Inland Pacific Northwest Raptor Migration 2021's Journal

October 21, 2021

Eagles and Owls

Twenty-four observations were added during the week and there's more to come since I have a half a dozen or so that still needs uploading. Weather is not holding up in the eastern side of the state, so though birding is slow, we can still look forward to what's next.

The observation of the week goes to @chrisrohrer for a photo of a Great Gray Owl blending into the forest of the Okanogan region. As I continue to tell everybody, this region in north-central Washington is a raptor magnet and it's a shame no one really birds the area. But when you see one of the largest owls in the Americas, it's definitely a thrilling experience. You can see the image here:

As for the following week, you folks need to hold up the team. Starting Saturday, I start my vacation to the Oregon coast so I won't be within the project's perimeters. I'm hoping that my pelagic trip won't be cancelled but the ocean is not being very cooperative. But even if it's a no-go, I'm stilling be birding along the coast for most of the weekend. So photograph some raptors while I'm gone and make me jealous!

Posted on October 21, 2021 06:44 by birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comments | Leave a comment

October 14, 2021

Lucky Hawks

Sixteen new observations join our little collage. Not a lot but just remember, if we are going to break last year's observation count, we need to add at least 31 observations per week. If we want a record-breaking year, we need to add 44 observations a week to break our 2019 record.

Observation of the week goes to @teachertom for a photo a juvenile Broad-winged Hawk in Frenchglen. I initially identified this bird when Tom posted this image to ABA group on Facebook. And I'm sure you can guess my excitement when I learned today that he's an iNatter too. This observation also represents the third Broad-winged Hawk of the season! To all the doubters who said they don't occur in eastern WA and OR, take that! This is just another testament to why a project like this is so vital in understanding raptor behavior. What also impresses me about this sighting is how late this bird is. At Lucky Peak in Boise, peak Broad-winged season is the third week in September and seeing any hawks at all after October is rare. You can see this awesome photo here:

It's still owl season, though the mountains just became a little inaccessible. From coming into work this morning, the Wallowas and Blue Mountain were crispy white with the first snow of the season. I went up last Friday looking for Barred Owls. I was able to obtain an audio of a saw-whet owl that you can barely hear at the end but couldn't get the Barred. I'm going to out again this weekend looking for more saw-whets in Baker County, though the Boreal Owl I couldn't record two weeks ago is really tempting me to go back. So get out, photograph some raptors and good luck to you all!

Posted on October 14, 2021 05:14 by birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comments | Leave a comment

October 07, 2021


Looks like we're having a relapse after the great success we've had. Only 21 observations have been added and that puts us just below the 555 mark. I will go out later this week to see owls though. Maybe I'll get a Barred. Either way, I'll help keep us on track.

Observation of the week goes to @philkahler for a sleepy looking Great Horned Owl in Walla Walla. This is always an easy species to see in my opinion but it's always fun to see them because... well they're owls. It gives me more motivation to see if I can record the pair calling at house. You can see the photo here:

Not much to say in the ways of news. I think I mentioned this in my last post, but I heard a Boreal Owl the other night, though unfortunately, I couldn't make an iNat-able observation. It represents the 2nd Union County record, the first was three weeks after I was born. I may try again for that owl but I don't want to stress him out. Good luck to you and see some hawks and owls!

Posted on October 07, 2021 20:51 by birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comments | Leave a comment

October 02, 2021

September Summary

Top 5 Species (September):
Red-tailed Hawk -- 90 obs
Turkey Vulture -- 17 obs (+2)
American Kestrel -- 11 obs (returns to Top 5)
Northern Harrier -- 9 obs (new to Top 5)
Sharp-shinned Hawk -- 8 obs (new to Top 5)

Top 5 Species (Overall):
Red-tailed Hawk -- 174 obs
Turkey Vulture -- 50 obs (+2)
Osprey -- 49 obs (-1)
Swainson's Hawk -- 44 obs (-1)
American Kestrel -- 34 obs

Total Species Overall: 28

Top 5 Observers (Observations): birdwhisperer 170 obs, @andybridges 40 obs, @cgates326 35 obs, @jnelson 16 obs, and @uta_stansburiana 15 obs

Top 5 Observers (Species): birdwhisperer 15 species, cgates326 10 species, jnelson 9 species, andybridges 9 species, and @wyattherp 7 species

Species Still Not Observed: White-tailed Kite, Rough-legged Hawk, Snowy Owl, Northern Hawk-Owl, Spotted Owl, Boreal Owl, Gyrfalcon -- 7 species

New Species in September: Northern Goshawk, Broad-winged Hawk -- 2 species

Counties Needing Observations: WA -- Ferry, Columbia -- OR -- Gilliam, Morrow, Jefferson

News and What to Expect in September: As many of you are aware, each month has a different theme. July is wrapping up the breeding season of nesters. August is where we see all the local juveniles mastering flight and hunting. September is migration month and you need to watch the sky. While October... that's owl month. I don't know what makes this month so special but for some reason, this is the best time of year to go owling and be successful in hearing or seeing owls. In fact, I did a little owling last night and I got something that'll might make everyone jealous. Only problem is, I tried but could not record him... a Boreal Owl.

