Washington County, Oregon, Bird Highlights: 2011

Interesting birds reported from Washington County, Oregon. New updates are added to the top of the page, thus the year tends to run backwards from top to bottom. The status of birds given is only for Washington County, unless specified otherwise.

For a general status of the birds of the county, please see
Checklist of the Birds of Washington County
by Greg Gillson.

Text below by Greg Gillson. Photos on this page are copyrighted by the photographers and may not be used elsewhere without their direct permission (but you already knew that, didn't you?).

Please contact me, Greg Gillson, for instructions on emailing photos for inclusion on this page. Thank you.

Washington County, Oregon, Bird Highlights: 2012, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006

December 2011:

Harris's Sparrow. Photo by Greg Gillson
Harris's Sparrow. Cornelius, Oregon. 17 December 2011. Photo by Greg Gillson.

The only report this year of Prairie Falcon was one bird at Tualatin River NWR on December 29 (Jack Williamson).

An Emperor Goose was conveniently hanging out near the observation deck at Tualatin River NWR. It was first seen December 26 (Jerry Martin and Jan Cornelius) and remained several weeks. This is a second county record.

Marilyn Stinnett found a Bewick's (Tundra) Swan at Coffeelake Wetland near Wilsonville on December 24. The bird was seen in both Clackamas and Washington counties to December 29. This is only the second known report of this form in Washington Co. photos by Jack Williamson.

Joe Blowers found an out-of-season Lesser Yellowlegs at Jackson Bottom on December 22.

Greg Gillson and Shawneen Finnegan found a Harris's Sparrow in Cornelius for the Forest Grove CBC, December 17. This is the 10th county record and first since 2004. It remained through the winter.

A rare Rough-legged Hawk was spotted December 14 near North Plains (Greg Gillson). (See November report.)

A single Common Teal (Eurasian Green-winged Teal) was with hundreds of American Green-winged Teal at Hagg Lake on December 14 (Greg Gillson). Another was at Fernhill Wetlands on December 1 and 3 (Steve Nord). Another was reported at Koll Center Wetlands late in the month. These are rare annual winter visitors. photo

A possible Gyrfalcon was seen by several birders independantly at Jackson Bottom Wetlands on December 10 (Jack Williamson, Joe Blowers). There are 8 previous county sightings.

As typical for winter, up to 2 Trumpeter Swans were detected at Fernhill Wetlands from 8-17 December (Steve Nord, Don Wardwell).

A Swamp Sparrow, first detected in November, was seen through December 27 (Steve Nord). This bird is detected nearly annually in the county.

Stefan Schlick found 4 Surf Scoters and 2 White-winged Scoters on Hagg Lake on December 4. Surf Scoters have been discovered to be regular here from mid-October through early December. White-winged Scoters are less frequent; this is the 10th known county record.

An apparent immature "blue phase" Snow Goose (formerly called "Blue Goose"), with two other normally colored Snow Geese, was photographed by Steve Nord at Fernhill Wetlands on December 2-3. I believe this is the first of this type ever recorded in the county. photo

A single Red-necked Grebe remaining from September was at Fernhill Wetlands from December 1-11 (Steve Nord).

On December 1 a flock of 7 Sandhill Cranes overflew Charlotte Corkran in the West Haven-Sylvan area. (See November report).

November 2011:

Only a second county record, a Brown Pelican was at Fernhill Wetlands on November 28, where Steve Nord was able to get a quick photo before it flew off, never to return. photo

Sandhill Cranes grazed the eastern edge of the county on their fall migration, as typical. A flock flew south over Dwight Porter at Raleigh Hills on November 20. He heard, but did not see, them. But a couple of minutes later Dave Irons did see them--26 birds over Tualatin.

Steve Nord recorded the first Swamp Sparrow of the winter with a bird at Fernhill Wetlands on November 20.

Joe Blowers recorded a single late Lesser Yellowlegs on November 11 at Jackson Bottom Wetlands.

Charlotte Corkran spotted two Rough-legged Hawks at Tualatin River NWR on November 10. These are annual but rarely spotted within the county. (See December report.)

A Mute Swan was with Tundra Swans at Fernhill Wetlands on November 8, where Steve Nord spotted it. Mute Swans are assumed to be domesticated escapees, perhaps joining flocks of wild Tundra Swans. Because of this they are not reported and tracked regularly, though there are previous Washington County reports.

The first White-throated Sparrow of fall/winter was reported November 5 in Beaverton by Greg Gillson. They were widely reported after that.

