During the year 2005 I and Tom van Noort, both post-graduate biology students from Wageningen University in The Netherlands, worked at the Entomology Department of the UC Riverside. During this working year, which unfortunately took a weekend every now and then during spring, we were able to get a decent ornithological picture of the riches that are still to be found in this heavily populated area. Since we did not make an actual birding trip but several short trips instead, there is not a logical structure in this report. However, I split the birded areas into the following areas:
1. Riverside and surroundings, including the San Bernardino Co.
2. Salton Sea area (Riverside and Imperial Co’s)
3. The closest coastal areas (Orange Co)
4. The Mojave Desert (San Bernardino Co)
5. The Monterey Bay area (Monterey Co), including Stanislaus Co. and surroundings
6. Yosemite N.P (Mariposa Co)
7. Southeast Arizona
8. Santa Cruz Island (Ventura Co)
9. Baja California (Mexico)
Sometimes I give rather accurate locations, but sometimes I forgot to note down where I saw a species more exactly, which might be the case in Yosemite NP. The maps connected to the links are from maps.google.com or, in the case of the two images used in the Yosemite NP section, from the downloadable and fantastic earth.google.com. In the report I highlight species that are localized or overall scarce and/or hard to find in the specific area. This might have as a consequence that a species like Short-eared owl, which is not very unfamiliar to northern birders, is highlighted since in CA it is far from an every day bird.
Costs and living
In spite of the soaring gas prices, gas was still very cheap compared to Europe. Rental cars are possibly cheaper than in The Netherlands, a nice thing since many a kilometer or mile has to be traveled to get a grip on the birds! Food was not more expensive than in The Netherlands and since we often camped, lodging wasn’t expensive either. Campgrounds, as many of you possibly can attest, are often well equipped and often nicely set-up. Literally always, as far as we have experienced, has every camping spot its own bbq grill! This is a good thing to know if you don’t take it too keen with Healthy Living!
Problems and Other Annoyances
People we met were always very helpful and friendly and never have we experienced any hostility towards us, being Dutch.
Books and other information sources
Joe Cummings (2004) Moon Handbooks Baja. Avalon Travel Publishing
Brad Schram (1998) ABA/Lane birdfinding guide. A Birder’s Guide to Southern
California. American Birding Association, Inc.
D.A. Sibley (2000) National Audubon Society The Sibley Guide to Birds. Alfred A.
Knopf Publishers, New York
Richard C. Taylor (2005) ABA/Lane birdfinding guide. A Birder’s Guide to
Southeastern Arizona. American Birding Association, Inc
Mel White (1999) National Geographic guide to Birdwatching Sites. Western US.
The National Geographic Society.
Michelin 2005 Road Atlas USA/Canada/Mexico. Michelin North America, Inc
Helpful too are the Yahoo! Groups:
The former functions “to report bird sightings in Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial Counties.” and the latter “CALBIRDS is for discussion of wild birds and birdwatching in California only”. As one can imagine, they’re invaluable for finding rare migrants throughout your stay.
We always rented our cars at Budget which was just around the corner from our second house in Riverside CA. There cars are good, prices modest and the people friendly, so I can recommend them.
1. Riverside and surroundings, including San Bernardino Mts.
Sycamore Canyon and apartment complex there
We lived until June 05 at the Canyon Creek apartment complex, located at 600 Central Avenue in the southeastern corner of Riverside and immediately adjacent to the Westside of the Sycamore Canyon. The Sycamore Canyon served as our local patch and Sunday afternoon stroll area. This area consists basically of grassy hills with a small, tree lined stream and some construction fields on the east side where Shorelarks winter. Here, we made our first impressions with CA birdlife. I will mention some more special birds below.
Apparently, there is, at least in January, a blackbird-roost at the small reedy pond next to building 6659 Sycamore Canyon Boulevard, S.C. Business Park just east of the Sycamore Canyon. Here, we found the near-endemic Tricolored blackbird together the more common red-winged blackbirds. We were only able to safely identify females Tricoloreds, we were not able to able to detect usable differences between the males of both closely related species. Further birds of notice here during the winter months were flocks of Shorelarks, a hunting Short-eared owl, a group of flyby Canada geese and a pair of Mountain bluebirds. Vesper sparrows are present here as well during the year in the high grass, check for their white outer-tail feathers and a real treat are the localized and erratic Lawrence’s goldfinches of which we observed a group of 20 on January 29st. We saw this species with some regularity on the Canyon Creek apartment complex, for instance a pair on March 26th –perhaps local breeders? Omni-present birds are Housefinches, Lesser and to a lesser degree American goldfinches, Ruby-crowned kinglets, Yellow-rumped warblers and Hermit thrush during the winter months. Say’s phoebe is regularly encountered as are Nuttall’s woodpeckers. We had Downy woodpecker just once in our canyon. Both Canyon and Rock wren occur in the canyon as well, the latter more common than the former.
Spring arrived on March 25th at our housing complex, as we observed both Bullock’s and Hooded oriole within five minutes from each other. Too, we had our first Pine siskins for the Riverside lowlands on this date. On May 8th, we had our first Olive-sided flycatcher for California here and a surprisingly scarce Townsend’s warbler.
San Jacinto Wildlife Area, Mystic Lake and Lake Perris
These three areas are all very close to each other, located east and southeast of Moreno Valley, a city adjacent located in between the I-60 and Hw 215. For more precise locations, I gladly refer to the ABA guide, mentioned in the Introduction. The wildlife area is open for hunting on certain days of the week, so beware of that. Here, many ducks are found on the ponds, some reedbirds and waders. Mystic Lake, if you are in a wet year, is full of interesting waterfowl and the neighboring fields can hold exciting species as Mountain Plovers and longspurs in the right time of the year. We visited these areas several times and I will give the daily reports below, in
San Jacinto Wildlife Area (p.211-212)
24.12.04 1300-1430, fine weather: no wind, pleasant temperature.
A first, though relatively short and hasty, visit to this interesting marshy area. Several man made ponds & some willows. Lots of waterfowl and apparently well worth another intensive visit. Highlights of course the superb adult fly-by Bald eagle, the magnificent Canvasbacks & the adult male Vermillion flycatcher (not a lifer though). Many not identified dowitcher sp., because of shortage in time! Ferruginous hawk and White-tailed kite (3) were rather attractive too, together with the glimpsed Sora! Other birds included: Eared grebe 3, Pied-billed grebe 2, plenty of Green-winged teal, Gadwall, Northern shoveler and Northern pintails, American wigeon 10, Cinnamon teal 3, Redhead 1m, Common merganser 3m, Ruddy duck 50, Northern harrier 10 female-types, Common moorhen 20, American coot 100s, Black-necked stilt 40, Greater yellowlegs 3, Western sandpiper 10+, Least sandpiper 150, Wilson's snipe 10, Nuttall's woodpecker 1, Northern flicker 3, Loggerhead shrike 3, Barn swallow 10, American pipit 10, Blue-grey gnatcatcher 2, Common yellowthroat 2, Western meadowlark 20, Red-winged blackbird 5 and 1 Cattle egret.
31.12.04 1330-1700. Dry after intensive rain upon arrival. Cold, no wind. Everything by foot.
Last change of the year 2004 to get some lifers, which we managed! We were very pleased with the American avocet, although it was either in winter plumage or 1st winter and moreover with the American bittern which we flushed from the swampy lands next to the road. Innumerable amounts of blackbirds sp. came flying in in the course of the afternoon, 100s and 100s, also some Great-tailed grackles. The Great-horned owl was magnificent: just before dusk we heard it calling and there it sat, on one of the rocks, sharply depicted en silhouette against the darkening sky, whilst some calling Black-crowned night herons flew by. Other birds included: American wigeon 5, Canvasback 10, Cinnamon teal 10, Marsh wren 1, White-tailed kite 2, Yellow-headed blackbird 10.
05.02.05 Horrible weather with almost continuous rain until the late afternoon when things were clearing. Arrived drenched, all by bike. Only walked pass the ponds from the entrance, didn’t go to the viewing platform. The rain stopped and we were lucky to see 5 Northern Rough-winged Swallows flying by as were either Tree-swallows or Violet-green swallows. Some impressive movements of pelicans going on here: in total we had four groups of American white pelican flying south, comprising 148 birds at least! Herman’s first White-faced Ibis, 6, flew in. Long-billed Dowitchers are still around as were our first SJWA Buffleheads: males on one of the ponds.
Mystic Lake (p.212) This lake forms in wet years west of Gilman Spring Rd and north of Bridge Street. All during 2005 this lake was there, providing us with enormous amounts of waterfowl.
05.02.05 Great birds! This lake is very big and is only filled with water after heavy rains. We watched it from two sides: from Gilman Springs Road (GSR) and from Bridge Street (BS).
We started off at Gilman Springs Road with a great fly-by Prairie falcon and a surprising juvenile Bald Eagle, sitting on a stick! The first juvenile we see of this species. A Great-horned Owl was a lucky observation. More common birds include: Canvasback 50, Redhead 50, Little Scaup 30, Ring-necked Duck 200, Eared Grebe 5 and Canada Goose 2. Large amounts of Northern Shoveler and Pintail, the former in their 1000s and the latter in their hundreds. Bridge Street Mountain Plover 44! At last I’ve seen this –at least for me- wanted species after Tom saw it already a week ago on this well known location, the field adjacent to the south on Bridge Street. Very nice, blonde and long-legged birds, reminding of White-tailed Lapwings and Eurasian Dotterels in the Old World. An adult Ferruginous Hawk perched on a utility-pawl was beautiful but alas too far for picturing. Between the 200 Canada Geese we saw 3 Snow geese and a male Merlin flew in and landed on a fence. Around 50 Shorelarks were still present on the same fields as the plovers and around 200 American Pipits were found on the lake-side of BS.
