Pelicans! Now, I know seagulls make it this far inland, but they are generally in spitting distance of the Columbia River. And I know that there are pelicans in SE Oregon along the Snake River, but I haven't seen any in this mountainous NE corner...until this week, right at the edge of our little town where the river makes a lazy wide corner that waterfowl love. I'm sure they were on their way to somewhere else. I turned my car around on the highway and aimed my camera across and out the passenger's side window.
The second unusual sighting was at 4575 feet elevation overlooking the 2000-foot-deep Joseph Canyon in northern Wallowa County, Oregon. This beautiful burnt-orange bird was perched on the pole-and-concrete border of the overlook. I had to rely on my telephoto lens and then on my Field Guide to North American Birds at home to identify the Pine Grosbeak, a finch that is characterized as "circumpolar," breeding across the northern forest belt of Europe, Asia and North America (in the West extending south into pine and fir forests of the high mountains from the northern Sierra Nevada and Rockies to New Mexico). This bird likes high elevations, and this particular fella is much more colorful than the photo illustrations in the bird book!
Correction: Theresa of The Run A Round Ranch Report commented that this bird looks like a crossbill. Sure enough, when I looked for one, I found the Red Crossbill, a bird that also inhabits coniferous forests everywhere in the Lower 48 and Canada. As described in the field guide, this bird is "dusky brick red" on its head and body with dark tail and wings. Correction made! Thanks, Theresa!
|Looking south in Joseph Canyon|