One to two Red-necked Grebes were observed off-and-on all fall at Fernhill Wetlands and Hagg Lake--perhaps the same two individuals moving back and forth between those two locations, or perhaps different birds? Jonathan Plissner observed two birds November 1 at Fernhill Wetlands. A single was noted from then to November 18 (Steve Nord), then not again until December.

That single American White Pelican at Fernhill Wetlands remained from summer. It was last observed November 19 by Don Wardwell. (See July-October reports.)

Greg Gillson recorded 5 Surf Scoters remaining on Hagg Lake on November 1. (See October and December reports.)

October 2011:

As has been expected the past few years, Stefan Schlick found 19 Surf Scoters on Hagg Lake October 23. Also present were 4 Greater Scaup and a rather late Osprey. Joe Blowers recorded 9 Surf Scoters at Hagg Lake on October 29. (See November report.)

Jay Withgott found a rare first-winter Heermann's Gull at Koll Center Wetlands in Beaverton on October 21. This is a 5th county record, with all records in October and November. Jay's photos are here: https://picasaweb.google.com/114481402865976904547/KollWetlandsHeermannSGull

A Red-breasted Merganser was at Fernhill Wetlands on October 18 (Greg Gillson). Another was on Hagg Lake on October 29 (Joe Blowers). These are rare, not quite annual.

That single American White Pelican at Fernhill Wetlands remained from summer. It was observed continuously throughout October by many observers. (See September and November reports.)

A Clark's Grebe was at Fernhill Wetlands on October 10 (Steve Nord). This is a rare annual or nearly annual species within the county, found more often in recent years. (See May, June, and July reports.)

Two Red-necked Grebes were at Fernhill Wetlands October 10 and a single there October 4-29 (Steve Nord, Laurel Oglesby). This is a rare annual or nearly annual species within the county, found more often in recent years. One Red-necked Grebe was at Hagg Lake on October 29 (Joe Blowers). (See September-December reports.)

September 2011:

Snowy Egret. Photo by Greg Gillson
Snowy Egret, Fernhill Wetlands, Forest Grove, Oregon, 18 September 2011. Photo by Gary Witt.

Gary Witt photographed a Snowy Egret at Fernhill Wetlands on September 18. This is only the 4th county record!

On September 13 Tom Hammond found a juvenile Sanderling at Fernhill Wetlands. This is the 4th known county record.

David Irons reported a Bank Swallow at Fernhill Wetlands on September 16. While probably a rare regular migrant, this is only the 9th credible county report.

Craig Tumer spotted a Western Kingbird, in Wilsonville, just barely in Washington County, on September 6. These are not annual in fall migration, rare but annual in spring migration.

Lars Norgren detected a Purple Martin near Hayward on September 6. Though this summer visitor is usually detected annually and probably breeds in very low numbers in lower Coast Range clear cuts, this is only the second report this year, and first report in September.

Mike Screen found a Red-necked Grebe at Fernhill Wetlands on September 4. Photos by Steven Halpern can be found here. It remained until at least September 16 (Greg Gillson). Stefan Schlick found 3 Red-necked Grebes at Hagg Lake on September 24. This species is rare, but probably annual, in the county, with records from September to May. (See October report.)

Rare in spring migration and quite rare summer resident, Erik Knight discovered an apparent migrant Cassin's Vireo at Tualatin Hills Nature Park on September 1.

A single American White Pelican remained at Fernhill Wetlands to October 1 (Laurel Oglesby).

August 2011:

Up to 7 juvenile Stilt Sandpipers were a one-day-wonder on August 27 at Fernhill Wetlands (David Leal, John Rakestraw, Lars Norgren). This is a 7th county record.

Perhaps the latest county record, Don Wardwell and Andrea Hanson discovered 2 migrant Nashville Warblers on August 26 at the Tualatin River NWR.

American White Pelicans continued to be seen at Fernhill Welands. Two birds remained to at least August 23 (Joe Blowers). (See July and September report.)

An escaped Northern Bobwhite was reported at Fernhill Wetlands on August 21. These are often released on Sauvie Island for dog hunting training, or may be a more local escaped cage bird.

On August 19 there were 25 Common Ravens hunting in recently cut wheat fields south of North Plains (Greg Gillson). While this isn't an unusual location to see a pair or two of ravens throughout the year, this is likely the largest concentration of these birds recorded in the county. Additional birds (pairs) were also seen in nearby fields.

Diana Byrne saw and heard 3 Short-billed Dowitchers at Fernhill Wetlands on August 13, about the right timing for juveniles of this hard-to-identify and rather scarce local species.

