Tag: Birdwatching

Citizen Science Opportunity for Fall Migration

Looking for a new place to bird during fall migration? Klamath Bird Observatory and The Selberg Institute are continuing a yearlong citizen science project on the beautiful Sampson Creek Preserve just east of Ashland and, are looking for volunteers to help monitor during fall migration. This project offers something for all birders and outdoor enthusiasts.

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Malheur in the Fall!

KBO Birding Adventure and Fundraiser led by Harry Fuller

September 12, 13, 14, 2017 with a pre-trip slide show September 11th, Monday 6:30 – 8:00pm

Our first stop will be the Summer Lake Wildlife Area where we will spend our first night on the way to Malheur Field Station. The next two nights will be spent at the Field Station. Accommodations will be a shared room at Summer Lake Lodge, and at Malheur Field Station a dorm-like setting. Cost of the trip includes lodging, a dinner at the famous Diamond Hotel, two breakfasts at the field station and a light breakfast at Summer Lake, gas for the vehicles, either bird netting or some educational experience with Duncan Evered (co-director of Malheur Field Station), a tax deductible donation to KBO in the amount of $375, leadership of Harry Fuller as our bird guide expert, and the glorious exposure to the landscape of eastern Oregon.

Not included: You will need to bring your lunches, snack foods, liquids, and alcoholic beverages. The first night will be a communal potluck.

Cost of the trip is $565.00 which includes the tax deductible donation of $375. To sign up, contact Shannon Rio at shannonrio@aol.com or call her at 541-840-4655. She will confirm that your space is secured. Number of participants will be limited to 16 total for safety of travel and satisfaction at seeing the birds and sharing the experience.

Faces in the Dark – a field day tale

Faces in the Dark by Claudia Strijek

I stood outside the barbed-wire fence that guarded the historical barn from vandals, camera and binoculars in hand. The fence was also protecting a family of barn owls. I had seen one of the adults fly into the upper loft through an opening on the west side the barn the night before. Just seconds after the adult disappeared behind the warped, weathered wood, owlet cries poured into the night air—feeding time! I wanted a closer look at the owls.

With my binoculars I searched the interior of the barn. The evening sun pierced through large gaps in the siding creating beams of dusty light but this did nothing to illuminate the shadowy recesses of the structure. But my eyes adjusted to the dim light nonetheless. As I looked about the lower loft my eye caught sight of large wing. My mind immediately registered something was terribly wrong, for the wing was upside down and splayed open. One of the young had recently died and its body hung between some boards. Then out of the shadows a shape moved slightly. An owlet was perched on the edge of a horse stall. It slowly lifted its head using its wings to balance itself but the motion was slow, deliberate and possibly painful. Its emaciated body told me this youngster was not getting fed with the others and would likely die soon as well.

But there had to be a couple other owlets that were healthy and had made all that racket the night before. So I moved to another spot where I could see into the upper loft. The right corner was empty. On the left side however, stood a well-made owl hut complete with a pitched roof and large round opening. Perched in front were the two adult barn owls.

Their heart-shaped faces held my gaze not moving an inch. The larger female sat just in front of the male guarding her family. I took in the details of their feather patterns. The white faces were trimmed in dark grey-brown. Between widely-spread dark eyes was an elongated nose bridge that ended with a blond-colored hooked beak. There were grey and brown spots peppered around their throats, breast and underside which merged into rusty-brown wings and backs. This reversed pattern was quite beautiful.

I stood there for several more minutes, taking photos and admiring the patterned plumage of the adults but the young remained hidden and silent. I left the family to their restful state and looked forward to hearing their night activity again that evening.


Claudia Strijek is a KBO Field Technician conducting point counts in southern Oregon and northern California. Click here to visit her blog for more of her writings and photography.

The Old Ones – a field day tale

The Old Ones
By Claudia Strijek

The old ones were here when the erupting earth spewed forth a fire river.  They saw the red and orange molten rock fill the valley and saw huge plumes of smoke. They stared at the changing landscape for too long and the red burned into their eyes. So now we all have red eyes to remind us of a time that passed but may come again.

This is my take on a Native American tale I heard not long ago. After being in Lava Beds National Monument for two weeks walking over all that cooled lava flow, I could
not help but think of this common bird with its red eye.


Claudia Strijek is a KBO Field Technician conducting point counts in southern Oregon and northern California. Click here to visit her blog for more of her writings and photography.

