Steigerwald Lake NWR

Yesterday morning I was getting ready to head out for some birding when I read the report of a White-tailed Kite at Steigerwald.  Since I didn't really have a plan, this sounded like a good one.  It was chilly but not as foggy as Portland had been, and I found the kite quickly.  Unfortunately it was perched pretty far out on some low branches.

I walked up the trail thinking that I might be able to get closer and see it from the south.  Here's an even heavier crop of a terrible photo:

Oh well, still cool to see one in Washington!  I ran into Wilson Cady later on my way out and he mentioned this was the first one seen at Steigerwald in six or seven years, and that they are increasingly hard to come by in Washington in general.

With the kite found so quickly, I had plenty of time to explore the rest of the refuge.  Western Meadowlarks spooked from a field as I walked the trail.

I walked out to the dike trail, then followed it to the dead end.  A pair of Hairy Woodpeckers were battling conspicuously in the cottonwoods, pausing for breathers every once in awhile.

Up ahead on the trail a kestrel was perched on a refuge sign.  I kept getting closer on the trail and the bird kept not moving.  It got to the point where I actually stood still for thirty seconds and debated the possibility of the bird not being real.  Because sometimes the bird is not real:

Example:  Rusty Bittern

But in this case, the kestrel was in fact real.  He turned his head to give me the coyest, cutest, most ridiculous little kestrel face EVER.  And my new blog header.

Hot damn. I still can't believe I took this picture.  And the kestrel fun did not end there.  As I made my way east along the dike trail, this gentleman's lady friend followed me.  She flew up and landed on the fence post closest to me, as if on purpose. 

On the walk back I passed one of the signs with a big rusty bird on top, and a male kestrel flew in and perched on top of the bird. 

I must admit, now that I look at this sign I am very confused.  1500 miles to Canada??  Where in Canada are we talking?  It's like 300 miles to Vancouver.  Weird.  Anyway.

Hooded Merganser ladies were having a dance-off in the slough.

Pileated Woodpeckers had been calling from all directions while I was at the refuge, but I only saw one towards the end of my walk.

A pack of Tundra Swans flew overhead around this time...

I didn't see the kite again as I walked back, but this harrier was working on her coy face.  Or scratching her neck. 

I ran into my friend on the way out, who pointed out this Red-shouldered Hawk perched right by the parking lot:

Have I told you that two of my friends did a county big year last year?  This friend I ran into at Steigerwald and my friend Michele kicked some major ass in Oregon's Washington County.  Check out the recap here.

Good times!!


  1. You saw a lot on this walk Jen!! Did you notice how 2 ofr the swans turned an eye down to have a look at you? I think that is so cool..a really amazing shot of the Kestrel, such a colorful bird, its hard to get a shot of one they are so fast!!

    1. Thanks! That was what I really liked about the swan shot!

  2. Great photos! I am mesmerized by the merganser tummy. Also, you might need to change you name to Kestrel Jen.

  3. I like how two of the swans are looking to the side and showing you how they can bend their necks. It's like bending the first joint of your finger...not everyone can do it.
    So exciting about the kite! Yeah, that's how I've always seen them.,..out in a field on perch. Neato.

    1. Yeah, the swan neck bending was neat to see. Made my own neck hurt a bit.

  4. Damn that some high quality birding and crushing. Two of those swans appear to have broken necks--might to get them looked at.

  5. Hey, its the ass-kicker here. Ha ha! Thanks for the kudos. Your photos are great on this post. The sunshine helps too. Those kestrel are really nice!!

  6. Wow, great day. Those distances on the sign are crazy. Great Basin NP is about 850 miles away. Tijuana is about 1800 miles away. To get to the place where all three of those distances are right would be somewhere out in the Pacific Ocean off the Northern California coast, I think. Funny.

  7. Hi Jen, I was there yesterday Jan. 8 at 10:30 to 12:30. No kite. What time of day were you there, and where exactly did you see it. Thanks, Laura

    1. Hi Laura, I saw the kite around 9:30 a.m. as it perched far east of the main trail as I walked south from the parking beyond the ponds. Later on folks saw it hunting closer in, but for awhile it was out of view completely.


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