Oregon: Winter 2019–2020

Winter 2019–2020: 1 Dec–29 Feb

Adrian W. Hinkle

Recommended citation:

Hinkle, A.W. 2021. Winter 2019–2020: Oregon. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-9Pn> North American Birds.

The Pacific Northwest experienced a rather mild winter. December was a bit dry, but January was wet, with rainfall in Portland on all but a couple days. Particularly rainy and windy weather during the first half of January (including several fronts with strong winds out of the west) pushed unprecedented numbers of Black-legged Kittiwakes inland. Perhaps related to those storms, a beached Thick-billed Murre and a Murphy’s Petrel showed up in Clatsop Co, and a Mottled Petrel ended up next to a road a couple miles inland in Lane Co. Continuing from the fall 2019 invasion were several eastside Hutton’s Vireo. Lastly, dozens of Snow Buntings occurred on the coast, in much larger numbers and further south than expected.

An Emperor Goose continuing from Nov was last seen 1 Dec at Sauvie Island, Multnomah Co (J. Punches). One Brant, usually annual inland in small numbers, was at Sauvie Island, Multnomah Co 2–8 Dec; and in nearby Columbia Co 15 Dec and 1 Feb. A high count for the westside, six immature Ross’s Geese were at Ankeny NWR, Marion Co 19 Jan (R. Gerig). Now regular in winter anywhere but the southwest corner of the state, single Trumpeter Swans were in Coquille Valley, Coos Co 23 Dec12 Jan (D. Henise, R. Henise), and at Agate Lake, Jackson Co 1 Jan (A. Kleinhesselink). An immature male Tufted Duck was at Philomath Sewage Ponds, Benton Co through 5 Dec (m. ob.), while a male was there 21 Jan (D. Robinson), and at nearby Finley NWR 27 Jan4 Feb (W. Wright). A male Tufted Duck was also at Marsh Rd., Washington Co 26 Jan12 Feb (S. Kirkbride). While several Surf Scoters appeared in Multnomah Co during Dec, the only inland White-winged Scoter was at Rainier City Park, Columbia Co 25–26 Jan (P. Kline).

Though regular in the state with a couple reports annually, a White-winged Dove at Holbrook, Multnomah Co 2–11 Feb (ph., P. Kline) was a county first. Oregon’s 14th Common Gallinule was three mi. south of Midland, Klamath Co 17 Feb+ (D. Hewitt, K. Spencer). An American Avocet, less than annual in Oregon during the winter, was 3 mi. south of Midland, Klamath Co 19 Feb (D. Kuhlman). Oregon’s 14th Mountain Plover was in Gearhart, Clatsop Co 16 Jan+ (S. Warner). Curlews and godwits are rare in Oregon during winter, so a Long-billed Curlew in Seaside, Clatsop Co from the start of the period through 19 Jan was noteworthy. Marbled Godwits had reports of up to four in Coos Bay, Coos Co, three at Yaquina Bay, Lincoln Co, and 14 at Tillamook Bay, Tillamook Co. One Wandering Tattler overwintered in Bandon, Coos Co; one was seen Newport, Lincoln Co 11 Feb.

A Thick-billed Murre washed up alive at Tolovana Beach SP, Clatsop Co 15 Jan (fide M. Patterson). Dead or moribund individuals on Clatsop Co beaches now account for half of the state’s 10 records. Exceptional numbers of Black-legged Kittiwakes were blown inland during storms in Jan, including individuals photographed at the Sandy River Mouth, Multnomah Co 12 Jan (A. Addison), at Ford’s Pond, Douglas Co 13 Jan (J. Houseman), and at Frank Parish Rd., Lane Co 13 Jan (C. McElroy). Two were at Wapato Lake NWR, Washington Co 12 Jan (S. Finnegan, D. Irons), three were at Vernonia Lake City Park, Columbia Co 12 Jan (P. Kline), and up to seven were at Hagg Lake, Washington Co; two on 11 Jan; seven on 12 Jan; and several lingering for over a week with the last one seen on 21 Jan (S. Finnegan, D. Irons, m. ob.). Coinciding with the spate of inland sightings were 4000 passing southward at Boiler Bay, Lincoln Co 12 Jan (P. Pickering); about two-thirds were adults. Unrelated to the Jan storms, a Black-legged Kittiwake was at Hayden Island, Multnomah Co 6 Dec (W. Gross). Black-legged Kittiwakes are not annual inland, with one every few years along the Columbia River and even fewer elsewhere. Now annual in Oregon thanks to increasing detections on the eastside along the Columbia River, adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls were photographed at Hood River Mouth, Hood River Co 15–22 Feb (J. Bishop) and at Manns Pond, Umatilla Co 20 Feb (R. Hartman).

