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The Acorn Woodpecker

The Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) is somewhat of a celebrity to birders on campus. Not only are they amusing to watch, brightly colored and quite vocal, the breeding colony of 14-16 birds at Pacific University is noteworthy for being the northernmost resident occurrence of this species. Acorn Woodpeckers also stand out for being cooperative breeders, with only one or two females from the colony laying a communal clutch of eggs in a single nest cavity. Parents, siblings and cousins assist in rearing the resultant offspring. Acorn woodpeckers take their name from their reliance on the acorns of Oregon White Oak as a food source. The colony will aggressively defend an enormous cache of acorns that they store in granaries, dense collections of holes drilled into dead branches of the tree.

Our Bird Tour's Acorn Woodpeckers

This lively pair has taken up residence in the lobby of Marsh Hall, where the university administration offices are located.
Sponsored by President Lesley Hallick.

Fired Ceramic, Steve and Terry O’Day.

John Hayes' notes about the Acorn Woodpecker

As I sit in my office, I love listening to acorn woodpeckers as the birds fuss around the oaks, giant sequoias, and Douglas-fir around Bates House. Walking across campus when I first arrived in July 2003, I heard them well before I saw them, their chattering transporting me back to trips to the New World tropics. More...

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The Mourning Dove

At the end of the day, the mournful hooting call of the Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) can easily be mistaken for the call of an owl. This common bird of brushy open habitats and suburbs will congregate in small loose flocks outside of the breeding season. These birds are not hunted in Oregon and consequently are tame and tolerant of people when foraging for seed on the ground. They can often be seen preening each other for long periods, removing bits of dirt and feather casings. Strong and rapid fliers, the wings of Mourning Doves can give off a whistling sound as they speed by.

Our Bird Tour's Mourning Dove

A couple of observant scholars, these doves look over Pacific's library from their perch above the lobby.

Cast bronze, Terry and Steve O’Day.

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The Red-Breasted Nuthatch

The Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) is a short-tailed, long-billed bird that can commonly be seen climbing the trunks of trees head down in search of insects. Its call, a soft, repeated nasal “yenk”, is often the first thing that draws one’s attention to its presence. Together with chickadees, kinglets and juncos, the Red-breasted Nuthatch will forage during winter in a large mixed-species flock. This collection of eyes and ears reduces the risk of predation to the individual and also increases the efficiency with which the flock is able to locate food when resources are scarce.

Our Bird Tour's Red-Breasted Nuthatch

This fella keeps our admissions folks company in venerable Knight Hall.

Fired Ceramic, Steve and Terry O’Day.

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The Barn Owl

The white, heart-shaped face of the Barn Owl (Tyto alba) is a welcome sight to farmers, who often provide the quiet barns and sheds in which this bird likes to nest. Barn Owls are efficient predators of the small rodents that cause damage to crops, using their excellent low-light vision and directional sense of hearing to capture their prey at night. The call of a Barn Owl can be quite startling, with a sound like a drawn out hissing scream. They also call out in flight by making a non-vocal clicking sound with their tongue.

Our Bird Tour Barn Owl

As a reminder of the barn owls who used to nest nearby, she welcomes all those who enter Brown Hall, the art building where she was created.
Sponsored by The School of Arts and Humanities.

Cast bronze, Terry and Steve O’Day.

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The Wood Duck

Male (drake) Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) are among the most strikingly patterned waterfowl of the Pacific Northwest, with a brilliant purple and green crest and a contrasting bright white bridle on the head and neck. Despite their beauty, Wood Ducks are one of the least noticed of our freshwater ducks, largely for their tendency to remain in scattered pairs along the margins of waterways where they escape detection. Wood Ducks are well known for nesting in tree cavities up to 40’ above the ground. Their chicks leave the nest immediately, jumping from the heights to the ground or water only hours after hatching.

Our Bird Tour Wood Duck

A lover of sweets, this one holds candy in its back for those that enter the dean's office in Berglund Hall.

Cast glass, Steve and Terry O’Day

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The American Kestrel

Though only as big as a robin, the American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) is a true falcon, with a small triangular notch in its bill - the tomial tooth. The tomial tooth is used to dispatch prey such as voles, mice, birds and insects. American Kestrels are abundant in the Willamette Valley, where they find agricultural fields full of prey and remnant riparian forests with tree cavities for nesting. Kestrels are quick and agile flyers that often stand out visually for their tendency to hover in place while searching for prey. Kestrels take well to nest boxes, which are often installed by farmers hoping for help with the control of rodents.

Our Bird Tour American Kestrel

Sponsored by the School of Natural Science, the Kestrel is coming soon to the east side of Price Hall.

Cast bronze, Terry and Steve O’Day

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The American Bittern

American Bitterns (Botaurus lentiginosus) are reclusive, stealthy, wading birds that are icons of temperate wetlands. Perfectly patterned to disappear among the cattails, bulrushes and willows, the bittern will maximize the effect of its camouflage plumage by slowly raising its bill skywards and freezing, mimicking the upright stems of the marsh. The best way to locate a bittern is to follow their song during the breeding season - a repeated deep pumping “bloonk-a-doonk” similar to the sound produced by an old wooden pump. This distinctive call is responsible for an alternate vernacular name, the "thunder pumper".

Our Bird Tour Bittern

Created in 1999 by Michael Stewart Ayres as the bronze centerpiece in Barbara's Garden, this pair gives tribute to Barbara Story the long-time administrative assistant to the Natural Sciences who left this world too soon.

Cast bronze, Michael Stewart Ayres.

- The Birds

Visiting the Forest Grove campus?
Download the Bird Tour checklist and see if you can find them all.