Washington County, Oregon, Bird Highlights: 2012

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: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006

December 2012:

A male Tufted Duck was at the Metro property on Fern Hill Road 2 miles south of Forest Grove on December 23. Steve Nord got a distant diagnostic photo of this 3rd county record.

Almost annual in recent years, a Brant was at Dawson Creek Corporate Park in Hillsboro December 22-24 (Gary Witt, Greg Gillson).

Two Golden Eagles were reported in Scoggins Valley on December 22 on the Forest Grove CBC. See February, April, and September reports.

A 10th county record, a Short-eared Owl was near Vadis from December 20-22 (Lars Norgren, David Smith). See September and November reports.

Two Red-throated Loons were on Hagg Lake on December 11 (Greg Gillson). These comprise the 10th county record. See February report.

First reported November 29, the Black Phoebe was still at the Tualatin River NWR December 8 (Nancy Stotz). See November report.

The Black Phoebe at Fernhill Wetlands, first noted in October, remained to at least December 21 (Steve Nord). See October report.

A Mountain Chickadee first found in late November in the West Haven-Sylvan area was spotted again December 5 (Char Corkran). Other birds remained Wilsonville to December 10 (Craig Tumer). See October and November reports.

November 2012:

A rare annual Clark's Grebe was at Hagg Lake November 25-28 (Phil Kahler, Greg Gillson). See June report.

Two Surf Scoters were at Hagg Lake, where more expected, November 22-28 (Jeff Hayes, Greg Gillson). See October reports.

A single White-winged Scoter was at Hagg Lake on November 22 (Jeff Hayes). This is the 12th county record, the 7th since 2009. See October reports.

Rare in the lowlands during migration, a Townsend's Solitaire was at Cooper Mountain Nature Park on November 15 (Char Corkran).

A rare Red-necked Grebe was at Fernhill Wetlands from November 13-25 (Steve Nord, Phil Kahler). See October report.

A Prairie Falcon was noted at Fernhill Wetlands November 13-16 (Steve Nord, Kathleen Moon). This species has been nearly annual in recent years.

A Red-breasted Merganser was at Fernhill Wetlands November 12-13, where Steve Nord managed a photo. This rare migrant is not found every year.

The last report of the two summering American White Pelicans at Fernhill Wetlands was November 11 by Scott Carpenter, Steve Nord, and Greg Gillson. The first bird showed up August 25 and a second bird showed up October 3. Birds have summered the past 10 years in sometimes large numbers, but were unrecorded prior to that. See August and October reports.

Rare in late fall, Scott Carpenter photographed a Surf Scoter at Koll Center wetlands in Beaverton November 6, a first local sighting.

Steve Nord photographed a Ross's Goose at Fernhill Wetlands on November 11. photo. This is a 4th county record.

A 9th county record, a Short-eared Owl was reported at the Olsen Unit of the Tualatin River NWR on November 10 (Clay Crofton).

A Snowy Owl was reported from Tualatin River NWR on November 10 (Clay Crofton). This is a 5th county record.

Two Glaucous Gulls were reported in November. Joe Blowers spotted one at Jackson Bottom on November 9. Steve Nord got a photo of an adult at Fernhill Wetlands on November 12. See February and March reports.

Almost annual, a Golden Eagle was at Fernhill Wetlands November 5-6 (photo by Scott Carpenter) and it or another may have been seen there November 10 (Phil Kahler). See February and April reports.

The Mountain Chickadee visiting John Rakestraw's house from late October and reported on his blog to at least November 26. Craig Tumer found a Mountain Chickadee (photo) at an industrial park in Wilsonville on november 5th and remained through the month (8th county record). On November 27 Char Corkran spotted a Mountain Chickadee in the West Haven area for a 9th county record and 4th this fall). See October and December reports.

Steve Nord saw a very late and well-described Pacific Golden-Plover flying and calling over Fernhill Wetlands on November 1. This is only a 5th county record.

The Black Phoebe found last month at Fernhill Wetlands remained through November and was seen by many. See October and December reports.

Another Black Phoebe was found November 29 at Tualatin river NWR by Dwight Porter, photo. This is a 9th county record and 5th this year! See September and December reports.

October 2012:

1-2 Swamp Sparrows seemed to be wintering at fernhill Wetlands. The first detected October 24 by Steve Nord.

