Oregon Birds

I had hoped that I would have lots of opportunities to photograph Oregon birds and wildlife that we don’t see here in Florida. And for the most part, that was true. But I wasn’t able to take advantage of all these opportunities. If I had my landscape lens out, that’s when I would see the birds. If I pulled out my 500mm lens, then the birds would hide from me. Still, I did see plenty of life birds including Common Murre, Black Oystercatcher, Pelagic Cormorant, Brandt’s Cormorant, Vaux’s Swift, Western Gull, Violet-green Swallow, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Steller’s Jay, Tufted Puffin, Rhinoceros Auklet and Spotted Towhee. I’m pretty sure that I saw other life species as well, but they were just too far away to be properly identified. I guess I’ll just have to go back!

My avian photography was a disappointment on this trip, but I did capture some unique images. Click an image to view larger.

oregon birds
Peregrine Falcon Nest

My first images are of a Peregrine Falcon aerie high on a cliff face. This image shows two juveniles, but there were actually 3 in the aerie. The adult was even higher up the cliff face keeping watch.

oregon birds
White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrows have a beautiful song and were literally everywhere. The only bird we saw more of were American Crows.

oregon birds
Pelagic Cormorant

Pelagic Cormorants prefer the security and isolation of cliff faces. If the chicks get a little wild, it’s a long way down to the water.

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Brandt’s Cormorant Surrounded by Common Murres

Brandt’s Cormorants are much more gregarious as you can tell by this single adult among tens of thousands of Common Murres on Colony Rock at the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. Seriously, there were literally 20 thousand plus birds on this rock, three adjacent rocks and in the water surrounding the rocks. The Common Murre can dive up to 300 feet for their meals of herring and other small fish.

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Pigeon Guillemot

We could see large flocks of Pigeon Guillemots from the house we rented, but they were too far out for any decent images. This image, and the next 3, were all taken at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. The Aquarium is well worth a visit with many interesting exhibits.

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Rhinoceros Auklet

The Rhinoceros Auklet is not a species I expected to see.

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Black Oystercatcher and Common Murre

One of my target birds, Black Oystercatchers were commonly seen on the rocks outside the house we rented. But always in the afternoon and between me and the sun. It’s pretty hard to take a good image of a black bird on black rocks with the sun behind them.

oregon birds
Tufted Puffin

The Tufted Puffin was also one of my target birds. I had hoped to photograph them in the wild, and we could see large flocks of them from the house, but they always stay out to sea except to nest. When they nest, they choose rock faces that offer burrows or tunnels. If you find their nest, you’ll never see them as they go deep into the tunnel to care for their young.

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Steller’s Jay

The Steller’s Jay was another target bird for the trip. We came upon one in a nice park, so off I went to get the big lens and some good photos. When I came back, he was nowhere to be found. I waited around for an hour but couldn’t relocate him. On our last day we were hiking the Columbia River Gorge and right in front of us on the trail was a Steller’s Jay, just 20 feet away. Certainly close enough for my 400mm or 500mm lenses. All I had with me were short lenses for waterfalls and landscapes, so I quickly shot off a few with only 105mm of lens. Sigh. So close yet so far. Yet another reason to return for more Oregon birds!


  • Jess Yarnell

    July 5, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    You got a puffin!!! Fun pictures 🙂

    • Michael

      July 5, 2012 at 8:51 pm