Birds on Mt. Tabor? I'd never noticed

"Be careful. I heard there were dark-eyed junkies on Mt. Tabor!"

Dark-eyed Junco, Mt. Tabor Park, Portland, OR

Dark-eyed Junco, Mt. Tabor Park, Portland, OR

When I lived in the city, I regularly visited Mt. Tabor Park, jogging the trails and “releasing the hounds” to enjoy the cascading smells of the dog park. I went an average of 5 days a week for 6 years. And on those roughly 1500 visits if you had asked me if I’d ever see any birds, I’d have said, “I’ve seen crows. There's a lot of crows.” Well, just a few years later, all kinds of birds seem to have moved into the park. Or maybe I just never noticed them before…

Sometimes I miss my old SE Portland neighborhood, like when I want to buy a bike for $20 from a dark-eyed junkie OR when I think about the hours spent in Mt. Tabor Park. Last week I found myself in the area and the sun was shining, so I wandered all over the park, camera in hand to see what I could see. Don’t believe me? Here is the evidence!

Steller's Jay Mt. Tabor Park DSC_0021-1.jpg

Steller's Jay

Before I had my bird awakening two years ago, I likely would have identified this as a blue crow.

These pictures are of the same Steller's Jay under completely different lighting. I'm not a scientist but the sun appears to have a great impact on much of our day to day lives. And are we appreciative? No. We wear sunglasses, sun hats and sunscreen. Shameful.

Steller's Jay Mt. Tabor Park DSC_0030-1.jpg
Bushtit Mt. Tabor Park DSC_0444-1.jpg


When I was 16, my classmates and I would have giggled every time someone said "Bushtit". It would have been a running gag. Luckily no one in 1986 thought it was a good idea to let us vote.

Spotted Towhee Mt. Tabor Park DSC_0083-1.jpg

Spotted Towhee

When someone has wings and they're threatening to jump, it's a bit melodramatic.

"Don't come any closer! I'll do it. Just watch me!"

Northern Flicker Mt. Tabor Park DSC_0201-1.jpg

Northern Flicker

"How much pecker could a woodpecker peck if a woodpecker could peck wood?" That's a riff on the old woodchuck meme. Tongue twisters were all the rage in fifth grade. Say "rubber baby buggy bumpers" five times really fast. Try "toy boat". I wonder if there are challenging peeps, tweets and twitters among juvenile birds called "beak busters". All we need to do is open up our ears AND our minds. To idiocy.

Northern Flicker Mt. Tabor Park DSC_0265-1.jpg

This male flicker was doing his best to charm the feathers off a nearby female. I don't know if this "brotha got back" routine was ultimately sucessful or not. They were flying from branch to branch and tree to tree. Then a few other brothers tried to break up the courtship. Or was that his other girl? It all happened too fast. Birds truly are the best reality show.

American Crow Mt. Tabor Park DSC_0120-1.jpg

American Crow

"I've seen crows. There's a lot of crows"

Crows are hard to miss at Mt. Tabor Park. Years ago while walking through the park Mrs. S and I came across a crow being mobbed by the rest of the aptly named “murder”. We shooed the bullies away and found that he had been impaled by a branch. (This was the second time I'd seen crows mobbing an injured comrade. The first time was in Laurelhurst Park with an obviously sick crow. I can’t find any literature on this behavior, but would be interested to know if this is common.) We found a cardboard box at nearby Pacific Warner college, captured him and took him to an emergency animal hospital. He was beyond healing and was humanely euthanized, which is a euphemism for “killed in the nicest way possible.” You've got to admit it beats being pecked to death by your friends and family.

American Crow Mt. Tabor Park DSC_0182-1.jpg

American Crow

Artsy, eh? I call it "Shadows of a Crow's Feet Leaping Off of a Metal Thingy on a Sunny Tuesday Near Sunset on Mt. Tabor as Photographed by Tony, Whose Real Name is Brett By The Way, with His Camera."

Full bird count (20) - Mt. Tabor Park - March 13, 2018 - 3 - 6:30 pm

Spotted Towhee, Bushtit, Northern Flicker, American Crow, American Robin, Bald Eagle, Merlin, Dark-eyed Junco, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Pileated Woodpecker (heard only), Anna’s Hummingbird, Song Sparrow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Steller’s Jay, Mallard, California Scrub-jay, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Band-tailed Pigeon, European Starling, Golden-crowned Kinglet