Saturday, May 7, 2011

A visit to Mount Tabor, Portland, Oregon

Birders on Mount TaborBirders enjoying spring migration on Mount Tabor, Portland, Oregon, 7 May 2011 by Greg Gillson.


Today I joined an Oregon Field Ornithologists' public field trip to Mount Tabor, in the middle of Portland, Oregon. Shawneen Finnegan and Dave Irons led the trip, and it was joined by almost 20 others.

This was my first visit to Mount Tabor, thus I was glad to have experienced local guides showing us the best birding areas.

The purpose of the field trip was to view Neotropical migrants. Migration is best with unsettled weather. Today was such a day, with 95% cloud cover and occasional sprinkles. Birds were actively moving through the tree tops, backlit by the overcast skies. Thus, while it was good bird migration weather, it was not good bird photography weather.

We didn't have a "fall out"--a spectacular migration event with thousands of birds of scores of species arriving overnight. Still, we did have good numbers of birds.

I saw several species for the first time this year, including several flycatchers: Hammond's, Dusky, and Olive-sided. The Dusky is a rather rare migrant west of the Cascades. But some migrate through the west side lowlands and then move upslope as spring advances up the mountains. We also saw a couple Pacific-slope Flycatchers.


Olive-sided FlycatcherOlive-sided Flycatcher, Mount Tabor, Portland, Oregon, 7 May 2011 by Greg Gillson.


Other birds included a rare west side (of the Cascades) Calliope Hummingbird, which I did not identify. I heard, but never saw, a Western Tanager. There were various sparrows on the slopes, identified as migrants as they weren't in habitats or areas that they would be found in during winter or breeding season. A couple of Warbling Vireos were evident in the budding big leaf maples. Numerous Hermit Thrushes were present, as was an early Swainson's Thrush.

Most conspicuous were the warblers: I saw perhaps a dozen Nashville Warblers, 30 Orange-crowned Warblers, a couple MacGillivray's Warblers, numerous Black-throated Gray, Townsend's, and Yellow-rumped Warblers, several Wilson's Warblers, and a single Hermit Warbler. These birds sing and call during migration, making warbler watching an enjoyable annual spring event.

Bird list on eBird (52 species).


Townsend's WarblerTownsend's Warbler, Mount Tabor, Portland, Oregon, 7 May 2011 by Greg Gillson.


What makes Mount Tabor so good for Neotropical migrants? When is the best time to visit? That's a topic for tomorrow.