Some birds never learn to play nicely with others

Some birds never learn to play nicely with others

Spring brings returning travelers, nests in apple trees, abundant song … and feistiness.
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Winter birding in the forest is a party

Winter birding in the forest is a party

In education circles these days, there is much discussion about the Common Core. To a naturalist with an interest in birds, the common core means something very different.

Take a walk in the forest on a chilly winter day, and you will probably see and hear little. The summer birds are long gone; riotous song will have to wait until April.

But if you are patient and keep a sharp ear out, you may hear a few very high-pitched call notes. Sometimes they are so faint you wonder if you....

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Winner of 2015 Oregon Outdoors Wild Bird Photo Contest is a quick study

Winner of 2015 Oregon Outdoors Wild Bird Photo Contest is a quick study

ASHLAND — A great gray owl was just as curious about Melvin Clements as Clements was of it on one soft-lit August morning in a mountain meadow east of Ashland.

The large and somewhat rare bird showed no signs of wariness of Clements and his tripod as it flew counter-clockwise in the meadow.
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Wild Bird Photo Contest entries

Wild Bird Photo Contest entries

These four photos were among this week's entries to the 2015 Oregon Outdoors Wild Bird Photo Contest. To vote for your favorites or enter your own, go to www.mailtribune.com/birdcontest. The entry deadline is Friday, Dec. 4, and the winners will be published in Oregon Outdoors Friday, Dec. 11.

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Black phoebe is no longer a local stranger

Black phoebe is no longer a local stranger

There are some birds you just don’t expect to see in winter.

Bullock’s orioles should be comfortably sipping orange juice to the dismay of orange growers in western Mexico. Lazuli buntings will be nearby in hedgerows bothering no one. Western tanagers and many of our warblers should all have joined the mountain trogons and tufted jays in the pine forests in the mountains above Mazatlan with only a few durable yellow-rumped warblers remaining locally to tough it out. If...

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Wild Bird Photo Contest entries

Wild Bird Photo Contest entries

These four photos are among this week's entries to the 2015 Oregon Outdoors Wild Bird Photo Contest. To vote for your favorites or enter your own, go to www.mailtribune.com/birdcontest. The entry deadline is Friday, Dec. 4, and the winners will be published in Oregon Outdoors Friday, Dec. 11.

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Wild Bird Photo Contest entries

Wild Bird Photo Contest entries

These four photos are among this week's entries to the 2015 Oregon Outdoors Wild Bird Photo Contest. To vote for your favorites or enter your own, go to www.mailtribune.com/birdcontest. The entry deadline is Friday, Dec. 4, and the winners will be published in Oregon Outdoors Friday, Dec. 11.

 
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How to enter the Oregon Outdoors Wild Bird Photo Contest

To enter the 16th annual Oregon Outdoors Wild Bird Photo Contest, go to www.mailtribune.com/birdcontest, fill out a registration form and upload your photos.

Entries must be received by 5 p.m., Friday, Dec. 4, 2015. Online voting ends at 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7, 2015.

Mail Tribune judges will pick the five photos they like best and publish them in the Friday, Dec. 11, issue of Oregon Outdoors. A Readers' Choice photo, decided by the most votes from registered site users, will also.....

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Egrets seem to break the rules for survival

Egrets seem to break the rules for survival

White is a beautiful color. It’s bright and showy, and therein lies the problem.

In nature, brazenness like “bright and showy” is usually dealt with harshly. If you're potential prey, white is a predator magnet. If you're a predator, bright and showy can mean an empty stomach, because potential prey can stay safely out of your way.

Yet, there is a visitor in the valley that is immaculate white — the great egret.

Every summer about July, great...

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Wild Bird Photo Contest is underway, and Medford's Randy Shipley is the reigning People's Choice winner

Wild Bird Photo Contest is underway, and Medford's Randy Shipley is the reigning People's Choice winner

Amateur shutterbug Randy Shipley of Medford can't seem to capture images that turn the judges' heads, but he sure knows how to win the crowd.

Shipley's pics haven't placed in the top five among judges in the Oregon Outdoors Wild Bird Photo Contest. But he's won the People's Choice award two years in a row, and not because he and his friends are stuffing the ballot box.

