[Tweeters] Okanogan grouses (Spruce, ST, Dusky) and GG owl
khanhbatran at hotmail.com
Mon Apr 23 01:32:01 PDT 2007
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 Sheridans 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
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 Patricks 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 dont 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 SWAINSONS HAWK along
On Soap Lake Rd near Monse, there were a couple of LONG BILLED CURLEWS and
one SNOW BUNTING. Plenty of VESPER SPARROWS AND HORNED LARKS serenading the
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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