Oregon and Washington: Fall 2022

Fall 2022: 1 Aug–30 Nov

Eric Heisey

Adrian Hinkle

Christopher Hinkle

Recommended citation:

Heisey, E., A. Hinkle and C. Hinkle. 2022. Fall 2022: Oregon & Washington. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-gTX> North American Birds.

It was dry and cool for peak migration during September and early October. A series of storms in late October resulted in good seawatching conditions. By November it was again cool and dry. Cloudy and fairly calm conditions along the coast during peak migration resulted in a good showing of “eastern” warblers. Neah Bay was open this fall for the first time since pre-Covid, and several rarities were found throughout the period, especially in October and November. A few coastal Oregon towns saw interesting neighborhood vagrants during the same period. Klamath and the Willamette Valley refuges were very dry. Populated areas in the Puget Sound, Portland, Willamette Valley, and locally in Eastern Washington got the most coverage per usual, with less coverage on the coast. Traps in desert Washington got decent coverage, while coverage at Malheur was inconsistent, as is often the case in fall.

Diving ducks, loons, and grebes continue to be common along the Columbia River in numbers much higher than the historical norm, likely owing to the ongoing increase in invasive mussels that serve as a food source. Many shorebirds had a typical showing, though surprisingly no Ruffs were found in Washington and Buff-breasted Sandpipers were unusually scarce. An exceptional region-wide push of Acorn Woodpeckers brought them to unusual localities, and Oregon’s fifth Red-headed Woodpecker graced Malheur NWR.

Sub-regional Compilers
Tim Rodenkirk (Coos and Curry Cos, Oregon).

Geese through Phalaropes

Sometimes normalcy is notable in a region when abnormal things happen nearby. This was the case for Greater White-fronted Geese. Movements couldn’t have been more normal in Oregon and Washington, aside from two early flocks totaling 90 over Bayocean Spit, Tillamook Co 2 Aug. Most flocks began to show up in the last week of August. To the south, in California, extreme drought appears to have contributed to an unusual southward push of these geese into southern California and Baja. Inland records of scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, loons, and grebes generally peak in late fall. This year fit the long-term upward trend in inland detections. Multnomah Co unsurprisingly led the way with scoter sightings, and hosted a remarkable flock of 24 Red-breasted Mergansers at Hayden Island 5 Nov (Andrew Aldrich); ones and twos are more commonly detected inland. Stray Dusky Grouse are rarely seen away from the mountains. One feeding in Russian Olives along the Columbia River at Cassimer Bar Wildlife Area, Okanogan Co 28 Aug (Eric Heisey) was perhaps the first fall record of this species in eastern Washington’s lowlands.

It was an average fall for shorebirding, as noted in the introduction. Traditional inland sites had decent coverage and habitat, while the continuing deterioration of Oyhut Wildlife Area in Grays Harbor proved a major loss for the coast. Oregon’s coast has been without any good shorebird hotspot for many years—and this year was no exception. As has been the case over the past decade or more, coastal shorebird concentrations were found on beaches or along New River in Coos and Curry Counties. A late American Golden-Plover lingered on the beach in Lincoln City, Lincoln Co 9 Nov+ (Phil Pickering); there are no previous winter records for the region. It appeared injured with a droopy wing. An Upland Sandpiper at Waterville Plateau, Douglas Co 12 Aug (Liam Hutcheson) provided a less-than-annual record for the region now that they are extirpated as breeders. At least one Bar-tailed Godwit graced coastal Washington and two Hudsonian Godwits were reported, one at Tyson Blood Ponds, Walla Walla Co 11 Sep (Mike and MerryLynn Denny) and another in Tokeland, Pacific Co 8 Oct (Edward Pullen et al.). No Ruffs were reported from Washington, a feat that happens once a decade or less for this normally annual vagrant. Oregon had a more typical five Ruffs, including one that lingered through the end of November at Ankeny NWR, the third time since 2015 that one has lingered into November at that location (none of which stayed until December). Sharp-tailed Sandpipers showed in normal numbers with two each in Oregon and Washington, while Buff-breasted Sandpipers had a second consecutive poor fall with only four. One at Ocean Shores 1 Aug (Ken Brown, Edward Pullen) was two weeks earlier than normal. Red Phalaropes had another poor showing along the coast after several lackluster falls, though decent numbers appeared starting in December. Coastal Red Phalarope numbers are subject to weather conditions in Oregon and Washington, making it hard to determine the cause of lower numbers.