I only see it fitting to make the Observation of the Month be on the same species that I've been begging birders to fit, so without further adieu, @masonmaron gets the spotlight with his dark morph Broad-winged Hawk near Chelan. His report represents the second BWHA this year and the third one since I started this project in 2019. I am certain that BWHA are much more common than reported, we just need to find them and hopefully photograph them when we see them. You can see this excellent spot here:

That's all I need to say for now. Just go out, photograph some raptors, if you have a free night, try recording some owl calls during night trips. We are just under the 500 observation threshold for this project and I really want to surpass the previous year's in observations. We're halfway over, and we are on pace to break the 2020 record, but not 2019. Photograph, photograph, photograph. Good luck to you all and hope you get some good hawks and owls!

Posted on October 02, 2021 16:41 by birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 30, 2021

Banding the Hawks

Thirty-seven observations is not a lot but it was a wild week. As you will come to know in a minute, it was ridiculously hard for me to chose an observation for the week. There were so many good spots! I photographed a juvenile California Red-shouldered Hawk near Pendleton. On the same day, I ran into Jamie Simmons and he has submitted a couple of Red-tails while he was on this side of the state. Mason Maron got to photograph several Accipiters while they were being banded. Mason also photographed the second Broad-winged Hawk of the project. Another user submitted an amazing closeup of a Great Horned Owl. But the winner out of all these sightings... is Ken Chamberlain.

@kenchamberlain gets the Observation of the Week because his photo of a banded Sharp-shinned Hawk is simply amazing. You can see all the minute details in the face, the dark nape that confirms the id. It's just a work of art. And I hope soon, I can attend a banding season at Mount Hood or maybe Chelan.

I'll post again in a couple of days but there's not much left to say that I haven't already said in previous post. Last week to see Broad-winged Hawks people, and October is a great time to look for owls, especially Boreal. Good luck to all of you!

Posted on September 30, 2021 22:14 by birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 24, 2021

Carrying the Team

The last seven days were wild as an additional 66 observations were added to the project. That's twice the goal I set per week so that's really good. Here's the kicker though. I account for 60 of these observations. I guess you can say I took one for the team. Not only that, I still need to submit a couple more sightings from yesterday, including my 800th Red-tailed Hawk photo.

I'm putting myself on the spotlight today because I'm taking up the bulk majority of the new sightings. Though I photographed over 40 Red-tailed Hawks on Sunday showing every gradient of variation, why not go back to the textbook individuals. My best quality photo is a juvenile calurus sitting on a pole outside of Joseph, Oregon. He pretty much summarizes what a typical juvenile looks like. A heavy bellyband, white breast, faint barring on the flanks... You can view the photo here:

There's still some time to get some Broad-wings in before they're completely gone. This is the last full week of September so find them fast. Good thing this is the best week to find them. Also photograph Swainson's if possible, it could be your chance. I also saw a report of someone seeing THREE Boreal Owls at Mount Rainier the other day. This is putting me in the owling mood so go out and find the most elusive species on our list!

Posted on September 24, 2021 04:49 by birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 17, 2021

Latest Addition

We've reached the next week for this project so let's give a quick right down on what happened. Eighteen new observations were added which is well under average but we're going to have weeks like that. As long as we break the 1,000 obs mark, that's all that matters.

Observation of the week goes to @philkahler for giving us a new species, a juvenile Broad-winged Hawk in Walla Walla. They are by far the most underreported raptor in the Pacific Northwest because of their close resemblance to Red-shouldered Hawks (adults) and Swainson's Hawk (juvenile). Though thought of as an eastern species, many Canadian breeders migrate through western US and some HawkWatches have seen as many as 115 individuals in one day. With these large numbers, they got to be coming from someone and Phil is our lucky spotter.

As we continue through this week, keep your eyes on the skies. The more Broad-wings the better and if you're on a mountain top, you're chances are that much higher. Vultures are starting to flock as well as they start going south. Many things to do so photograph raptors and post!

