Sisters area.

I survived my camping trip with the dogs this weekend.  I had fun but it was not without some troubles- the heat felt brutal in the afternoons, Jake got covered in sap, I got stung on the palm of my hand by something, I missed the Chestnut-sided Warbler despite camping a hundred yards or so from its hangout...

Regardless of all that, a weekend in the woods is a weekend in the woods, and I came back feeling great.  My plan for the trip was to bird a bunch of areas I had never visited before and on that note I was completely successful. 

The areas I visited were all parts of different burned areas, the first being the GW Burn.  I realized quickly that the most abundant birds there (and everywhere it seemed) were Chipping Sparrows.  I briefly tried to turn a juvenile into a variety of different sparrows before it clicked that it was just a chippy young lad....

This burn area turned up a nice little variety of woodpeckers for me...  I believe this fellow is a Red-naped X Red-breasted Sapsucker hybrid, but am not positive:

I was happy to find several Lewis's Woodpeckers in this area too:

I watched one of the woodpeckers get chased by a hummingbird from one tree to another.  It looked like the hummer was dive-bombing the woodpecker until they both landed in the same tree, and the hummer took off.   I had never seen this before.

After setting up camp at Indian Ford I took the dogs for a walk in the trees around Cold Springs Cutoff.  It was fairly birdy with nuthatches, Western Bluebirds, more Chipping Sparrows, flickers, and Mountain Chickadees...

White-breasted Nuthatch

 Mountain Chickadee

Ralph came ridiculously close to catching a little squirrel here.  So glad he failed.

The next morning we headed to the Rooster Rock Burn, south of Sisters.  The first hour or so was a bit frustrating- I'd hear a woodpecker and head towards the sound only for the sound to stop and no bird to be seen.

Eventually I found a few birds, like this flycatcher:


There were lots of Pygmy Nuthatches in this area and I watched one pluck a little wormy thing out of some pine needles.  He could not seem to figure out how to eat it though- I even saw it wrap around his beak briefly.

I saw a lot of young bluebirds on this trip.  In this area there was a Mountain Bluebird papa around so I felt confident that the young ones were Mountains as well. 

Shut up!  No you shut up!

Nearby I heard woodpeckers pecking and was psyched to find a trio of Black-backed Woodpeckers!

They were not at all interested in getting their photos taken.  Also around were cowbirds, ravens, Cassin's Finches, Hairy Woodpeckers, flickers, and Mourning Doves.  After a few hours in this area I headed back through Sisters and stopped at Forest Road 1018 (also called Trout Creek Butte Road I think).  After a snack I took the dogs for a walk around an area where I had seen White-headed Woodpeckers on previous trips.  Sweet success!!

The dogs and I were sitting in a shady spot when I heard some knocking but could not see a woodpecker anywhere.  Until a little white head popped out of that hole!

So cute.  I saw two more in the nearby trees, but no good photos.  The last major area I wanted to explore was the Shadow Lake Burn which occurred last summer.  I had actually photographed the smoke from the fire when I was on my way back from Malheur NWR in early September, so I was psyched to see what things looked like now. 

This was the most frustrating area I birded- I heard so many woodpeckers and could only locate a single Hairy Woodpecker.  I had really hoped for American Three-toed or even some Williamson's Sapsuckers, but no...  Sure saw a lot of Steller's Jays though...

There were a couple of Rufous Hummingbirds zipping around too but only fuzzy photos...

After several hours around this area the dogs were panting so loud I couldn't really listen for woodpeckers anymore.  We all chugged some water and got on the road to home. 

It was a great trip despite missing so many birds I had hoped to see.  There's always next time!   Good times!!


  1. Nice assortment of birds Jen! I never get tired of seeing Mountain Bluebirds in good sunlight. The scenery ain't too shabby either.

  2. Rocked the Woodpeckers! Well done! I'd give a pound of flesh (not necessarily mine I guess) to see the White-headed and Black-backed

    1. Ew. Now I'm picturing a random pound of flesh.

  3. OH sap in a dog's fur is'd you get it out? Alcohol swabs work, but of course they are small!
    WOW you saw some awesome woodies, that white headed is adorable peeking out of that tree and a black backed too..! I would say it was a great success! AND I always love to see a stellars Jay, they have that awesome black/blue gradient....MY trip is coming up on Monday so of course IM counting down the minutes till Friday and WORK being over and then I can get organized and ready to go.,...the weather is getting better too, tempts have dropped ...I will be camping in my van and IM taking way too much stuff but... I better add alcohol swabs to my pile!! :0} Im taking a bird feeder to hopefully bring some BIRDS to Muhammad..namely the Painted Bunting...I hear they like white millet seed.

    1. Well, I didn't really try too hard with the sap. Some of it brushed out (the furminator is great for that), but the rest is still there. Have an awesome trip and good luck with the bunting!!

  4. The Pygmy Nuthatch and WH Woodpecker are so cool! Love the photos of him in the nest. Great trip!

  5. Black-backed Woodpeckers are siiiiiiiick. I've only seen them once, the fruit of aimlessly wandering a random burn for a couple hours.

    That flycatcher shot is legit. It's why I keep coming back here, so thanks.

    Is there a shot of its face? Does it have an eyering? Its primaries look really, really short, which is somewhat helpful.

    1. Damn, so once the flycatchers migrate you're going to stop reading my blog?? I better start stockpiling some photos. As for a shot of his face... uh... nope. When I zoom in all the way I don't really see an eyering but that angle is not great. Any ideas?

    2. Well if it had an eyering I would call it a Gray Flycatcher, the shape is just right, even without seeing the bill, but I have no idea what habitat you were in or if its within their normal range or not...I do know they're in interior Oregon though.

  6. Great birds and a wonderful camping trip, Jen! I did not know there was Black-head Woodie. I love the White-head woodpecker, maybe I will get to see one. The Pygmy Nuthatch is a cute shot too. The squirrels always seem to be able to outrun my dog. Great report and post and I loved the scenic shots. Happy Birding!

  7. Great catch on the White-headed woodpecker! And it made for some really neat shots!


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