Especially rare in winter, but probably underreported due to sparse offshore coverage, a moribund Murphy’s Petrel was found on the beach in Seaside, Clatsop Co 29 Feb (Seaside Aquarium, ph., M. Patterson). A Mottled Petrel—the expected pterodroma in winter, though not reported annually—was reported off Boiler Bay, Lincoln Co 12 Jan (PP). Particularly stunning was a Mottled Petrel photographed two miles inland, next a road north of Florence, Lane Co, 2 Jan (T. Pfaff). Brown Boobies are now annual in the state, but extremely rare in winter. One photographed flying southbound at D. River, Lincoln Co 29 Jan (PP) was especially unexpected given only one report from fall 2019. Increasingly detected inland in Multnomah Co, although perhaps mainly due to increased coverage, a Pelagic Cormorant was at the Sandy River Mouth 13 Jan28 Feb (R. Barnes-Rickett).

A very late Swainson’s Hawk was photographed just north of Perrydale, Polk Co 30 Dec (A. Addison). Only reported a handful of times in the Willamette Valley, a stunning male Williamson’s Sapsucker frequented an orchard on Pickens Rd. in Eugene, Lane Co 29 Dec12 Jan (m. ob.). Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, expected in small numbers every winter, were reported from the cities of Bandon, Roseburg, Eugene, Philomath, Toledo, Portland, and Boardman. As expected, Red-naped Sapsuckers were a little scarcer, with three reports, all on the westside.

Only recorded a handful of times in winter, a Pacific-slope Flycatcher frequented a yard in Lincoln City, Lincoln Co 27 Dec–17 Jan (ph., J. Sanford). Oregon’s 6th Vermillion Flycatcher wintered at Alton Baker Park, Lane 6 Jan+ (R. Aragon, m. ob.). Unheard of in the Pacific Northwest after the first week of Dec until the past decade or so, a Tropical Kingbird was at Devils Lake, Lincoln Co 15 Dec (E. Laver-Holencik), while lingerers persisted at Boquist Rd., Tillamook Co 1–5 Dec (K. Chamberlain) and Wireless Rd., Clatsop Co 8–9 Dec (K. Sayce). During their time on the Oregon Bird Records Committee review list through 2001, all but one of the 32 records were between 27 Sep and 6 Dec, with a single late Jul record.

An unprecedented incursion of Hutton’s Vireos that began during fall 2019 continued into the winter; one was at Sawyer Park, Deschutes Co 7 Dec8 Jan (P. Low), a pair appeared near Whychus Creek Overlook Trail, Deschutes Co 28 Feb+, one continued at Deschutes River Mouth, Sherman Co through 30 Jan, one was at John Day Dam, Sherman Co 29 Dec (A. Hinkle), and one at Boardman Marina, Morrow 30 Dec3 Jan (N. Clements). Especially late for the eastside was a Cassin’s Vireo in La Grande, Union Co 18 Dec (ph., S. Daugherty). Though this year’s Blue Jay invasion peaked in late fall, there were winter sightings of single birds in Roseburg, Bend, south of Umatilla, and near Milton-Freewater, of two in Union, of up to three in Joseph, and of up to four in Ontario, Malheur Co. Though far more regular in the Rogue Valley than elsewhere on the westside, a Black-billed Magpie present east of Phoenix, Jackson Co 12 Jan29 Feb (F. Lospalluto) was of interest.

