Columbia River Birds
A common yearlong sight along the Columbia River shore in Astoria, OR
During the last week of December I took a trip to the ocean for several reasons not the least of which included seeing what birds find themselves there during the early winter. So I went to Astoria about 100 miles northwest of here. It is near where the Columbia River ejects itself into the Pacific Ocean.
Astoria was supposed to be the home base for several travels along the southern Washington and northern Oregon coast. I made those coastal trips but saw no birds worth describing here. It was actually in Astoria that I saw the most interesting birds as well as an uncountable number of species.
Walking east from my motel room towards the central business district, I could see about a thousand birds spearheaded by buffleheads and mallards. While swimming in large flocks one species would largely be the dominant one in terms of numbers but many if not all of these floating were mixed with several species.
There were northern pintails (I could not get a photo worth displaying), greater scaups and American widgeons were seen on every walk.
For the most part the water birds stayed in large flocks floating in the calm of the river near the shores. Since it apparently is not breeding season for the population of sea lions that also frequent the same space, few were seen-certainly not the large numbers that moaned loudly and often last February. They were not flopped as if dead on the banks of the river this time either. But they were seen swimming on occasion.
Mostly there were just large flocks of birds numbering in the hundreds. Above is a small portion of one of them and it includes American coots, mallards and scaups.
There is a lot of unusable (if you are human) docks and old pylons that at one time were the base for docks. The birds are oblivious to what may be hazardous to us people and make use of any of these opportunities to take breaks.
Some find easy pickings for an early afternoon meal. The tides render them underwater starting at about 2:30 pm.
Others are yearlong birds some in their first year who are continuing their apprenticeships.
First year glaucous-winged gull
That wraps up my story of bird watching in the early winter in Astoria. The numbers and the species were far greater than either of my last two trips I have made to Astoria which took place in the late summer of 2017 and early spring of 2018.
I’ll keep coming back to see what I can find in my bank walks.