The bird at Cannon Beach

Picture date: October 1, 2020

This post comes more than four months after the the event. What can I say, it fell through the cracks. Back in early October we were looking to get away for part of a day; we’ve walked every street in the surrounding 4 miles of our house and needed to get our eyeballs on something different. Cannon Beach is perfect for us; we can get there in 90 minutes, walk a bit, then get home in late afternoon.

We parked at the Tolovana wayside which is mile or so south of Cannon Beach proper. We head off and if course i have to get a picture of the dominant object in the landscape: Haystack Rock.

Haystack Rock – Cannon Beach, Oregon

As we walked north we saw a bird waddling up out of the water and up the shore.

The bird walking out of the water

Hmm, that’s interesting. S/he showed no desire to fly and just continued to walk even with a few dogs around. We got a bit closer and it ignored us and continued walking forward. I zoomed in.

Close up of the bird

I got to wondering, is this bird okay? S/he continued up the beach and it became apparent it was looking for a place to shelter. Eventually it made its way up to a piece of driftwood.

The bird gaining shelter in a driftwood log.
The bird in a protected spot

Looking at the photos now, I can see the feathers, but looking at him in the wild I thought maybe he had landed in some oil. I grabbed my phone and searched for a wildlife rescue organization on the northern Oregon coast. I found a seabird group in Seaside – north of Cannon Beach – and gave them a call. Eventually, someone answered. After I told him about the bird he asked if I was comfortable putting it my car and driving it up to Seaside. “No. I’m not comfortable with that.” He asked me my exact location and said he’d get a volunteer down there as soon as possible, but it would likely take a couple of hours.

Having done our duty we continued our walk.

Haystack Rock

The tide was ebbing but too high – and too cold – to go to the tide pools.

Carla was in her happy place; she loves being able to get her feet in the water.

Carla getting her feet wet near Haystack Rock.

On the way back to the car, we stopped by the driftwood log to see how the bird was doing. He was well enough hidden the dogs didn’t harass him. He was asleep.

Sleeping bird protected by driftwood.

Still concerned, I called the rescue place again to give them an update. I also sent them a photo of the bird and the wider area for reference. Finally, I pinpointed the GPS coordinates on Google maps and texted that along as well. Then we headed home. I never heard back from them.

So what is it? It looks like it had been caught in some oil – but none of the other hundreds of birds around seemed affected. On the other hand, most of the birds usually fly up onto perches on Haystack Rock for their rest – which explains the white top of the rocks, if you catch my drift. And looking at the pictures after the fact, the feathers don’t look to be pasted down like they might be with oil.

So, I like looking at birds; I like photographing birds, but I don’t know anything about them. Even though my good friend Jay is an accomplished bird watcher none of it rubs off on me. So what is this? Is this just a normal, healthy beach bird? Or was something wrong with it? If you know – or have any information – I’d love it if your leave a comment. I’m looking at you, Frances Oliver, or any of the other bird watchers out there.

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