Rare Bird Alert

Updated every Thursday, the Rare Bird Alert covers the entire state and details where and when rare birds have been spotted. This could be anything from an east coast bird that flew off course to an Oregon bird found in an unlikely location.

Have you seen a rare or out of place bird? Contact Brodie Cass Talbott to report your sighting: bcasstalbott@audubonportland.org.

January 14

Brandt’s Cormorant Vesper Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow Rusty Blackbird
Tri-colored Blackbird Barrow’s Goldeneye
Red Phalarope Say’s Phoebe
Great-tailed Grackle Orchard Oriole
Townsend’s Solitaire American White Pelican

Notes on Sightings

Bold: Local rarity | CAPS: Statewide rarity

The most unusual bird of the last week was reported as dusk was falling at press time: A potential Brandt’s Cormorant, a Multnomah County first, roosting on the pilings of the I-5 bridge. While Pelagic Cormorants are infrequently seen in the Portland area, there are no verified records of Brandt’s upriver of Clatsop County, although a suspicious, unconfirmed bird was photographed in Columbia County last week. 

Washington County, mourning the departure of its rockstar Yellow-billed Loon, is now embracing Sparrow Fever, with a Vesper Sparrow joining a Clay-colored Sparrow in a neighborhood near Jackson’s Bottom. It has been a banner winter for Clay-colored, with birds reported in three different Portland-area counties. The RUSTY BLACKBIRD continued at its stakeout near Verboort, and a Tri-colored Blackbird was observed in the same flock. A Barrow’s Goldeneye was reported near Fernhill, and a Red Phalarope was reported at Hagg Lake on Wednesday, likely blown in by the powerful storm. 

A Say’s Phoebe was found near Gaston, joining the continuing bird near the Sunderland Golf Course in NE Portland. Portland’s Great-tailed Grackle and ORCHARD ORIOLE also continued through the week. Multiple Clay-colored Sparrow and Townsend’s Solitaire were reported in SE Portland, while multiple American White Pelican have been reported in areas near the Columbia this week.

That’s most of it for this week. For reports, corrections, and tips, email Brodie Cass Talbott at bcasstalbott@audubonportland.org.

January 7

Yellow-billed Loon Rusty Blackbird
Say’s Phoebe White-winged Scoter
Surf Scoter Tree Swallow
Orchard Oriole Great-tailed Grackle
Clay-colored Sparrow Western Tanager
Townsend’s Solitaire Pelagic Cormorant
Harris’s Sparrow Glaucous Gull

Notes on Sightings

Bold: Local rarity | CAPS: Statewide rarity

Holiday birders successfully stole the limelight from the 95th Annual Portland Christmas Count this week, finding a YELLOW-BILLED LOON at Hagg Lake on New Year’s Day. A first record for Washington county, it has remained long enough for many viewers to see. To sweeten the pot, a birder returning from seeing the loon found a RUSTY BLACKBIRD on the road to Hagg Lake, making a nice one-two for many chasers. 

The Portland CBC was a successful affair, with Say’s Phoebe, White-winged Scoter, Surf Scoter, and Tree Swallow joining the remaining ORCHARD ORIOLE, Great-tailed Grackle, Clay-colored Sparrow, and Western Tanager as the top rarities for the count. The Towsend’s Solitaire reported in NE Portland on the first was not relocated for the count. 

The Gresham CBC also turned up a nice bird in the form of a Pelagic Cormorant at the Sandy River Delta, in the same area where one was seen last year. Pelagic Cormorant was also reported from Rainier City Park in Columbia County. In Scappoose, the Snow Bunting is still being seen near the CZ trail. 

On Sauvie’s Island, the Harris’s Sparrow continues on Rentenaar Road, and an immature Glaucous Gull was reported from Racoon Point. 

That’s most of it for this week. For reports, corrections, and tips, email Brodie Cass Talbott at bcasstalbott@audubonportland.org.

Western Tanager
Western Tanager, photo by Scott Carpenter

December 31

Orchard Oriole Clay-colored Sparrow
Harris’s Sparrow Vesper Sparrow
Snow Bunting Lapland Longspur
Eared Grebe Lesser Yellowlegs
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher White-faced Ibis
Snowy Egret Acorn Woodpecker
Townsend’s Solitaire Western Tanager

Notes on Sightings

Bold: Local rarity | CAPS: Statewide rarity

The star of the show for the last two weeks has no doubt been the ORCHARD ORIOLE which has been reliably visiting the same feeder and apple tree on SE 43rd avenue. One of only a dozen or so records for the state, and a first for Multnomah County, the bird has been seen by over a hundred observers. A similarly urban and only slightly less-reliable Clay-colored Sparrow has been visiting an overgrown parking lot in the Brooklyn neighborhood for almost two weeks, making this the third Clay-colored in SE Portland in the last 18 months. 

Clay-colored have also been reported from Sparrow Alley, also known as Rentenaar Road on Sauvie Island, which is currently hosting a Harris’s Sparrow and a Vesper Sparrow. Snow Bunting continues in Scappoose, and another was found on Sandy Island in the Columbia, along with Lapland Longspur and a large flock of Streaked Horned lark. 

