Friends of Marymoor Park


Bird Sightings Week 11
March 12-18*


Rarities for Week 11:

Loggerhead Shrike 12-Mar-95 A. Coles per FN per E. Hunn spreadsheet
Loggerhead Shrike 17-Mar-09  
Loggerhead Shrike 14-Mar-18 Model airplane field
"Slate-colored" Fox Sparrow 17-Mar-04 "Rocky-mountain group" subspecies, probably P. iliaca altivagans

Report for March 14, 2024                                                                                                                   Birding at Marymoor

First off, NOBODY brought us pie on Pi Day.  Other than that, though, we had a really good morning at the park.  It was sunny, windless, and while it was a frosty 32 degrees at the start, it reached 50 degrees by the end.  LOTS of singing and other signs of the ramping up of the breeding season.

  • Greater White-fronted Goose - Today, the two were seen from the Lake Platform
  • American Wigeon - Three amongst the large flock of Mallards on Fields 7-8-9 at sunrise
  • Band-tailed Pigeon - One near the east end of the boardwalk.  First of Year (FOY)
  • Five Woodpecker Day - With lots of calling and drumming.  Looks at all but Hairy, which called near the windmill
  • Shrike sp. - One about 7:15 north of Fields 7-8-9
  • Tree Swallow - Somewhere around 6 or 8, seen checking nest boxes both at the Pea Patch and East Meadow (FOY)
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet - Everywhere, with lots of singing, calling, and flashing of ruby crowns
  • Varied Thrush - Perhaps 2 heard near the south end of the Dog Area, and one seen near the mansion
  • Western Meadowlark - Five in and around the East Meadow, some singing
  • coyote - Tracy and I saw one predawn at the Model Airplane Field  (foy)
I was not able to get close enough to the shrike to rule out Loggerhead; we've seen Loggerhead Shrike 3 years previously during this week of the year, accounting for 15% of shrike sightings during Week 11.  That's a high enough ratio that I won't just assume this was a Northern Shrike.  That said, most of our LOSH sightings (in fact, all our other sightings) have been in April.

The Great Blue Heronry is getting very active, with herons sitting down in many of the nests, lots of nest building observed, and one copulation observed as well.

Misses today included Hooded Merganser, Short-billed Gull, Violet-green Swallow, Purple Finch, and American Goldfinch.

For the day, 62 species.  We're up to 78 species for the year.

= Michael Hobbs

Male Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Photo by Tony Ernst

Juvenile Cooper's Hawk. Photo by Tony Ernst

"Myrtle"-type Yellow-rumped Warbler. Photo by Tony Ernst

Tree Swallow. Photo by Tony Ernst

Report for March 16, 2023                                                                                                                   Birding at Marymoor

It was COLD at the start (28 degrees), under clear skies.  The sun did help to slowly warm things up.  It was a pretty birding day.  Most notably, we had our first Spring migrants of the year.

  • Cackling Goose - After several weeks with well under 100 birds, today we had a flock of ~600 flying south just after sunrise
  • Northern Pintail - I had one drake flying high, only our 3rd sighting of the year
  • Eurasian Collared-Dove - One along the Dog Meadow/East Meadow line.  First of Year (FOY)
  • Band-tailed Pigeon - 3-4 high in the firs west of the mansion (FOY)
  • Five Woodpecker Day - 2nd straight week for this small feat
  • TREE SWALLOW - 3-4 birds, probably.  Some at the Pea Patch, some at the East Meadow (FOY)
  • Varied Thrush - Showing it's still wintry, we heard one near the mansion
  • SAVANNAH SPARROW - At least two along the Dog Meadow/East Meadow line.  (FOY)
  • Western Meadowlark - One seen briefly, East Meadow
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler - Numbers growing.  Both Audubon's and Myrtle, in about equal numbers as far as I could tell

We also had the first turtles of the year at the Rowing Club pond, both Painted Turtle and Red-eared Slider

The list of species singing was very similar, if not identical, to last week's.

Yesterday, I had four AMERICAN WIGEON below the weir, my first since January at the park.  I also heard and AMERICAN GOLDFINCH and saw two HOUSE FINCH yesterday, both of which were among today's misses.

Other misses for the day included Short-billed Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Northern Shrike, Violet-green Swallow (seen 19 of previous 28 years), and Pine Siskin.

Speaking of misses, we will be missing MARK & LEE CRAWFORD, who are moving to New York.  One, the other, and frequently both, have been on well over 600 of the Marymoor surveys since 2006.  We wish them a great time with spring warbler migration in Marymoor East!

For the day, a year's best 61 species, plus the Ring-necked Pheasant.

= Michael Hobbs

Tree Swallows are back.  Photo by Michael Hobbs

Note the red eye of the Spotted Towhee.  Photo by Michael Hobbs

Report for March 17, 2022                                                                                                                      Birding at Marymoor

This week at Marymoor, with Michael out of town, Brian Bell and I led the weekly walk. It was overcast all morning but the rain held off for the entire walk. We came with much hope for spring surprises, but in the end it was a pretty uneventful day w/ nothing to make Michael jealous for missing out [our ultimate goal here]:

  • Peregrine Falcon - one perched in a tree at the south end of the meadow, then seen flying north.
  • Anna’s Hummingbird on nest - she seemed to be building/repairing it [along slough, near west end of boardwalk]
  • Lots of singing from, among others, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Fox Sparrow and Purple Finch
  • A couple folks heard what might have been our season-first Rufous Hummingbirds - they remained elusive though others have reported them already at the park this year.
Misses included Belted Kingfisher, accipiters, owls, and spring returnees we were hoping  for: no Says Phoebe [seen Saturday @ Marymoor], no Mountain Bluebird [ditto], Savannah Sparrow

Nevertheless, 56 species for the day - and a good morning walk.