Editor’s note—the Spotted Towhee’s iris color changes with age. Upon hatching, the young have dull grayish-brown eyes. Over its first winter the eye color progresses from brownish hues to an orangey-red to red. It is the older individuals that have deep red eyes.

Eyes Upon Me – a field day tale

Eyes Upon Me
By Claudia Strijek

I glance up haphazardly thru thin trees, binoculars in hand, looking for winged activity. My eyes meet a fierce stare only a few feet above me. I freeze in place hoping to not cause this little hunter to flush. Two small golden eyes, surrounded by spotted feathers forming a disc shape on either side of a pale hooked beak, are the features I notice immediately. How long have you been watching me, I ask myself? Like so many forest dwellers I’m certain its detection is easily ten-times my own and has in all likelihood noticed my fellow bird surveyors and me for some time already.

I whisper to the others of my discovery and they slowly move in for a better look. The small bird rotates its head towards the new onlookers without body movement in that manner which all owls are capable of—a motion often mimicked in movies by aliens or possessed people but never as gracefully executed. It views us with disregard, perhaps even some contempt as if to confirm who has the upper hand and rules the forest.

This is the Northern Pygmy-owl, one of the smallest owls in North America, standing on average 6.5” tall and wing span 15”. It is diurnal and feeds primarily on songbirds in coniferous forests. A very aggressive hunter, it will search for prey in tree cavities as well as snatch birds in flight or on the ground. In case its hunting prowess were not enough its “false eyes” feather pattern on the nape keeps all prey edgy and on alert as well as deflect its enemies.

I slowly back away for several yards, then sprint back to the truck for my camera. A “life list” bird for me, I don’t want to miss this chance to get some photographs. I run back into the forest with my camera hoping the owl would still be perched. I stop short of my original position to relocate the bird. It had not flown and I snap several close-ups, grateful and amazed at my luck.

Zoomed in I notice its feather pattern more so—in profile I see tiny feathers protruding between the eyes and beak. Its rusty dark brown plumage resembles the bark color of incense cedar. But it’s the false eyes that really capture me. Unlike the wide and round real ones, these black and white feathered patterns are narrowed and angry. Both pairs seem to be constantly searching, watching, scanning; this pint-size predator transfixes me.

It is these encounters that draw me to this important biological work season after season—there is magic, inspiration and rewards beyond words.

Claudia Strijek is a KBO Field Technician conducting point counts in southern Oregon and northern California. Click here to visit her blog for more of her writings and photography.

Photos by Claudia Strijek


Wild Birds Unlimited and Klamath Bird Observatory will present a Birding By Ear workshop Wednesday June 14, 2017 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm.

Birding by ear is an essential tool for detecting more birds in the field, and your birding experiences will be greatly enhanced as you improve your birding-by-ear skills. In this workshop, John Alexander will teach bird songs and calls using sound recordings, mnemonic devices, sonograms, and drawing. The workshop integrates lecture, images, guided listening, and participation. We will focus on breeding songbirds of the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion, comparing sound-alike species of riparian, fir, pine, and oak habitats.

Space is limited to 20 participants – visit the Wild Birds Unlimited store in the Medford Center, or call 541-772-2107 to reserve a spot.

Click here for the Wild Birds Unlimited store in Medford website.

John is the co-founder and Executive Director of Klamath Bird Observatory and has been working to integrate bird conservation with natural resource management in the Pacific Northwest since 1992. He is focused on applying bird conservation science as a tool for advancing ecosystem conservation regionally, nationally, and internationally. His expertise includes participatory action research; ecological monitoring and research using standard bird and habitat sampling techniques; the use of scientific results for overcoming land stewardship challenges; and the development of applied science tools and teaching materials for natural resource management professionals, community members, and students of all ages.

Bad News Bears of Birding & Birdathon News

Ah, spring, when young persons’ fancies turn to thoughts of bird migration and YES! The Birdathon! It’s a high point of the year for our team, the Great Greys. It started out to be an excuse to spend some quality time with pals, looking for birds. But we were subjected to some serious ridicule a few years back, and we still haven’t gotten over it. That was the year we actually won the competition, surprising us as much as the previous year’s winners, the Mighty Falcons. So the leader of the Falcons, who shall remain nameless(1), had the nerve to publish an article in High Country news about our surprising victory, calling us the “Bad News Bears of Birding(2).”