The most notable find from the Sauvie Island Christmas Bird Count included Eared Grebe from Malarky Lake, and Lesser Yellowlegs from the Washington side of the count, on River Road. Vancouver has seen a host of other good birds, including Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and the continuing White-faced Ibis and Snowy Egret at Ridgefield, and Acorn Woodpecker at Fort Vancouver.

Rounding out the final rare birds of the year, a Townsend’s Solitaire is once again being seen in a neighborhood in SE Portland, and a male Western Tanager is visiting an apple tree in St. John’s. Sandhill Cranes have also been reported at Fernhill Wetlands.

That’s most of it for this week. For reports, corrections, and tips, email Brodie Cass Talbott at bcasstalbott@audubonportland.org.

Orchard Oriole, photo by Brodie Cass Talbott

December 17

Orchard Oriole Hooded Oriole
Tri-colored Blackbird Great-tailed Grackle
Harris’s Sparrow Swamp Sparrow
Harlan’s Red Tailed Hawk Lapland Longspur
Pacific Loon Eared Grebe
White-faced Ibis

Notes on Sightings

Bold: Local rarity | CAPS: Statewide rarity

In Portland, extralimital icterids were definitely the theme of the week. Most unusual were reports of a possible ORCHARD ORIOLE in SE Portland, and a possible HOODED ORIOLE in SW Portland. Neither has been confirmed or seen more than once. Up to two Tri-colored Blackbirds were seen among the hordes of their more expected cousins at the Purina factory in North Portland’s Rivergate area, where they were reported the last two winters. The Great-tailed Grackle, meanwhile, continues at the McDonald’s on NE Columbia. 

On Sauvie Island, the first Harris’s Sparrow of the season in the Portland area was found on Rentenaar Road, where observers also found Swamp Sparrow and a Harlan’s Red Tailed Hawk. Downstream on Crim’s Island, a Lapland Longspur was found by a kayaker, while the Snow Bunting continues near the CZ trail. 

Continuing Columbia River rarities include Pacific Loon off of Diblee Point and Eared Grebe at Columbia Point. 

For out-of-season birds, a Swainson’s Thrush was seen on Sauvie Island, while Osprey was reported from Force Lake, and a Western Tanager was reported from Beaverton Creek Wetlands Park. Slightly more expected, the region has seen small numbers of Tree Swallow reports this week. 

To the north, a White-faced Ibis was reported from Ridgefield, where the species has been seen by many both in spring and fall.

That’s most of it for this week. For reports, corrections, and tips, email Brodie Cass Talbott at bcasstalbott@audubonportland.org.

Pacific Loons, photo by Mick Thompson

December 11

Clark’s Nutcracker Eared Grebe
White-winged Scoter Red-breasted Merganser
Great-tailed Grackle Snow Bunting

Notes on Sightings

Bold: Local rarity | CAPS: Statewide rarity

Rare birds were uncommon this week. A Clark’s Nutcracker reported from Larch Mountain was certainly the most notable bird of the week. A reminder to would-be chasers that the gate is now closed, requiring at least a 4 mile snowy hike to the top. A Mountain Chickadee was also reported. 

In water bird news, an Eared Grebe was reported from the mouth of the Sandy, while White-winged Scoter and Red-breasted Merganser were reported from Broughton Beach. 

Both the Portland Great-tailed Grackle and the Scappoose Snow Bunting continue in their  locations at the Columbia Blvd. McDonald’s and near the CZ trail, respectively.

That’s most of it for this week. For reports, corrections, and tips, email Brodie Cass Talbott at bcasstalbott@audubonportland.org.

December 3

Great-tailed Grackle Pine Grosbeak
Gray-crowned Rosy-finch White-winged Crossbill
Mountain Chickadee Black-backed Woodpecker
Snow Bunting American Tree Sparrow
White-winged Scoter Lesser Yellowlegs
Red-necked Grebe American White Pelican
Mandarin Duck Long-tailed Duck
Red-breasted Merganser Red-throated Loon
Black-legged Kittiwake Sandhill Crane
Black-bellied Plover

Notes on Sightings

Bold: Local rarity | CAPS: Statewide rarity

We’re back after a Thanksgiving break, and with mostly leftovers in the rare bird department. One of the most talked about birds in the last two weeks has undoubtedly been “McGrackle,” a Great-tailed Grackle that has taken up residence at the McDonald’s on NE Columbia and MLK in Portland. The bird has been at the same location for almost two weeks as of last check. 

On the other end of the spectrum, and the county, Larch Mountain hosted a full slate of very rare birds for the county, including Pine Grosbeak, Gray-crowned Rosy-finch, White-winged Crossbill, Mountain Chickadee, and Black-backed Woodpecker. All of these birds were difficult to find, and are unlikely to be reported again this season, as the gate was closed for winter as of December 1.

In Columbia County that Snow Bunting has persisted, to the delight of many chasers, and at one point an American Tree Sparrow was also seen nearby. Other uncommon Columbia County birds last week included White-winged Scoter and Lesser Yellowlegs. 