Matt Bartels
Seattle, WA

Report for March18, 2021                                                                                                                   Birding at Marymoor

A really good day at Marymoor today.  First, the sunrise was spectacular.  The weather held okay for our visit; cloudy with touches of wind, but only very occasional mizzle. Birdy, and with signs of spring!
  • Ten species of duck, again (same species as last week; no surprises)
  • RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD – one male along slough in Dog Area; First of Year (FOY), though Jordan had one yesterday
  • Double-crested Cormorant – a total of at least 29 flying upstream towards the lake, in groups of 5-11
  • Merlin – fast flyby
  • SAY’S PHOEBE – two in the East Meadow (FOY)
  • Hutton’s Vireo – one at the Rowing Club parking lot
  • Violet-green Swallow – I saw two, off to the west.  Had about 4 Tree Swallows too, and that’s it for swallows
  • MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD – female in East Meadow.  (FOY)
  • Savannah Sparrow – one in the Pea Patch (FOY)
  • Fox Sparrow – some really notable singing going on, including one very long, complex song
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – one or two at the Rowing Club ponds
  • Townsend’s Warbler – three south of the mansion
I had a flyby look at either a Band-tailed Pigeon or a Eurasian Collared-Dove, but it was across the river, through the trees, under the clouds, and a fairly brief look.  Either species would be FOY for the survey, but we got neither.
From the Rowing Club dock, we enjoyed seeing a pair of HOODED MERGANSER next to a pair of WOOD DUCKS.  All the goodies – the hoodies and the woodies.
Monday and Tuesday, I had ROCK PIGEON, NORTHERN SHRIKE, and two singing WESTERN MEADOWLARKS.
Other misses for today included Mew Gull, Ring-billed Gull, and American Goldfinch.
For the day, 65 species, with three more for the week.  For the year, with four FOY, I think we’re at 94 species.
= Michael Hobbs

Female Mountain Bluebird in the East Meadow. Photo by Bob Asanoma

Report for March 16, 2020                                                                                                                 Birding at Marymoor

The weather forecast looked really good today, and it mostly was fine, though we did have about an hour of mist an drizzle.  Nothing too bad.  It was super-birdy today, especially full of woodpeckers.  Cold to start (33 degrees), but it was mostly not too bad, warming up by the end.
  • SWANS – flock of 22 birds flying silently to the NE; from date and location, probably Trumpeters
  • Rufous Hummingbird – several males seen.  First of Year for the survey, but I had them at Marymoor since Sat., 3/7
  • Cooper’s Hawk – I saw one cross the river near the start of the boardwalk
  • Barn Owl – at least 1 seen from Viewing Mound pre-dawn.  Later, had an owl that might have been a Short-eared
  • Western Screech-Owl – Matt & I saw one around 6 a.m. along the trail to the east end of the boardwalk, in the forest
  • Great Horned Owl – Matt heard one from the windmill, calling from somewhere up the ravine west of the park, just after 5 a.m.
  • Five woodpecker day – Hairy Woodpeckers seen copulating
  • FALCON – probably Peregrine, but seen flying with prey away to the NE – First falcon of the year
  • Swallows – at least 50, with both Tree and Violet-green, but unsure of ratio
  • HERMIT THRUSH – one from footbridge just south of last Dog Swim Beach
  • Purple Finch – gorgeous male singing full songs next to the Rowing Club dock
  • Western Meadowlark – Four north of Fields 7-8-9
First 3-Finch day of 2020, with House Finch, Purple Finch, and Pine Siskin.

Even using today’s date, 3/12, this is still historically at the early side for RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD.  They arrived this year, however, at least as early as 3/7 (I had 3 different males that day).  Only 2014, 2015, and 2016 had earlier reports of Rufous at Marymoor.

Not only did we have all five regular WOODPECKER species, we had multiple birds of each species.  Pairs of both Pileated and Hairy, many Northern Flickers and Downy Woodpeckers, and somewhere between 3 and 7 Red-breasted Sapsuckers (I’ve counted it as 5).  So probably more than 20 woodpecker individuals.  Sapsucker, Downy, and probably Flicker were drumming.
Misses today included Ring-necked Duck, Mew Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Northern Shrike (but I had it Monday, Tuesday, and yesterday), Belted Kingfisher, Marsh Wren, and American Goldfinch.
For the day, 63 species, counting the swans and falcon.
= Michael Hobbs

Report for March 14, 2019                                                                                                                 Birding at Marymoor

Well, it was a fine day at Marymoor. But... You know those signs in bars, “Free beer TOMORROW”? Well, today’s motto became “Great birds NEXT WEEK”, for except for the continuance of TREE SWALLOWS, we didn’t have any new spring birds. Still, on a nice morning with lingering overcast but no wind, we managed 59 species, and really CAN’T COMPLAIN. Still, spring has to spring sometime soon.


  • Cackling Goose – maybe 1000 in large strings of birds flying southeast
  • American Wigeon – at least 1 well out on lake; pair yesterday
  • Mallard – pair copulating at Rowing Club; also intersex bird below weir
  • Ring-necked Pheasant – doing crow and flutter in Pea Patch
  • Great Blue Heron – pairs sitting on nests, maybe 45 birds total!
  • Green Heron – one near Rowing Club dock, skulking
  • Killdeer – pair copulating below weir
  • Wilson’s Snipe – three on far side of slough below weir
  • Western Screech-Owl – Matt had one before 6 at east end of boardwalk
  • Red-breasted Sapsucker – three sightings
  • Northern Shrike – one just before 7:30 a.m., north of Fields 7,8,9
  • Tree Swallow – seen over many parts of the park – low numbers though – maybe 8. First of Spring last Monday.
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet – many singing
  • Varied Thrush – at least 2 heard east of the slough
  • Lincoln Sparrow – 1 near West Kiosk
  • Western Meadowlark - 5+, East Meadow

59 species today, plus 3 more earlier this week. Not bad, but still waiting on Rufous Hummingbird, Say’s Phoebe, Mountain Bluebird, Osprey, Savannah Sparrow, etc.

Great Spring Birds NEXT WEEK.