A rare, not annual, Pacific Loon was at Hagg Lake from October 24-29 (Greg Gillson, Merle Greenway).

1-3 White-winged Scoters were on Hagg Lake October 24-29 (Greg Gillson, Merle Greenway). This is the 11th county record. See November report.

15 Surf Scoters were found October 24-29 at Hagg Lake (Greg Gillson, Merle Greenway). This is a rare annual migrant. See November report.

Two Rough-legged Hawks were seen about a mile apart on October 24 near North Plains (Greg Gillson). These are not seen every year.

A Black Phoebe took up winter residence at Fernhill Wetlands starting on October 20 (photo by Steve Nord). This is the 8th county record. See July, August, September, November and December reports.

Right on time, Justin Cook photographed a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at Fernhill Wetlands on October 18. This is an 8th county record.

Nearly annual in recent years, a Red-necked Grebe was at Hagg Lake October 10 (Greg Gillson). See November report.

A cooperative Stilt Sandpiper was at Fernhill Wetlands from October 6-14 (Phil Kahler, Kathleen Moon). Scott Carpenter got perhaps the best photo. See August report. This was the 9th county record.

An occasional migrant, not recorded every year, a Brant was at Fernhill Wetlands October 3 and 4. Steve Nord got this photo.

A second American White Pelican joined the singleton at Fernhill Wetlands on October 3. See August and November reports.

David Smith reported a possible Mountain Chickadee in his yard in the West Hills the first week of October. This turned out to be the first report of several in the Beaverton area. John Rakestraw spotted one at his feeder October 27 (blog post and photos). These are the 6th and 7th county records. See November reports.

September 2012:

The single American White Pelican remained at Fernhill Wetlands to at least September 21 (Steve Nord). (See August report.)

A Short-eared Owl was on Milne Road near Cornelius/North Plains on September 15. This is the 8th county record. See November report.

Another Bank Swallow was spotted at Fernhill Welands on September 11 (Steve Nord). (See August reports.)

John Gatchet reported a single Baird's Sandpiper at Fernhill Wetlands September 8. (See August report.)

The Black Phoebe at Tualatin River NWR was seen again September 4 and 11 (Steve Mauvais) during Tuesday surveys. (See July and August reports.)

(See July report for Semipalmated Sandpiper reports.)

August 2012:

A Stilt Sandpiper was at Fernhill Wetlands from August 31 (Jeff Hayes) to September 1 (Phil Kahler). This is a 8th county record. See October report.

A Black Phoebe was at the Tualatin River NWR on August 28 (Steve Mauvais). This is a 7th County record. (See July and September reports.)

A Ruff was spotted briefly August 29 at Fernhill Wetlands (Greg Gillson). This is a 4th county record.

A single Whimbrel flew over Fernhill Wetlands on August 29 calling loudly (Greg Gillson). This is the 4rd county record--all this year! (See May and July reports.)

A rare, non-annual, migrant Bank Swallow was at Fernhill Wetlands August 27-29 (Steve Nord, photo). There are barely a dozen reports for the county, primarily August and September migrants. (See September report.)

A rare migrant Purple Martin was spotted August 26 at Fernhill Wetlands (Dave Irons, Shawneen Finnegan).

Keith Phifer reported a rare fall migrant Western Kingbird at Fernhill Wetlands on August 25.

Following a pattern set the past few years, a rare American White Pelican summered at Fernhill Wetlands. Unlike previous years, only a single bird was present, starting August 25 (Phil Kahler). It remained into September.

The first Western Meadowlark of fall was seen by Joe Blowers at Jackson Bottom Wetlands on August 24.

Possibly the first fall report for the county, Steve Nord spotted a rare Yellow-headed Blackbird at Fernhill Wetlands on August 21 (See May and June reports).

Migrant Lesser Yellowlegs have been in lower numbers the past few years. A high of 6 were at Jackson Bottom August 4-9 (Greg Gillson, Steve Nord). Smaller numbers were seen throughout the county's various wetlands July 10 through September 19.

The female Greater Scaup at Jackson Bottom Wetlands remained until August 19 (Steve Nord). (See July report.)

A rare nearly annual migrant, single Baird's Sandpipers were reported from August 7-19 (Steve Nord, photo) at Fernhill Wetlands (see September report).

