Nesting Surveys and Birding Tidbits

Jun 07, 2011
John Gerke recalls some of his more interesting experiences birding at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve.

John Gerke has been a volunteer bird surveyor for the Deschutes Land Trust and East Cascades Audubon Society for a number of years.  This post contains his recollections of several of the more memorable things he has seen during his survey work at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve near Sisters, OR.

This first incident I recall was in about 2001, when my wife Anne and I, plus a an old high school friend from California who had come along for kicks, were doing one of our many nesting bird surveys at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve.  There was a metal barn there, which has since been removed, and we went inside to check on the Say's Phoebe nest that was active in there. Sure enough, there were several young birds in the nest. We stayed back, of course, then walked outside to leave them alone and continue our survey. Those young phoebe's decided this must be the time to try their wings, and at least three came out of the barn and one landed on my friend's head!  It sat there for at least a minute while it seemed to study us, then returned to the barn. I think that spurred my friend to a renewed interest in birding. I accused him of being a bird brain.

The second event that I'm reminded of was maybe a year or two later, when Anne and I were doing another nesting bird survey. We were sitting quietly just beyond the lower aspen grove watching the warblers and a territorial dispute between a Calliope and an Anna's Hummingbird when suddenly a very large bobcat appeared about 50 feet in front of us, at first unaware of our presence. It was possibly the biggest bobcat I've every seen and very healthy and sleek looking. Directly, it noticed us and melted away.  We never saw it again.

On another note, you might say that Camp Polk Meadow was the birthplace of the East Cascades Bird Conservancy (ECBC), which is now known as East Cascades Audubon Society.  Steve Shunk had a vision for ECBC, and one day while he and I were birding at Camp Polk Meadow, we started talking about it, and from there we called in a few birding friends and launched the organization.  Or as we birders say, the organization has really taken off!