== Michael Hobbs

Male Mallard.  Photo by Jordan Roderick

Great Blue Herons at the heronry.  More than 50 birds.  Photo by Bob Asanoma

Killdeer copulation.  Photo by Jordan Roderick
Or maybe they're practicing to join Cirque du Soleil

Killdeer copulation Photo by Bob Asanoma

Male Belted Kingfisher.  Photo by Jordan Roderick

Male Ring-necked Pheasant.  Photo by Jordan Roderick

Male Ring-necked Pheasant.  Photo by Bob Asanoma

American Goldfinch.  Photo by Hugh Jennings

Report for March 15, 2018                                                                                                                    Birding at Marymoor

A clear night made for a frigid morning – just 27 degrees to start, with a fair amount of fog. But clear skies and no wind meant things warmed up, reaching 50 degrees when we called it a day just before noon. It was BIRDY, and while we couldn’t find the Loggerhead Shrike seen yesterday at the model airplane field, we did find many species, including a SAY’S PHOEBE in the Pea Patch.


  • Cackling Goose – probably at least 2000 in endless strings of flyover birds heading southeast
  • American Wigeon – pair in slough below weir
  • Lesser Scaup – one bird – first year male?
  • RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD – male harassing chickadees at south end of Dog Meadow – First of 2018
  • Great Blue Heron – I counted 48 at the heronry, with others scattered about
  • Northern Harrier – Sharon saw one as she was leaving the park
  • BARN OWL – We dipped on all owls pre-dawn, but then had a Barn flying the East Meadow at 10 am!
  • - All five common woodpeckers -
  • SAY’S PHOEBE – one in Pea Patch
  • HUTTON’S VIREO – singing in cedars next to windmill
  • Violet-green Swallow – seen flying over weir later in the morning. Yesterday’s ~60 were First of 2018
  • House Finch – a few singing, and actually got to see one. Scarce so far this year
  • Purple Finch – at least one singing, and actually got to see three. Scarce so far this year
  • Pine Siskin – 1 or 2 in mansion area – first since Week 1
  • Savannah Sparrow – at least 1 in East Meadow
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow – two in East Meadow
  • Dark-eyed Junco – incredibly numerous and widespread, many singing
  • Western Meadowlark – perhaps 5, some singing
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – both Audubon’s and Myrtle types, singing

We had a good day for animals too, with Eastern Gray Squirrel, American Beaver, Muskrat, Eastern Cottontail, “Black-tailed” Mule Deer, Pacific Treefrog (heard only), Painted Turtle, and Red-eared Slider.

Misses today included Ring-necked Duck, Hooded Merganser, Virginia Rail, Wilson’s Snipe, Mew Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Northern Shrike, American Goldfinch, and White-crowned Sparrow.

For the day, we hit 60 species for the first time in 2018. For the year, since last Thursday’s report, we’ve added Rufous Hummingbird, American Kestrel, Say’s Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, Violet-green Swallow, Savannah Sparrow, and Western Meadowlark, to bring our 2018 list to 92 species. Quite a 7-day stretch!

== Michael Hobbs

Adult Bald Eagle. Photo by Hugh Jennings

Barn Owl flying the East Meadow at 10 a.m. Photo by Bob Asanoma

Barn Owl flying the East Meadow at 10 a.m. Photo by Mason Flint

Barn Owl flying the East Meadow at 10 a.m. Photo by Jordan Roderick

Tree Swallow in the East Meadow. Photo by Bob Asanoma

Western Meadowlark in the East Meadow. Photo by Bob Asanoma

Say's Phoebe.  Photo by Milt Vine

Say's Phoebe.  Photo by Hugh Jennings

Hutton's Vireo in cedar near windmill.  Photo by Milt Vine

Ruby-crowned Kinglet in cedar near windmill.  Photo by Milt Vine

Report for March 09-14, 2018                                                                                                                   Birding at Marymoor

March 10:
Yesterday, Kazuto Shibata got photos of a SAY’S PHOEBE at Marymoor, so I went down this morning to see if I could find it. Alas, it probably flew on during the night. However, my trip was not wasted.

I was greeted by a WESTERN MEADOWLARK in full song at the north end of the East Meadow.

At the end of my walk, there was a male AMERICAN KESTREL on the central perch post in the East Meadow.

Also new for 2018 was a SAVANNAH SPARROW, also in the East Meadow.

Birds we didn’t have on last Thursday’s survey were ROCK PIGEON, VIRGINIA RAIL (first since Week 1), PURPLE FINCH, and LINCOLN’S SPARROW. There were some TREE SWALLOWS flying the East Meadow and a couple of RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKERS near the west end of the boardwalk. I also heard a PILEATED WOODPECKER calling several times.

Not a bad 90 minutes of walk, where of the 36 species, 10 are notable.

So I believe our 2018 list is now at 89 species, with 66 of those being reported this week.

== Michael Hobbs

March 14:

I went down to the model airplane field at Marymoor this morning to see the Say's Phoebe Michael Hobbs reported yesterday (there were two here this morning).  There was also a Loggerhead Shrike working the weed line at the back of the airplane field.

Todd Sahl

Say's Phoebe, 2018-03-09.  Photo by Kazuto Shibata

Barn Owl, 2018-03-13.  Photo by Sravanthi Yalamanchili

Loggerhead Shrike, 2018-03-14.  Photo by Barry Brugman

Loggerhead Shrike, 2018-03-14.  Photo by Barry Brugman

Report for March 16, 2017                                                                                                                    Birding at Marymoor

We were a bit impatient for spring today, I think. It was breezy, but pretty warm (40’s) and SUNNY, and we wanted spring birds NOW. We only got a couple. But a pretty nice day anyway.


  • Trumpeter Swan – Matt heard some pre-dawn, then we saw 7 silent swans fly overhead
  • Anna’s Hummingbird – Female on nest at Rowing Club, males displaying
  • Short-eared Owl – One flying the East Meadow just after 6:30am
  • 4 woodpeckers – Missing Hairy
  • Northern Shrike – Nice looks, East Meadow
  • Tree Swallow – ~10, very actively making claims on nest boxes
  • Violet-green Swallow – 50-60. First of spring
  • “Slate-colored” Junco – 1 along slough
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – Several, including singing male “Audubon’s”
  • W. Meadowlark – A half dozen west edge of Fields 7-8-9

We searched for, and were unhappy that we didn’t find, Rufous Hummingbird, Say’s Phoebe, or Mountain Bluebird. Next week. They’ll be back next week. Count on it!