13.11.05 I just came back from Mystic Lake, another Longspur quest and I have the impression I walked a whole marathon today. Walked all field east of Bridge Street this morning, thought I heard longspurs somewhere in the distance -> nothing to be found, though good amounts of Shorelarks present. OK, back again to these sandy fields (so shoes full with it!), around noon now. Yes, you can drive Bridge Street though it is signed 'closed'. I heard Longspurs again & saw them, in flight, 5 birds! They called very frequently; beside the non-specific dry 'prrrr' rattle, the birds called a distinctive 'kwirrrup' as their specific call. Didn't see the birds very well on the ground since I flushed them after only seeing there heads vaguely. But this call is very distinctive: it is not Lapland since I know that well and Chestnut-collared should not have this strong 'rrr' pattern in the call (actually, I had them at Calipatria last winter where they said ‘kiddip’ or so, without any ‘r’). So, the longspurs I saw at Bridge Str. concerned McCown’s longspurs since many descriptions of its call say something like 'tsjirrup' and because of habitat. Longspurs can be expected here and are best known from around the Calipatria Prison near Salton Sea, where dozens of Chestnut-collareds and McCown’s are present every winter, with Laplands and even the occasional Smith’s!
Lake Perris 26.12.04 1330-1600, no wind, 95% clouds, chilly.
Long ride by bike form our apartment, but the lake looks promising and we saw some good birds. We have to go again. Again we had an adult Bald eagle, soaring over the mountain ridge adjacent to the lake. Ospreys seem to winter here, we saw around five & 2 Long-eared owls in the flooded forest. The first Dark-eyed juncos and they didn't disappoint: nice birds!
Others were: Common loon 1, Western grebe 2, Horned grebe 25, Eared grebe 5, Lesser scaup 20, Common merganser 5f, Gadwall 2, Northern harrier 2, California gull 150, Bonaparte's gull 20, Belted kingfisher 1 and a Blue-grey gnatcatcher.
San Bernardino Mountains 03.02.05 We went on an afternoon trip with the lab to collect galls at Forest Falls.
My first White-headed woodpecker! Two females, stunning birds! First Pine siskins, a fly-by group. Further birds: White-breasted nuthatch and much to my surprise, a light-headed Dark-eyed Junco between 30 normal ‘Oregon’ DE Junco’s. Not sure whether it concerned a ‘brown female slate colored’ DEJ or even a ‘pink-sided’ DEJ! Showed no apparent hood.
29.05.06 So, Tom and I had a Toyota Tacoma this Sunday so we could share the tracks with the 'offroaders for Bush'. Which we did. Tried to make our way to Arrestre Creek as described in former messages in InlandCountyBirds (and the ABA Guide, p.202) & though we found it quite readily, the road to there is, we think, not suitable for normal cars. Being not experienced off-roaders ourselves, we had slight difficulties sometimes -but that was ok! So: at the (first) Creek crossing we saw two pairs of Hepatic Tanager! They were mainly working their ways through the high pines, so not in the bush around the Creek. Great birds! Guess the nighthawk we saw was a Common nighthawk since that's the only one occurring here? I am not sure though if Lesser doesn't occur here; saw the nighthawks reported from this area were identified as Commons & for what it is worth, after having seen quit a few Lesser nh. in the desert, the impression was indeed that the white wingband was closer to the wrist of the wing. Went on to the Rose Mine Junction (p.202) & the silence was impressive, that is: again no Gray vireos, not even an unknown song or so! Nice area though...
Back to the main road and off to Bluff Lake (p.199-201) which should offer "the finest montane birding in Southern California", according to many birders. Was quite difficult to find however and after driving too far along 2N10, was found out from hikers that Bluff Lake is actually closed, since the road to the Conservancy Office or so was closed: a big gate closes the road. We walked in though & we had a very fine and nice and great and other superlatives needed Williamson's sapsucker - a male! Dusky flycatcher allowed close looks & called, which was very helpful! Golden-crowned kinglets were new as well here. Well that's it for now - had a Black swift at Monkey Face Falls (p.204)!
Lake Elsinor 08.01.05 ‘Lake Elsinor Campground’ on Riverside Drive. Lots of rain.
I was very surprised to find and obtain great views of a Plumbeous vireo! Definitely no Cassin’s vireo since the bird was ‘all’ grey with not a trace of yellow. Other birds: my first White-breasted nuthatch and some dark-eyed juncos and a Hermit thrush.
Mockingbird Canyon Reservoir, adjacent to the 'California Citrus State Historic Park' b>02.01.05 Small bike excursion to this historic park, which held a nice display about the ins & outs of how oranges reached the Americas and eventually, California. Next to this park was a small lake, which held a pair of Wood duck, much to our delight! Two Black-crowned night herons were present as well.
Rancho Jurupa Park 25.12.05 This is a smallish, not really interesting park, mainly consisting of flood-forests (Salix sp.) and shrub. Small fishing pond with fishing people, many campers, but still around 15 American White pelicans & 30 Ring-necked ducks on this pond! And a nice Prairie falcon on one of the wooden utility pawls in the adjacent fields! Common ground-doves were near the river and are birdwize the main attraction. Other observed birds include Red-shouldered hawk, Bonapartes gull, Downy and Nuttall’s woodpecker, Cedar waxwings and California thrasher.
Botanical Gardens UCR The Botanical Garden on the UC Riverside campus was basically my local patch. I visited it many times during lunch brakes and saw some nice birds there. Moreover, it was nice to see the changes in birdlife throughout the year. The Gardens are public, but close at 17:00.
Some interesting ‘western’ birds are found here quite easily, like Costa’s hummingbird between the many Anna’s hummingbirds and California thrasher, a near-endemic for CA. The latter I only saw in the upper regions of the Garden. Many more regularly occurring birds are found here too which I do not mention. Below I will give some more interesting records, as I post them on the InlandCounty Group.
29.12.04 Some drizzle. Nice walk, good birds. Apparently, Costa's hummingbirds returned from their winter areas, since several singing males were present. Perhaps because of the rains which drenched our only week off? First Mountain chickadees and Golden-crowned sparrow and a very attractive Lark sparrow!
14.1.05 Just saw a Rufous-Crowned Sparrow at the top of the Botanical Gardens, UCR. The bird sneaked around in the shrubby grassy slopes, just adjacent to the uppermost bushes of the Garden. Well seen, stunning eye-ring, darkish, slightly bicolored bill, pale malar, distinctive dark moustache and...rufous crown! More than one bird appeared to be present and probably bred here.
19.1.2005 Greater Roadrunner, 1 on top of the hill. Seen on more than one occasion.
12/14.01.05 Western tanager 1 f-type, Mountain chickadee 1, Orange-crowned warbler 1, Rufous-crowned sparrow 1, Lark sparrow 2-3, Lincolns sparrow 1
31.01.05 Green-tailed Towhee, 1! Good bird & not in the ‘birds of the Botanical Garden’ checklist. Garden is quite at the moment, still a few White Crowned Sparrows linger on and the (same?) Western Tanager was in early February.
12.3.05 Went to the Botanical Garden, UC-Riverside yesterday, sunday 12th & had nice views of two recently arrived Western kingbirds together with 2-3 Cassin's kingbirds. Main thing however were one group of 40 & one of 12 Swainson's hawk that flew over de Garden. A Peregrine was good too.
07.4.05 March 11th I had a Red-breasted nuthatch in the high pines on the edge of the Botanical Garden of the UC Riverside & to my surprise Tom & me saw it again yesterday, in the same high pines. Guess this is the southwest side of the garden. Western Tanager heard & two Pacific-slope flycatchers present together with a singing Orange-crowned warbler.
12.4.05 Perhaps a bit superfluous, but had my first spring Black-headed grosbeaks yesterday. And today my first two Black-chinned hummers.
13.4.05 No rarities, but some nice birds today: Gray flycatcher on the dry hill with scattered Junipers (?) in SW-corner of the Bot. Garden, our first here. Also pair Western tanager -> male full summer plumage. Pacific-slope flycatcher was still present. On 'Picknick Hill' my very first Black-throated grey warbler at last!.
2nd-5th May 2005 Migration seems to have reached our shores at last! Made several nice observations the first few days of May but hereafter migration slowed down again. Well, we had several Warbling vireos (max. two a day), a female Lazuli bunting, around 5 Western tanagers and at least the same number of Black-headed grosbeaks, our first Western wood-pewee, a Hammond’s flycatcher, at last an expected Cassin’s vireo, two Wilson’s warblers. After the Hermit thrushes this past winter, two Swainson’s thrushes showed up at last in a fruiting tree near the entrance of the Garden. A female Brown-headed cowbird constituted our first for the Garden. Other birds: several Yellow warblers, two migrating Townsend’s warblers and early June we had our first Canyon wren of the Garden, together with our second observation of a Greater roadrunner in the Garden. Several Rufous-crowned sparrows are still singing on the grassy hill and a pair of Hooded orioles still linger on.
24.6.05 Just had a singing Northern parula in the Botanical Gardens of the UCR! Bird sang quite regularly and showed quite well sometimes. We had the bird last at the V-split around ~70 meters after entering the Garden. Found the bird along the 'Alder Canyon', after 50 meters or so!
23.8.05 We had four Sage sparrows and a Bobcat on the highest point in the Garden. Saw Bobcats here on two occasions, this one was a young animal at 12:30 on the trail and the second observation was of an adult at around 25 meters sneaking through the grassy hillsides, providing excellent views of this cat. The first migrating Barn swallows and first Wilson’s and Orange-crowned warbler.
22.09.06 Curious what autumn will bring! We had 7 Cedar waxwings flying past the UCR & a 1st year MacGilivray's warbler in the Botanical Garden here.
18.10.05 It took me a while to see something noteworthy for the group, but well, here I am again. I just had a Red-naped sapsucker just after the entrance to the Botanical Gardens of the UC Riverside. Well observed, also during dry conditions! Besides this bird, an unprecedented amount of Yellow-rumped warblers was present with still some Orange-crowned warblers. Couldn't find the Ash-troated flycatcher I still had last week.
20.10.06 No, this is not an erratum: just had a splendid Red-breasted sapsucker in the Botanical Gardens of the UC Riverside. I couldn't relocate the Red-naped I saw Tuesday. Both birds were found in the high trees just after the entrance of the Garden.