Puffins through Pelicans

At least one of the two Horned Puffins summering at Smith Island, Island Co lingered to 5 Sep. Two sightings in King Co at Discovery Park 7 Aug (Raphael Fennimore) and Carkeek Park 25 Aug (Ryan Merrill) were likely wandering individuals from Smith Island. An individual offshore Westport, Grays Harbor Co 15 Sep (Westport Seabirds) was remarkably only the second sighting in 51 years for these regularly run pelagic charters. Noteworthy gulls included two Black-legged Kittiwakes behind Columbia River dams, and a less-than-annual Little Gull at Potholes Reservoir, Grant Co 7–8 Nov (Matt Yawney). A handful of Lesser Black-backed Gulls were seen in both Washington and Oregon and are hardly noteworthy at this point in their expansion. A second cycle Slaty-backed Gull at Bastendorff Beach, Coos Co 5 Nov (Tim Rodenkirk) was a first for Southern Oregon (though the paucity of records is surely attributable to low observer coverage there), while an adult returned to its long staying location in Richland, WA. Though almost annual inland, a young Arctic Tern at John Day Dam, Sherman Co 5–6 Nov (Trent Bray) was late. After another year of no sightings, Elegant Terns have now been absent from the region since Oct 2020; before that they were last absent in 2010. While Pterodroma petrels have become regular on repositioning cruises through Oregon, a Hawaiian Petrel that graced a 21 Aug Westport pelagic trip off Grays Harbor Co (Westport Seabirds) was only Washington’s fourth. Washington’s second and third Nazca Booby were observed widely in the Puget Sound. The first bird was seen riding on a barge north through the sound on 17 Aug, and was observed from King, Kitsap, Snohomish and Island Cos as the barge left the sound. The second individual was noted flying south past Carkeek Park, King Co 1 Sep (Ryan Merrill) and was seen better and confirmed from Discovery Park later in the morning as it flew south through the sound. The region’s long-awaited first inland Brown Booby was found on a barge on the Columbia River off Blurock Landing, Clark Co and Kelley Point, Multnomah Co 24–25 Oct (Ross Barnes-Rickett). The barge, “Adelante”, had been parked there for many weeks—so perhaps the booby flew in or arrived on a different vessel. The booby occasionally flew laps for a few minutes at a time, but mostly sat on the ship until it moved on the 25th. The booby disappeared and didn’t appear to be on the ship as it moved through Columbia Co towards the Pacific. Barely annual anymore, a sole Cattle Egret was at Ankeny NWR 7 Nov (Roy Gerig). Three eastern Washington counties recorded Brown Pelican for the first time, including one seen across the Columbia from Lincoln Rock State Park, Chelan Co 17 Aug (Liam Hutcheson) and an individual mixed in with a flock of American White Pelicans at Cassimer Bar, Okanogan Co 27 Aug (Eric Heisey). The Cassimer Bar bird flew across the river into Douglas Co for a bonus county first as well.

Woodpeckers through Eurasian Skylark

Woodpeckers are rarely a major storyline in the region, but this fall saw some interesting events. A female Williamson’s Sapsucker at Mt. Tabor, Multnomah Co 18 Sep (David Leonard) could have been a returning individual from the previous winter as it was in the same tree, but it wasn’t seen in follow-up visits. Williamson’s Sapsuckers are generally much less than annual west of the Cascades. Oregon’s fifth Red-headed Woodpecker, a juvenile, was north of P Ranch, Harney Co 30 Sep (David Perry). The woodpecker remarkably reappeared at Malheur HQ 14—15 Oct (Pam Otley), marking a notable first for the region’s top eBird hotspot. Acorn Woodpeckers staged an incredible invasion into the Portland area, where they are less than annual, with approximately 16 individuals. Smaller numbers were found well out of range. In Washington they pushed north as far as Jennings Park, Snohomish Co 8 Oct–2 Nov (Nathan O’Reilly). They are far less than annual anywhere on the immediate coast in the region, but Lane, Tillamook and Lincoln Cos each had records in Sep. The easternmost Oregon report was of two at Summer Lake, Lake Co 17–19 Sep (Carl Lunblad). Singles made it as far as British Columbia (the 13th provincial record) and Idaho (the second state record). One Acorn Woodpecker passed through the hawkwatch station at Bonney Butte on 9 Sep, along with a wave of Lewis’s Woodpeckers. Lewis’s Woodpecker flights are not observed annually on the West Coast, but this year several movements were noted in Oregon and California. At Bonney Butte nearly 20-50 passed by daily, with the single-day high count of about 200 (pers comms, Tim Baerwald), one of the highest counts for the state.

