The Pacific Northwest is lush with a wide array of trees, forest, and vegetation, making Portland, Oregon, trees perfect nesting and feeding spots for birds of varying colors, songs, and habits. You might be interested to know that while birds’ natural habitat is in trees, they don’t merely use the tree, but they also contribute to its health.
With migration patterns and a species’ response to changing their environment, residents in Portland will have birdwatching opportunities from hundreds of species of birds. Here are five types of birds that you’ll commonly find in your trees if you live in Portland, Oregon.
1. American Goldfinch
Both American goldfinches and lesser goldfinches are residents of the Portland area, but the Americans do not migrate so you’ll see these throughout the year. These brightly colored yellow birds, which can be mistaken for canaries with black wings, travel in flocks of a few dozen at a time. Males have a yellow breast, but they molt in the winter, and it becomes olive green. Females remain in olive-colored camouflage year-round.
They are vegetarians and do not eat insects or worms, preferring instead fruits and seeds. Putting sunflower seeds in a bird feeder will likely draw these black and yellow birds into your yard. With regard to nesting, they tend to build theirs in June or July when thistle is available. They choose trees or shrubs between 4 and 10 feet in height for their nests. They also need a water source nearby, so another way to attract the American goldfinch is to have a birdbath.
2. Song Sparrow
This type of sparrow can be found all across the metro area of Portland as well as in suburban neighborhoods and the lush, dense forests. They don’t tend to travel in flocks, but sometimes they might during migration or if they need to join forces against the threat of a predator. Those found in the Pacific Northwest are humbly dressed in dark colors with streaks of brown, grey, and tan plumage.
The song sparrow is likely among the most common songs that you will hear when they’re perched in your Portland, Oregon, trees. They generally find food of insects and seeds on the ground, but song sparrows may occasionally be attracted to fruit too, so planting a cascara or crabapple tree could bring more of these musical birds.
This is a fascinating species of bird, with its characteristic knocking sounds made by pecking into the trunks of trees or other solid objects. There are several types of woodpeckers you might see around Portland.
Northern flicker woodpecker
Northern flickers are unusual among the woodpecker family because they can be seen on the ground, scrounging for beetles and ants. When they’re in the trees, they make a distinct knocking sound as they tap for insects to eat. Their tapping is a quick succession, almost like a fast drum roll. You might also hear them tapping on telephone poles or metal light poles. Their song is a repetitive squeaking of nearly the same note. Those that are most common to the Pacific Northwest have a red shaft of color on either side of their beaks, almost like a mustache.
Hairy woodpeckers spend most of their feeding time on tree trunks and branches. They tend to eat any sap which leaks from any holes left from other woodpeckers or animals that penetrate the trees. These birds also like to eat suet, so hanging a bird feeder with suet from one of your backyard trees could draw them to your yard. Woodpeckers thrive on the holes they create. Leaving some rotted trees in your yard could provide a safe place for them to nest.
Downy woodpeckers are the smallest woodpecker species in North America. They eat primarily insects but will also be drawn to suet or even berries. They nest in both shrubs and trees. Generally, the males will forage on the outer parts of the branches while the females remain closer to the tree’s trunk.
As cozy as the sound of a woodpecker might be in the distance, they can be a noisy nuisance. The Portland Audubon suggests using sound-deadening materials like burlap, plastic, or other cloth to place on your house if woodpeckers are becoming territorial, usually around April to June during mating season. Once they find that no sound emits from the softened surface, they are likely to find elsewhere to drum.
The chickadee is another songbird, and there are a couple of species in the Portland area: the black-capped and the chestnut-backed chickadees. You’ll likely hear both before you see them.
Black-capped chickadees have their name in their song. They sing, “Chicka-dee-dee-dee,” adding more “dees” to warn others of approaching danger. The more “dees” there are, the nearer that danger is. It might be interesting to observe what else you see and hear among your trees when this bird feels it’s in danger.
Chestnut-backed chickadees are only found on the West Coast of North America and in the Pacific Northwest, making them a common sight in your Portland, Oregon, trees. They prefer dark and dense forest trees for protection but can sometimes be found in suburban areas as well.
Some of the more intelligent and mischievous birds you’re likely to find are California scrub-jays and Steller’s jays.
California scrub-jays will plunder other bird or animal stores and hoard them for their own. They are specifically known to steal acorns, so they’ll be occupied with any oak trees or terrorizing squirrels. These jays also love peanuts. Put peanuts in your bird feeder and they will take and store these too. They have creamy white throats and bellies, and vivid blue wings and tail feathers, with grey and black accent markings. Their heads are rounded and smooth, and their beaks are stout and dark.
Steller’s jays are aggressive in appearance, voice, and behavior. A striking mohawk of feathers sprays across their dark blue heads. This gives way to vibrant royal blue wing and tail feathers, accented by darker ones. Their voice is a throaty metallic buzz that occurs one staccato squawk at a time. Rather territorial birds, they aggressively shout at birds of all kinds to let them know they do not want company.
If you’re interested in advice on how to care for your trees to make them more bird-friendly, don’t hesitate to contact a tree care specialist, like us at Mr. Tree.