2. Salton Sea area (Riverside and Imperial Co’s)
The chapter in the ABA book is superb! Everything you need to know is there, including great maps. Since I don’t have any decent maps of the area, I am glad to refer to this chapter, written by Stacy Peterson on pp.163-177.
13.02.05, Mainly clear sky, afternoon getting cloudier upon approaching of a frontal zone, temperature rising from a bit chilly to a fine 18 degrees Celsius, hardly any wind.
First visit to this famous area. We left Riverside at 04:30 & returned at 20:00. Our fellow countryman Gerco Hoogenweg has visited the area many times and knows where to go, which made it an even more pleasant trip. Salton Sea is a weird area; it feels as being literally in a corner of the country –which you are of course! ‘Border-land’. Many agricultural fields, some big smoking factories (as on the Maasvlakte in the Netherland), a big flat lake & totally unattractive to birds, you’d think & so did I!
But of course, this famous area didn’t let us down on this trip and we saw interesting birds. What was remarkable was the total absence of American crows and Ravens; we didn’t see a single bird. We heard that this is probably due to the West-Nile virus which hits the corvidae hard for one reason. The scarcity of Red-Tailed Haws was surprising too, as, on the other hand, was the abundance of American Kestrels and the regular observations of Burrowing Owl (around 15) and of Greater Roadrunner (4) all through the day. Other scarce but already observed birds include Vermillion Flycatcher (2) and Common Grounddove (2 flocks).
Below I give a short overview per stop we made with the most interesting observations, either because they are scarcities or because they’re great!
Wister Unit: a reedy hunting area, first stop (p.169) First Abert’s towhees which are neat birds & more attractive than their Californian brothers and sisters, first Virginia Rail heard and 100’s of fly-by Snow geese with 3 Ross’s Geese. A good observation was a full summer plumage male American redstart 100 meters from the parking place in the trees bordering the road!
Davis Road: very muddy and slippery road, along some ponds, dry flats and agricultural fields (p.169). First observations of Snowy Plover (30), an off-coast Western Gull (1st winter), a Willet and two off-coast flying Brown Pelicans.
Calipatria Prison surroundings: agricultural fields. Famous for their wintering longspurs and Mountain Plovers, we did quite a thorough survey here. After locating the wintering Shorelarks, we saw longspurs sp. in flight among the larks. It proved to be very difficult to get decent views of the, already identified on tail pattern, Chestnut-Collared Longspurs because of their habits. But after all, we had reasonable views of two males which were much to our delight, in full summer plumage! Stunning birds, though we only saw their heads –but well, that is the most striking part! In the end, we had a flock of nine Chestnut-collared longspurs, but not a sign of other species. What a nice birds! Mountain Plovers are allegedly very scarce this year in the area and we saw none here.
Lindsey-Leg Crossing: pond with tamarisks, in between the Salton Sea and a big factory. Our first Green heron and Common goldeneye of the trip. The heron looked quite different from south-American Birds.
North end of Leg Road: along the sea. Yellow-footed gull! Yes! A second cy bird sat close by on rocks, eating a crab. Massive bill & great, tame bird. A pair of Blue-Winged Teal was also present, just the second location we saw this species.
Headquarters: short trail lined by Tamarisks towards a pond. Much to our surprise, we saw an apparent pure Glaucous-Winged Gull, 1st winter turning to 1st summer here! The bird didn’t show a vague tailband, nor did it show darker primary tips (primaries were Glaucous Gull-esque, but slightly darker), which one would expect when a Western Gull is involved. Bill was not as long as Glaucous Gull, more hooked and all dark with a slightly lighter colored base, G.G. bill is long, even and pink with a well defined black tip. Great bird! Also nice were: 50 Buffleheads, a Pacific Peregrine Falcon, adult, a lovely & Bushtitesque Verdin, our first Lesser Yellowlegs of the trip and a well visible Gambel’s Quail, a male!
Cattle Call Park, Brawley: just a few trees, a picnick-area, a soccer field and some reeds in a village! Gila Woodpecker! A very confiding bird, well visible. The long-staying Gray Flycatcher (and indeed identifiable as such!) was still present & in the same tree we, at last, had a nice Chipping Sparrow which looks superficially like a 1st winter White-Crowned Sparrow, but more delicate, much smaller, darker bill and a very different call. Apparently a common bird. At last I, Herman, had my first Cactus Wren: what a giant, don’t mess with that bird! Again, we saw two nice Verdins and 1ad and 2juv Brown Pelican flying overhead, straight north.
‘Unit 1’, Vandel Road: last stop of this Tour de Sea, between 1645-1745. At last, Sandhill Cranes! Around 61 stood behind a massive and impressive flock of 1000s and 1000s of Snowgeese with 100s of Ross’s Geese! What a way of ending a great day! Some cranes were displaying already and in the nearby reeds Clapper, Virginia and Sora Rails made a lot of pleasant noise!
26.06.06 A San Bernardino Valley Audubon field trip to the Salton Sea and environs, led by John Green. Below mentioned species are just the highlights, as one can read too on the InlandCounty Group. We were able to find the expected specialties, such as Wood stork, Laughing gull, Yellow-footed gull and Gull-billed Terns. The field trip tallied 98 species, two others seen on the 25th made an even 100. Species of note are below. Franklin's gull: one probable first summer bird identified at great distance
by Tom van Noort & Herman van Oosten off the north end of Garst on the 26th.
They studied it at great length while I was busy with field trip participants, but I did look at the bird briefly several times and agree with their conclusion. Heerman's Gull: Three adults at the north end of Poe on the 25th, one on the 26th. Ruddy Ground-doves: Several at the corner of Sperry and Eddins, west of Calipatria, on the 26th, glimpsed/calling. Phainopepla: One at Wister HQ, morning of 26th. Bronzed Cowbird: One male was at Cattle Call Park on the 26th. I add here that the sought-after Yellow-footed gull was seen with ease, most easy along Leg Road, where one has a good view at The Sea.
11.11.05 Left Riverside at 0430 & came back at 1730 - a long but nice day.
Started birding at the Wister Unit as usual and had a 1cy American redstart here, never saw this plumage before though we had a Redstart here before. I was pleasantly surprised by the four Golden-crowned kinglets which were on migration or lost since it is a typical mountain species. Not much special else, except for a few Common ground doves.
Drove then via Davis Rd. south where I had a nice perched Golden eagle on a telephone post, beside the usual shorebirds. Down to Calipatria where I did not see a single dove or pigeon on the Eddins & Sperry Rds. crossing! To hell with it, didn’t need them anyway…Off to some real birding so towards The State Prison I went. Took from the 111 in Calipatria the Eddins east, then Blair north till Hoober and east on Hoober. I stopped the car at the second field east of the prison since there was a small bridge/dam so that I could cross the concrete walled stream. In this field I found at least 2 but very likely 3 SPRAGUE’S PIPITS! The birds were very distinctive with their call and indeed, their behavior: flushed a couple of yards in front of me and flying high away whilst calling. Then, just as described in the books, it returned and landed quite close. Had one bird on the ground in the scope & all characters were well seen, bit reminiscent of Sky lark in head pattern. Flight is remarkable different from American pipit (from which I had two in the same dry field!): really a 'good’ and strong flight, very different from the fluttering flight of American pipit (and, in the Old World, of Meadow pipit) -reminded me of the Wagtail flight. Really a good species in CA! No Longspurs or many Shorelarks.
Then drove via the 86 towards Brawley and checked the Cattle Call Park and the Cemetery but had nothing there; some rodeo-festival was going on in the Park and on the cemetery it was dead silent, as was to be expected indeed.
Continued out of this hell-hole on the 86 west/ north and took Vendel to the north to reach the Salton Sea National Wildlife Reserve. In February we had Sandhill cranes here, but not so this time. However, a large flock of Snowgeese and Ross’ geese contained one Aleutian Canada goose! My first ever small Canada goose, this subspecies comes from the Aleutian Islands and winters in central CA, so it was a bit to the south. It differs from cackling goose by its squarish head, where Cackling should have a round head –quite a good mark after careful observation. Meanwhile I read some neckbands of Ross’ geese; will send them off soon. Went home hereafter & had an Osprey en route.
3. The closest coastal areas: Huntington Beach, Newport Beach (Orange Co)
15.01.05 San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, Irvine CA (Read ‘Duck Ponds’ on map) Blue sky, hardly any wind, 0900-1130. A new area! It has some ponds, a muddy channel, shrub, reed and some cottonwood trees. And looks fine for marshbirds and waterfowl and so it was. Wilson’s warbler is stunning and so are Allen’s hummingbirds. We had several common but yet new species as there are Pied-billed grebe, Black-necked grebe, Buffleheads, Cinnamon teals and Tree swallows.
Huntington Beach We paid a brief visit at the beach at Huntington, merely to lunch at the pier, but in the meanwhile we saw some birds: Brown pelican 5, Caspian tern, Common loon, Red-throated loon, Heermann’s gull, Western gull, Surfscooter, Western grebes etc.
Upper Newport Bay We spent the whole afternoon birding at the Upper Back Bay area, a very fine area for waders etc, where also the Belding’s savannah sparrow should occur -which we didn’t see. However, we were very glad with outstanding views of the endangered California Gnatcatcher, showing its all-black undertail very clearly while giving the distinctive call. This bird was 150meters east on ‘Back Bay’ (street) at the crossing ‘Back Bay’ and ‘San Joaquin Hills Bld.’, on the steep slope (zoom in on the map). The local subspecies of Clapper rail was also briefly seen and we heard four different birds. In total we saw around 77 Black Skimmers and 50 male Buffleheads great! Besides, more common birds included Black-bellied plover, Least sandpiper, Marbled godwit, Long-billed and Short-billed Dowitchers and a White-tailed kite.