Well. Now we started to care. So the next year we won again. But the year after that, the Falcons cleaned our clock, setting the county record that still stands (162 species). The year after that, we won again. One year we tied another team, the Binosaurs, for first place. Last year we came in second. This year we won again, with 154 species(3). Not that we’re counting. It’s all in good fun…

But hey, the purpose of the Birdathon is to raise money, by getting friends and relatives to pledge some amount per species identified. Every year I send out a fund-raising, trash-talking letter, offering the opportunity to pledge at different levels, from Golden Eagle ($1,000 per species identified)(4) down to brown-headed cowbird ($0.10/species).

We raised over $3,400 this year, which is pretty darn thrilling. We split the money between Rogue Valley Audubon and KBO, even though John Alexander, KBO’s Executive Director, is actually a Falcon, and thus one of our fierce rivals. However, we know the main reason the Great Greys started winning is because Frank Lospalluto joined our team that year. You may know Frank as a field biologist who has worked for KBO over ten years. Like the rest of the KBO folks, he is really passionate, and amazingly knowledgeable, about birds. So we owe a substantial part of our success to KBO. Hence, the donation.

And in case you were wondering? Everyone is welcome to join our support network(5). Just let me know and I’ll add your name to the annual trash-talking solicitation.

Gretchen Hunter


  1. Pepper Trail. Stewart Janes and John Alexander are also Falcons.
  2. High Country News article about the Bad News Bears of Birding!
  3. Take that, Falcons. Team members are Bob Hunter, Dom DiPaolo, Brian Barr and Frank Lospalluto.
  4. A girl can hope!
  5. Even John Alexander has pledged on behalf of the Great Greys. Don’t tell Pepper.

TALK AND WALK: BIRDING THE KLAMATH BASIN with Mel Clements and Frank Lospalluto

The talk will feature 4 short DVD’s (photography and music) that each highlight the birds and landscape of the Klamath Wildlife Basin Refuges through the four seasons of the year. A fifth DVD will be added to show the powerful beauty of the Great Gray Owl. Guidelines for photographing birds and other wildlife will be presented along with the ethics of bird photography. Mel Clements will discuss how to get the best photos and disturb the birds the least.

Talk on February 16th Thursday 6:30-8pm
Walk on February 18th Saturday 7:30am – dark

Contact Shannon Rio at shannonrio@aol.com to sign up. Class size is limited. $30 for class and outing. $15 to come to the talk only.

Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge (c) Jim Livaudais 2017


No cabin fever or winter blues around here – not with our upcoming Talk and Walk programs! There are birds to find in our great outdoors and no more informing and fun way to find them than with the inimitable Dick Ashford. Two Talk and Walk programs have just been added to our calendar: Raptor ID in the Klamath Basin and Waterfowl ID in the Klamath Basin – details below.




TALK: Dick Ashford, local raptor expert and longtime KBO board member, will share his enthusiasm and knowledge about raptor ID during this informative class session.

January 5th Thursday 6:30-8:00PM

WALK: Start the brand new year off right with an all-day raptor viewing outing to the picturesque Klamath Basin!

January 7th Saturday 8:00AM-6:00PM




TALK: March is that time of year when things are just “ducky”. Want to learn how to ID them? Join longtime KBO board member Dick Ashford for a fun talk on ducks, geese, and other waterfowl!

March 2nd Thursday 6:30-8:00PM

Ducks in a row ... Mallards foraging (c) Jim Livaudais 2016

WALK: We will get a chance to test our classroom knowledge in the field. Dick will plan a route that will give us our best chance of seeing the varied birdlife for which the Klamath Basin is famous – and we’ll have lots of fun doing it! Depending on water levels and weather conditions, there may be excellent opportunities for viewing thousands of migratory waterfowl.

March 4th Saturday 8:00AM 6:00PM


Cost: $25 for each talk and outing (or $50 makes you a member of KBO). Space is limited. Will schedule an extra outing day if needed. Contact – ShannonRio@aol.com with questions or to hold your spot.


As a December holiday alternative to the talk and walk program, KBO is hosting a special program in a local home. Sip a glass of wine or bubbly water, dine on light fare, receive a copy of Harry Fuller’s book on the Great Gray Owl and listen to this presentation. December 8th Thursday 5:30-8:00PM … Cost is $100. Contact Shannon Rio – ShannonRio@aol.com to hold your spot.

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Klamath Bird Observatory
PO Box 758
Ashland, Oregon 97520


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