For the day, 54 species.

== Michael Hobbs

Three of at least five Wilson's Snipe across the slough.  Photo by Hugh Jennings


Tree Swallows, just back and already claiming nest boxes.  Photo by Hugh Jennings

Juvenile White-crowned Sparrow.  Photo by Hugh Jennings

Male Red-winged Blackbird.  Photo by Hugh Jennings

Northern Shrike.  Photo by Bob Asanoma

Anna's Hummingbird on the nest at the Rowing Club.  Photo by Bob Asanoma

Green-winged Teal at the Rowing Club.  Photo by Bob Asanoma

Report for March 17, 2016                                                                                                                     Birding at Marymoor

A gorgeous day today, but it started out FRIGID – it was 28 degrees when we started, though it s-l-o-w-l-y warmed to about 47. Beautiful sun too, though some fog pre-dawn. It was pretty birdy, but we’re still mostly having winter birds. Spring always takes so long to get here, after teasing us with the first arrivals.


  • Cackling GooseSome distant fly-by flocks
  • Wood DuckPair at Rowing Club south pond
  • American WigeonAt least 4 below weir
  • Greater Scaup2 in slough
  • Green HeronOn far side of slough near beaver lodge
  • Bald EagleSeen OFTEN – Had to be more than 3 birds
  • N. Saw-whet OwlHeard pre-dawn near east end of boardwalk
  • Rufous HummingbirdFemale seen, as well as several males
  • All 5 WoodpeckersFinally, a pair of HAIRYs, plus prob. 2 Pileated
  • SwallowsOnly Tree and Violet-green, but 80-100 total

For the day, “only” 62 species. Say’s Phoebe and Northern Shrike were NOT seen today, though both were seen in the last week.

HAIRY WOODPECKER was our only year bird, to bring our year list to 87 species, if I count correctly.

== Michael Hobbs

Drumming Red-breasted Sapsucker.  Photo by Hugh Jennings

Tree Swallow.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Tree Swallow.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Female Common Merganser.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Singing Song Sparrow.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Say's Phoebe, 2016-03-15.  Photo by Lillian Reis

Western Meadowlark, 2016-03-15.  Photo by Lillian Reis

Report for March 12, 2015                                                                                                                     Birding at Marymoor

Actually rather quiet today, perhaps because of a moderately stiff breeze. The weather was otherwise fine, with temps in the 50s and sun filtering through the clouds all morning. But it was definitely quiet compared with recent weeks.


  • Cackling Goose - One flying around looking lost
  • Northern Pintail - Two flew up the slough towards the lake
  • Barn Owl - Pair at windmill, with one entering through shaft housing
  • Anna’s Hummingbird - Female again on nest near start of boardwalk
  • Merlin - One made a long flight across the park, past us
  • Northern Shrike - East Meadow
  • Brewer’s Blackbird - Three females atop a tall cottonwood
    – First of 2015
  • Red Crossbill - Perhaps 20 in firs near the mansion

At least 4-5 times, we saw the herons fly up from the heronry when eagles (both adult and juvenile) flew past. Disturbance frequency was high. When the herons were at the heronry, they were standing up in alert posture, not settled comfortably.

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER and FOX SPARROW singing today; first of spring. The Fox we heard wasn’t really coming out with a full, loud song yet.

We had a great look at an AMERICAN BEAVER just below the weir. PACIFIC TREE FROGS were in full chorus pre-dawn.

For the day, “just” 58 species. We had several “misses”, including Virginia Rail, Wilson’s Snipe, any gulls except GWGU/”Olympics”, Brown Creeper, and Pacific Wren. We’ve also had Western Meadowlark 10 times previously for this week of the year, so they kind of count as a miss today too.

Adding BREWER’S BLACKBIRD and my MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD from yesterday afternoon (below) to the year’s list, we’re now at 86 species for the year.

== Michael Hobbs

Report for March 11, 2015

I made a quick stop at Marymoor this afternoon and found a female MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD on the central perch post in the East Meadow at around 3:30.

This is extremely early for MOBL at Marymoor: 5 days earlier than the previous earliest sighting, 1999-03-16, and two weeks earlier than a typical early-season sighting. We’ve had quite a few sightings spread out between March 22 and April 29, with most of those being in the last 10 days of March. We see MOBL about every other year, on average.

Yet another earliest sighting ever for 2015...

== Michael Hobbs


Three female Brewer's Blackbirds atop a Black Cottonwood.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  Photo by Lillian Reis

American Beaver just below weir.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Red-breasted Sapsucker.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Female Ring-necked Duck.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Tree Swallows.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Downy Woodpecker.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Male Belted Kingfisher.  Photo by Marvin Hoekstra

Red-breasted Sapsuckers.  Photo by Lillian Reis

Male Rufous Hummingbird.  Photo by Marvin Hoekstra

Northern Shrike.  Photo by Marvin Hoekstra

Pileated Woodpecker.  Photo by Lillian Reis

Adult Mew Gull, 2015-03-06.  Photo by Dasha Gudalewicz

Adult Mew Gull, 2015-03-06.  Photo by Dasha Gudalewicz

First-winter Mew Gull, 2015-03-06.  Photo by Dasha Gudalewicz

Tree Swallow, 2015-03-06.  Photo by Dasha Gudalewicz

Tree Swallows, 2015-03-06.  Photo by Dasha Gudalewicz

Report for March 13, 2014                                                                                                                     Birding at Marymoor

This week, the weather was not as nice as forecast. It was cold to start (33 degrees), and was very slow in warming up. We also got quite a bit of thin overcast, and a nasty north breeze by about 9:30. It was a day of heard-only birds, distant sightings, and quiet periods, with short bouts of great looks and birdy rushes. In all, a fine day of birding.