A rare migrant Sanderling was at Fernhill Wetlands on August 7 (Steve Nord, photo). This is only a 5th county record.

A single Solitary Sandpiper remained at Fernhill Wetlands until August 3 (Phil Kahler). (See July report.)

(See July report for Semipalmated Sandpiper reports.)

July 2012:

On July 30 a Whimbrel was at Jackson Bottom in Hillsboro (Dennis Manzer). This is a 3rd county record following two in May (see May and August report).

A female Greater Scaup stayed at Jackson Bottom Wetlands from July 22 to August 19 (Steve Nord, photo). This species is rather rare in winter and spring, but a summer record is unprecedented.

Greg Gillson photographed a juvenile Black Phoebe July 20 at Fernhill Wetlands. The next day Vicki Madden spotted a Black Phoebe at Jackson Bottom Wetlands in Hillsboro about 5 miles away. These are the 5th and 6th county records, all since 2006. (See August/September reports.)

As typical single Solitary Sandpipers were found at Jackson Bottom from July 14 (Greg Gillson) to July 31 (Steve Nord), and at Fernhill Wetlands from July 31 (Steve Nord) to August 3 (Phil Kahler).

There were 41 reports of Semipalmated Sandpipers this fall, July 13 to September 19 (both Steve Nord, photo). The high number was 3 from July 15-22 at Fernhill Wetlands. New wetlands at both Fernhill Wetlands and Jackson Bottom Wetlands accounted for all reports except one at Koll Center Wetlands in Beaverton August 22 (Craig Tumer).

June 2012:

A late migrant or summering Western Kingbird was seen near Manning on June 23 by Lars Norgren. (See May reports.)

1-2 Clark's Grebes were at Fernhill Wetlands June 11-13 (Joe Blowers, Rachel Cass). This rare migrant and winter visitor has been inexplicably detected here during mid-summer in 2010 and 2011 as well.

A single Common Nighthawk was near Timber on June 10 (Ken Chamberlain). On June 11 Stefan Schlick surveyed and found 3 nighthawks in the same general area of the coast range. Other evening searches were unsuccessful at locating birds. This was formerly a common migrant and breeder in the county (pre-1970s).

A rare migrant Purple Martin was reported at Jackson Bottom Wetlands on June 3 (Steve Nord) and Sherwood on June 15 (Jeff Hayes). (See August report.)

Yellow-headed Blackbirds continued their unprecedented migration this spring. One was at Fernhill Wetlands on June 11 (Joe Blowers). (See May reports.)

May 2012:

Rare annual migrant Western Kingbirds were reported May 30 at Beaverton and May 31 at Tualatin River NWR (Kathleen Moon, Greg Gillson).

Three Townsend's Solitaires were found May 29 at two separate locations above Hagg Lake (Greg Gillson). These are rare breeders in the Coast Range.

Common Nighthawks have become scare in recent decades. They are rare migrants within the county, likely breeding in clearcuts in the Coast Range. Craig Tumer reported the first migrant for the spring over Raleigh Hills on May 29, about the normal arrival time for our latest regular migrant.

20 Blue-winged Teal were a large number for the county at Jackson Bottom Wetlands on May 27 (Steve Nord).

A Sandhill Crane was at Tualatin River NWR on May 20 (Bob Archer). Another bird apparently spend May 20-26 at Fernhill Wetlands (Phil Kahler). See February report.

Andy Frank photographed a Blue Jay above Hagg Lake on May 19. This is a 5th county record.

Andy Frank photographed 2 Whimbrels at a school ball field in Beaverton on May 19. One remained to May 23 (John Gatchet). This is a first county record. David Leal reported another Whimbrel at Tualatin River NWR on May 19. This is a 2nd county record. [See July and August reports.]

Up to 3 Wilson's Phalaropes were at Jackson Bottom May 15-27 (Steve Nord). David Leal reported a Wilson's Phalarope at Tualatin River NWR on May 18, where a group remained, evidently to breed, as they've done in the past. [See June report.]

Tom Love heard the unique song of Blackpoll Warbler at his home in Durham on May 13 but was unable to see the bird in the treetops. Warblers learn their songs and sometimes learn the "wrong" song. So, unfortunately, we can't count this bird as a positive first county record.

Black Tern May 12 at Fernhill Wetlands Mary French. Photo. David Leal reported Black Tern at Tualatin River NWR on May 19. These are the 9th and 10th county records.

