Thursday, August 4, 2011

Finding Wrentits

I finally got decent photos of Wrentit on July 30th. It was a bittersweet victory. The only reason I was there in the foothills of the Oregon Coast Range was because high winds had forced the cancellation of our deep water pelagic trip scheduled for that day.

Pelagic trips can cancel any time of year. The best month, on average, for calm seas is July. But that didn't matter this day. Winds of 25 miles per hour were creating 6 foot wind waves, which would prevent our charter boat from making any headway and would make viewing conditions abominable. The winds were caused by a thermal low over northern California that creates strong north winds along the southern and central Oregon coast.

So here I was, checking out some onshore birding sites instead. It is my intention to create a small birding guide for just such occasions--where to go birding when your pelagic trip cancels (sad face).

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This location is found on the way to Drift Creek Falls, Site #54 on the Oregon Coast Birding Trail.

Head south from Lincoln City and turn E (left) on Drift Creek Rd 1.6 miles, then S (right) on South Drift Creek Rd 0.4 miles, then E (left) on Forest Service Road 17 and go 0.8 miles to the intersection with FS19. Walk this paved but mostly abandoned and unmaintained overgrown road to the southeast into the forest.

This is a great spot, May-August, for West Coast forest birds: Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Western Tanager, Swainson's Thrush, and Varied Thrush among many others.

Wrentits are secretive birds that crawl and fly-hop from branch to branch in the dense evergreen tangles of salal bushes. Besides their descending accelerated whistle song, they give rattling little contact notes: "dt-dt-dt-dt-dt" that you may be able to imitate by blowing an unvoiced 'D' through the tip of your tongue (4-6 notes at the rate of about 10 notes per second). Birds respond to this rattle all year, coming close to take a look.


  1. That is an amazing photo of a Wrentit! I'm happy just to get part of a head in a shot.

  2. If you ever do a pishing class, let me know!