Wood Duck                           Pair flew upstream
American Wigeon                   Several sightings, incl. at lake, Rowing Club
Western Gull                          One very dark juvenile
Band-tailed Pigeon                 One seen north of windmill – FOY
Eurasian Collared-Dove         One near Osprey nest – FOY
Rufous Hummingbird              First female of the year, Park Office
Red-breasted Sapsucker        1-2 pairs
Hairy Woodpecker                1-3 birds
Pileated Woodpecker             Mark saw one flying well to the west
Tree Swallow                         Checking out martin gourds at lake
Violet-green Swallow             Probably 20+
WH.-THR. SPARROW        3 (possibly 4) at Rowing Club parking lot!
White-crowned Sparrow       1 with Golden-crowns at Pea Patch
American Goldfinch                2 in Snag Row near Pea Patch

When we were passing by the GREAT BLUE HERON heronry, we heard a call several times that seemed to be coming from the heronry. It sounded very much like a dove or pigeon, but was not the typical call of any of the doves/herons in this area. There were 18 pairs of eyes searching the ~12 cottonwoods that comprise the heronry, and we could find no birds other than herons up there. It is very unclear that a heron could make the cooing noise that we heard, as their voices are usually so raspy. Nor could I find any reference to such a vocalization in Birds of North America, nor amongst the recordings in the Cornell Master Set. But we could not find anything else that might have made the call. ???

At the Rowing Club parking lot, in the blackberries immediately north of the southern parking area, we had great looks at three WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS. When I played the iPod, three popped up to the top of the blackberries, giving us great looks. I may have heard the call of a 4th bird off to my right, but I cannot verify a 4th. On January 1st, I saw 3 WTSP about 300 yards NE of that location.

For the day, we had 58 species in all. For the year, adding BAND-TAILED PIGEON, EURASIAN-COLLARED DOVE, and our first Thursday VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS, our year list is now at 88 species.

== Michael Hobbs

Male Common Merganser in slough.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Bushtit.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Great Blue Heron pair at nest.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

American Coot.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

1st winter Western Gull, behind 1st winter "Olympic" gull.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

White-crowned Sparrow with Golden-crowned Sparrow.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

White-throated Sparrow at Rowing Club.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

White-throated Sparrow at Rowing Club.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

"Myrtle's" Yellow-rumped Warbler.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Male American Wigeon.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Photo by Ollie Oliver

Golden-crowned Kinglet, 2014-03-08.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Male Rufous Hummigbird, 2014-03-08.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Lots of activity at the heronry, 2014-03-08.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Report for March 14, 2013                                                                                                                             Birding at Marymoor

Predawn owl watching at Marymoor Park has been a wonder over the years. I never was a morning person until I discovered what I'd been missing: Venus rising in an indigo sky above a laser cut-out of the Cascade mountains in deepest aubergine; Mt. Rainier turning peach and hot pink under a lenticular cap as the first rays of the sun reach it, while the lesser peaks are still in charcoaled shadow; the meadows sparkling in frozen fog while the sky blazes orange on pale blue behind bare cottonwoods in winter.

I’ve seen the crescent moon rising in the east, the full moon setting in the west, Jupiter with its moons, Saturn with its rings, and shooting stars streaking across the sky.

I’ve discovered how alive the world is when most people are still lazing in their beds: Bald Eagles chortling to each other in the darkness, Killdeer and Wilson’s Snipe calling, unidentifiable ducks flying through still-black skies, coyotes prowling, and bunnies bouncing in challenge to each other. American Robins seem eager for the day to start, with Song Sparrows not far behind, followed by a chorus of wrens, towhees, juncos, and other sparrows, all while it’s still mostly dark.

And then come the crows.

However, it is the owls that have been the big draw for me each week over the last many months. October through January, there were Short-eared Owls with their bold wing pattern and acrobatic flight. And there’s the hope of seeing a Great Horned Owl, or in winter, rarely, a Long-eared Owl.

But almost every morning, in all seasons, we see Barn Owls. They look like huge, long-winged moths, ghostly pale in the dim light, as they fly with steady wing-beats low over the meadows. They work the edges of the willows, and follow the lines of ditches, and crisscross the grasses, suddenly whirling to the ground to snatch at a vole or a mouse. They usually come up from the ground with empty talons, but quite often we’ve seen them fly into the willows clutching a last furry meal before their day’s rest.

Before I’d spent time out in those early hours, I hadn’t recognized the moment that divides night from day. It’s not the moment of sunrise (often an unremarkable time, especially if the day is overcast and rainy), nor is it predictable with regard to the hour of official sunrise. The dividing moment is First Crow, and the owls have almost always gone to roost by then.

One crow will fly across the still dim sky, calling loudly.  And then another.  And then a flock of eight or nineteen or fifty, come flying out from the southeast. Some days its only fifty, sometimes its hundreds in waves, in braided streams of calls and black flapping. Owls roost before First Crow because First Crow marks the end of night, and Barn Owls are creatures of the night.  And also because crows seem to enjoy an early morning chance to harass and fling invectives at any owl they can find.

Twice I’ve seen just how important it is for owls to hide themselves from the crows. Once, a newly independent young Barn Owl was flying around just after sunrise when it was suddenly accosted by a mob of twenty crows. They pecked at the owl in flight, and bashed into it as if they were playing bumper cars at the fair. The owl vainly tried to wing back to it’s nest tree, but eventually had to give up and abandon the air. It folded its wings and dropped into a huge mound of blackberries, to hide among the brambles for a whole long uncomfortable day. Another time, I was amazed to see a Barn Owl sitting on a sign with the sun already shining. Moments later, a crow crashed into it, knocking the owl senseless into the grass below.

Thursday, Matt and I stood atop the Viewing Mound in the middle of Marymoor Park while it was still almost full-dark. This platform allows great views of the fields: to the south is the East Meadow, which lies just east of the off-leash Dog Meadow. To the west, on the far side of a ditch area filled with Scott’s Broom, Himalayan Blackberry, and Reed Canary-Grass, is the model airplane field. The Barn Owls hunt all of these places. The morning was pleasant, though overcast, and still quite dark when we arrived. Sunrise was due at 7:24 a.m., and Matt and I were surprised to have had an owl-less morning, since the conditions looked great for hunting.