Most neotropical migrants departed during the typical window, though an Olive-sided Flycatcher at Pistol River, Curry Co 19 Oct (Tim Rodenkirk) marked a new late departure date for Oregon. Tropical Kingbirds made a solid showing. Both states recorded their earliest-ever Sep records, with vocal individuals at Neah Bay 13 Sep (Eric Heisey) and Cape Blanco, Curry Co 17 Sep (Adrian Hinkle). Oregon had two inland individuals, bringing the state’s inland total to nine; one was also inland in Clark Co, Washington. A stunning Philadelphia Vireo visited Steptoe Butte, Whitman Co 6 Sep (Russ Morgan). A Eurasian Skylark appeared at Hobuck Beach, Clallam Co 23–28 Oct (Bruce LaBar et al.) in the same spot that has hosted one several times in spring and fall since at least 2017.

Swallows through Lark Bunting

A very late Bank Swallow lingered at Potholes Reservoir 19 Nov (Matt Yawney). Neah’s second Gray Catbird was at Neah Bay 22–29 Oct (Adrian Hinkle, Christopher Hinkle). Swainson’s Thrushes have become regular into late fall in recent years; one appeared at Skinner Butte, Lane Co 23 Nov (Phil Thompson). There were no wayward Bohemian Waxwings, despite the expected handful coming into the NE part of the region and a few trickling south into CA. A Phainopepla was at Denman WMA 2 Aug (Jim Hostick, Tom McEntee). White Wagtails are extremely rare in the region, yet California’s 15 from the past three falls (including four this year) suggest that they may be increasing along the West coast. Washington’s 14th—and the first for Washington’s eastside—appeared at Tyson Blood Ponds, Walla Walla Co 25 Sep (Christopher Lindsey). Two calling flyover Red-throated Pipits were reported without documentation, from Bay City, Tillamook Co 7 Oct (Cameron Cox) and Diamond Lake, Douglas Co 15 Oct (Matt Hunter). Such reports happen every couple years, though few get reviewed by the bird records committee.

Oregon had two Chestnut-collared Longspurs: Lost Creek Lake, Jackson Co 22 Oct (Janet Kelly) and Rooster Rock, Multnomah Co 7–9 Oct (Aldrew Aldrich). The latter was a county-first, although there is an unreviewed summer record from the Portland Airport. Snow Buntings showed quite well on the California coast, but in Oregon this fall’s handful south to Lane Co, Lincoln Co, and Mary’s Peak in Benton Co was no more than usual. None reached Douglas, Coos, or Curry Cos. Clay-colored Sparrows had a poor showing on the entire west coast. Coastally, singles were reported from Coos, Lane, and Tillamook Cos, while Neah Bay had a more respectable four scattered between 7 Sep and 13 Nov. An expected handful were reported inland. Barely annual in the region, mostly in Oregon, a Lark Bunting was in South Beach, Lincoln Co 21 Sep (Chuck Philo).

Orioles through Warblers

An Orchard Oriole at South Jetty Columbia River, Clatsop Co 25 Sep (Jeff Gilligan) will be a county first if accepted by the OBRC. A male Hooded Oriole returned to Bay Center, Pacific Co for its fourth winter. A few Hooded Orioles are reported every year in Oregon, but individuals rarely return to the same location. A poorly photographed first fall male Baltimore Oriole in Bandon 28–29 Nov (Aaron Beerman) will be the state’s 27th if accepted, and the first since a spate of 11 were seen statewide between 2011 and 2015. Three late fall Rusty Blackbirds in Oregon and double that in Washington was an expected total. A Common Grackle was photographed in Ocean Park, Pacific Co 9 Oct (Steve Stump).