03.04.05 Bolsa Chica Reserve (Read ‘Bolsa Bay’ on the map). Gerco Hoogenweg took us birding again, this time to the famous Bolsa Chica Reserve near Huntington, south of L.A. Weather wasn’t great: overcast and almost cold. Still a bit early for terns, but we managed to see the following: Belding’s savannah sparrow, dozens, (black) Brant 1, Canada goose 1, Semipalmated plover 30, Red knot 10, our first Ruddy turnstones (after many Blacks!), very slender and nice Elegant terns 10, a few Forster’s terns, a few dozen Cinnamon teals, our first American Dunlin, a handful of Caspian terns and still two Northern harriers.
Upper Newport Bay Here after we went down to the Upper Newport Bay which held some better birding and more sunshine. We heard and saw at least two California gnatcatchers along the road, just like last time we were here. New were the two Ash-throated flycatchers we saw –the first of many to come. Further birds include Blue-winged teal 5, Black-bellied plover, Elegant tern 5, 3 Golden-crowned sparrows (still!), around four Pacific-slope flycatchers, 2 Wilson’s warblers, 30 American pipits, 20 Northern rough-winged swallows, 10 Caspian terns, 3 Orange crowned warblers and 40 American avocets, all beautiful in full summer plumage!
30.05.05 Bolsa Chica Reserve Tom and I went together with Paul to ‘the beach’ near Huntington, but not after we had a visit at the Bolsa Chica reserve here, famous for its terns. Well, terns it was! Amongst huge numbers of Elegant and Forster’s terns, we found around eight Least terns and only two Royal terns. Caspian terns proved a bit more common with around 30 birds observed. Great were the around 40 Black skimmers we had on the ‘tern-island’. Few stilts, 2 Red-breasted mergansers and quite a number of Beldings’s savannah sparrows. Views on the beach were outstanding!
4. The greater Mojave desert (San Bernardino Co)
16.01.05 Joshua Tree National Park 0900-1530, great weather, hardly any wind and up to 25 Celsius. Great Park, impressive scenery and beautiful Joshua trees. A few birds present however, though a remarkable amount of juncos. Birds seen: Black-throated sparrow 40, Oak titmouse 1, Gambel's quail 5, a Cactus wren and 50+ Dark-eyed junco's.
27.03.05 Big Morongo Reserve (Read map: drive on East Drive and park there, adjacent to Covington Park). We only arrived at 14:00 on a Sunday afternoon, so it was very crowded and hot: not many birds. Nice, however, was the first Phainopepla, a few Lawrence’s goldfinch and a Mountain chickadee near the parking lot! A bit out of the route the latter bird it seems. Furthermore some trash-birds like Orange crowned warbler, White crowned sparrows, California thrasher &tc.
11.06.05 Tom and I went again to Big Morongo last sunday morning; one pair Summer tanager at the parking lot + a two females further in the reserve. Male Blue grosbeak as well & at least three singing Bell's vireos.
02.04.05 Barstow Road (Hw 247) at Goat Mountains Pass. In these surroundings we had a Ladder-backed woodpecker and two very nice and subtly colored Brewer’s sparrows, very nice birds. Close To Dagett we flushed a Lesser nighthawk.
9/11 & 15/16 April 05 Mojave National Preserve. We went for butterfly egg collecting to the eastern Mojave these two weekends. We slept in the Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert Research Centre which is run by the UCs. Despite the little time we had for birding we could bird a little & saw some good species. The Research Centre is not accessible for public, located at the Kelbaker Road.
Near the Center we had 3 Le Conte’s thrashers, at least 1 Crissal thrasher, a Green-tailed towhee, some Black-tailed & Blue-grey gnatcatchers, a Lawrence’s goldfinch with its distinctive call, a pair Scott’s orioles (brilliant birds!), a Common poorwill at one meter at daytime (!), the first Rufous hummers, a Black-throated grey warbler, a handful of Phainopepla’s, a singing Greater roadrunner, around 5 Ash-throated flycatchers, Cactus wrens, many Black-throated sparrows &tc.
Don’t worry: most of these species were seen on public areas as well, except for the Crissal thrasher & Green-tailed towhee!
A good place for Le Conte’s thrasher is as follows: drive down I-40 E. until you reach the Kelbaker Road Exit and take this exit North. Go down this road until you reach a fairly big ‘Mojave National Preserve’ sign with some space to park your car. This is a few kilometers after the exit from the I-40 E. Park your car at the sign and when you look at the hills on this side of the road, you’ll see some sandy spots near the foothills. Walk through the mesquite towards the hills and listen for the very distinctive ‘wheep?’ call of The Thrasher. We had two parties here, easily seen in the early morning. This road leads to Kelso where you can take the Kelso Cima Rd. for the Bendire’s thrasher (see below).
Other interesting species on the spot were a male MacGillivray’s warbler (stunning bird), around 4 singing Brewer’s sparrows, a Gray flycatcher, many Gambell’s quails and some gnatcatchers of both species.
Bendire’s thrasher is quite easily found as follows. Late in the afternoon we drove (with a normal car) the Kelso Cima Road (north-east) until we passed the Cedar Cyn. Rd. exit which leads East from the K-C Rd. into the Providence Mountains. Drive up C-C Rd.(east, towards the hills). After a few kilometers you’ll drive through an area with many Yoshua Trees on both sides on the road. This is the spot where we had 2 or 3 Bendire’s thrashers in top of the Yoshua trees. We were here perhaps an hour or less before sunset so maybe the birds tried to get the last beams of sunlight of the day in the tops? Other nice birds were 2-3 Scott’s orioles (marvelous still!) singing in the yosh trees, 1 Pinyon jay (! Mostly seen in groups), a Ladder-backed woodpecker and Tom was as lucky to see a White-winged dove –which I didn’t see.
13/15 May 05 Mojave National Preserve Third trip to this desert area and this time we stayed in a research station on the south-side of the Granite Mts. Although there is a gate a few hundred yards before the Station, all the birds could be seen on public terrain. From the I-40, go north on the Kelbaker Rd. until you cross Granite Pass –in between the Granite and Providence Mts. Just after passing the Pass you’ll come across a cattle guard on the road and then turn left on a dirt road towards the Granite Mts. From the Kelbaker Rd. via this dirt road to the gate is approx. 2 miles or so. First you’ll drive or walk across a promising looking Juniper shrubbery and then in a open area with some Yucca. Actually, people do camp here so perhaps that is a nice idea to do. Bring own water!
In the Yucca area close to the mountains we had Bendire’s, Crissal and LeConte’s thrasher, so if you miss out on Bendire’s on the Ceder Canyon Rd., try here! Enjoy the many Cactus wrens here, also had a female Scott’s oriole.
The Juniper area was a bit disappointing: couldn’t find Gray vireo and Juniper titmouse here so perhaps they do not occur here –as they do on the Providence Mts. Maybe it is too low here? Nice birds however were 2 MacGillivray’s warblers, a Cassin’s vireo, a Warbling vireo, Western tanager, Green-tailed towhee &tc. Annoying was a fly-by female tanager sp. other than Western!
4/5 June 05 Providence Mountains, eastern Mojave: Mid Hills Campground. At last we went to this famous campground in the Mid Hills next to the Providence Mts., situated at 5500 feet in a Juniper - Pine forest. Birds of interest are the Juniper titmouse and the Gray vireo which should occur here. Well, we arrived at the campground around 18:30 Saturday evening and some fast birding yielded already our first family of Black-chinned sparrows! Many Chipping and Brewer’s sparrows were around in this beautiful area and nice were the around five Lesser nighthawks that were on the wing already before dusk. Had a barbecue at night with wine and many stars. Birded next morning between 0530-0830 and, though we couldn’t locate any definite Gray vireo, we had in total around five Juniper titmice! This species occurs only here in California, and further to the east in Nevada. The bird was quite readily found by its loud calls, indeed different from the song of Oak titmouse. Further birds of interest: a family Lawrence’s goldfinch, a Western meadowlark that perched in a Pine for a moment before flying off again!
Between the I-40 and the Hole-in-the-Wall campground, along Essex Rd., we had two LeConte’s and 1 Crissal thrasher viewed from the car. Between MidHills and the Ceder Canyon Rd. we had a large flock of around 40 Pinyon jays roaming the sagebrush desert and at least two Crissal thrashers.
19.12.05 Parker Dam. I went to the Parker area today, after very useful tips of Roger Higson and had, just below the Dam itself, between the dam & a sort of rope to prevent boats to come nearer to the dam, 2 males & 1 female Barrow's goldeneye! Splendid birds, they look very 'sincere'. A male hybrid Common X Barrow's was there as well. A good bird too, I think, was a female type Long-tailed duck which was also just below the dam -> guess it must be pretty uncommon this far inland!
5. The Monterey Bay area (Monterey Co), including Stanislaus Co. and surroundings
Monterey-area Trip: February 18th-20th 2005
Left Riverside CA at around 2200 on the 17th & drove all night, heading towards Santa Cruz for seeing some decent birds! We arrived at SC at around 0530 so still time for a little nap & some staring over the sea with our tired heads, but some a fresh sea-breeze brightened us up rather quickly. The weather during the whole trip was highly variable with one constant: RAIN!
At Natural Bridges on Westcliff Drive we had our first birds: Black turnstone 10, Surf scoters, Brandts cormorant 40, Horned grebes, Brown pelican 1, Surfbird 3, several Glaucous-winged gull, Black oystercatcher 3, many hybrid gulls, Pelagic cormorant 1, several Mew gull and 1 Whimbrel.
In the adjacent park (Natural Bridges State beach) we had: Several Chestnut-backed chicadees, Steller's jay 1, Purple finch 2, Pygmy nuthatch 3, Townsend's warbler 2, Winter wren 1 and 1 Clark's grebe.
But though these are all nice species form the northern state, we still didn’t see the reported Rock Sandpiper, but after some searching we saw it really well at the Lighthouse on Westcliff Drive, where you also can find the legendary Surf Museum! The bird was surprisingly hard to find between the similar colored, billed and legged Surfbirds.
Hereafter we head of for the centre of Santa Cruz, to 719 High Street were, with some waiting, we had great looks of two White-throated sparrows. Didn’t look at all like WCSparrows what I initially thought, way more compact & well, different after having seen 83228 WCSparrows. The birds were reportedly present for months already.
