Sherman County in June

A couple weeks ago we had to return to Vancouver for a fun trip to the emergency vet (everything's fine now) and after a few days I had the urge to get out for some birding.  A day trip to Sherman County seemed like a nice break from the dog stress and I hoped to finally crest 100 species there. 

Columbia Gorge sunrises are always good

I took 197 down to 216 where just before White River Falls State Park (four miles before entering Sherman County) I noticed a bunch of turkeys in a field.  There was a pullout there so I stopped to send Jacob a photo of them.

I looked over to my left and a Lewis's Woodpecker was flying around, hunting from a telephone pole. 

Nice start to the day's birding

In the field below was this pheasant that I think is a Ring-necked but not the usual variety.

I continued on to my first destination, the BLM road that winds along the Deschutes River over 17 miles to Macks Canyon.  It was slow-going as it was quite birdy and I only made it six miles total.

Bushtits were the most abundant bird along that road with a a new family group every time I stopped. Lots of cuteness. 

These should be the Interior subspecies rather than the Pacific we have in the Portland area and at the coast, but I didn't research it enough to eBird them as such.

Lazuli Buntings were very common, singing from a variety of perches.

An American Dipper down in the river was a nice surprise when I was scanning for Spotted Sandpipers.

I spooked this Osprey with a rainbow trout (maybe a redband trout?) when I parked at another pullout.

Nonstop scenery along the way.

As I crested the short section of paved road a Rock Wren hopped on to a guardrail post. I'll take it.

A family of Western Kingbirds was entertaining and I later found another on a nest.

Also in the area were plenty of Bullock's Orioles including this one on a nest.  Sad to see all the fishing line involved which seems kinda hazardous.

A few more birds from along the road:

Western Wood-Pewee


Young Say's Phoebe

There are a number of camping areas along the road and I pulled into one to scan the river.  Immediately I noticed tons of insects swarming the ground, burrowing into little holes. 

They were digging quickly with their front legs like above until they were completely out of sight in the ground.

Note that dirt still flying!  iNaturalist suggested American Sand Wasp (Bembix americana) for the species.

Eventually I turned around, accepting that I would not make it all the way to Macks Canyon if I wanted to visit other places as well.  From the Deschutes I headed east to a pond on Ball Lane that I apparently birded once before.  A lone Ring-necked Duck seemed random and Ruddy Ducks marked my 100th Sherman County species.  I hadn't counted up my birds yet though so I was completely unaware of this.

Next was Twin Lakes Road where target birds kept appearing, starting with a most cooperative Grasshopper Sparrow.

A far less cooperative Vesper Sparrow, above, was followed by a semi-cooperative Swainson's Hawk.

At the lakes for which the road is named I managed to spot a couple bright red ducks through the haze, my county Cinnamon Teals.

I stopped at the Rutledge-Barnett Road Ponds without finding anything interesting, ate a snack at the Moro Sewage Ponds, then headed north to drive the Biggs-Rufus Frontage Road.  A singing Common Yellowthroat was my 14th and final county bird of the day.  

Birding Oregon's third least birded county (by complete eBird checklists) is always fun and distracting so I'm grateful I was able to go while Jacob worked from home and kept an eye on the mutts.

Jake wants you to know he is doing perfectly fine now. One of his old man benign lumps opened up and got infected which made his leg swell up to a ridiculous size. A round of antibiotics and lots of bandage changes got him back to normal. Good boy.


  1. Oh so sorry about Jake's leg poor baby...glad he is on the mend. My girls just had their 12th birthday and they have slowed down considerably and both have mobility issues. Only a die hard birder would eat their lunch at a sewage pond, Yeah!!
    You did a great job finding Good birds out in the open, not an easy feat this time of year, Im seeing less and hearing more right now. Beautiful landscape photos too Jen!! Have a great week...

    1. Thanks, Sondra! Give those gals some birthday scratches for me!

  2. The baby bushtit is so cute!! Thanks for sharing all the birds, as usual.

    Also I hope Jake is feeling better!


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