I work at a wildlife rehabilitation center, so I see quite a lot of bird species come thru the center than I have ever seen out birdwatching. Recently we’ve had such an influx of birds unusual to Portland, its been so excited to see these birds that I would likely never see out in the wild. This is not surprising, of course, since migration is still going on. But somehow it still catches me by surprise.
I wrote last week about a yellow-shafted flicker. These usuallyare not seen West of the Rocky Mountains. So is very rare here.
Today my boss said, “want to see something cool” and brought me over to a little incubator in the hospital.
“It’s a flammulated owl” she said. I had no idea what that was, I had never even heard of that type of owl. Now of course I know that they do exist in Oregon, after reading in several field guides. But they are in eastern Oregon. If you are familiar with Oregon
geography at all, the eastern side of the state is like being on a different planet than the western side of the state where Portland is. The east and west are split by the Cascade mountain range. The flammulated owl spends some time in eastern Oregon during the summer and migrates thru during migration seasons. But they never come west of the Cascade mountains. For one to end up in Portland is very rare. The owl was very cool indeed. It was tiny, only about 6 inches long.
We get a lot of Great Horned owls in the center. They are common in Portland. But recently over the past few weeks we’ve gotten some different sub-species/types of Great Horns that we don’t have here. We’ve had a Southwest type, which has much lighter coloring all over. The lighter color is distinct, you look at it and immediately you know it is a different kind of Great Horn. We also got in today a Great Horn that is more of an Eastern Great Horn. It’s face has the orange coloring on its cheeks that simply doesn’t exist on the Portland Great Horns.I had never seen one with orange on its face.
The Great Horns I’m used to seeing are like the one on the right. Pretty brown and gray-brown, with just a hint of warmth on the face. The picture on the left is one with bold orange on the face, which is new to me. The slight difference is enough to make it seem like a new bird.
Its is awesome to see these birds that are so familiar but with something slightly different than the ordinary. It brings a fresh approach to really looking at a bird’s details and appreciated it for all it is.