Although I was thrilled to be back at Malheur, I stopped at the Narrows, planning on getting up early in the morning and spend a long day birding. As I was setting up camp and cooking dinner, what I thought was a blackbird strolled across the road to the grass field where people set up their tents. The more I looked at it, though, the more I realized it didn’t look like any blackbird I’d ever seen before. It was too tall and had too long of legs to be a blackbird, but it didn’t look like any crow or Raven I’d ever seen, either. It wasn’t until I got home that I discovered it was a Great-Tailed Grackle,
and turned out to be the only new bird I saw on my entire trip.
Once I had my camera out, I started looking around and it wasn’t long before I saw several other birds, most notably this Western Kingbird,
a bird I only see when I’m east of the Cascades, and one I’ve never seen as close as this one was.
Because I car-camp I generally ask for an area away from RV’s and trailers. At Narrows, it was an out-of-the-way area at the back of the park where there were a number of birdhouses. Apparently the Western Kingbird wasn’t the only bird who was taking advantage of the birdhouses.
I was entertained for an hour so watching this female Tree Swallow defend “her” birdhouse from a sparrow that apparently assumed that it really belonged to “her.”
As I was eating my dinner, this male Tree Swallow landed on a pole right in front of me, possibly to distract me from the female on the nest. Unfortunately, I don’t understand Tree Swallow enough to know exactly what he was saying to me.
A little later, just as dark was settling in, two California Quail landed a few yards away from me,
though by the time they arrived the light had begun to fade. It seemed like a remarkable way to end my first day after a long drive in the rain.