Rarely detected on the Oregon side of the western Columbia River Gorge at the western extent of its range, a Canyon Wren was at Multnomah Falls, Multnomah Co through 31 Dec (J. Bishop). Not annual on the immediate coast, a White-breasted Nuthatch was in Brookings, Curry Co 31 Dec (C. Centanni). Nine Northern Mockingbirds were reported away from Jackson Co and Klamath Co, all on the westside. Though regular on the eastside, a Bohemian Waxwing in Newport, Lincoln Co 17 Jan (ph., C. Fox) was the only westside report, and particularly rare for the coast; especially being a non-irruption year. It was a poor finch year as well, with no rare crossbills or out of range Pine Grosbeaks or Common Redpolls. A Chestnut-collared Longspur was reported near Blueberry Rd., Linn Co, near where one was reported the previous winter (A. Hinkle). Continuing from a great showing in the fall, Snow Buntings were uncharacteristically numerous all winter. Though reports came from as far south as Brothers, Deschutes Co on the eastside, and from Linn Co in the Willamette Valley, the coast stole the show with up to 15 at North Spit Coos Bay, Coos Co 26 Jan18 Feb; 25 at Baker Beach, Lane Co 16 Dec with the last ones disappearing by the end of the month; and at least 10 at Yaquina Bay jetties, Lincoln Co 24 Dec and 11 Feb (but with a small flock present all winter). Even further south, one was at Langlois, Curry Co through 28 Dec (T. Wahl). Though more typical on the northern coast, 50 Snow Buntings at Nehalem Bay SP, Tillamook Co 22 Dec was a good tally. A Grasshopper Sparrow in Warrenton, Clatsop Co 8–22 Dec was the sixth winter record for Oregon (M. Patterson). Clatsop Co had two Clay-colored Sparrows for the only reports. The only westside American Tree Sparrow was at Rentenaar Rd, Columbia Co 8–22 Feb (B. Archer). Seven westside and five eastside Harris’s Sparrows made for a typical showing. Not annual in winter, a Vesper Sparrow was at Rentenaar Rd, Columbia Co 8–24 Dec (A. Beerman).

Male Hooded Orioles were at Seaside, Clatsop Co 24 Dec17 Feb (D. Bailey) and Nehalem, Tillamook Co 12 Jan+. Male Bullock’s Orioles wintered in Florence, Lane Co and Port Orford, Curry Co. A female Rusty Blackbird was photographed in Gaston, Washington Co 12 Jan (S. Finnegan, D. Irons) was Oregon’s 34th record, with twelve of those since its removal from the state review list in summer 2014. A female Black-and-white Warbler along Reeder Rd, Columbia Co was last seen 6 Dec after staying for a couple weeks, while one at Ona Beach, Lincoln Co 14 Jan2 Feb was returning for its third winter. A Black-and-white Warbler was also seen in Empire, Coos Co 2 Feb (T. Rodenkirk). One Nashville Warbler wintered at Hatfield Marine Science Center, Lincoln Co 30 Dec20 Feb (A. Beerman), while one was in North Bend, Coos Co 3 Jan (T. Rodenkirk). Previously very rare after Oct, a couple Yellow Warblers have been found the past few winters. This year, adult males were photographed in Brookings, Curry Co 1 Jan (C. Centanni) and at Tone Rd, Tillamook Co, where one wintered the previous winter, 15 Dec (S. Hill). The only non-coastal Palm Warbler was at Alton Baker Park, Lane Co 10 Jan (D. Robinson). Palm Warblers made a poor coastal showing, with just a few singles reported in most coastal counties, at least two near Astoria, Clatsop Co, and only three on the Port Orford CBC, which had 44 the previous winter. A Black-throated Gray Warbler was in Warrenton, Clatsop Co 12–18 Dec (R. Hudson), and a female returned to Coquille, Coos Co for its second winter. A Hermit Warbler was on the Port Orford CBC 28 Dec (T. Wahl). Wilson’s Warblers are barely annual in winter; one was near Coquille, Coos Co 17 Dec (D. Henise, R. Henise) and one wintered at Reed Lake, Multnomah Co 9–18 Feb (M. Mealy). A male and female Western Tanager wintered at a Medford, Jackson Co residence 3–16 Jan (C. Garcia), and a male and female visited a Roseburg, Douglas Co yard 31 Dec20 Jan (M. Jones). Usually reported at least once per winter, a male Black-headed Grosbeak was in Sweet Home, Linn Co 22–31 Jan (J. Sands).

Report processed by José R. Ramírez-Garofalo, 1 Feb 2021.

Photos–Oregon: Winter 2019–2020

Hover or click on each image to read the caption.