Birds of Rasor Park Brochure

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Can you match the bird images in this brochure with their names? See pgs. 2-3 inside!

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What We Are Losing:

Disappearing Prairie and Birds

Willamette Valley prairie, including tall bunch grasses and wildflowers, and Oregon grape (Oregon's state flower), make quality bird habitat. Most of the Valley's historic savanna-prairie has been lost to agriculture or urbanization. Many prairie species, including at least 40 bird species, are in significant decline according to Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.

What Makes Good Bird Habitat?

Food:

  • Lots of insects!

  • Trees and plants that have berries, nuts,          seeds, and nectar flowers.

  • Native plants are especially valuable because some specialist insects and birds have evolved to require very specific native host plants.

  • Different bird species have different needs, so a diversity of plants and habitat types (prairie, savanna, thickets, edges, woodland) is important to support a diversity of birds. What do birds eat?

 

 

 

 

Safe Nest Sites and Nest Materials:

  • Trees, snags, shrubs and thickets, tall grass or protected areas on the ground.

  • Protection from human activity, noise, pollution, and artificial light intrusion.

  • Protection from predators such as cats, dogs, hawks, and raccoons.

  • Protection from management activities (mowing, spraying, etc.), especially during nesting season, April-July.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water & Habitat Connectivity:

All wildlife needs water. Many birds also need relatively large contiguous "territories" or habitat

corridors to support themselves and

their young. Here at Rasor Park, the

Willamette River and Greenway offer

water and a habitat corridor for many

birds, including year around residents

and those that migrate through. Major rivers are part of the Pacific Flyway followed by many migrating species.

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Photo: Rick Ahrens

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Photo of Vesper Sparrows: American Bird Conservancy, Suzanne Beauchesne

​Can We Bring Them Back?

Many birds of oak and grassland habitats that were once common in the Willamette Valley are now in decline, some even facing extinction. Hover over the images below to read about some of these birds and the habitat they need to thrive. Amazingly, one vesper sparrow and several chipping sparrows have been sighted in Rasor Park this past year. In addition, Western bluebirds have discovered the park and stayed for much longer visits, both last year and this spring. Now one pair is nesting here! This is very rewarding for those of us working to restore oak savanna-prairie habitat—ringing endorsement that even a relatively small patch of prairie in an urban zone and can be found and used by wildlife here along this Greenway corridor.

More Info About Birds:

Western Bluebird

Photo: ODFW, 

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Oregon Conservation Strategy Species in the
Willamette Valley

This beautiful cobalt blue bird was previously abundant in western Oregon, but has suffered a precipitous decline in recent decades through degradation of habitat and avian competition. Bluebirds need large open grassy areas for foraging, and nest cavities in dead trees. They have keen eyesight and like to perch on lower branches of trees or shrubs to pounce on insects on the ground. There have been efforts to provide artificial nest boxes for bluebirds, but according to Audubon, it has not been enough to offset loss of natural nest cavities.

Photo:  Rick Ahrens

Acorn Woodpecker

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Photo: ODFW, 

Photo:  ODFW,  Martyne Reesman

Sensitive in Oregon

Acorn woodpeckers are oak woodland specialists, but will also occupy oak savannas. They live in small colonies, and use dead snag trees (pines and firs are preferred) to serve as "granary trees" where they horde large numbers of acorns. They also use tree cavities for nesting and roosting. They re-use nest holes for many years. These birds are generally found in areas with more than one oak species, to ensure adequate acorn production every year. They also eat some insects, seeds, and fruits, and tap trees for sap.

Photo:  Rick Ahrens

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Garden as if life depended on it—it does!

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Western Meadowlark

Photo: ODFW, 

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Photo:  ODFW, Greg Gillson

Oregon State Bird
Sensitive in Oregon, especially
Willamette Valley

The meadowlark's cheerful song was once common in Willamette Valley meadows. Breeding populations have been in steady decline for many years. They are ground nesters, and territorial. They need ~10-20+ acres of protected grassland for nesting and foraging. They are sensitive to human intrusion during nesting season, and will abandon a nest if disturbed. They avoid wooded edges. They eat insects in the soil, and weed seeds. In winter, they forage for seeds on nearly bare ground.

