy the view.
There were no shorebirds seen on the gravel bars around the edges of the river, but Janet did see some very distant birds which she thought to be Geese. Even with 24X and full digital zoom cropping I could see no colors, nor any white areas and the necks seemed quite short, so I didn't try to identify them.
This photo has some zoom magnification already. I've circled the very distant birds in this photo. Can't see them? Neither could I. They would be about where Janet's head was in the previous photo. Nonetheless, BOGS folks DO try to IDENTIFY birds - at ANY distance.
With full zoom and them maximum cropping on my computer at home, I was able to get this much detail of these distant birds which people were fussing over. I still wasn't willing to try to ID these birds.
However, Dan Gleason and Jim Anderson apparently thought they were worth the effort. They both thought they might be juvenile Geese.
A Green Heron was seen flying low along the river side channel. This bird wasn't seen by many.
Barbara Gleason showed us some Fireweed plants
Dan Gleason described some interesting details with regard to how the plant goes avoids self-pollination, thus favoring genetic diversity. Here is Dan's gently edited explanation.
Fireweed is an interesting plant. It is one of the first to return after a fire or removal of heavier vegetation. It blooms on a tall stalk so the oldest flowers are at the bottom with the youngest flowers and also flower buds at the top. While self-pollination occurs in some plants, genetic diversity is best preserved with plants pollinating other plants rather than pollinating flowers on the same plant stalk.
When bees enter a flower stalk, they do so by entering the bottom flowers first and move up to the top before leaving the plant. This means that pollen could potentially be carried from a bottom flower to a higher flower on the same plant and self-pollination would occur. But fireweed prevents self-pollination by the way it sequences the stages of flower development as flowers bloom and then wither.
The youngest flowers, at the top of the stalk, have the anthers hanging out, ripe with pollen. The stigmatic surface of the flowers at the top of the stalk, where pollen is deposited, is still coiled and unavailable for pollen deposition. As the flower stalk continues to grow, the oldest flowers wither away, leaving the once younger flowers to become the ones near the bottom.
As each flower ages, the anthers will have lost their pollen and shrivel away. At the same time in flower development, the stigma on the older flowers now lower down on the stalk, begins to uncoil and become ready to receive pollen. So, when a bee arrives it enters the flower stalk at the bottom, so the first flowers it encounters are these older flowers which no longer have pollen, but which have stigmatic surfaces ready to receive pollen from the bee. The pollen it will get is from the previous plant visited by the bee.
Since pollen is formed by the youngest flowers, which are at the top, as the bee works its way up the stalk to the younger pollen-bearing flowers at the top, pollen-rich anthers there can dust the bee. It then leaves from the top and proceeds to the bottom of a stalk on the next plant it visits. In this way, pollen is carried to another plant and not to other flowers on the same plant; thus, self-pollination is prevented.
Just one of the fascinating and creative ways nature has come up with to solve a potential problem.
Dan Gleason provided us with the following three close-up photographs of fireweed flower parts from his own collection
Below, in the top photo you can see the stigma which have uncoiled and are ready to receive pollen and in lower photo, the pollen-bearing stamen are visible.
On our way back to the parking lot, Don photographed these House Finches feeding their families. We usually see a few species doing this in the grassy area under the tall trees near the parking lot.
Jim Anderson waves goodbye at the end of our bird walk.
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