Our walks along the river turned into a daytime drama. Every day a new aspect of the story unfolded, and it’s gotten to a point where we can’t wait to take our next walk to see what’s happened since we last tuned in.
The drama started when, as we have heard the story, a pair of great horned owls had taken over a raven’s nest two years before in Bend’s Drake Park. The owls came back again this year to their beautiful, large nest by the Deschutes River.
A few days after we heard that story, we walked by the river in Drake Park and saw a group of people, all gazing upwards with cameras and binoculars. They lined up behind a temporary orange fence. When we walked over to that area, friendly people in the group showed us where to look in the grove of tall fir trees.
A great-horned owlet stared down at us bystanders.
A moment later its sibling appeared by its side.
We later read that a few weeks ago a third sibling had been pushed out of the nest by the two owlets we saw. Presumably there wasn’t room for all three in the nest. The owlet was taken from the lawn to a local rehab center.
As we walked a little further down the path, a huge bush hung over the path. A broken bird’s egg lay on the path – directly under the bush. We heard a commotion somewhere in that dense greenery.
A male brewer’s blackbird sat nearby, possibly deflecting attention, or maybe guarding the nest, sitting in the foliage right over the path.
We wished the brewer’s blackbirds good fortune with the remaining eggs in the nest.
Spring arrived with birds nesting and a lovely tree bordering a parking lot in full bloom. We had to stop and admire this one!
The first day that we walked a path further down along the river, we came upon a heated confrontation. First, we heard squawking ahead, and, when we got closer, we saw a huge trumpeter swan (wing span 80”) chasing away a Canada goose (average wing span 51”), who obviously knew it could not win this fight, and, yet, the Canada goose wasn’t ready to give in so easily. The goose flew a short distance down the river and waited. The swan watched. They were in a standoff. Then the swan flew at the Canada goose, wings flapping and squawking loudly. This skirmish was repeated 4 or 5 times until the Canada goose fled a satisfactory distance, and the trumpeter swan drifted off.
When we returned an hour later, we saw the Canada goose guiding its 4 goslings through the reeds and grasses to a safer place. Apparently, the geese had strayed into what the swan perceived as its territory. Now, all would be well.
A few days later, we noticed a Canada goose back in the Trumpeter swan’s “territory”.
They faced off. Nothing happened for 5 minutes and then, with no warning, the swan lunged at the goose.
The goose flew back down the river, and calm returned to the river.
Just the other day we noticed this miniature “garden” on a rock by the path.
Very late that same afternoon we approached the path’s end at the bridge over the river. A very little mallard duckling frantically called and swam erratically at the water’s edge. The duckling was so small on the big river and no other bird was in sight. Was it calling for its mother? Had it become separated too early? Could it survive?
Three days later we came to the path’s end and that little mallard duckling swam by. The bird was now a little larger and swam confidently as it looked for food. So, it had made it thus far on its own!
We’ll return to the path along the river tomorrow. We’re curious to see what’s happened. Will the owlets continue to do well? When will the brewer’s blackbird chicks hatch? Will there ever be peace on the river as long as the swan and goose live side-by-side? And, will the mallard duckling continue to do well on its own? The drama along the river continues…