July 2011:

A lone Black-crowned Night-Heron was at Fernhill Wetlands on July 20 (Stefan Schlick). These are rare fall migrants and winter visitors.

The first Red-shouldered Hawk of the fall season was found at Dawson Creek Park in Hillsboro by Mark Wilkinson on the early date of July 18.

One Clark's Grebe remained from May on Fernhill Wetlands to at least July 25 (Joe Blowers). These are rare fall visitors, not quite annual, though one spent last summer here as well.

Steve Nord spotted a female or immature Purple Martin at Fernhill Wetlands on July 5, the only report so far this year of this rare migrant or occasional, local breeder.

Up to 13 American White Pelicans arrived for the summer at Fernhill Wetlands in Forest Grove on July 3 (Erik Knight) and were seen to July 22 (Steve Nord). (See April and August report.) The first pelicans were found in the county in 1999, but several have spent the summer at Fernhill Wetlands since 2009.

June 2011:

Grant Canterbury spotted a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak at the Tualatin River NWR on June 22. This is a 7th county record and follows a report in May.

On an evening nightjar survey on June 22, Stefan Schlick found 2 Common Nighthawks near Timber. This is a typical location and time for these birds that are rarely reported in the county.

One to three Clark's Grebes were reported by numerous observers through the month. (See May and July reports.)

May 2011:

Nashville Warbler. Photo by Greg Gillson
Nashville Warbler, Jenkins Estate, Beaverton, Oregon, 4 May 2011. Photo by Greg Gillson

Tom Shreve had a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak at his home in Tigard May 30-31. This is a 6th county record. His photos are at http://www.tomshrevephotography.com/p464108257

A bright male Summer Tanager appeared in a Rock Creek neighborhood May 26-28 and was seen by many (Jean Harkin, Jay Withgott, James Hannan). This is a 3rd county record.

Debbie Brody reported a Northern Waterthrush walking on lilly pads at Dawson Creek Park in Hillsboro on May 25. This is a 1st county record.

Tom Love spotted a Calliope Hummingbird in Tualatin on May 18. This is about the 11th county record, primarily late April into early June.

Rich Hoyer spotted a rare Bank Swallow at Fernhill Wetlands on May 15. This is the 8th documented sighting. The status of this species is confused by the similar looking first-year female Tree Swallows.

One of two American White Pelicans seen off-and-on all winter at Hedges Creek Marsh in Tualatin was spotted again May 14 (Jay Withgott).

A rare Dusky Flycatcher was at Cooper Mountain Nature Park on May 13 (Dave Irons). This is the 10th known county sighting.

A Cassin's Vireo, a rare summer resident within the county, was spotted at Tualatin Hills Nature Park on May 12 by Erik Knight. This bird is probably a migrant.

Getting on the late side, a Solitary Sandpiper was found north of Banks on May 11 (Stefan Schlick). This was the only one reported from the county this spring--no doubt due to the high water at traditional sites.

Two White-throated Sparrows were rather late one-day migrants in Orenco on May 10 (Stefan Schlick).

A Barred Owl was at Killin Wetlands, where it has been detected in the past, on May 7 and 14 (Adrian Hinkle, Jay Withgott).

Last year, a pair of Clark's Grebes spent June and July on Fernhill Wetlands. Thus, it is interesting that a single bird was present May 7 (Adrian Hinkle) and by month's end two Clark's Grebes were present. Will they attempt to breed, or are these simply non-breeding summering visitors? Historically this species is not quite annually detected within the county.

Nashville Warbler reports the last week of April and first 3 weeks of May have been too frequent to list. Usually these migrant birds are barely reported annually. There are 10 reports of 13 birds from eBird alone, from April 27 (West Haven-Sylvan by Charlotte Corkran) to May 18 (2 birds, Cooper Mountain Nature Park by Greg Gillson).

April 2011:

Cassiar Junco. Photo by Greg Gillson
Cassiar Junco, Beaverton, Oregon, 7 April 2011. Photo by Greg Gillson

Joe Blowers spotted 2 Red-breasted Mergansers at Hagg Lake on April 21. This species is not found every year within the county.

Greg Gillson photographed a rather late Common Teal at Fernhill Wetlands in Forest Grove on April 21. (See January-March reports.)

A 6th county record, Scott Carpenter found a Black Turnstone at Fernhill Wetlands, Forest Grove, on April 25. Photo here.

