[Tweeters] Okanogan bird report

khanh tran khanhbatran at hotmail.com
Sun Oct 14 23:35:40 PDT 2007

Hi Tweeters, 

This weekend Steve Nord and I took advantage of the dry
weather and birded the Okanogan area for
boreal birds.  We had a marvelous but
ambitious trip.  The fall colors were amazing
and the birding was great in terms of the diversity of species. 

Highlights include: several flocks of white winged crossbills,
spruce grouse and northern shrike at multiple locations, and a good representation
of raptors. 


We got to see 2 very silvery colored DUSKY GROUSE within a foot
of a female SPRUCE GROUSE near the forest road past the big Salmon Meadows CG. 
Other birds included an AMERICAN THREE TOE WOODPECKER and several evening grosbeaks.  
This area has proved to be very productive
each time I visit.  Other birds during past visits include boreal chickadee, barred owl, great horned owl, and northern saw-whet


Despite the rigorous 10 mile hike, this site proved to be
the most productive. We heard two NORTHERN PYGMY OWLS near the vista outlook.  As we gain elevation to look for WHITE TAILED
PTARMIGAN, we had a nice flock of WHITE WINGED CROSSBILLS along an area with
good cone crop. Red crossbills were also present. 

Towards the top of the summit, there was a NORTHERN SHRIKE
along with a NORTHERN GOSHAWK.  Other raptors
included Cooper’s, Sharp shinned, American Kestrel, Red tailed hawks (several
morphs), Golden and Bald eagle.  

Perhaps one reason for dipping on the ptarmigans was the high
activity of circling raptors. We did manage to find 4 sets of fresh ptarmigan
tracks in the snow but those elusive alpine chickens were hiding elsewhere (I

We also found one rock wren and another NORTHERN SHRIKE in the
town of Loomis.


Our searched for the GREAT GRAY OWLS was unsuccessfully as
they were represented by the intimidating GREAT HORNED OWLS.  We spotted 5 birds along the areas were I
normally see Great Grays.  Several weeks
ago we had 5 GREAT GRAYS and no Great Horned.  There has to be some correlation.   


We dipped on the three NORTHERN HAWK OWLS that I re-located
a couple of weeks ago along Meadow’s Campground.  As a consolation we were rewarded with one
female SPRUCE GROUSE along the road.  I
almost ran over it, as it was right in the middle of the road.  A pale, NORTHERN SHRIKE conspicuously perched
high on a dead snag near the campground. 

Heavy snow at the summit, forced us to hike up the last ¾ mile up to the lookout
tower.  I managed to find a small flock
spectacular as many of the peaks were snow covered. 

On our way out, there was a dozen WHITE WINGED CROSSBILLS near the ranger station.  We saw one beautiful male on top of a low
spruce and at one point, three birds flew down within 15 feet of us to drink
some water. Some of the immatures superficially resembled pine siskins.  I managed to photographed one bird at a

We also saw one female “BLUE” GROUSE near Slate Creek, along
the road that leads to Chancellor. 


We ended our trip at this scenic but closed for the season overlook.  This quick stop proved to be productive as we
saw 3 PINE GROSBEAKS, a pair of CASSIN’S FINCHES, a trusting HAIRY
WOODPECKER,  and a large flock of EVENING
GROSBEAKS, and several tame GRAY JAYS. 

All in all, it was a great way to end the trip driving along
the North Cascades Highway.  What an amazing state!!I have added a few images from the trip. Beware of the imposing female sprucie. 

Good birding, 

Khanh Tran (Portland,
Steve Nord (Hillsboro,
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