Just before 7:00 a.m., we glimpsed a Barn Owl. Minutes later, we spotted two Barn Owls over by the model airplane field. With sunrise coming, it was already quite light out, and crows had already been seen flying. At about 7:10 a.m., one of the owls was seen again, and it flew from perch to perch, spending time hunting in between. It flew over to the East Meadow and sat on the center perch pole just about when Brian Bell arrived to join Matt and myself. It perched on a couple of poles down at the south end of the meadow, then worked its way back along the east edge of the meadow and headed east, where it sat for quite a while on the tall pole at the edge of the model airplane field, even as crows flew overhead. Around 7:15, it cruised back towards us, and we were sure it was going to roost along the east edge of the East Meadow where we have often seen Barn Owls go to roost. But, no, it continued to hunt, unsuccessfully. The three of us kept murmuring to ourselves about how that owl really ought to be going to roost, and how we were amazed that the crows hadn’t come after it yet. It was quite bright outside, and I was wishing I had my camera. The tawny color of the back, and even the pattern of every feather, were easily visible. We could watch the owl’s face as it searched and listened for something rustling in the grass.

The owl flew west across the north end of the meadow at 7:17 a.m., fairly close by the mound where we were standing, and we three were tracking the owl with our binoculars, getting amazing looks. Then we all gasped, as an adult Bald Eagle suddenly appeared, hot on the tail of the owl. The owl didn’t seem to know what to do; it flew past a couple of small hawthorns where it might have tried to take refuge. It didn’t make any quick turns, which the eagle might not have been able to follow, but just kept flying west. About five seconds later, the eagle grabbed the owl with its talons, and turned towards the southeast. The owl gave a couple of squeaky calls. Shock? Pain? Outrage? A plea for release? The eagle looked back at it, mid-air, and adjusted its grip. The owl went forever silent. The eagle flapped across the meadow with the owl dangling awkwardly below, over the willows, and up to the eagles’ nest in the cottonwoods, where it was met by its mate.

I don’t know why the owl was out so late, just seven minutes before official sunrise, and long past First Crow. Maybe it was starving for some reason, or perhaps it had young wanting to be fed. I also don’t know why the owl didn’t take more desperate steps to evade the eagle. Perhaps it thought the eagle was merely a large crow who would harass, but not injure.

Maybe it didn’t realize just what it was like to be grabbed, suddenly and unexpectedly, by an aerial predator with sharp talons. Now that would be irony.

The Bald Eagle flies to the southeast with the Barn Owl dangling awkwardly below.  Photo by Matt Bartels.

Young Barn Owl perched atop the old sign at the entrance to the off-leash dog area, May 23, 2001

American Crow knocking the owl to the ground, May 23, 2001
Two photos were sequential shots while in auto-advance multi-exposure mode

More Report for March 14, 2013    

It was overcast, but warm and dry this morning, and the birding was good. 

After the jarringly emotional start to our day, we had a good time birding.


American Wigeon                 Maybe as many as 10
Lesser Scaup                        Female in slough
Horned Grebe                      One far out on lake
Great Blue Heron                  Sticks being brought in for nest building
Wilson’s Snipe                      Sharon spotted one, far side of weir
California Gull                       One with other gulls, grass soccer fields
Western Gull                         One with other gulls
Glaucous-winged Gulls          Many, including hybrids and several. 2nd yr birds
Band-tailed Pigeon                Two flew overhead
Barn Owl                              See above
Red-breasted Sapsucker       Pair at Rowing Club (RC)
Hairy Woodpecker               Pair near 2nd dog swim beach
Northern Shrike                    East Meadow (pretty sure it wasn’t Loggerhead)
Varied Thrush                       Heard across the slough
Yellow-rumped Warbler       Near mansion + RC, 4 total?, Audubon’s, singing
Townsend’s Warbler            Female east of concert venue
Purple Finch                         A few scattered, some singing
Red Crossbill                       Great looks at the hemlocks west of mansion

There were quite a few swallows mostly high up and far away. Several appeared probably to be VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS, but we couldn’t see any of them well enough to add them to our lists. The very few we did see well were all TREE SWALLOWS.

Everything was singing, including the MARSH and PACIFIC WRENS (there were at least 7 of the latter), GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW, and RED CROSSBILL.

Lots of chorusing from the Pacific Tree Frogs around sunrise. There was a Painted Turtle at the Rowing Club pond.

For the day, 63 species, with Band-tailed Pigeon, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Townsend’s Warbler all new for the year, bringing the 2013 total to 88 species.

== Michael Hobbs

Breeding-plumage California Gull.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

"Sooty" Fox Sparrow.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Downy Woodpecker female.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Brown Creeper.  Photo by Michael Hobbs

Breeding-plumage California Gull.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Breeding-plumage California Gull.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Red Crossbills working on Western Hemlock cones.  Photo by Michael Hobbs
Photo by Dasha Gudalewicz

Red Crossbills.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Female Red Crossbill.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Female Red Crossbill.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Red-breasted Sapsucker at the Rowing Club.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Red-breasted Sapsucker at the Rowing Club.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Red-breasted Sapsucker at the Rowing Club.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Male Common Merganser, 2013-03-08.  Photo by Dasha Gudalewicz

Tree Swallow, 2013-03-08.  Photo by Dasha Gudalewicz

Tree Swallow, 2013-03-08.  Photo by Dasha Gudalewicz

Thirty eight Bufflehead from the lake platform, 2013-03-08.  Photo by Dasha Gudalewicz

American Coots, 2013-03-08.  Photo by Dasha Gudalewicz

American Coots, 2013-03-08.  Photo by Dasha Gudalewicz

American Coot, 2013-03-08.  Photo by Dasha Gudalewicz

Golden-crowned Sparrow, 2013-03-08.  Photo by Dasha Gudalewicz

Report for March 15, 2012                                                                                                                             Birding at Marymoor

We don't usually cut our Marymoor visit short, and we arguably didn't today, but we were all done by 10:45 or so, despite a 7:30 start time. As we made our way up the East Meadow at around 10, the weather shifted from not terribly nice, with gusty winds and rain, to a real gale - fierce winds and heavy driving rain. We finished trudging around the loop, with nothing to see (birds are smarter than humans, and do go out in weather like that). Because we went around the mansion early, we skipped a return visit. The Rowing Club was pretty much off-limits due to the boathouse construction, so without too much reluctance, we called it a day. Even when it was good, it wasn't very good. When it was bad, it was awful.


