[Tweeters] Okanogan grouses (Spruce, ST, Dusky) and GG owl

khanh tran khanhbatran at hotmail.com
Mon Apr 23 01:32:01 PDT 2007

Hi Tweets,

I just got back from a nice trip from the Okanogan and Brewster area.  It 
was low in species diversity but productive in finding some elusive species 
and enjoyable moments.  Highlights of the trip included locating 4 species 
of grouse and one great gray owl.

Inspired by Gina Sheridan’s recent post of displaying DUSKY GROUSE, I was 
determined to find them. However, I was unsuccessful in 3 attempts at 
various times during the day Central Ferry Canyon.   I managed to run into a 
small group that also dippedin finding the grouse; not a hoot, a dropping or 

My persistence soon paid off as I was rewarded by a very cooperative male 
displaying in Winthrop, near Patterson Lake and the Sun Lodge.  It was 
AWESOME as he hooted and strutted within 10 feet from me!  I will post 
photos soon!

I can see why people easily miss these birds. The calls are barely audible 
from 60-70 feet away and reminiscent of a muffled Sooty grouse hoot.   Also, 
the two displaying males that I saw were hunkered down either under a tree 
or sagebrush.  One bird displayed on a tree.

I discovered the birds from displaying and hooting from 9-1 PM Saturday and 
Sunday.  The display was so spectacular that I drove back the next day to 
show Ruth and Patrick Sullivan.

At one point, I saw a male about 60 feet from us, and he came charging down 
as soon as he saw us on the trail.  The aggressive grouse attacked Ruth and 
later Patrick’s shoe.  It is interesting that the bird completely ignored 
me.  I was wearing gray and subdued colors while had brighter attire.

Also in the vicinity were 3 PINE GROSBEAKS and one vociferous NORTHERN PYGMY 

In Conconully, I found two SHARP TAILED grouse in the upper location of 
Happy Hill Road along the grassy areas not far from the abandon house.

About 8 miles or so up Conconully Rd towards Salmon Meadows, I was extremely 
lucky to find one male SPRUCE GROUSE!   You can drive about 7.5 miles before 
getting out to walk due to the impassable, muddy and partly snow covered 

While walking up hill, I flushed the grouse along the road but was not able 
to get a good look at it.  I had a good suspicion that it was a spruce 
grouse because of the quiet flapping of the wings.  From my experiences, the 
spruce grouse have the quietest wing beats when flying.  They lack the 
explosive sound that a ruffed or “blue” grouse would generate when flying.

I bushwhacked for a little while not far from the road before finding the 
bird.  I don’t know the exact elevation of this area and thought it would be 
up higher.  My experiences of finding this elusive grouse in the Wallowas 
(Joseph, OR) during snow covered areas, proved that they move lower down 
during the fall and winter months ( I have seen them around 3500 ft ).  I 
assume he will move up higher in elevation as breeding time commences.  
There might be more exposed vegetation and other food for him lower down 
with fewer snow cover. This might be the transitional migration time.

Near Havillah, I flushed a GREAT GRAY OWL that was perched along the fence 
lines on West Lost Lake Rd.  There were also 3 SWAINSON’S HAWK along 
Havillah Rd.

On Soap Lake Rd near Monse, there were a couple of LONG BILLED CURLEWS and 
somewhat austere area.

I ended up seeing 10 male SAGE GROUSE along Leahy Junction.  It was great 
way to end a trip with all that driving.

Good birding to you,

Khanh Tran (Portland, Oregon)

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