Monday, June 3, 2013

Before I Went to Portland, I Had Never Seen a Bluebird...

...and I still haven't.


Not a Bluebird

Like many gardeners, I hope that my garden will attract wildlife, mostly in the form of birds. I feed the birds, both the ones who eat seeds, and the ones who sip nectar, and I plant and design my garden with their needs in mind -- shrubs and trees for nesting and sheltering (and birdhouses, which the ingrates ignore), water features for bathing, deep-throated red flowers for hummers, and even though seedheads sometimes look scruffy, I leave lots of them on plants like Echinacea for my seed-eating feathered friends.

I had to learn about a whole new set of birds when we moved here from New England. Here for the first time I encountered Steller's Jays, Varied Thrushes, Anna's and Rufous Hummingbirds, Chestnut-Backed Chickadees, Townsend's Warblers, Western Tanagers, Oregon Juncos, and Evening Grosbeaks.

And, on Memorial Day weekend, while I was in Portland, I saw this bird, twice. Two different birds, a day apart.


This bird was exploring the crevices of a Trachycarpus trunk at Lan Su Garden. I've read they like to hide seeds, so it may have been retrieving a cache of food.

I wondered if it might be a bluebird, since I've never seen one. But when I got back home and looked closely at my photos, and my reference book Birds of Washington State, I found it didn't match any of the pictures of bluebirds. It's a Western Scrub Jay.

This jay was doing a very Robin-like hop-pause dance on the lawn outside Union Station, as it searched for food.

Aha! Found something!

Yum!

What are you looking at?

A learning experience, and a lot of fun to watch and photograph.

I still haven't seen a bluebird. But some day I will.

16 comments:

  1. Love it :) It IS a bird, and it's blue :) If you come to visit me you might see one!

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  2. Awww, maybe next time. Fun story too.

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  3. A couple of Scrub Jays are my constant gardening companions. They've gotten very used to Lila and me and we aren't considered a threat. This year they've discovered the branches of the big leaf magnolia and love to hang out there and watch the world go by.

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  4. I love Jays! they are such interesting birds. Nice pics of these pretties

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  5. How neat to move so far away and have to learn to see and recognize new birds (and plants). It makes your new place exotic and home at the same time.

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  6. You bring up something very interesting...I am trying to think if I have ever seen a Jay up here in Anacortes. I can't believe I never thought about this before. They are everywhere down in Portland and Jays are part of life down there. Now I had better do some research and find out if they only go so far north, I'll let you know what I find out. xo

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  7. I'm always conflicted over scrub jays. They are bullies to song birds BUT they eat cutworms. They are pretty though. :)

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  8. That's a sweet looking bird Alison! Birds are always a welcome sight in the garden and I remember being excited when I spotted some blue tits in our garden for the first time.

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  9. It's strange, where I live near Portland, in neighborhoods 5-7 miles away at a lower altitude, you can see Scrub Jays, which were present at my house in San Diego, but here at my house at a higher altitude are the birds I would see up in the "mountains", 50 miles inland in Julian, Stellar's Jays, Juncos, Chickadees, and Nuthatches. The Stellar's Jays like to raid the suet feeder but it's mainly the Chickadees that come. Jays are impressive bigger birds but rather aggressive as Heather remarked. My favorites are the Hummingbirds and Woodpeckers, especially the Pileated Woodpeckers, they are very impressive. I hear them more than I see them, it's like living in a jungle.:-) I saw a pair of Bald Eagles last week at a lake, really impressive!

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  10. Love these and their silly song! We had a nice pair of scrub jays visiting our garden a lot a couple of years ago. I think that our neighborhood falcon got at least one of them as I found lovely blue feathers on a branch of a tree and haven't seen them since:(

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  11. Scrub jays are quite common in the Portland area. I see many when I go on my bird walks. I also see them on the road to our house, but I have never seen one actually at our house. After reading Hannah's post, maybe it is an altitude thing. We are quite a bit higher than the places I have seen them.

    I hear many people refer to them as bluebirds or bluejays.

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  12. We don't have those guys in the Midwest. We do have bluejays. Some people find bluejays annoying, but I like them, even if they are screaming gluttons. The birds refuse to live in my bird house also!

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  13. Lots of blue and stellar jays around my neck of the woods too--Albany/Corvallis. Their screeches annoy me but I let them be. They're quite common. Nice photos.

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  14. My neighbor has bluebirds. He put up little bluebird houses. We have purple finches nesting in the eaves of the toolshed. Mostly we have Tequila Mockingbirds.

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  15. Beautiful bluebird!
    www.rsrue.bloggspot.com

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  16. Come east and you are sure to see them in open areas...we have them nesting and visting the gardens here in central NY. It is our state bird.

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