One of the many reasons I love Portland, Oregon is the easy access to beautiful, Pacific northwest forests. I can be in the middle of Forest Park or Tryon Creek State Park within 20 minutes of leaving my house. Given my affinity for owls, this is perhaps a wee bit too convenient.
Searching for owls in either of these forests can be quite challenging -- for every 10-20 hours of searching in the daytime, I may end up finding one reliable owl territory. In one such territory, I've found 15+ Northern Saw-whet Owl pellets, and copious amounts of whitewash, but I still haven't found the owl. Searching at night is much more productive, but I generally only hear those owls, and never see them. However, information I gather at night often tells me where to look during the day.
One of the benefits of spending a ridiculous amount of time in forests looking for small owls is that I get to see and hear all sorts of other things. A friend of mine once described a little, dark bird that sounded like a modem. He said they littered the forest. Of course, he was describing the Pacific Wren, a bird that loves to sing. Within minutes of me blending into the background, they will hop up on their favorite perch and belt it out. It is almost shocking how much sound can come out of such a tiny creature.
Perhaps the second most conspicuous species behind Pacific Wren is the Song Sparrow. While Pacific Wrens are primarily restricted to forest habitat, Song Sparrows are not -- they breed in most places, whether it be my backyard, a grassy field, a wetland, or something in between. They are fun to see in the forest, though, especially when the light is favorable.
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