In the afternoon we drove steadily towards Monterey which would be our base-camp the coming two days. After checking in a hotel, we quickly went to the harbour of Monterey to search for The Duck of all Ducks: nothing, nothing, then…HERE IT IS! And damn it man, there it was, a male Harlequin duck! What a beauty at 50 meters! Made ‘some’ pictures & later on we had even two males and one female.
Late afternoon we headed off to the crossing Ocean View Bld. – Sunset Dr for spending a good hour looking over the sea & had both Pigeon Guillemot and some Black-legged kittiwakes.
The next morning, February 19th: We were back here and had an enormous amount of great Rhinoceros auklets, some in summer plumage, our first Pacific loon, one or two Long-tailed ducks, a Pomarine skua & a Peregrine falcon. Spend some hours after the seawatch in Jack’s Peak County Park in the drenching rain. Still some birds as first Wrentits, Townsend’s warblers, Hairy woodpecker and some Fox sparrows.
In the harbour of Monterey we again saw a pair of Harlequin ducks.
On our last day, February 20th, We went on a whaling trip for a meager three hours; saw some good stuff like: nice Cassin’s auklet, 2, many Rhino auklets, a Pigeon guillemot, some Short-tailed shearwaters & a few localized Black-vented shearwaters. This all with a few Grey Whales and a pod of Risso’s dolphins!
Great trip but had to go back to Riverside. On the way back Tom saw a Yellow-billed magpie & we saw, between Los Alamos-Los Olivos, Hw 101, an adult Ferruginous hawk.
Towards San Francisco and Berkeley April 4th-May 1st 05 We went to Berkeley and San Francisco for some sightseeing but as usual, we planned the route such that we had some decent birding en route! The birds we really wanted to see were Lewis’s woodpecker, Yellow-billed magpie and Marbled murrelet.
We took the I-5 north and we were told that for the woodpecker we’d better take the Patterson Exit near Patterson (Stanislaus Co.) and so we did. If you come from the south like we did, take this exit from the I-5, drive W under the highway (under the overpass that is) and then turn right onto the Del Puerto Canyon Rd. After around 30 miles you will arrive at the (only) junction on the road where there is a café. Park your car here and walk around a mile or so to the left (south, on the San Antonio Valley Rd.). After a mile you will see a little grey shed on your left, close to a tall Oak just on the road. In this oak we had two magnificent Lewis’s woodpeckers! Marvelous birds and indeed as beautiful as in the books, perhaps even better. In these beautiful surroundings we had in total around 5 individuals. Other birds of interest to us were our first Wild turkeys, around 4, a couple of Chipping sparrows with their distinctive song, many Oak titmice, some 5 Lark sparrows, 3 Golden eagles and indeed, between the I-5 and here we tallied perhaps a few dozen Yellow-billed magpies!
Close to the café we had our first great Lazuli buntings, two singing males and two Lawrence’s goldfinches, beauties as always.
On the way back from San Francisco we took the Pacific Highway (Hw-1). From S.F., drive to Half Moon Bay on the coast and turn left onto Hw-1 (south). After around 20 miles you will arrive at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse on the Pigeon Point Rd, a known spot for Marbled murrelet! We had the best views a few 100 yards north of the lighthouse (here there is a sort of small bay with a sandy shore) and from here we had around 20 Marbled murrelets. Special birds, especially when you consider that they breed up to 40 miles inland in high pine trees! Further birds of notice: 2 fly-by Cassin’s auklets, 3 Rhinoceros auklets, dozens Common murres, around 4 Pigeon guillemots, 2 Black oystercatchers, both Cormorants and a dozen ‘sooty’ shearwaters. And our first Wandering tattler!
Monterey Bay Trip with Shearwater Journeys: 22.08.05
We arrived on Saturday the 21st of August and drove to the Monterey camp ground in the Veterans Memorial Park –very conveniently located, close to the center of Monterey. Had a Townsend’s warbler there, the first we saw since April. Had a beer (‘King Cobra’!) and went to sleep. Woke up at six and showed up in the harbor at seven, ship left at 07:30. Let the games begin! The first bird of notice was instantly the best bird of the day, though for Europeans it might have been nicer if it were another species: a Manx shearwater! This bird is extremely rare on the Pacific coast of the US since it mainly is an Atlantic species; a subpopulation of which is found around New Zealand and that is where this bird came from. This species is seen annually on Shearwater tours here. Meanwhile, the first of many Sooty shearwaters made their first appearance as did a few Rhinoceros auklets. Still no lifers…Black-footed albatross! THAT was what we wanted to hear! Great bird, in more than one aspect indeed –we would see around 40 this day. Meanwhile, Pink-footed shearwaters showed up regularly and we had our first US Common terns…Birding was a bit slow, but so was I, Herman, since well, I thought it might help to add some more food particles to the north Pacific food chain! I didn’t bring in the hoped for Short-tailed albatross though and that made me feel slightly more miserable. But a South-polar skua was great and a lifer! Unfortunately it was only a fly by bird and not too close. Apparently, the bay was devoid of krill this autumn, perhaps because of the El Nino circumstances, so no stormpetrels were observed. After much waiting we at last saw the first of three or four Buller’s shearwaters! That is a very clean and beautiful bird! The rest of the day didn’t bring much news birdwise, except for a Cassin’s auklet, but we had two Blue whales and two Humpback whales which were fantastic, as were the bow-riding Pacific white-sided dolphins.
6. Yosemite N.P (Mariposa Co)
31.08 – 02.09.05 Yosemite NP: After our visit to Sequoia N.P., Agata (my girl) & I went along to Yosemite N.P. The first night we slept on the Bridalveil Creek Campground along the Glacier Point Rd. Pleasant campground, great looking environs surrounding it...Drove towards Glacier Point the same day & made a brief stop at a view-point/parking/trail head (read map: the parking lot is at the first side road left, coming from the south, on Glacier Point Rd –which of course is not a road but a trail) on the north side of the road. I crossed the road to check the forest at the south side of this viewpoint and was amazed to find a much hoped for Black-backed woodpecker! This beautiful bird is always very hard to find and there it was, 20 meters away from me working pine tree! Here, I also had my very first Clark's nutcrackers of which I had many more around Tioga Pass later on. No Blue grouse on the parkinglot at Glacier Point, though the impressive views were, well, there!
The next day we drove via Yosemite Valley to the Tuolumne Meadows Campground near Tioga Pass. I had a nice Peregrine and some Mountain bluebirds near the Tuolumne Visitor Center, beside many Red crosbills and 2 Black bears on the campground! Spend some time at Tioga Pass & walked up to one of the Gaylor Lakes as shown on the Yosemite Map you get upon entering the park. No rosy-finches because of the season, no Pine grosbeaks unfortunately, but what a landscape there on the pass!
02.9.05 Mono Lake and Bodie State Historic Park: Via Tioga Pass we drove to this nice old gold-town in the barren sagebrush desert. What a different landscape comparing with that west of the Sierras! Very dry blue skies and dry air. Though the Historic Park was interesting, I was (even?!) more delighted with the Greater sagegrouse that we saw there! Perhaps we saw two or three parties of these big game birds. They're quite hard to miss I think. Two Black-billed magpies and three Sage thrashers were new as well for me, making this a very nice short & productive side-trip!
Went to Mono Lake on the way south were we had another Sage thrasher on the beach, and many Wilson's phalaropes &tc.
24/27.11.05 Yosemite NP: the beauty of grey: This long Thanksgiving weekend Tom and I went to Yosemite, for both of us the second time. I spend a few days there with my girl & Tom two weeks ago with some friends -so it was time for some serious birding once and for all! We had a few target species to search for...
Left Riverside at 0615 on Thanksgiving and arrived at the Wawona Campground at around 1300, after we had two brief observations of fly-by Lewis's woodpeckers in the oak savannah just before a place called Coarsegold -a promising beginning! Enfin, we were stupid enough not to make a reservation for a campground in time and since all other campgrounds were fully booked, we had to stay at this bit off centre campground -it is a nice one though with an American dipper in the stream just adjacent to the campground. After some wine and buns we left the campground towards Glacier Point: this appeared to be the last day we could actually get there since the road was closed on later days due to weather conditions! We were a bit in a hurry since we would try for the almost mythical Great grey owl that should occur in Yosemite. After a fruitless attempt for Black-backed woodpecker at the spot where I had one early September, we drove on towards Glacier Point. After some frantic searching around it appeared that what I was after was at the spot where a family had just been eating lentils and rice: a very cooperative Blue grouse was snapping at some rice at around an arm's length! At last this species on this known spot; just walk around the parking lot and check the edges carefully since the birds, though big, move slowly and blend perfectly with the background. Off we went towards the Crane Flats area on the west side of Hw. 120 to try for The Owl. It was cold and damp so our shoes were quickly soaked and so were our socks. After waiting and searching with torches for about an hour we saw nothing and went home where we made a fire and did great things with wine and sausages. A big surprise was the calling Northern saw-whet owl which we heard from the tent singing somewhere during the night, and endless toot-toot-toot-toot &tc. Great bonus! Friday morning brought in clouds and after driving towards the beginning of Hw. 120 east which goes all the way to Tioga Pass, we saw to our dismay that this road was closed as well, so that meant once again no Rosy finches or grosbeaks for us. Planned to walk the trail (which starts just after the Hw. 120 east (also known as Tioga Pass Rd.) splits from Hw. 120 west (also known as Big Oak Flat Rd.), you see it on the Yosemite N.P. map you get when entering the park) to the Tuolumne Grove (a Giant Sequoia grove) but went back, forced by rain which started to fall incessantly from now on. But! I had, at last, my nemesis bird the Townsend's solitaire! And I heard five more. Drove back toward Yosemite Village in Yosemite Valley where it continued to rain. Complained, looked for shelter under trees, had coffee, complained, cursed, saw a movie at the visitor centre &tc...you can imagine! Well, it finally got dry at the end of the afternoon, providing fantastic cloudy views on the Valley. It was amazing, in short. We thought that The Owl would be hunting fanatically after such a miserable day so we drove all the way up to Crane Flats once again. It was very pleasant to stroll around in the wet meadows and get your shoes soaked once again, while it is a bit above zero and mist is starting to appear. No owl, no glory but wine and fire. No owls during the night. Woke up Saturday with low grey clouds and drove off to check whether or not Tioga Rd. was opened again. It wasn't, but the skies were of an amazing beauty: crisp clear blue like winter skies ought to be. Everything was still and frosty- needless to say it was cold. We had to fill up the car so we went to the gas station at the Crane Flats -we know this place by now. After fuelling we decided to walk the meadow once again, the one behind the gas station, because it would be nice if we saw The Owl during bright daylight sitting on a snag in the middle of the meadow. We all have our dreams, boys. At around 0800 we started walking in the silent frozen forest towards the meadow's edge and walked along to our right and we heard nothing except for calling Solitaires, no owl of course. Then upon arriving at the meadow's edge -how do I relive the moment second after second whilst writing!- we saw a big dark shadow flying off from the forest edge into the forest, allowing brief glimpses in the bins of a huge big flat head before settling down for a minute on a tree. This is one of those moments you have every once in a great while in your birding career: am I really here and am I not dreaming? Do I really see in my binoculars a gigantic grey owl staring at us with the so familiar flat head? In other words: are we really looking at a magnificent GREAT GREY OWL perched on a dead tree? O yes, we were! The bird flew off, in the forest but it came back and this time it landed on a dead fallen tree in the meadow, allowing near perfect looks at 30 m of The Owl of all Owls. Look at its half-dome shaped head, look at the face, just look and savor the moment! What a bird, what a victory for those who where there -Tom and me. We looked for an hour or so, before leaving the bird on his snag.
