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Readers' favorite bird was the varied thrush

Several years ago I wrote a column about my favorite birds and posed the question to my readers, "What is your favorite bird?" I asked readers to mail their responses to me at my post office box. I received quite a few responses, around 25 I think, and I was very pleased with the results.

About eight weeks ago I wrote a similar column and asked that readers respond by mail or via my Web site, www.cronbergphotography.com. Wow! What a difference. I was literally overwhelmed by responses and received some very interesting stories to go along with the nominations.

By my last count there were more than 300 responses from readers. And, surprisingly, there was no overwhelming favorite bird. The winner was the varied thrush. This bird didn't even receive one vote in the last polling. My suspicion is that even though this bird is somewhat uncommon, at the exact time the column ran there was an unexpected influx of varied thrushes throughout Jackson and Josephine counties. These birds are normally found in the high forests where it is cool and damp. But eight weeks ago, they seemed to be everywhere.

Coming in second was the American goldfinch followed by the red-tailed hawk and mourning dove. All in all there were 76 birds nominated. And, as previously mentioned I received some great stories.

Mary from the Applegate area wrote, "My favorite bird is the Western meadowlark. When my family moved here 50 years ago from the South, some of my first recollections of birds was the lovely song of the meadowlark in Jackson County."

Alice in Grants Pass chose the red-shouldered hawk. Originally from the East Coast, she always loved these birds. "I was so surprised and thrilled that they have moved into our area. It's good to see them again."

Tony, of Central Point writes, "Although I welcome all birds to my backyard, the scrub jay has to be my favorite. They have such an attitude."

Tim Brandy, teacher at John Muir School in Ashland, wrote to say that his class has been studying birds. He conducted a survey among the students and teachers to nominate their favorite bird.

He submitted a list of 42 birds and 76 votes. Included were many of our favorites such as hummingbirds, robins, hawks and owls. But also included were the flamingo, emperor penguin, elegant trogon, quetzal, kiwi, eared lark and California condor. I guess I just didn't know what to expect.

My thanks go out to all who participated in this fun project. It sure appears that all the birds are appreciated no matter how big or small. Maybe in a few years we'll take this poll again and check to see if the results are the same.

Richard Cronberg is a birding enthusiast and photographer who lives in Central Point. Write him at P.O. Box 4283, Medford, OR 97501 or www.cronbergphotography.com.