Photos from personal trips AND trips with
Birds of Oregon and General Science, (BOGS) in association with Eugene's Celeste Campbell Center
BOGS Summer Walk 4, Riverbend Hospital Trails
Thursday, July 10, 2014
When I was scouting out the Riverbend trails, I took some photos to illustrate the general appearance of the area. There are paved trails from the parking lot, down close to where a side-channel of the McKenzie River flows from South to north along the hospital grounds. These trails then extend in both directions (South and North) along the river side-channel about 1/8 mile.
Here is a view looking back towards the hospital after having walked the paved trail most of the way to the river.
There is also a packed-dirt trail which runs parallel to the paved trails along the river side-channel. From many places along this dirt trail the side-channel of the river can be seen. During our bird walk, we saw a Great Blue Heron on the far side of the channel. The day I was scouting the area I saw a deer over there.
In both directions, upriver and downriver, the paved trails eventually extend out beyond the wooded area. There are benches here and there along the paved trail, both in the wooded area and beyond. Here are a few views near the south end.
There were birds feeding everywhere, both the day I scouted the area and the next day when we did our group bird walk. Did you know that Robins have an eye-ring? Take a look at the eye-ring on this Robin, broken both at the top and at the back of the eye, but not at the bottom. When we were at Finley a week back, Scott took a photograph from which we identified a Hutton's Vireo by the eye-ring broken at the top.
Walking north along the paved trail eventually you get glimpses of and then a full view of the McKenzie River. In the wide view photo, Mt Pisgah is in the background. We are looking south-southeast from the northwest edge of Springfield. The houses seen along the bank are in the vicinity of Mansfield Street, west of Harvest Landing, north of Hayden Bridge Way.
A short distance after reaching the confluence of the river with the side-channel, the trail comes to an abrupt end at the boundary of private property.
In the field adjacent to the trail there is a pump which was/is apparently used for irrigation purposes. I know there was a spring less than a mile east of this location, on this same side of the river, south of where the Marcola river enters the McKenzie. That was the site of one of the first land claims to be settled in what later became Springfield. I wonder if this pump also made use of a natural spring.
There were ten of us for this bird walk.
Don, Larue, me (Priscilla), Pat, Barbara, Jo, Clarisse, Jen, Larry and Marylee.
We could hear and see House Finches and Swallows even before we got out of the parking lot and into the wooded section. Juncos and orange-faced House Finches and Robins were feeding their young right on the grass beneath the tall fir trees. The Finches and Robins were also singing in the trees.
Perhaps my favorite photograph from this trip is this family of House Finches perched on a light post. One adult is flanked on each side by a juvenile fluttering their wings, while the other adult is passing food to a third juvenile.
While it had been very hot the days before, this morning the air temperature was so cool that some of us actually got a bit chilled by the time we got through the wooded area and out into the sunlight where the trail heads south along the side-channel.
As soon as we came out of the wooded section we saw large patches of tall weeds which were going to seed. American Goldfinches and Lesser Goldfinches too numerous to mention, were feeding constantly in these patches. At one point a great flock of these finches, mostly Goldfinches, flew up out of the weed patch. We estimated there were around twenty birds in that flock. They didn't stay away from the weeds for more than a minute before they started returning in smaller groups.
I like this next picture of an American Goldfinch because it shows where the black forehead patch of the male starts and stops. Notice that the crown of the American Goldfinch is not black, but yellow. The male Lesser Goldfinch has a black cap which covers the entire crown of the head. It may also cover the front of the face and in some birds the black may even extend down the nape, behind the crown, and, rarely, all the way down the back. As Dan Gleason says, even when the back of the Lesser Goldfinch is black there is usually a greenish tinge near the nape.
After this report had been online for a while, Floyd wrote in to add some additional information regarding this last
bird; specifically, to which species of Goldfinch it belongs.
"In my opinion, based on the color of the bill, Don's photo of the female goldfinch is an American Goldfinch. Lessers have gray bills year around (see Sibley, pp. 452-453). Also, the extensive white at the base of the tail would suggest an American."
The next two photos were taken in the same area, though on the opposite side of the path from the weed patch. This bird appears much like a female of one of the two types of Goldfinch. However, the bill is not orange as it is in the adults of both species. Do juveniles lack the orange bill color? Marylee told us that even the adult birds only have the orange bill color during breeding season. Are the fledgelings old enough in early July, to look as developed as this bird?
ADDENDUM: After this page had been online a few days, Jody wrote in to tell me that according to what Dan Gleason told us in one of his presentations, the American Goldfinch is one of the very last birds to breed because it is the (only?) bird in our area which feeds it's young SEEDS right from when they hatch. Jody says this suggests that this juvenile must be a Lesser Goldfinch. I should add that when we first got a glimpse of a bird at Riverbend which appeared to be a juvenile Goldfinch, LaRue said that they breed later in the season so we couldn't be seeing American Goldfinch juveniles. (I believe LaRue had also learned this from Dan Gleason - but she may have already known it before that). I thought she meant that BOTH Lesser and American Goldfinches breed later in the Summer, so when the group decided the bird we were seeing was a juvenile of one of these species, I went along with it and didn't know what to make of her comment. Hopefully we have arrived at the right conclusion now.
I've changed my mind. This next photo really has to be my favorite one for this trip. I don't know what bird this is, though it is clearly a young bird and I do notice the orange bill. Is the bill conical enough to be one of the Goldfinch species? I don't know but this bird sure is cute!
There were Lesser Goldfinches in the weed patch too, but Don and I both had a hard time getting good pictures of them. You wouldn't believe how many photos we each took just to get the few good ones of the American Goldfinches! These side-by-side photos will show you what most of our Goldfinch pictures look like.
Here are a few photos of Lesser Goldfinches that Don Laufer was able to get.
This is another bird we were not sure about. We had just re-entered the wooded area again. It has a very short tail and not much in the way of wing bars or facial features. I suspect it is a juvenile bird, perhaps a Song Sparrow. We were seeing Song Sparrows around this time and place.
A Black-Capped Chickadee presented itself, as did a Spotted Towhee; as did a Great Blue Heron.
Someone spotted a family of Red-Breasted Sapsuckers. One of them was "laying low" on top of a branch. This brings to mind Bre'r Rabbit in the Uncle Remus tales. When Bre'r Fox and Bre'r Bear are looking for him "Dat Bre'r Rabbit, he jus lay low!"
As we came into a clearer area near the river, we had an Osprey circling overhead.
Jen saw a Spotted Sandpiper on a gravel bar in the river, but no one else was able to see it, and she lost track of it shortly as well. It was only when Don got home and looked at his photos that he discovered a Spotted Sandpiper in some of the photos he had taken of a Killdeer! Meanwhile there WAS a Killdeer in that same area.
We watched a Killdeer for a while and then saw one apparently sitting on a nest. Comments were made about this Killdeer building it's nest more sensibly, where it wasn't going to get stepped on.
We rested a bit by one of the many benches along the trail before heading back. When we got back to the wooded area near the hospital, again we found Juncos and House Finches with their young, along with another Red-Breasted Sapsucker and a Northern Flicker (too far away for a worth-while photo).