Hodgdon Meadow, via the Tuolumne Grove. The walk was around 13 km. roundtrip and we had wonderful views of very attractive Varied thrushes! We had 12 or so in total this walk, but all in the lower half of the walk. What a bird, what a day! On the way back towards our campground we had a berry-eating Pileated woodpecker! This bird was at the one way road, going north to south, just west of Bridalveil Falls. My 16th species of woodpecker in CA...and my 6th lifer this trip.
What a trip! Had all birds we wanted, except for the unreachable finches and grosbeaks. But what the hell, we had The Owl of all Owls!
7. Southeast Arizona
Trip to SE-Arizona 2-4 July 2005 Riverside - Tucson – Sonoita – Patagonia – (Nogales) – Madera Canyon – Tucson –Riverside
This was the only opportunity we would have this spring and early summer to drive to this very beautiful and birdwize famous area of the USA. Though the trip was too short and bit too late (or too early), it was very productive. I refer here again to the ABA book of Richard Cachor Taylor, which we used extensively during the whole trip, excellent and absolute necessary. The trip below is planned using this book. The mentioned page numbers refer to the information about the areas in this book.
Left Riverside at 2200 Friday 1st & arrived at Mount Lemmon (p.37-38), slightly northeast of Tucson, at 0600 Saturday 2nd. On Mount Lemmon, we went directly to the Rose Canyon (Read map: East Rose Canyon Rd.) because of the alleged good, quick birding there. In the two hours we spent here we had a good first impression of the riches of the Arizonan avifauna, new birds included: Olive warbler, 2 female-type birds, several beautiful Red-faced warblers, many evil looking Yellow-eyed juncos, 2 females and one male Broad-tailed hummingbird, many Grace’s warblers, two observed and two more heard Cordilleran flycatchers. Their call is rather different from the (Californian) Pacific-slope flycatchers, but they look all the same. Our first Mexican jays and Canyon towhees were nice, as were the lanky and Phoebe-shaped Dusky-capped flycatchers. At the parking lot we had our first Red crossbills and during the trip down the mountain through a beautiful Saguaro-cactus landscape, we observed our first (of two) Zone-tailed hawk! Just look for a darker trailing-edge on the underwing and check those birds; the tailband is quite readily seen.
We continued the trip to the famous Sweetwater Wetlands (Read map: Sweetwater Drive, p.31) in Tucson, on the west side of the I-10. These ponds are known especially for the Least grebe that inhabits the pond with the ‘keyhole-shaped’ observation platform, apparently since 2000. The bird proved quite easy to find and looked quite evil, just like the juncos! All black with a bright yellow eye.
All around this area and the rest of our trip White-winged doves were very common, but Inca dove and Common ground dove were much rarer with only scattered observations.
Because we couldn’t find the Harris’s hawk here, we walked over to the adjacent Roger Road Wastewater Treatment (p.31) area with two ponds. Birders have to sign in here and after some walking around this industrial looking area, we at last found a juvenile bird perched low in a small tree!
Hereafter we left the Tucson-area, heading south via the I-10 and later the 83 towards Sonoita. A few miles before reaching Sonoita we birded the Lower Gardner Canyon (p.77-78) around two hours by walking along the Gardner Canyon Rd. Unfortunately, it was very hot by know with temperatures estimated to be around 35 Celsius! In spite of these unfavorable conditions, we managed to see some nice birds, such as the localized Botteri’s sparrow, of which we saw at least two individuals, well seen all. In the same bushy & grassy landscape we had our first Curve-billed thrasher, the first of quite a few to come –even in the centre of Patagonia. Lucy’s warbler proved quite common and easily visible. Two other nice and new birds were the Eastern meadowlark of the distinctive lilianae subspecies, a possible near-future split, and an unexpected male Virginia warbler. We couldn’t find either Cassin’s sparrow or Montezuma quail: both should occur here; try earlier in the day!
Halfway the afternoon we continued our way to famous Patagonia & we decided to buy some cold drinks and sit down for a while at the famous hummingbird-feeders at the house of mrs. Paton (p.71). We arrived there pretty worn-out, so it was good to be welcomed to sit down in the shade to watch the feeders for a while. Very quickly we had both Broad-billed and Violet-crowned hummingbird. Broad-billed was also quite common in the Madera Canyon & we saw another Violet-crowned at the Patagonia Roadside Rest area, but apparently, Mrs. Paton’s feeders are the most reliable place in the US to see this species! We were very pleased as well with our very first Northern cardinal, a female and later a splendid male and the Thick-billed kingbirds opposite of her house. Blue grosbeaks were common all through the area.
After sitting here for an hour, we dragged ourselves, and the rental, to the campground at the Patagonia Lake State Park (p.65-68). Had a nap for half an hour, while listening to 6281768 people here, and their kids & their (Mexican) music… But well, it was the weekend of the 4th of July anyway! During the late afternoon we made a short stroll to the 4th wash on the south side of the lake (p.66: map). We couldn’t locate the reported Black-capped gnatcatchers here or near here, which allegedly had bred here –they weren’t reported recently though. But birding was nice anyway! We were very pleased with the Black-bellied whistling-ducks we saw: one on the water edge and later that evening at least 8 but perhaps as many as 14 came flying in to sleep on the lake. Great was the pair of Varied bunting of which we had great views; it took us a while to identify the birds however. Much more beautiful than in the book, great birds with a fiery red head. We saw these bunting at the Florida Wash and near Nogales Airport as well. On the lake itself, Neotropic cormorants were quite easy to identify by their small size, longer tail and sharply cornered bare skin at the base of the bill. We saw at least two. Summer tanagers were quite visible as well.
We woke up early next morning, Sunday the 3rd, to go to the Patagonia Roadside Rest Area (read map: Blue Haven, p.68-71). Didn’t see much here, except for Brown-crested flycatchers &tc. We missed out on the Rose-breasted becards here. Then we continued to the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve (p.72-75) and spent a pleasant two hours here during which we saw our first Bridled titmouse, Yellow-billed cuckoo, Northern beardless-tyrannulet and an always great Grey hawk!
Off to Madera Canyon now: close to Nogales we had a Chihuahuan raven and north of Nogales we saw two Black vultures between the more common Turkey vultures.
Close to the Madera Canyon, driving south on the Madera Canyon Rd., we made a stop at the Florida Wash (p.84-87) to look for the highly localized (on a global scale) Rufous-winged sparrow –we couldn’t find it. But Tom saw his first Swainson’s hawk and we both enjoyed our first (and only) Pyrrhuloxia’s, a nice pair. The birds were surprisingly shy actually. Furthermore no birds, again looking in the desert around noon!
Madera Canyon: a very famous and very productive area, birdwize. A detailed map is found on p.85 of the ABA book, and a description of the good locations at p.89-97. Parked the car at the Madera Canyon Parking Lot and started birding from here, both by walking the road as well as some trails, most noteworthy the Vault Mine Trail. Soon we sampled some nice Arizonan species like Arizona woodpecker, Painted redstart and Magnificent hummingbird. Many Dusky-capped flycatchers, but further few birds. We walked all the way up to the end of the road and walked the Vault Mine Trail for a mile or two, following up a tip we got about where we could find the trogon! And yes, there is was! A splendid male Elegant trogon, sitting very quietly in a tree, close to his nesting tree. Trogons are the best –we knew that already & we experienced it once again! In this same area we also had the first of several Sulphur-bellied flycatchers. Very glad that we had the trogon and the flycatcher, we headed off back again to spend the night on the Bog Springs Campground, but before we went to sleep, we waited patiently to see the famous Elf owl crawling from its wooden utility pawl next to Santa Rita Lodge, cabin one! What a ‘great‘ bird, saw both a young and an adult; the young was continuously peering out of the hole! Very satisfied with these few hours of Madera birding, we had a barbeque without beer but with calling Whip-poor-wills (of the Mexican arizonae subspecies, another possible future split), but we were even more glad with one or two singing Whiskered screech-owls!