Ken Chamberlain found a Dusky Flycatcher at Mount Richmond near Cherry Grove on May 8. This is about the 11th county record, with 7 of those since 2007, no doubt due to more observers familiar with their calls and migration timing.

A Red-shouldered Hawk at Beaverton May 7 by Dennis Manzer was outside the expected early fall to mid-winter time-frame.

3 Short-billed Dowitchers May 5 at Tualatin River NWR (Bob Archer). These are rather unusual in spring.

A male Purple Martin May 5 at Tualatin River NWR (Bob Archer). Four birds were on Scoggins Valley Road at Hagg Lake on May 19--a previous presumed breeding location, but not found subsequently. This is a rare annual spring migrant and not annual breeder within the county, though it breeds nearby at Sauvie Island.

A Lewis's Woodpecker was at Dawson Creek Park, Hillsboro on May 3 (Mark Wilkinson). This is the 9th county record.

The unprecedented migration of Yellow-headed Blackbirds continued. These are normally rare annual spring migrants with only one or two reports most years. Tom Hammond saw two at Fernhill Wetlands May 7. (Photo in Steve Nord's eBird report.) Phil Kahler found one May 9 at Fernhill Wetlands. Byron Dimmick saw one May 11 at Tualatin River NWR. Numerous observers saw 2 on May 12 at Fernhill Wetlands. Steve Nord found 5(!) at Tualatin River NWR on May 12. Steve Nord saw one at Jackson Bottom on May 15. David Leal saw one at Tualatin River NWR on May 19. Greg Gillson saw one at Tualatin River NWR on May 31. (See April reports.)

Cassin's Vireo are uncommon migrants and summer residents. Individuals were spotted at Haywood and Tualatin Hills Nature Park on May 2, above Hagg Lake on May 8, Stub Stewart State Park on May 14, Cooper Mountain Nature Park on May 18, near Hagg Lake on May 18 and 19 (3 reports).

Lars Norgren reported the first Bullock's Oriole of the year at Manning on May 2.

A Barred Owl was heard near Hagg Lake by Khahn Tran May 8 and May 18 (Greg Gillson). Another bird was at Tualatin Hills Nature Park on May 2 (Erik Knight).

Three more reports this spring of Nashville Warblers came from the Beaverton area. One each at Cooper Mountain and Tualatin Hills Nature Park on May 2 (Steve Nord, Colby Neuman), and one at Commonwealth Lake May 12 (Kathleen Moon). (See April report.)

April 2012:

A rare Golden Eagle was reported near Hayward on April 28 by Jeff Hayes. See February and November reports.

A rather rare migrant, 2 Solitary Sandpipers were seen at Fernhill Wetlands on April 24, and 2 others were at Jackson Bottom April 27-28 (Steve Nord).

A Black-necked Stilt was reported at Jackson Bottom, Hillsboro on April 24. This is a rare, not annual, spring migrant.

Nashville Warblers are rare spring migrants in the county, not breeding. Unlike last year, this spring the reports were few. One each was recorded at Cooper Mountain April 24 and 27, and at Hayward on April 28 (Steve Nord, Joe Blowers, Jeff Hayes).

Steve Nord found a migrant Western Kingbird on Cooper Mountain on April 23. This is a rare annual migrant.

The only reported Cassin's Vireo of April was near Sylvan on April 24 (Joe Blowers). This is a rare spring migrant and local breeding species.

The wintering Harris's Sparrow in Cornelius was last reprted April 20 by Noah Strycker. [See January-March reports.]

Nesting spottily in the Coast Range, Hammond's Flycatchers are rarely detected in the lowlands during spring migration. Joe Blowers had one near Sylvan on April 18 and 20, and Steve Nord found one at Cooper Mountain on April 23.

Yellow-headed Blackbirds staged an unprecedented invasion into the county this spring, Stefan Schlick started it off with 2 birds at Emma Jones park in Hillsboro on April 9. One bird remained to April 14 (Eric Carlson). A bird was at Fernhill Wetlands on April 29 (Ev Armitage). More birds were found through May (See May report).

The wintering Swamp Sparrow at Fernhill Wetlands was seen again April 6-14 and has now molted into breeding plumage (photo by Steve Nord). This is a rare annual winter visitor, but very hard to detect. [See March report.]

