Yaquina Head Lighthouse – Birds

Saturday I went to see both lighthouses which are near Newport, Oregon. The larger one, located north of town, sits right out by the ocean and has some large rocks sitting just offshore which is a great spot to see birds.

On the south side of the lighthouse:

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And standing near the late-morning shadow of the lighthouse, looking west-northwest:

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The two biggest rocks as seen from those two vantage points held the largest number of birds. The tops of each were literally covered with Common Murres:

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This area has one of the largest populations of these little penguin-like birds on the west coast. I had seen some down in California but they were too far away to get a good picture of them. And where they gather, they gather en masse. They do not make nests but lay their eggs on flat, bare rock, near a cliff. The eggs have an unusual shape, like a pear, so while they may move around a bit, they won’t roll off the cliff because they roll in a circle. These birds are similar to the Pigeon Guillemot (with the red feet and having bright red inside their mouths) but these are your basic black and white. Unlike penguins, common murres can fly (although they evidently aren’t very agile). Their biggest feature is the ability to dive underwater, often to great depths. And young chicks know how to dive as soon as they hit the water for the first time.

Another bird I saw lots of were cormorants. I have seen many of these in many different places but rarely get blogworthy photos. The ones I saw on Saturday were on rocks which were rather close and with the angle of the sun I was able to get some decent pictures.

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These birds have very long necks and when they fly they look sort of like geese (though they are sleeker). They like to hang out on rocks, and often nest in holes on the sides of cliffs. I most often see them floating on the water and they frequently dive underwater, sometimes for over a minute, looking for food. When they get up on land they often stand with their wings spread out – literally to air-dry! They don’t have very efficient water-shedding feathers like ducks.

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Generally when I’ve seen cormorants they appear to be black, but like the ibis I finally saw up close when I was near Klamath Falls, these can have colorful feathers and with a cooperating sun angle I actually captured some shots showing this.

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This group of cormorants appear to be having a good laugh over something:

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Perhaps the silly man with the red camera, over by the lighthouse.

I also spotted some brown birds which I thought were something I hadn’t seen before but later learned they were just young Western Seagulls.

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And although this post is mostly about birds, when I was reviewing my pictures from the day I found I had this interest sequence of a seal on the rocks:

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Then he fanned out his tail (kind of like he was stretching his legs)…

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And rolled on his side to take a nap…

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