Our last day of the trip, Monday the Fourth of July 2005. Birded the Vault Mine Trail again but saw nothing new here, though we had great looks again of the trogon and its female. Thought I heard a Greater pewee, but wasn’t sure. We headed off towards Tucson, to try to find the Purple martins and to try again for Rufous-winged sparrow. We had great success! We had both the sparrow and the martins, all very easily! We had one singing sparrow at a few meters in the western suburbs of Tucson (p.20-21) & yes, it was a great bird. Listen for its song: tik-tik trrrrr. We had one singing on a garden fence, if I can remember correctly on the northwest corner of the Broadway Blvd-Shannon Rd. intersection. This area is just a quiet neighborhood, not a natural desert whatsoever! This might be slightly disappointing if you expect unspoiled panoramas. The martins were close by in the Saguaro areas on the same Anklam Rd. As a bonus and final lifer, we had our first and only Gilded flicker!
Back to Riverside, great weekend & great birding!
8. Santa Cruz Island
This island well known for the endemic Island scrub-jay is part of the Channel Islands NP, located WNW of Los Angeles. We went to Santa Cruz Island via Island Packers and they depart from Ventura Harbor. Remark that the main reason to go there as a birder only occurs on Santa Cruz Island, so don’t be dismayed not to see it one other islands of the NP! Boating went smoothly and on the way back we went after some whales –in other words: the knowledgeable persons from this company are not entirely time-schedule restricted! They bring you to the Island and pick you up on the same day or the next, whatever suits you. We landed at Scorpion Anchorage but the Jay is apparently much easier to score at Prisoners Harbor, which is a bit more to the west. Both harbors are visited by the same boat. In fact, we had to walk and search very hard before we finally had our jays and you don’t want to miss out on this species. Here is a very good .pdf map of the Islands, click on of the ‘Park Maps’.
We left Riverside CA on June 11 at 0430 and came back at 2130, but it was all worth it. From the boat we had at least seven definite Xantus’s murrelets, which breeds on the Channel Islands. The closely related Craveri’s murrelet does not breed here, but winters here. On some of the birds we actually saw the light colored underwing. Rather than jet black, the birds appeared somewhat brownish or grayish above. This could be a lighteffect but we don’t think so. Craveri’s should be blacker too and show dark underwings. In addition, we observed around 10 Pink-footed shearwaters and 20 Sooties, and one Cassin’s auklet. Upon arriving at Scorpion Anchorage, we fanatically hiked the Island and only after almost two hours we found our Island scrub-jay, 4, rather deep inland. We think the problem might have been the initial lack of any larger wooded areas. There’s one at the campground and the Jay is sometimes seen there but not this time, so we walked past it, through the canyon and up the hills. Here we found a forested valley in which we had the rather shy Jays. At Prisoners Harbor however, the Jays apparently are visible on the beach and on the picknick tables so the choice is yours…During our walk we had the endemic insulicola subspecies of Pacific-slope flycatcher (which might merit specific status), a Peregrine &tc. Looking at the ocean from the Island we had around 7 Pigeon guillemots and 1 Common murre. Most noticeable to me were the 2 singing Grasshopper sparrows, together with two non-singing individuals. These were the only Grasshopper sparrows we had in CA.
On the boat back to Ventura Harbor we had great views of 3 Blue whales just below the bow of the ship and a so distinctively ‘floating’ Sunfish.
9. Northern Baja California, Mexico
In the morning of September 12th, I and Agata started to drive down towards lovely Bahia de los Angeles (not the best map, but could not find any better on the WWW!) on the east side of the Baja peninsula, roughly one third down from its start. The idea was that we would relax a little, to do some site-seeing and see how far we would get down south on the peninsula. At the border crossing at Tijuana you’re requested to fill in a ‘Forma migratoria para turista, transmigrante’ which allowed me, being Dutch, and Agata, being Polish, to stay for seven days. This form is obtainable at the border and is free of charge. You will be directed to an office where you get it without hassle and trouble. Be advised that you are obliged to have Mexican car insurance on your vehicle! We were able to get this easily at Budget (recommended!) where we rented our car in Riverside and cost a rather pricey $25 a day. You have no choice though: border officials could allegedly send you back without this insurance! We found our way on Baja using the detailed and interesting volume Moon Handbooks Baja, by Joe Cummings, which contains all the maps and info you will need about Baja.
Once on the other side on the border, we drove surprisingly smoothly through Tijuana where we preferred to take the toll-road (Mexico 1-D, often without the prefix ‘Mexico’) to get to Ensenada and avoiding the traffic on the non-tolled Mexico 1 road further south. After Ensenada, you’ll enter the normal Mexico 1 road. Landscape was all right, bit messy but the further to the south we came the more unspoiled and less trashy it looked. Rolling hills and a cactus-clad desert added much to our joy of driving on the roads of Baja California. However, since we drove on a Monday, many trucks were on the road to supply all kinds of warehouses and since those trucks drove very slow uphill, the average mileage per hour was very low. Downhill, they apparently want to make up for the slow ascend so they speed down which is quite frightening when you’re just ascend form the opposite direction –take care in the hills guys! A little frustrated by this slow speed we decided to turn west on a dirtroad in the small town of El Rosario. Here we drove towards the cape called Punta Baja to spend the night. This took us a great deal of time, driving through the maze of intersecting dirtroads and the thought concerning whether or not all our tires would get punctured in combination with the nearing sunset, didn’t add to a completely tranquil state of mind! The landscape en route was marvelous though: many, many cacti and especially along the dirtroad between El Rosario and Punta Baja we had an occasional and endemic Gray thrasher. The nice species was quite easily seen, also form the car and they perch sometimes atop of cacti. This was the only Baja endemic we would see since the others occur more to the south. Once at Punta Baja we decided not to drive the rather steep and gravelly road down because we were afraid our car wouldn’t manage to drive back uphill the next morning! Magnificent views of the Pacific from up the cliff and many a star at night.
Dawn saw us driving back to El Rosario and further south, heading for Bahia de los Angeles. The surroundings are very beautiful and interestingly shaped trees and cacti decorate the desert and an occasional Harris’s hawk or Gilded flicker was observed. Once arrived in Parador Punta Prieta, take the eastern branch of Mexico 1 leading towards Bahia de los Angeles. Here, at this lovely and very quiet village (apparently it was off-season, which was perfectly all right to us!) we looked for a campground and decided to spend two nights in the primitive but highly romantic (according to Agata, but indeed, I could nothing but agree with her!) Campo Archelon (“Primitive camping on the water”). Sitting by our hut, we would obtain great views of mixed groups of Blue-footed boobies with the occasional Brown booby, while Magnificent frigatebirds soared high overhead or circled leisurely above the ultramarine water in which Common bottlenose dolphins swam. Life was good to us.
The next morning early we went onto the Sea of Cortez (a.k.a. Gulf of California) with Joel’s Ecoturismo. Just ask for him in the village. He has a nice boat but without a roof from whatever sort so bring head protection against the bright sun! I guess we paid around $70 for two persons which we bring us for around six hours on the sea. Apparently it wasn’t a big deal to Joel if we wanted to stay a bit longer. By the way, the $70 was for the whole boat, so the more persons, the cheaper the price per person gets. From the boat I had good views of Black storm petrels and at last of the aptly named Least storm petrel which made my day. Both boobies were seen again, but no tropicbirds were encountered nor whales. We saw however Pacific white-sided dolphins riding on the bow. Though not many species were seen on the trip (too late in the season perhaps?), it was a nice day on the very blue Gulf of California, surrounded by the baking hot islands and coastline.
That evening and the next morning early I did some rather productive beach birding, seeing very welcome Savannah sparrows of the large-billed subspecies rostratus. This subspecies merits specific status, Passerculus rostratus according to Zink et al. (1991) and Zink et al. (2005). Other interesting birds were unexpected Wilson’s plovers, of which I saw several between the Semi-palmated plovers, Reddish egret, many Yellow-footed gulls and a surprising Northern waterthrush, foraging in the beached debris.
As I, for one reason or another, didn’t take ANY birdnotes here, I think I forgot some species. However, there might be nothing of great interest in them or else I would have remembered!
Please feel free to email me about certain species or observation, always welcome!
