The Okanogan

IMG_6597

This week’s photo, taken June 24, 2013 on the Colville Plateau in Okanogan County, WA, features an adult male YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD.

This past weekend, I drive to Okanogan County, site of this year’s annual conference of the Washington Ornithological Society (WOS). The Okanogan is big and beautiful, and it boasts a bounty of habitats and birds. Since the sun rises at 4:58am this weekend, eager bird-watchers gather each morning at 5:15am in the hotel parking lot to track down their field trip leader and head out for a full day of birding. WOS does a great job, as usual, offering a wide range of day trips, each led by a knowledgeable and friendly guide.

For a few moments on Monday, I feel like I have eyes in the back of my head. It’s a few minutes past 12 noon, and we have been birding for 6+ hours so far. I’m mighty hungry, so I’m munching on a sandwich. I’m sitting in my car because I believe I’ve seen all the birds that we are likely to find at this stop. Besides, the rain is increasing, so hanging out in my car makes good, practical sense. As I relax in the driver’s seat, I notice out of the corner of my eye some color in the passenger’s side view mirror. A YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD has landed in a shrub a few feet behind my car. Thanks to the mirror, I can see the bird that’s behind me without even turning my head. I’ve never been so close to this wary species of bird, so as I slowly step out of the car and into the rain, I use my car as a blind, to hide me from the view of the Yellow-headed Blackbird. I aim my camera at the aptly named bird and capture several images before the large blackbird notices me.

Here are just some of the many birds I enjoyed this past weekend:

EARED GREBE

AMERICAN AVOCET

WILSON’S PHALAROPE

COMMON NIGHTHAWK

BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD

RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER

GRAY FLYCATCHER

CLARK’S NUTCRACKER

PYGMY NUTHATCH

ROCK WREN

VEERY

GRAY CATBIRD

SAGE THRASHER

YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT

VESPER SPARROW

LARK SPARROW

GRASSHOPPER SPARROW

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About Joe Sweeney

I photograph birds to share the beauty and wonder I find in nature.
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2 Responses to The Okanogan

  1. Mary Friestedt says:

    Joe,

    That bird’s colors blew me away!’ Good job. I enjoyed your narrative.

    :))Mary

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Dianna Shaffer says:

    Hi Joe! Leanne and I birded near Lakeview, OR and saw yellow-headed blackbird babies – so cute…thanks for the great pictures each week! This was June 23 – June 28, 2013 Audubon trip.

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