Rare in spring, a Black-necked Stilt was at Tualatin River NWR, Sherwood, from April 20-22 (Jay Withgott, Tom Love). This species is not found every year.

Jay Withgott and Noah Strycker independently found a first county record pair of Harlequin Ducks on Scoggins Creek at Hagg Lake on April 20. They were photographed later that evening but were gone the next day. See Stefan Schlick's blog

A high 24 Common Loons were on Hagg Lake on April 15 (Scott Murray). These are annual migrants and rare winter visitors, but this must be a record high number.

George Neavoll spotted a bright adult Swamp Sparrow at Fernhill Wetlands on April 12. One had been hanging in this general area during the winter. It may or may not be the same bird. This is a rare winter visitor, not detected every year.

Long overdue, Ken Burdick reported a first county record of 2 Marbled Godwits at Koll Center Wetalnds in Beaverton on April 12. Also there was a single Short-billed Dowitcher, an uncommon migrant, difficult to tell from the abundant Long-billed Dowitchers.

Erik Knight counted 5 Eared Grebes at Fernhill Wetlands on April 10. This is a fairly high number for this rather uncommon migrant and winter visitor.

An uncommon migrant and winter visitor, 2 Common Goldeneyes were at Tualatin River NWR on April 10 (Paul Barrus).

On April 7 a male Cassiar Junco (form of Dark-eyed Junco) joined a female that had been hanging around the feeder for a week in Beaverton (Greg Gillson). This form is probably responsible for many "Slate-colored Junco" reports, as it is not well known.

Quite rare away from the immediate Coast Range in Washington County, a Northern Goshawk was reported in Tualatin on April 5. (See March report.)

The first Mountain Quail of the season began crowing near Hayward on April 3, about an average date to first hear them according to Lars Norgren. These birds are difficult to find in the cut-over hills of the county, most often heard at dawn in April and May.

Unseasonably early, Lori Hennings first heard and then tracked down for visual confirmation the 3rd county record of Red-eyed Vireo in Aloha on April 2. These birds are rare anywhere in Oregon away from the NE corner of the state, and don't arrive until late May, or often not until mid June.

Don Wardwell spotted a lone Greater Scaup at Jackson Bottom Wetlands on April 1. Jay Withgott saw one at Hagg Lake on April 20. This is a rare annual visitor, primarily winter and spring.

The Common Teal (Eurasian Green-winged Teal) at Koll Center Wetlands in Beaverton was reported to April 20 (Jay Withgott).

At least one American White Pelican continued to be seen at Hedges Creek Marsh in Tualatin. This rather rare anual visitor was present April 3, 8, and 15 (Jean Baecher Brown, Susan Norris, Trudi Stone). Six birds were at Fernhill Wetlands, Forest Grove, April 21 (Greg Gillson). (See reports January-March.)

March 2011:

A rare Black Phoebe was at Jackson Bottom Wetlands March 28-29 (Jeff Marszal, Sarah Pinnock). This is the 4th county record.

Two American White Pelicans have been seen off-and-on all winter at Hedges Creek Marsh in Tualatin. Susan Norris reported one there on March 16 and 23. This species was formerly rare, but with an increase in sightings the past 5 years. (See January and February reports.)

Regularly reported now in winter as birders become more aware of them, a Common Teal (Eurasian Green-winged Teal) was spotted by Marshall Beretta at Koll Center Wetlands in Beaverton on March 30. (See January, February, and April reports.)

Kenny Binder reported the first Sora of the year at Killin Wetlands, Banks, on March 23, a favored location.

A high-flying Rough-legged Hawk was near the Hillsboro airport on March 23 (Lars Norgren). This bird is a barely annual winter visitor in Washington County. (see January report).

On March 23 a rare, but nearly annual Golden Eagle was spotted by Lars Norgren at the Hillsboro airport.

Lars Norgren reported a rare, local breeder, a Northern Goshawk near Hayward on March 8. On March 23 a male was over Banks.

An immature Trumpeter Swan was at Mountaindale on March 9-11 (Lars Norgren, Steve Nord). This is a rare annual winter visitor. (See January report.)

An exotic Mute Swan was at Mountaindale on March 9-11 (Lars Norgren, Steve Nord). This exotic has not been reported in the county in recent years.

Rare but annual, 2 Redheads were at Tualatin River NWR on March 6 (William Kragh). (See February report.)

Steve Nord reported 3 hybrid Glaucous-winged x Herring Gulls at Fernhill Wetlands on March 6. This hybrid is not well-known in Oregon--very few people are comfortable making this ID.

