Tiny Brown Birds
by Heather Harbord, 14 January 2017.
Eight members joined Clyde at 8am on Saturday for the Tiny Brown Birds trip. After carpooling from town, we drove to the Lang Creek Hatchery, crossed the road and walked among the prime TBB habitat.
At the start, Clyde explained how carefully and quietly we should move to avoid scaring the birds. Unfortunately, the sun went behind a cloud and it was very cold so only a few Towhees and Ruby-crowned Kinglets cooperated. At the Hatchery, we saw a Pacific Wren beside the creek where the Dippers are often found at this time of year.
Next stop was Michael Stewart’s feeders which were much more fruitful for our purpose. Hidden inside her house, after a slow start we enjoyed prime views of seven birds on Heather’s hand-out of TBBs plus several Anna’s Hummingbirds which sat on twigs to display their black throats and shocking pink and orange lapels, an iridescence caused by the way light hits microscopic barbules in their colourless feathers. Oregon Juncos were the commonest birds. The red squirrel-proof feeder had both male and female House Finches on one side and Purple Finches on the other often interrupted by Spotted Towhees and Juncos. Clyde showed us how to distinguish between them.
Both Song and Fox Sparrows put in brief appearances and also demonstrated Clyde’s distinctions. We were grateful to him for sharing his vast knowledge of birds and their behaviours and setting us on track to become more competent birders. The area has potential for a birding or tree frog field trip in the spring when the weather should be more clement.
Note: Apart from leading the trip, Clyde and Heather have produced a really useful “mini-field guide” to some of our local TBBs…you can get it here.