Spring birds: Bird Weekly Photo Challenge

The challenge this week is to show photos of birds seen over the past two weeks. As spring progresses, more and more birds, and tourists, are showing up.

Here’s a California scrub-jay perched on an interpretive sign in Bend, acting like a tourist. They change the flags displayed on this bridge throughout the year. On this day, they happened to match the jay.

Spring birds California scrub-jay

I’ve been seeing this lone swan near the flag bridge for several weeks. It was hard to figure out if it was a tundra swan or the less common trumpeter swan. It finally got within a few feet of me last week. It’s a tundra swan. See the bit of yellow near the eye? They don’t always have the yellow patch, but it’s the best clue.

Tundra swan in Bend, Oregon

For comparison, here’s a trumpeter swan we saw this week at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The skin between the eye and bill is thicker and all black.

Trumpeter swan at Malheur NWR

More Malheur spring birds

We saw lots of birds at Malheur as we traveled along the Center Patrol Road.

There were several hawks hunting over the meadows. Here’s a rough-legged hawk taking off from a willow tree.

Marsh hawk in flight

We saw a few pairs of ring-necked pheasants foraging near the road. They’re not native to Oregon, but they fit right into the basin and range habitat.

Ring-necked pheasant at Malheur NWR

We saw several sandhill cranes, but not as many as I expected to see. These two were showing me their best side and only putting their heads up one at a time.

  • Sandhill cranes at Malheur NWR
  • Sandhill cranes at Malheur NWR

This flooded field, north of Malheur, had several kinds of waterfowl. The pintails in the background decided to show me the feature that gives them their name. There’s also a few mallards in this picture.

Spring birds Pintails & mallards at Malheur NWR

A nearby pond had more species of birds. A graceful great egret took off right when we stopped. There was also a great blue heron foraging nearby.

Great egret Malheur NWR

I was excited to see white pelicans at the pond. They are one of the birds that I have never been able to photograph well. These three look like they’re in a parade with the double-crested cormarants.

White pelicans & double-crested cormorants

The pelicans made themselves right at home with the other birds. You can see a ring-billed gull, double-crested cormorants, a canvasback (with head tucked), a ruddy duck (with head tucked), and an American coot. A smorgasbord!

Spring birds near Malheur NWR

A harbinger of spring

I’m ending this post with a blue-colored bird, just as I started it. This mountain bluebird was perching high in a juniper tree a couple miles from my home. I’ll start looking for the pair that nests on our property. The spring birds are definitely here!

Spring birds - Mountain bluebird near Bend, Oregon

Bird Weekly Photo Challenge – Birds seen in last two weeks