Annual in spring migrating over Beaverton on the eastern edge of Washington County, but rarely reported, a flock of Sandhill Cranes overflew Beaverton on March 3 (Russ Namitz).

The Costa's Hummingbird in Aloha was present March 1-6, then also reported March 20 (Kevin Smith, Paul Sullivan, fide David Leal) (see February report).

February 2011:

A Glaucous Gull was reported February 26 by Ruth Smith in Aloha, for the first county report of the winter.

Increasingly reported, but still rather rare, a Barred Owl was reported February 26 in Aloha by Ruth Smith.

A rare Costa's Hummingbird began visiting Kevin Smith's feeder in Aloha on February 25. This is about the 8th County record. It remained into March.

Marshall Beretta noted 3 male Common (Eurasian Green-winged) Teal at Koll Center Wetlands in Beaverton on February 15. These are rare, but regular winter visitors. Shawneen Finnegan saw one bird there on February 25. (See January report.)

A Redhead was at Fernhill Wetlands on February 11. This is a rare, but usually annual bird.

A drake Mandarin Duck was in Beaverton on February 10. This is a popular domestic waterfowl that was likely released or escaped.

The Swamp Sparrow first noted in December 2010 at Fernhill Wetlands in Forest Grove was still present on February 10 (Greg Gillson). (See also January report.)

Very unusual, a first-year male Common Yellowthroat wintered at Fernhill Wetlands in Forest Grove. Greg Gillson spotted it again on February 10 (noted in November and December 2010). Steve Nord saw it on February 11. Erik Knight reported it on February 20. Migrants are not expected until about April 1.

About 35 Western Meadowlarks were near Roy on February 3, a large number during the peak time for this species as an early spring migrant.

The 2 American White Pelicans at Hedges Creek Marsh in Tualatin were reported off-and-on all month. Reiner Wieland reported them February 3; Tom Love February 17. (See January report.)

Rare in winter (usual first arrival about March 29), a Barn Swallow was at Jackson Bottom Wetlands on February 2 (Greg Gillson). Mark Wilkinson noted 2 Barn Swallows at Dawson Creek Corporate Park in Hillsboro on February 8. Steve Nord found 1 Barn Swallow at Fernhill Wetlands on February 11. Three swallows were in Tualatin on February 19. This mirrors winter reports in western Oregon the past few years.

January 2011:

Western Screech-Owl. Photo by Greg Gillson
Western Screech-Owl, Tualatin River NWR, Sherwood, Oregon, 7 January 2011. Photo by Greg Gillson

Present from November 15, a very cooperative Western Screech-Owl has been easily found all winter roosting along the busy trail at the Tualatin River NWR at Sherwood. It was reported January 1-25 (Joe Blowers, Chris Grant).

Following 3 birds in late December, a rare Swamp Sparrow was heard at Tualatin River NWR on January 15 (Greg Gillson). [See December 2010 report.]

Very rare most winters, Green Herons were present in several locations. A bird was at Fernhill Wetlands in Forest Grove on January 1 and 3 (Phil Kahler, Jonathan Plissner). One was at Emma Jones Nature Preserve in Hillsboro all month (January 5-28) (Stefan Schlick). One was spotted by Joe Blowers at Commonwealth Lake in Beaverton on January 2.

Rare but annual, a family of Trumpeter Swans was reported near Vadis by Lars Norgren on January 22.

Rare, but often found when searched for in winter, one to two Common (Eurasian Green-winged) Teal were at Koll Center Wetlands in Beaverton on January 18-19 (Marshall Beretta, Dwight Porter).

A pair of American White Pelicans were at Hedges Creek in Tualatin on January 16-28 (Rainer Wieland). These traditionally have been rare within the county, but seen more frequently in recent years. Photos by Rainer Wieland.

Extremely rare in winter, a male Black-headed Grosbeak visited a feeder in Beaverton on January 8-9 (Laurel Oglesby). These are quite common from late April to early October.

A Rough-legged Hawk was spotted near Mountaindale on January 3 by Dennis Manzer and likely the same bird January 13 by Lars Norgren. This bird is a rare annual visitor, but in very low numbers. It was not recorded this past December on the Forest Grove CBC, but seen once each in the county in November and December. [See December 2010 report.]

Continuing from mid-December, a Prairie Falcon was spotted on its favored perch tree near Roy from January 1-23 (Don Nelson, Lars Norgren). This is likely the same bird noted returning for its 5th winter. See photo by Don Nelson. [See December 2010 report.]

Washington County, Oregon, Bird Highlights: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006