Chipping Sparrow

Photo: ODFW, 

Sensitive in Oregon, especially
Willamette Valley

Chipping sparrows are typically found in open forests and drier oak woodland edges; they like trees interspersed with grassy openings. They eat mostly grass seeds and the seeds of herbaceous plants, though they also eat insects during breeding season. They forage in sparse herbaceous understory, and nest low in trees or shrubs. Chipping sparrow nests are susceptible to predation by cowbirds, crows, and domestic and feral cats.

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Photo:  Rick Ahrens

Oregon Vesper Sparrow

Highly imperiled in Oregon, Washington, B.C., and California

This bird was once common, but has become very rare throughout its range. It overwinters in California, and favors grasslands interspersed with trees, shrubs, and bare ground. It eats insects and seeds, and needs meadows with a diversity of plants and insects. Ground-nesters, Vesper sparrows are susceptible to predation by cats, squirrels, and raccoons. During breeding season, they perch on shrubs or fenceposts and sing at twilight. They can find sufficient food to raise their young with ~10 acre patch of suitable habitat. Miraculously, this Vesper sparrow was actually sighted at Rasor Park on April 13, 2021.

Photo:  Rick Ahrens

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Oregon Vesper Sparrow

Photo:  Rick Ahrens

Birds of Rasor Park

Improving habitat for birds is one of the major goals of the restoration efforts at Rasor Park. Now, 20+ years after native tree and shrub plantings, it is gratifying to see hawks, kestrels (and recently, even bluebirds!) perched on the growing oak and pine trees. Swallows circle over the meadows catching insects, and sparrows and finches feast on the oil-rich seeds of Madia and other native wildflowers in our Prairie Patches. Many species of birds nest every year in trees, shrubs, and tall grass—Juncos, Spotted towhees, Bushtits, Hummingbirds, Chickadees and more. Even Gadwalls are nesting in the park in recent years, much to everyone's surprise!

Recent Sightings at the Park!

Thanks to Linda Gilbert, Phil Henderson, Sally Hill, Rick Ahrens, and Lori Howard for these sightings and wonderful images!

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Here are some of the birds spotted (or heard) at Rasor Park recently ~

Brown creepers, Bushtits, Eagles & Hawks (8+ species), Finches (5+ species), Flycatchers (4+ species), Gadwalls, Grosbeaks, Herons (2 species), Hummingbirds (2 species), Kildeer (Plover), Kingbird, Kinglets (2 species), Nuthatches (2 species), Orioles, Sparrows (7+ species), Swallows (5 species), Tanagers, Thrushes, Towhees, Vesper sparrow, Vireos, Warblers (6 species), Waxwings, Western bluebirds, Woodpeckers (5 species), Wrens, Wrentits

133 Bird Species and Counting!

Listen Up!

Many birds are easier to hear than to spot.

 

Here are a few bird songs you might hear at Rasor Park.

Bird 1

Bird 2

Bird 3

Do you know what birds these are?

Check your

answers here.

1. Song Sparrow

2. Western Wood-Pewee

3. Yellow Warbler

Rasor Park eBird Hotspot

Check out our Rasor Park eBird Hotspot to see what birds have been spotted at the park recently! Hotspots are public birding locations linked to the eBird online database where birders can enter their sightings. We are excited that several fine local birders have been contributing regular checklists. Thank you Linda Gilbert, Phil Henderson, Sally Hill, Carolee Von Shillagh,

Deb Bernhard, and others!

Citizen Science!

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Anyone can participate! You can submit your own bird sightings or checklists to the Rasor Park Hotspot. This is Citizen Science in action—and the more people who contribute, the more we will know about which birds use the park. It's a fun way to help!

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