The name for the western version of this bird has been changed to spotted towhee. The eastern version will remain the rufous-sided towhee.
The Western Meadowlark (WEME) is 9-1/2" long. The WEME has a yellow breast and belly with a black V-shaped breast band. Upper parts are dark brown with dusky edges. When the bird is flushed it shows a conspicuous patch of white on each side of a short tail and flies with several rapid wingbeats alternating with short glides.
The Mountain Bluebird, sometimes called the “prairie bluebird” (Dunne), is a bird of open grasslands. It is seen most frequently in Central and Eastern Washington. It enjoys a wide range of habitats including an altitudinal range from grasslands to open areas in forests, to alpine tundra (Alderfer).
The genus name Carduelis (Card-dyou-EE-liss) is from the Latin carduus, thistle (eats seeds of thistle). The species name pinus (PINE-us) is Latin for pine which is its common name apparently from the siskin of Europe, a yellow-green finch. Siskin apparently is derived from Danish sidsken or Swedish siska, a “chirper.”
A bird of open woodlands, the Western Wood-Pewee is widespread in the western United States as far east as the western side of the plains states. It is most often seen calling pee-er from an open branch from which it will also sally forth to catch a variety of insects including flies, bees, wasps, beetles, moths and bugs (Bemis & Rising).
Like a sentinel, as described by its species name excubitor, Latin for watchman or guard, the Northern Shrike surveys its territory from a low perch on a shrub or post. With precision it hunts using a direct flight toward its prey-a small rodent or another bird-and dispatches it quickly by “pounding its bill into the base or back of the skull and the using its hooked bill severing the spinal cord between the neck vertebrae as falcons do” (Sibley).
The Brown Creeper (BRCR) is about 5 - 5-1/2" long and is camouflaged with brown streaked plumage above and dull white below. It has a relatively long downcurved bill and long, pointed tail feathers. Creepers spiral upward from the base to the branches of a tree, then will fly to a lower place on another tree, probing bark for insects and larvae.
The Vaux’s Swift (VASW) is about 4.75” long with a wingspan 12” and a weight of 0.6 oz. (17g). The genus name Chaetura (kee-TOO-rah) is Latin from the Greek chaite, stiff hair, bristle, or spine, and oura, tail: spine-tailed.