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Event Reports

Umpqua Valley Audubon Society

Event Report from 6/3 UCC “Last-Minute Bird Walk”


By Stacy Burleigh


I was joined by 4 other bird enthusiasts at Umpqua Community College Saturday morning, that also included a visiting Alaska resident. Other than the spotted towhees, who were challenging us with every call in their repertoire, most other species seemed to be snoozing in the early, overcast morning.   Thankfully, as the morning progressed more species joined the “party”.  Highlights included a close-up of a beautiful, stationary violet-green swallow, and watching two common mergansers flying short north-south loops starting from within the northern hilltop trees to a little south of the trees and then turning around and doing it over and over. This behavior made us ask the question:  Do common mergansers nest in trees? An answer from a birding app indicated that they do nest in tree cavities!  This was such a revelation to all of us since common mergansers are such a norm on our Umpqua Rivers that it was presumed they nest along the river!  Further inquiry on Cornell University's website stated that within a day of hatching the flightless chicks jump out of the tree cavity to the forest floor. Though protected by their mother, the chicks immediately feed themselves by initially diving for aquatic insects. A great morning for sharing our mutual enthusiasm for birds and the habitats in which they call home. J


In all, 20 species were seen and/or heard and included:

2 Western kingbirds

2 Cliff swallows

4 Spotted towhees

1 Northern flicker

2 Western scrub jays

5 Turkey vultures

1 Mourning dove

1 Junco

1 House wren

2 Acorn woodpeckers

2 Common mergansers

1 Killdeer

1 Robin

4 Brewer’s blackbirds

1 Steller’s Jay

1 Song sparrow

1 Common Yellowthroat

1 Bewick’s Wren

1 Black-capped chickadee

1 Osprey


Recommendation for future visits: a little way up the paved path, just east of the Tech Building towards Lee O. Webb Arboretum, there is a restroom building on the right. Take the non-maintained trail from the northeast corner of that building. This takes you underneath the tree canopy and gives you better exposure to birds. This trail then comes out at the water tank and reconnects to the main pathway which continues on, or you can return to the parking lot by either trail. The restrooms on the eastside of the Tech Building were open (Sundays?).  At the far southeast end of the upper parking lot, you can proceed onto campus proper to bird and/or you can take the beautiful, but steep paved path (Kenneth Knechtel Park) down to a couple picnic tables and river views.