Possible (??) Common Grackle on Pumphouse Road
After this morning's YVAS Poppoff Trail walk, Elizabeth Bohn and I headed down to the lower valley.
A bit west of Pumphouse Road's intersection with Old Goldendale Road, a lone blackbird near a cow carcass caught my eye. Stopping for a look, the sheen from the bird's head (appeared bronze/brownish) seemed to be lighter than the bird's back and flanks (blackish/blue). The carcass was on the south side of the road so the sun was backlighting the bird. The obvious pale eye ruled out a cowbird but overall the bird seemed larger than a Brewer's Blackbird. It was easily double the length of a nearby White-crowned Sparrow and the bill looked large with a slight downcurve. The bill/forehead had a flat look and the tail, while maybe long for a Brewer's, was not massive. The bird's gate was fairly slow as it walked, being fairly deliberate with each step. Although it did land on the cow's head once, it made no attempt to forage on the carcass choosing instead to slowly walk around near the cow and occasionally pluck a morsel from the ground.
I didn't have a scope but had bin views within 15 yards. Before reinforcements Greg Bohn and Kevin Lucas) could arrive, the bird flew across the road and landed towards the east end of the large corral along the north side of Pumphouse Road. Used playback when the scopes arrived but did not lure up a Grackle. Several Brewer's were observed and occasionally one would give the impression of a flat forehead making the bill appear longer. Nothing we observed dwarfed other nearby Brewer's.
Could have been fooled...definitely not the first time and won't be the last. Just thought if anyone is birding that area they might examine the blackbirds hanging out there. The dead cow was on the south side (opposite from the corral) of the road probably directly across from the corral's east edge...had a yellow nylon rope around its neck and towards the feet.
A Eurasian Wigeon male was hanging out in the flooded area immediately west of Old Goldendale. Kevin pointed out two Greater Yellowlegs on the east side of that road. Earlier he had saved me with a jump start as the ol' Ranger failed to turn over. Faint heart I guess. All the excitement did it in.
On the mammal front, there were at least five black tailed jackrabbits a tad west of the corral.
Pondering Pumphouse Postmortem
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