March 2012:

Glaucous Gull. Photo by Joe Blowers
Glaucous Gull. Hillsboro, Oregon. 17 March 2012. Photo by Joe Blowers.

Joe Blowers photographed a Glaucous Gull at Jackson Bottom Wetlands, Hillsboro on March 17. This species is not quite annual in late winter. See February and November reports.

The wintering Cornelius Harris's Sparrow was seen by Keith Phifer on March 18. [See January and April reports.]

After not being located for several weeks, a Swamp Sparrow became more obvious at Fernhill Wetlands after March 1 (Steve Nord).

February 2012:

A flock of over 50 Sandhill Cranes flew over the Tualatin River NWR (Diane Trainer). These are rare migrants, primarily spring, that barely graze the eastern edge of the county as they migrate along the Willamette River with a staging area at Sauvie Island.

Ten Black-bellied Plovers were unusual for late winter at Fernhill Wetlands on February 24 (Steve Nord).

Steve Nord spied a female Redhead at Fernhill Wetlands on February 21. This is a rare, perhaps annual, migrant and winter visitor within the county. It was spotted by others on February 23.

A Common (European Green-winged) Teal spent most of the month at Coffeelake Creek wetlands near Wilsonville. Several of these are now expected in fall and spring each year.

A Glaucous Gull was at Fernhill Wetlands on February 15 for the first report of the winter (Steve Nord). Steve later identified a hybrid Glaucous x Herring Gull, the so-called "Nelson's Gull" there on February 21. This is a rare annual late-winter visitor. (See March report.)

Stefan Schlick spotted a Red-throated Loon on Hagg Lake on February 22. It remained until at least February 24 (Steve Nord). This is the 9th county record, and the first in 16 years. See December report.

A lone Surf Scoter on Hagg Lake on February 22 was getting late.

A Redhead was seen at Fernhill Wetlands February 21-23 (Steve Nord, Joe Blowers). [See January report.]

An adult Golden Eagle was spotted over Hillsboro / Beaverton by Lars Norgren on February 19. This species is reported not quite annually, at all seasons. (See April report.)

It has been a couple of years since Horned Larks have been reported in the county. They formerly bred in farm fields within the past decade, and may still do so. So Melissa Marcum was surprised to see one in a shopping center parking lot near Murrayhill west of Tigard on February 15.

Three Trumpeter Swans, perhaps the same seen not far away in January, were at Tualatin River NWR on February 2 (Steve Kelling, Wesley Hochachka).

A Snow Goose was reported at the Tualatin River NWR February 2 (Steve Kelling).

The continuing Harris's Sparrow at Cornelius was seen February 1-15 by several observers. [See January, March, April reports.]

January 2011:

Following reports nearly everywhere else, it seems, Washington County finally had a report of Common Redpoll in SW Portland. One bird was in a flock of siskins and seen by Craig Tumer January 31. This is a 6th county record.

Stephen Blackburn reported a Black-crowned Night-Heron near Garden-Home on January 29. This is a rare annual migrant and winter visitor. Another individual was at Jackson Bottom where Joe Blowers found it January 7 and 14.

The Harris's Sparrow remained on Cook Road in Cornelius from December into April. Tim Shelmerdine saw it January 27. This bird is the 10th county record.

Two Snow Geese were at Tualatin River NWR January 16 (Lou Murray).

The only report of late winter of Red-shouldered Hawk came from Joe Blowers at Jackson Bottom on January 14. This is a rare annual post-breeding wanderer that usually spends the winter.

A rare annual winter visitor, 3 Trumpeter Swans were at Coffee Lake near Sherwood on January 11 (Andy Frank, Jay Withgott) (see February report).

High numbers of Thayer's Gulls were reported in the county this winter. A field near Roy had an unprecedented 200 birds on January 8 (Lars Norgren)!

A rare annual winter visitor, 3 Redheads were noted at a pond near Gaston on January 5 by Steve Nord. Jeff Hayes spotted a bird nearby at Fernhill Wetlands in Forest Grove on January 11 (See February report).

The second county record Emperor Goose remained at Tualatin River NWR from late December. It was seen January 1 by Bob Archer. Kevin Johnstone took this photo on January 8. The last report was January 31 by Charlotte Corkran (also a possibly correct report February 11 by Bill Dwyer).

Washington County, Oregon, Bird Highlights: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006