Posted on September 17, 2021 19:38 by birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 09, 2021


Welcome again folks, I'm late again but only by a day. Twenty-four observations were added to the project during the week and though it's not a late, it's better than nothing. We just need to keep trying and getting more photos of raptors, whether it be the Turkey Vulture on the way to work, or a raptor survey on top of a mountain.

The observation of the week goes to @tbakeror for a sunlit female American Kestrel in Fields, Oregon. I've only been to Fields once but it is a fantastic place for raptors and passerines alike. I feel like I do a raptor survey at the oasis while sipping a Fields milkshake. Anyway, the kestrel is our smallest diurnal raptor and an excellent help in pest control as they feed on mice and insects. If you see a kestrel around, you know they're doing their job.

Next week should be good for raptors. Summer is ending and that means hawks are heading south. The other day, I saw a couple kettles mostly consisting of turkey vultures and Swainson's hawks, so it's coming. If farmers haven't plowed yet, continue going to that spot because when they do plow, the hawks will follow the tractor like a mother duck. Good luck to you all and have a good week!

Posted on September 09, 2021 17:17 by birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 01, 2021

August Summary

August has come to a close so now I must do the monthly summary. Here's some statistics you might want to know:

Top 5 Species (August):
Red-tailed Hawk -- 35 obs
Osprey -- 20 obs
Swainson's Hawk -- 19 obs
Turkey Vulture -- 17 obs (+1)
Great Horned Owl -- 10 obs (new to Top 5)

Top 5 Species (Overall):
Red-tailed Hawk -- 78 obs
Osprey -- 42 obs
Swainson's Hawk -- 36 obs
Turkey Vulture -- 32 obs (+1)
American Kestrel -- 22 obs (-1)

Total Species Overall: 26

Top 5 Observers (Observations): birdwhisperer 74 obs, @andybridges 40 obs, @cgates326 22 obs, @jnelson 16 obs, and @docprt 13 obs

Top 5 Observers (Species): birdwhisperer 12 species, cgates326 9 species, andybridges 9 species, jnelson 8 species, and docprt 6 species

Species Still Not Observed: White-tailed Kite, Northern Goshawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, Snowy Owl, Northern Hawk-Owl, Spotted Owl, Gyrfalcon -- 9 species

New Species in August: Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Western Screech-Owl, Barred Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Merlin -- 6 species

Counties Needing Observations: WA -- Ferry, Columbia -- OR -- Gilliam, Morrow, Jefferson

News and What to Expect in September:
Two months have gone by already folks! And in these thirty-one days, the project has collected 154 observations, which means we are still on pace to cut it really close to our 2020 final observation count, about 900 observations. I really want this to be a record year for this project so let's see if we can get a few more volunteers to help us out. Invite your friends and family to join the project.

Observation of the week goes to @mrp123 for a photo of this male Northern Harrier at Badger Mountain, Washington. What can I say about harriers, these "marsh hawks" are known for their acrobatic flights. I admit this fall has been a pretty slow year for them but with the drought most of the state has been having, maybe they've travelled on to greener pastures. So to see this bird is a real treat.

Observation of the month goes to jnelson for his juvenile Western Red-tailed Hawk in the Steen Mountains. It's becoming that time of year you have to watch out for your red-tails. Harlan's will be arriving from their breeding grounds in Alaska any day now and vagrant subspecies like Eastern or Northern will be coming through in September. Good for this observation though, the thick patagials and heavily barred flanks are good Western traits.

September is the month for Broad-winged Hawks. I really want someone to get one, I know they're out there. Go on a mountain top with unobscured views and just scan the sky. Okanagan and Steen birders should pay particular attention to their skies. Good luck everyone!

Posted on September 01, 2021 17:40 by birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 26, 2021

Hoot-tastic Week

This was a great week as we boosted over 42 observations during the week. This is well over the weekly goal and I hope we continue the good work. We also obtained two new species over the week, the Barred Owl and Northern Saw-whet Owl.

The observation of the week goes to @jennifer_graevell for giving us the first observation of the Barred Owl from Wenatchee. Though this species of owl lives in various locations across the project's perimeters, seeing them seems to be significantly harder than those residing in the western part of the states. In other words, I congratulate Jennifer for seeing this owl and getting a photo. Good job!

This is the last week of August and thus an end to the first segment of the project. When September comes, we need to start looking for Broad-winged Hawks along mountain ridges like the Cascades, Blue Mountains or Steens. They're there, you just have to look for them. Have a good week and good luck hawk watching.

Posted on August 26, 2021 03:04 by birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comments | Leave a comment