Great Blue Heron             5 nests started for sure, maybe 2 more
California Gull                  2+ in small flock of mixed gulls
HERRING GULL            1 in small flock of mixed gulls
Hairy Woodpecker          1 near last dog swim beach
Common Raven               1 flew south over park
Cedar Waxwing               A dozen or so in the East Meadow
Brown-headed Cowbird  1 female, First of Spring

I think this was only the 2nd time for HERRING GULL at Marymoor, though I know there have been a couple of gulls we *thought* were Herring over the years.

For the day, just 50 species. For the year, adding HERRING GULL, BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD, and the RED CROSSBILLS reported by Allan Grenon et. al. on Sunday, I think we're at 89 species.

== Michael Hobbs

Great Blue Heron at the new heronry.  Photo by Hugh Jennings

Male Hooded Merganser in a ditch.  Photo by Hugh Jennings

Bufflehead pair in Rowing Club pond, in the afternoon.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Bufflehead female in Rowing Club pond, in the afternoon.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

"Myrtle's" Yellow-rumped Warbler.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Red-eared Slider.  Photo by Ollie Oliver
Northern Shrike, 2012-03-11.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Report for March 17, 2011                                                                                                                           Birding at Marymoor

We had a gorgeous day, with only about 1 minute of sprinkles around 8 a.m., and then increasing sun and rising temps.  It didn't quite feel like spring, and the birds pretty much agreed with our assessment - not much in the way of spring arrivals, but all of the rest of the birds seemed to be taking advantage of the sunshine.  It was birdy!


American Wigeon             At least 16 in a puddle
Sharp-shinned Hawk        1 mobbed by crows in Snag Row
Red-tailed Hawk              1 atop odd-snag nest site, others
MERLIN                          Landed near the mansion
Wilson's Snipe                  8+ in wet area east of East Meadow
California Gull                   2nd week in a row, 1 with other gulls
Barn Owl                          Matt heard 1 in windmill, saw others
SHORT-EARED OWL    Matt had 1 over the East Meadow early
Red-breasted Sapsucker   Drumming near mansion, 2nd near lake
Northern Shrike                Dog Meadow and East Meadow
HUTTON'S VIREO        1 along SW edge of Dog Meadow
Tree Swallow                   Good numbers, copulation, box visits
Violet-green Swallow        Only 1 seen, East Meadow
Varied Thrush                   Heard by Megan near mansion
Townsend's Warbler         Male at SE corner of concert venue
Western Meadowlark       1 in East Meadow
Purple Finch                     Singing all over
House Finch                     1 singing, maybe 1 more heard???

HUTTONS'S VIREO are rare at Marymoor.  This is only our 6 or 7th sighting. Unfortunately, it flew off before it could be studied.

For the day, 67 species.   For the year, 88 species.

== Michael Hobbs

Uncredited photos by Michael Hobbs

Male Downy Woodpecker

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Western Meadowlark in the East Meadow...

Adult Red-tailed Hawk

Male Purple Finch eating cherry blossoms

Nicer shot by Lillian Reis

Steller's Jay at the Rowing Club

California Gull, with Mew Gulls and a juvenile Ring-billed Gull, 2011-03-12.
Photo by Lillian Reis

Bushtit, 2011-03-11.  Photo by Lillian Reis

Northern Flicker and two Red-breasted Sapsuckers, 2011-03-11.  Photo by Lillian Reis

Lillian Reis photographed this chickadee, 2011-03-11.
Is it a Mountain x Black-capped hybrid?  An aberrant BCCH?

See more photos of this, or a similar bird, at
the Mountain Chickadee gallery page

American Robins, 2011-03-11.  Photo by Lillian Reis

Indian Plum in full bloom

Report for March 18, 2010

A frosty but sunny day today, and the sun warmed things up eventually.  A bit of a breeze developed, though, so we never got to balmy. It was birdy, but we're still just edging into Spring.


GREEN HERON                 First in 5 weeks, across from Dog Central
Sharp-shinned Hawk            One buzzed us along the boardwalk
Cooper's Hawk                    Juvenile near East Meadow
Red-tailed Hawk                  Pair display flying at Rowing Club
Wilson's Snipe                      Two in the slough gave us a look
Red-breasted Sapsucker      Several sightings
Hairy Woodpecker               Pair at Rowing Club
Anna's Hummingbird             On a nest NE of the mansion
Rufous Hummingbird             Heard one - first for 2010
Tree Swallow                        Checking out gourds and boxes
Northern Shrike                    2 birds, one singing
Yellow-rumped Warbler       Some singing, both races
White-crowned Sparrow      Heard singing pugetensis

We found a couple of BUSHTIT nests, but no activity was seen at our brief  stops at them.  We found what looked to be a hummingbird nest at the Rowing Club as well.  LOTS of singing today,

For the day, 58 species.  For the year, 79 species.

== Michael

Green Heron across the slough from Dog Central

Great Blue Heron

Ollie Oliver got a different view showing the lower belly speckling

Tree Swallow at the martin gourds at the lake platform

Red-breasted Sapsucker.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Juvenile Cooper's Hawk.  Photo by Ollie Oliver

Red-breasted Nuthatch.  Photo by Hugh Jennings

I don't know how Sharon ever spotted...

...the Anna's Hummingbird nest in the conifers NE of the mansion

Report for March 12, 2009

Clear, sunny, and frigid.  The sun really helped, though.  The wind, which picked up about 10:00am didn't.  Still, it was a really nice day to be out.  Birdy too, especially at the beginning.  A long dry spell in the middle.


