Annette Teng, CC BY 3.0,

The scene may puzzle casual passers-by: people in lawn chairs staring at a chimney.  Just wait; right around sunset the show begins. 

That's when big numbers of Vaux's swifts--birds--come back to the chimney to roost for the night.  The birds put on shows in several communities in the region this time of year, Hedrick Middle School in Medford is one site. 

The Rogue Valley Audubon Society tracks this and other bird movements, and the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy also plays a part. 

Dominic Sherony, CC BY-SA 2.0,

The City of Ashland owns a big chunk of property across Interstate Five from town, and there are always ideas floating around for uses for the land. 

The Imperatrice property, as it's known, has been proposed for the location of electricity-generating solar panels, among other ideas.  Which thrills people who favor renewable energy, but poses some issues for bird fanciers. 

Because the land is home to a colony of grasshopper sparrows, a bird species that has mostly disappeared in some parts of the region. 


When you think of a robbery at a museum, you probably picture a valuable painting, or some artifact from antiquity.  But dead birds? 

It happened, at the Tring Museum in Greater London.  A man obsessed with exotic bird feathers stole hundreds of old bird skins from the museum and disappeared. 

Enter the man obsessed with flyfishing, and we get a book: The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century

Author Kirk Wallace Johnson, the flyfisher, tracked the story and the players for several years for his book. 

Andreas Trepte, CC BY-SA 2.5,

It's not the most pleasant beach experience, picking up dead birds.  But it's an important task, one that can shed light on the health and mortality challenges to birds that live on and near the ocean. 

And it's not just for scientists: COASST, the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, uses trained citizen scientists to collect data on seabirds for use by credentialed scientists. 

And yes, there's more to it than picking up bird corpses. 

Wikimedia Commons

If it seems like just a few more birds are flying around of late, your powers of observation are acute. 

Plenty of birds are on the move this time of year, heading south for winter breeding and feeding grounds before frost settles in here. 

Klamath Bird Observatory will honor the semi-annual migration with a set of events on Saturday, September 23rd. 

They include a visit from Noah Strycker, world-class birder and record holder.  Noah, from Oregon, saw more than 6,000 bird species in a single year. 

Annette Teng, CC BY 3.0,

Vaux's swifts migrate through the west coast while on their way to Central and South America every summer.

In Western Oregon, they stop to roost in old hollow snags and chimneys every evening in September. People bring lawn chairs and picnic blankets to watch the spectacle of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of tiny black birds swirling around a chimney until diving in, all the while dodging preying hawks. 

But the trees and chimneys favored by the birds are getting harder to find these days, and the birds' numbers are dropping. 

Andreas Trepte, CC BY-SA 2.5,

It's a regular feature of hanging out by the ocean: the cries of the gulls.  They get most of the attention (volume helps), but there are many other interesting birds to see where land and water meet. 

And those birds will be celebrated and observed when the 31st annual Oregon Shorebird Festival convenes in the Bandon area on Labor Day weekend. 

Attendees will grab a variety of devices to get close looks at the birds. 

Photographer and author Paul Bannick will be one of the presenters at the festival. 

Birds Of A...

May 9, 2016
Chronicle Books

Even people who do not consider themselves "birders" get excited when a bird flies by, displaying beautiful plumage. 

And the plumage is the point of Robert Clark's new book, called simply Feathers

Clark is a National Geographic photographer, and he turns his skills on bird exterior features in an astounding series of images. 

Portrait Of The Bird As A Young Artist

May 3, 2016

"They grow up so fast," we always say of children.  Human children.  But our kids have nothing on the speed at which Baby Birds develop.  

  In her book by that name, artist and wildlife rehabilitator Julie Zickefoose tracks the progress of hatchlings born on her property, in words and paintings.  Eleven days from hatching to flying, in some cases.  

Celebrating Migrants (With Wings)

Apr 8, 2016
Bob Wick/BLM/Wikimedia

Spring is in the air, and with it the many migratory bird species winging their way through the region.

The Pacific Flyway is something like a bird freeway for semi-annual migrations. 

This year marks a century since birds sparked a conservation movement in the United States.

Ambassadors For The Birds

Mar 22, 2016
Bob Wick/BLM/Wikimedia

The Pacific Flyway is not for aircraft, but for birds. 

Migratory birds fly up and down the West Coast by the millions, with a number of important stops in our region. 

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty, connecting the United States with neighboring countries that harbor the birds. 

Celebrations of the anniversary include the naming of Pacific Flyway Ambassadors to travel the Flyway behind the birds, drawing attention to the migration.

Don't call Noah Strycker a "bird nerd."  Oh wait, he calls himself that. 

And he is now a bird nerd without parallel, having spent last year seeing more than six-thousand bird species around the planet. 

And as birds of a feather flock together, Noah and fellow birders gather in the Klamath Basin this week for the annual Winter Wings festival. 

Fastest Things On Wings

Jul 6, 2015

In the list of unusual jobs, "hummingbird rehabber" must rank pretty high.  But hummingbirds do get hurt, and Terry Masear is there to help them back to health, where possible.  

  It seems that even people who are relatively jaded about wildlife get interested when hummingbirds are involved.  Terry describes her job and its successes in her book "Fastest Things On Wings."  


Even if you didn't notice the blooming flowers and warmer temperatures, you might have heard the singing of birds as spring settles into the region.

A bunch of migratory species show up in the springtime, and the people of the Klamath Bird Observatory go out to... uh, observe.

In fact, KBO leads "Talk and Walk" events to share the highlights of the seasonal birds.

The State Of The Birds 2014

Sep 9, 2014

The release of the State of the Birds report is an annual event; 2014 marks the fifth anniversary of the first report. 

And this one arrives today (September 9) with some additional poignancy: it comes 100 years, nearly to the day, since the last Passenger Pigeon died. 

The bird was so abundant in the 19th century, people with boards could whack a few out of the sky for a meal.

Celebrating Birds In The Rogue Valley

May 23, 2014

The abundant wildlife of our region is there to be looked at, if you have the means. 

And it doesn't take much in either means or time to watch birds. 

Birders revel in the sighting of birds both common and rare, and there's no special training involved. 

The Klamath Bird Observatory will try to help prospective birders take flight in the first-ever Mountain Bird Festival, coming to the Ashland area over Memorial Day weekend. 

The Christmas Bird Count

Jan 2, 2014

The definition of "Christmas season" truly depends upon the person. 

Some people celebrate for a month or more.