"I don't have a lot of artistic sensibility," says Shipley, a 53-year-old phys-ed and health teacher at Phoenix.....

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Canada geese are back on the wing

Canada geese are back on the wing

Did you miss them? Well, they’re back. The Canada geese, that is.

The last week of August brings a nearly forgotten sound to the skies overhead. All summer long you might have seen Canada geese lounging about golf course fairways or farm ponds, but the skies have belonged to the swallows and vultures. The geese have been grounded, all the other waterfowl, too. It’s molting time.

Where the hummingbirds, chickadees, finches and doves in your backyard, and even the...

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Agate Lake is a birding hotspot

Agate Lake is a birding hotspot

Bird watchers gather on this first Wednesday in September as the pastel-washed dawn fades into dingy gray.
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Rough patch for red-tailed hawks

Rough patch for red-tailed hawks

The crying of babies. Is there any other sound that commands the attention so completely? There is a need to be met, and the penetrating cry of a baby makes this abundantly clear to all within an amazing distance.

The same is true in the bird world. The crying (begging) of a baby bird is not to be ignored. It prompts parents to ever greater efforts to feed the hungry young.

However, there has been a sound missing this summer. The plaintive cries of young red-tailed hawks have...

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Wild Birds Unlimited to open in new location

Wild Birds Unlimited to open in new location

Wild Birds Unlimited will return to Medford this month after a 12-month hiatus.

The supply store is slated to open in a new location with a new owner Aug. 21 next to Rite-Aid in the Medford Center.

Laura Fleming acquired the franchise from former owner Katy Reed, who retired last August. Soon after the sale, the building where the store had been located for nearly 20 years on Crater Lake Avenue was sold.

Fleming had a business, but no storefront. She began...

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House wren's amazing success is a mystery

House wren's amazing success is a mystery

Of the following species, which is the most successful: American crow, American robin or house wren?

The question is really unfair without defining what I mean by “successful.” I mean which has the broadest distribution and lives in the widest variety of habitats?

The clear loser is the American crow. Its range barely extends beyond the United States and southern Canada, and there are vast portions of the West where they do not occur.

American robins are...

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Lazuli buntings come like the tide

Lazuli buntings come like the tide

I am frequently asked to identify a bird someone has seen in their backyard or on a hike. The description often fails to paint a recognizable image in my mind. I dislike being unable to encourage an interest in the natural world. I am often left offering the advice: “If you can send me even a poor cellphone photo, I can probably give you an answer. (I get a lot of cellphone pictures.)

This exercise is even more daunting when someone tries to describe a song. The English language....

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Birds must pack a lot of meaning into a song

Birds must pack a lot of meaning into a song

Let’s try a little exercise. Your task is to compose a message that communicates everything that you need to share with others in life, and, here is the hard part, the message can be no longer than two seconds. By others this would include your spouse, kids, parents, neighbors, the banker, everyone.

What message could possible cover all your needs? Seems like an impossible task, doesn’t it? And yet, as the spring chorus starts up, that’s just about how long a great....

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An abundance of jays

An abundance of jays

For whatever the reason, we have an abundance of jays in the valley this year.

Please notice I said “jays” not “blue jays.” There are blue jays, and many jays are blue. But not all jays are blue jays.

The bird with the official name of “blue jay” lives in Colorado, Georgia, New York and most states east of the Rocky Mountains. We don’t have official blue jays in Oregon. Well, once in a great while a blue jay from the East gets lost....

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Celebrating our feathered friends

“Restore Habitat, Restore Birds” is the theme for the 16th annual Klamath Falls Migratory Bird Festival and Run for the Birds race being offered from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park in Klamath Falls.

The festival runs in conjunction with International Migratory Bird Day, “an event held all over the world on the second Saturday in May to encourage and educate people about the importance of respecting natural resources, learning about bird...

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Untold stories of the dark-eyed junco

Untold stories of the dark-eyed junco

There have been many times, coffee cup in hand, when I have watched the juncos outside and thought I should write about them. The stories are just a little harder to find for some species.

Dark-eyed juncos are birds everyone has at their feeder in winter — all year if you live above the valley floor. They are old friends but usually background birds receiving little special notice.
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