Green-winged Teal          At least 16 at the Rowing Club
Green Heron                   One on far side of slough near start of boardwalk
Cooper's Hawk               Pair near windmill.  Going to nest there???
Red-tailed Hawk             Odd-snag nest occupied all day
PEREGRINE FALCON One sped past our cars as we were gathering
Wilson's Snipe                 At least a dozen below weir
Barn Owl                         Nesting in nest box after all
Anna's Hummingbird        4 males found
R.-breasted Sapsucker    2 near start of boardwalk (+drumming)
Hairy Woodpecker          Pair near start of boardwalk
Tree Swallow                  One near Compost Piles
Varied Thrush                  At least 1 singing near mansion

Brian Bell had 2 TREE SWALLOWS last Friday.  Grace and Ollie Oliver heard a WESTERN SCREECH-OWL last Saturday.

For the day, 54 species.  For the year, we're up to 86.

== Michael

Had a singing Western Meadowlark on Friday, 3/13, between the Compost Piles and the model airplane field.  Also, a Garter Snake and a report of a Mourning Dove.

The full moon sets to the west

Mt. Rainier at dawn

Barn Owl's face, barely visible inside the nest box between the mansion and the stage

Singing male Varied Thrush above the owl nest box

Ollie Oliver's profile shot of the Varied Thrush is more recognizable

Female Common Goldeneye in the slough

Ollie's photo of a male Common Goldeneye in the slough

Male Hairy Woodpecker at the base of a Black Cottonwood

Eastside Audubon is about 1/3 done with the boardwalk extension

Red-breasted Sapsucker near the start of the boardwalk

Ollie's photo of a Brown Creeper

There was still snow on the ground in shady places

"Audubon"-race Yellow-rumped Warbler at the Rowing Club

Both of these photos by Ollie Oliver

More cool fungi in Snag Row

More cool fungi in Snag Row

Report for March 13, 2008

Dark drizzle turned into dark rain as the day progressed.  Not quite miserable, but  not very nice out there.  At least there was no wind, nor was it freezing, nor was it raining hard.  Still, we were pretty wet by the end.   I think we spent less than 4.5 hours there this morning - a rather short day.  Even with the nasty weather, we had something like 14 people.  And, despite not having many birds to see, we ended up with a pretty good species total.


Wood Duck                 Three males - first since Week 1
Red-tailed Hawk          Sitting? on odd-snag nest
Cooper's Hawk            One cruised the Dog Meadow
Rufous Hummingbird     Male at same spot as yesterday
Barn Owl                      May be nesting near concert stage
Violet-green Swallow    About a dozen seen once
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  Almost a bazillion, singing
American Robin            A bazillion, all singing
Purple Finch                 Much song

We had 55 species for the day, and visits Tuesday and Wednesday yielded
another 5 species.

= Michael

American Goldfinch male just acquiring breeding plumage.
Photo by Ollie Oliver, 2008-03-11

Ring-necked Duck male, Green-winged Teal pair, (female partially obscured).
Photo from the Rowing Club by Ollie Oliver, 2008-03-11

Ring-necked Duck male showing his namesake burgundy neck ring,
while preening at the Rowing Club, photo by Ollie Oliver, 2008-03-11

Hooded Merganser pair
Photo from the Rowing Club by Ollie Oliver, 2008-03-11

Male Hooded Merganser stretching.
Photo from the Rowing Club by Ollie Oliver, 2008-03-11

Report for March 15, 2007

Fifteen of us arrived "too early" this morning, which allowed us to see Great Horned Owls northeast of the mansion and a stunning sunrise to the east before we began the regular loop.  It remained stubbornly overcast, with less than an hour of weak sunshine between about 10-11.  Thankfully it was windless, or the cold temps would have been unpleasant.   It was only moderately birdy, but spring is progressing on schedule.


Anna's Hummingbird        Male from boardwalk, 2 near windmill
Rufous Hummingbird        One cooperative male
Hairy Woodpecker           Base of large cottonwood again
Northern Shrike                Stayed in East Meadow today
Tree Swallow                  Visiting nest boxes in Pea Patch
Violet-green Swallow      Good numbers, best seen in sun
Varied Thrush                   One heard near windmill
Yellow-rumped Warbler  Quite a few after 11:00
Fox Sparrow                     Singing
Golden-crowned Sparrow Singing
Pine Siskin                        Good looks after 11:00

The Indian Plum (Oso Berry) is still blooming, as are non-native cherries and plums.  More willow species are in bloom than last week.  Another new bloom - Tall Oregon Grape.

I was pretty certain we would not have any Salmonberry blossoms yet; most of them didn't even have large buds.  But well past the east end of the boardwalk I found one bush with about 7 almost-ready buds, and another with a single, completely open flower.  I pointed this out.  About 90 seconds later, Ryan spotted our first RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD of the year, "proving" that the arrival of Rufous follows closely on the opening of the first Salmonberry blossoms.

The whole morning we had a constant chorus of AMERICAN ROBINS and RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS.  SPOTTED TOWHEES were also making a good go of it.

There was a YELLOW HOUSE FINCH near the Pea Patch; I don't remember seeing one quite so yellow ever before.

The RED-TAILED HAWK pair that nests west of the Rowing Club were doing an aerial dance, one with its feet down.  Nice to see.

For the day, 60 species.  For the year, 2 new ones - RUFOUS HUMMER and VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW.

= Michael

Hairy Woodpecker at base of cottonwood. with Oso Berry blossoms.


Tree Swallows visiting nest box.  Or would these be "Barn Swallows"?

First Salmonberry blossom and first Rufous Hummingbird of spring.

Red-tailed Hawk visiting nest site atop odd-snag west of Marymoor.

Pine Siskin at the Rowing Club.

Charlie Wright's adult Glaucous Gull from 3/3/2007


Bird Sightings Week 11
March 12-18*      *adjust by 1 day in leap years


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