Warblers showed well on the coast, mostly from Clatsop Co southward. Oregon had four westside Northern Waterthrushes 11 Sep–7 Oct plus two presumed winterers. Oregon also had three westside Black-and-white Warblers 19 Aug–28 Sep. An impressive three Prothonotary Warblers brought Oregon’s total to 11: Roaring Springs, Harney Co 20–24 Sep (Joan Suther, Rick Vetter), Malheur NWR HQ 3 Oct (Nancy Stotz), and Bandon 20–21 Nov (Tim Rodenkirk). The entire west coast from the Oregon Coast south to the horn of Baja had a remarkable fall for Tennessee Warblers. Five were seen from Tillamook south to Curry Co in Sep, while one in Coos Bay 24 Nov was one of several in Nov and Dec that were either late migrants or winterers. Oregon’s third Lucy’s Warbler was in Bandon 23–27 Nov (Tim Rodenkirk). Five coastal Nashville Warblers 12 Nov+ were the only fall reports for the coast. A Virginia’s Warbler at Cannon Beach, Clatsop Co 30 Sep (Shawneen Finnegan, Dave Irons) is the northernmost record for the region, and Oregon’s 18th. Oregon’s sixth Kentucky Warbler visited a rural yard a mile east of Bend Airport, Deschutes Co 20–21 Aug (Lisa Cowan). Oregon had five well-scattered American Redstarts 26 Aug–23 Oct. A single male Northern Parula was at Cape Blanco 18 Sep (Adrian Hinkle, Emmett Iverson). There were three Magnolia Warblers regionwide: Hood River Mountain Trail, Hood River Co 11 Aug (Andrew Solomon), Washtucna, Adams Co 9 Sep (Phil Bartley), and Neah Bay, Clallam Co 11 Sep (Eric Heisey). Neah Bay’s third Blackburnian Warbler was photographed 3 Nov (Jordan Gunn). One Chestnut-sided Warbler was in eastern Washington, and three were in Coos and Curry Cos 20–30 Sep (Tim Rodenkirk). The region had three eastside Blackpoll Warblers 27 Aug–16 Sep, where more regular than the coast. One male Black-throated Blue Warbler was in Fields, Harney Co 19–23 Sep (Carl Lundblad). Palm Warblers made a seemingly average fall showing, mostly coastally as expected; the first were two at Cape Blanco 17 Sep. Washington’s fourth Black-throated Green Warbler lingered in Spokane 24 Nov+ (Chad Crouch). Three Prairie Warblers brought Oregon’s total to 20; singles were at North Spit Coos Bay 18–20 Sep (Tim Rodenkirk), Cove Beach, Clatsop Co 4 Oct (David Bailey), and up the Chetco River from Brookings 8–30 Oct (Tim Rodenkirk). Oregon had a single Rose-breasted Grosbeak while Washington had two.

Report processed by Andrew Keaveney, 04 Apr 2024.

Photos–Oregon and Washington: Fall 2022

Fall is an excellent time for exceptional pelagic sightings. Washington’s fourth Hawaiian Petrel was the star of this fall pelagic season, gracing many observers with exceptionally close views on 21 Aug 2022 offshore Westport, Grays Harbor Co. Photo © Kirk Zufelt.

Dusky Grouse are regular in montane northern Washington, but rarely stray from their conifer forest haunts. One photographed in a grove of Russian Olives along the Columbia River on 28 Aug 2022 in lowland Okanogan Co was perhaps the first fall lowland sighting for Washington. Photo © Eric Heisey.

Washington furnished its fourth Eurasian Skylark in the past six years this fall. Remarkably, all of these sightings have come from the same location, Hobuck Beach in Clallam Co, with the most recent observed 23–28 Oct 2022. Photo © Jordan Gunn.

One of the most out-of-context birds of the season was this Kentucky Warbler seen in a corn patch behind a private residence east of Bend, Oregon August 20–21, 2022. Oregon only had five previous records, and the species is extremely rare anywhere in the west, particularly in August. Photo © Peter Low.

Washington receives a dearth of vagrant warblers when compared to the other west coast states. A Black-throated Green Warbler found at Riverfront Park, Spokane Co 28 Nov 2022 was only the state’s fourth, and the second to appear in November. Photo © Mason Maron.