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The Leg and Thigh Meal: A Western bluebird delivers a leggy morsel to youngsters awaiting inside the box. Birdhouse lovers, bluebirds and tree swallows, have arrived and are beginning to check out boxes. Now is a good time to put up boxes or clean those already up. The box pictured is a style attractive to these birds and is easy to construct. Be sure the entrance hole is 1 1/2 inches in diameter just big enough for the chosen birds, yet too small for starlings. The local Department of Fish and Wildlife has box plans 541-963-2138. Due to their ravenous appetite for harmful insects, cavity-nesting birds can be a great asset to the farm or suburban yard. JIM WARD PHOTO
Ladd Marsh Birdathon,
La Grande, May 13-15
Birders of all levels will find lots to enjoy at the Ladd Marsh Birdathon in La Grande.
The event is free and takes place during the height of spring migration and nesting in the Grande Ronde Valley.
Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area
The Tule Lake Public Access Area and auto route are open for the season. Visitors are advised to carefully read posted signs and consult game bird regulations before entering the wildlife area.
There are numerous quality viewing opportunities from county roads that pass through the area. Binoculars or a spotting scope will help as many animals are best viewed from a distance. The Glass Hill Unit, west of Foothill Road, is again open to public access.
Waterfowl including greater white-fronted goose, northern pintail, green-winged teal, American wigeon and others can be seen on ponds and wetlands.
Wigeon flocks should be surveyed for the occasional Eurasian wigeon. American white pelicans have also arrived. A few shorebirds have been seen including black-necked stilt and greater yellowlegs.
Migrating lesser sandhill cranes are arriving in ever-larger numbers including reports of up to 1,500 in one location. Greater sandhill cranes have settled in to their traditional territories and most pairs have begun to incubate eggs. Cranes can be seen from county roads in several locations.
Report any sandhill cranes wearing leg bands to the Ladd Marsh staff (541-963-4954). If possible, note the color and order of bands on each of the bird’s legs (e.g., pink above white on left leg; silver above black on right leg). The specific combination and order can identify individual birds.
Bald eagles continue to use the wildlife area along with red-tailed hawk and northern harrier. Golden eagles may also be seen soaring high above the wetlands and grasslands. Red-tailed hawks have begun nesting.
Great horned owl chicks have hatched. Ospreys have also returned to the area.
Western meadowlark, American goldfinch, song sparrow, white-crowned sparrow, dark-eyed junco and other songbirds are all present on the area.
Tree swallows have returned as have both western and mountain bluebirds. Red-winged blackbirds have been joined by yellow-headed blackbirds to fill the cattails patches with sound.
Wild turkeys can be spotted using the shrub cover in the Glass Hill Unit.