Clackamas County once again hosted both Red-necked Grebe and American White Pelican last week, and the Mandarin Duck escapee continues to be seen at Happy Valley Nature Park. Red-necked Grebes have also continued at Broughton Beach, as well as a pair of Long-tailed Ducks, Red-breasted Merganser, and nearby a Red-throated Loon at Hayden Island. The best bird of the week on the Columbia, however, may well be the Black-legged Kittiwake reported from the Vancouver waterfront. 

Washington County has registered a few rare birds in the last two weeks, including Sandhill Crane, Black-bellied Plover, and very late Violet-Green and Barn Swallows, all at Fernhill.

That’s most of it for this week. For reports, corrections, and tips, email Brodie Cass Talbott at bcasstalbott@audubonportland.org.

American White Pelican
Photo by Scott Carpenter

November 19

Snow Bunting Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk
White-tailed Kite Northern Goshawk
Gyrfalcon Say’s Phoebe
Long-tailed Duck Vaux’s Swift
Common Yellowthroat White-winged Scoter
Red-breasted Merganser Red-throated Loon
Red-necked Grebe

Notes on Sightings

Bold: Local rarity | CAPS: Statewide rarity

The Portland area has one new first county record to report this week, as a Snow Bunting was found near Scappoose, the first report in the region so far this season. Nearby a Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk was reported from Rentenaar Road. 

Exciting raptors seem to be the theme of the last few weeks, as a White-tailed Kite was reported today from south of Forest Grove, joining a Northern Goshawk that was reported last Thursday at nearby Hagg Lake for a nice Washington County duo. Meanwhile, a GYRFALCON continues in Polk County near Perrydale. Washington County also had a Say’s Phoebe this week, after one was seen on Sauvie Island at the end of October. Meanwhile, the Long-tailed Duck continued at Hagg Lake. 

Oaks Bottom had reports of a few very late-staying birds this week, most notably a flock of Vaux’s Swift, possibly the first November record for the state (!),as well as a Common Yellowthroat. Along the Columbia, White-winged Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, and Red-throated Loon continued, as well as above average numbers of Red-necked Grebe, which also continues to be reported from Clackamas County, this time near Canby.

That’s most of it for this week. For reports, corrections, and tips, email Brodie Cass Talbott at bcasstalbott@audubonportland.org.

November 12

American Tree Sparrow Ross’ Goose
Red-throated Loon Pacific Loon
White-winged Scoter Red-breasted Merganser
Long-tailed Duck Barrow’s Goldeneye
Northern Shrike Pine Grosbeak
White-winged Crossbill Snow Bunting

Notes on Sightings

Bold: Local rarity | CAPS: Statewide rarity

The biggest news of the week was an American Tree Sparrow found at Mt. Tabor on Tuesday. Multnomah County’s first in three years, this far North breeder was in surprising habitat, and only remained one day. 

Another rare sight was reported from a backyard in N Portland, where 20 Ross’s Geese were observed flying over the neighborhood. 

Red-throated Loon, Pacific Loon, White-winged Scoter, and Red-breasted Merganser continued to be reported at various locations along the Columbia River in Multnomah and Columbia counties, while the Long-tailed Duck continued at Hagg Lake, where Barrow’s Goldeneye were also reported.  

A Northern Shrike was reported at River Island in Clackamas County, perhaps the first of the season for the Portland Area, and in the county where it is likely the most difficult to find.

Osprey were seen at a few locations in the region, perhaps a sign of their growing tendency to winter further and further north. 

And across the river in Clark County, a number of winter specialties including Pine Grosbeak, White-winged Crossbill, and Snow Bunting have been reported this week, serving as a reminder to Portland-area birders to keep an eye out for these uncommon visitors. 

That’s most of it for this week. For reports, corrections, and tips, email Brodie Cass Talbott at bcasstalbott@audubonportland.org.

American Tree Sparrow, photo by Kelly Colgan Azar

November 6

Grey-crowned Rosy Finches Say’s Phoebe
Red-throated Loon Chukar
White-winged Scoter Red-breasted Merganser
Long-tailed Duck Long-tailed Duck
Pacific Loon Red-necked Grebe
Clark’s Grebe

Notes on Sightings

Bold: Local rarity | CAPS: Statewide rarity

A number of Grey-crowned Rosy Finches were reported from Larch Mountain this week, representing one of only a handful of records for this species in the county. A number of Mountain Chickadees were also reported in the area. On the other side of the county, a Say’s Phoebe at Racoon Point was only the second fall eBird record of that species in Multnomah. Red-throated Loon continues to be reported from Hayden Island, while reports also continue to trickle in of the Chukar that has been wandering around Mt. Tabor. 

Uncommon sea-going species continue to be reported across the region, most notable of which was a Long-tailed Duck that stuck around at Hagg Lake for about a week, as well as White-winged Scoter and Pacific Loon from St. Helens, and Red-necked Grebe and Clark’s Grebe from Timothy Lake in Clackamas County. 

That’s most of it for this week. For reports, corrections, and tips, email Brodie Cass Talbott at bcasstalbott@audubonportland.org.

Clark's Grebe
Clark's Grebe, photo by Scott Carpenter