Systematic list of all species observed in the USA
Red-throated loon Gavia stellata
Pacific loon Gavia pacifica
Common loon Gavia immer
Pied-billed grebe Podilymbus podiceps
Horned grebe Podiceps auritus
Eared grebe Podiceps nigricollis
Least grebe Tachybaptus dominicus
Western grebe Aechmophorus occidentalis
Clark's grebe Aechmophorus clarkii
Black-footed albatross Phoebastria nigripes
Northern fulmar Fulmarus glacialis
Pink-footed shearwater Puffinus creatopus
Buller’s shearwater Puffinus bulleri
Sooty shearwater Puffinus griseus
Short-tailed shearwater Puffinus tenuirostris
Black-vented shearwater Puffinus opisthomelas
(Manx shearwater Puffinus puffinus)
American white pelican Pelicanus erythrorhynchus
Brown pelican Pelicanus occidentalis
Double-crested cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus
Neotropic cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus
Brandt’s cormorant Phalacrocorax penicillatus
Pelagic cormorant Phalacrocorax pelagicus
American bittern Botaurus lentiginosus
Least bittern Ixobrychus exilis
Great blue heron Ardea herodias
Great egret Casmerodius albus
Snowy egret Egretta thula
Cattle egret Bubulcus ibis
Green heron Butorides virescens
Black-crowned night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Yellow-crowned night-heron Nyctanassa violacea
White-faced ibis Plegadis chihi
Wood stork Mycteria americana
Black-bellied whistling-duck Dendrocygna autumnalis
Snow Goose Chen caerulescens
Ross's Goose Chen rossii
Cackling Goose Branta hutchinsii
Canada Goose Branta canadensis
Brant Branta bernicla nigricans
Wood duck Aix sponsa
Gadwall Anas strepera
American wigeon Anas americana
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Blue-winged teal Anas discors
Cinnamon teal Anas cyanoptera
Northern shoveler Anas clypeata
Northern Pintail Anas acuta
Green-winged teal Anas crecca carolinensis
Canvasback Aythya valisineria
Redhead Aythya americana
Ring-necked duck Aythya collaris
Lesser scaup Aythya affinis
Harlequin duck Histrionicus histrionicus
Surf scoter Melanitta perspicillata
Long-tailed duck Clangula hyemalis
Bufflehead Bucephala albeola
Common goldeneye Bucephala clangula
Barrow's goldeneye Bucephala islandica
Hooded merganser Lophodytes cucullatus
Common merganser Mergus merganser
Red-breasted merganser Mergus serrator
Ruddy duck Oxyura jamaicensis
Black vulture Coragyps atratus
Turkey vulture Cathartes aura
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
White-tailed kite Elanus leucurus
Bald eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Northern harrier Circus cyaneus hudsonicus
Sharp-shinned hawk Accipiter striatus
Cooper’s hawk Accipiter cooperii
Gray hawk Buteo nitidus
Harris’s hawk Parabuteo unicinctus
Red-shouldered hawk Buteo lineatus
Swainson’s hawk Buteo swainsoni
Zone-tailed hawk Buteo albonotatus
Red-tailed hawk Buteo jamaicensis
Ferruginous hawk Buteo regalis
Golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos
American kestrel Falco sparverius
Merlin Falco columbarius
Peregrine Falco peregrinus
Prairie falcon Falco mexicanus
Chukar Alectoris chukar
Greater sage-grouse Centrocercus urophasianus
Dusky grouse Dendragapus obscurus
Wild turkey Meleagris gallopavo
Mountain quail Oreortyx pictus
California quail Callipepla californica
Gambell’s quail Callipepla gambelii
Clapper rail Rallus longirostris levipes
Virginia rail Rallus limicola
Sora Porzana carolina
Common moorhen Gallinula chloropus
American coot Fulica americana
Sandhill crane Grus canadensis
Black-bellied plover Pluvialis squatarola
Snowy plover Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus
Semipalmated plover Charadrius semipalmatus
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus
Mountain plover Charadrius montanus
American oystercatcher Haematopus palliatus
Black oystercatcher Haematopus bachmani
Black-necked stilt Himantopus mexicanus
American avocet Recurvirostra americana
Spotted sandpiper Actitis macularius
Wandering tattler Tringa incanus
Greater yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca
Willet Tringa semipalmata
Lesser yellowlegs Tringa flavipes
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus hudsonicus
Long-billed curlew Numenius americanus
Marbled godwit Limosa fedoa
Ruddy turnstone Arenaria interpres
Black turnstone Arenaria melanocephala
Surfbird Aphriza virgata
Red knot Calidris canutus
Sanderling Calidris alba
Western sandpiper Calidris mauri
Least sandpiper Calidris minutilla
Rock sandpiper Calidris ptilocnemis
Dunlin Calidris alpina
Short-billed dowitcher Limnodromus griseus
Long-billed dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus
Wilson’s snipe Gallinago delicata
Wilson’s phalarope Phalaropus tricolor
Red-necked phalarope Phalaropus lobatus
Laughing gull Larus atricilla
Franklin’s gull Larus pipixcan
Bonaparte’s gull Larus philadelphia
Heermann’s gull Larus heermanni
Mew gull Larus canus
Ring-billed gull Larus delawarensis
California gull Larus californicus
Herring gull Larus argentatus smithsonianus
Yellow-footed gull Larus livens
Western gull Larus occidentalis
Glaucous-winged gull Larus glaucescens
Black-legged kittiwake Rissa tridactyla
Least tern Sternula antillarum
Gull-billed tern Gelochelidon nilotica
Caspian tern Hydroprogne caspia
Black tern Chlidonias niger surinamensis
Common tern Sterna hirundo
Forster’s tern Sterna forsteri
Royal tern Thalasseus maximus
Elegant tern Thalasseus elegans
Black skimmer Rynchops niger
South polar skua Stercorarius maccormicki
Pomarine jaeger Stercorarius pomarinus
Common murre Uria aalge
Pigeon guillemot Cepphus columba
Marbled murrelet Brachyramphus marmoratus
Xantus's murrelet Synthliboramphus hypoleucus
Cassin’s auklet Ptychoramphus aleuticus
Rhinoceros auklet Cerorhinca monocerata
Rock pigeon Columba livia
Band-tailed pigeon Patagioenas fasciata
Eurasian collared-dove Streptopelia decaocto
White-winged dove Zenaida asiatica
Mourning dove Zenaida macroura
Inca dove Columbina inca
Common ground-dove Columbina passerina
Ruddy ground-dove Columbina talpacoti
Yellow-billed cuckoo Coccyzus americanus
Greater roadrunner Geococcyx californianus
Barn owl Tyto alba
Western screech-owl Megascops kennicottii
Whiskered screech-owl Megascops trichopsis
Great horned owl Bubo virginianus
Elf owl Micrathene whitneyi
Burrowing owl Athene cunicularia
Great gray owl Strix nebulosa
Long-eared owl Asio otus
Short-eared owl Asio flammeus
Northern saw-whet owl Aegolius acadicus
Lesser nighthawk Chordeiles acutipennis
Common nighthawk Chordeiles minor
Common poorwill Phalaenoptilus nuttallii
Whip-poor-will Caprimulgus vociferus arizonae
Black swift Cypseloides niger
White-collared swift Streptoprocne zonaris
Broad-billed hummingbird Cynanthus latirostris
Violet-crowned hummingbird Amazilia violiceps
Magnificent hummingbird Eugenes fulgens
Black-chinned hummingbird Archilochus alexandri
Anna’s hummingbird Calypte anna
Costa’s hummingbird Calypte costae
Broad-tailed hummingbird Selasphorus platycercus
Rufous hummingbird Selasphorus rufus
Allen’s hummingbird Selasphorus sasin
Elegant trogon Trogon elegans
Belted kingfisher Ceryle alcyon
Lewis’s woodpecker Melanerpes lewis
Acorn woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus
Gila woodpecker Melanerpes uropygialis
Williamson's sapsucker Sphyrapicus thyroideus
Red-naped sapsucker Sphyrapicus nuchalis
Red-breasted sapsucker Sphyrapicus ruber
Ladder-backed woodpecker Picoides scalaris
Nuttall's woodpecker Picoides nuttallii
Downy woodpecker Picoides pubescens
Hairy woodpecker Picoides villosus
Arizona woodpecker Picoides arizonae
White-headed woodpecker Picoides albolarvatus
Black-backed woodpecker Picoides arcticus
Northern flicker Colaptes auratus cafer
Gilded flicker Colaptes chrysoides
Pileated woodpecker Dryocopus pileatus
Northern beardless-tyrannulet Camptostoma imberbe
Olive-sided flycatcher Contopus cooperi
Western wood-pewee Contopus sordidulus
Willow flycatcher Empidonax traillii
Hammond's flycatcher Empidonax hammondii
Gray flycatcher Empidonax wrightii
Dusky flycatcher Empidonax oberholseri
Pacific-slope flycatcher Empidonax difficilis dificilis
E. d. insulicola
Cordilleran flycatcher Empidonax occidentalis
Black phoebe Sayornis nigricans
Say’s phoebe Sayornis saya
Vermilion flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus
Dusky-capped flycatcher Myiarchus tuberculifer
Ash-throated flycatcher Myiarchus cinerascens
Brown-crested flycatcher Myiarchus tyrannulus
Sulphur-bellied flycatcher Myiodynastes luteiventris
Cassin’s kingbird Tyrannus vociferans
Thick-billed kingbird Tyrannus crassirostris
Western kingbird Tyrannus verticalis
Loggerhead shrike Lanius ludovicianus
Bell’s vireo Vireo bellii pusillus
Plumbeous vireo Vireo plumbeus
Cassin’s vireo Vireo cassinii
Hutton’s vireo Vireo huttoni
Warbling vireo Vireo gilvus
Steller’s jay Cyanocitta stelleri
Island scrub-jay Aphelocoma insularis
Western scrub-jay Aphelocoma californica californica
Mexican jay Aphelocoma ultramarina
Pinyon jay Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus
Clark’s nutcracker Nucifraga columbiana
Black-billed magpie Pica hudsonia
Yellow-billed magpie Pica nuttalli
American crow Corvus brachyrhynchos
Chihuahuan raven Corvus cryptoleucus
Common raven Corvus corax
Horned lark Eremophila alpestris alpestris
Purple martin Progne subis hesperia
Tree swallow Tachycineta bicolor
Violet-green swallow Tachycineta thalassina
Northern rough-winged swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis
Barn swallow Hirundo rustica
Mountain chickadee Poecile gambeli
Chestnut-backed chickadee Poecile rufescens
Bridled titmouse Baeolophus wollweberi
Oak titmouse Baeolophus inornatus
Juniper titmouse Baeolophus ridgwayi
Verdin Auriparus flaviceps
Bushtit Psaltriparus minimus
Red-breasted nuthatch Sitta canadensis
White-breasted nuthatch Sitta carolinensis
Pygmy nuthatch Sitta pygmaea
Brown creeper Certhia americana
Cactus wren Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus
Rock wren Salpinctes obsoletus
Canyon wren Catherpes mexicanus
Bewick’s wren Thryomanes bewickii
House wren Troglodytes aedon aedon
Winter wren Troglodytes troglodytes
Marsh wren Cistothorus palustris
American dipper Cinclus mexicanus
Golden-crowned kinglet Regulus satrapa
Ruby-crowned kinglet Regulus calendula
Blue-gray gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea
California gnatcatcher Polioptila californica
Black-tailed gnatcatcher Polioptila melanura
Western bluebird Sialia mexicana
Mountain bluebird Sialia currucoides
Townsend's solitaire Myadestes townsendi
Swainson’s thrush Catharus ustulatus
Hermit thrush Catharus guttatus
American robin Turdus migratorius
Varied thrush Ixoreus naevius
Wrentit Chamaea fasciata
Northern mockingbird Mimus polyglottos
Sage thrasher Oreoscoptes montanus
Bendire’s thrasher Toxostoma bendirei
Curve-billed thrasher Toxostoma curvirostre
California thrasher Toxostoma redivivum
Crissal thrasher Toxostoma crissale
Le Conte's thrasher Toxostoma lecontei
European starling Sturnus vulgaris
American pipit Anthus rubescens
Sprague’s pipit Anthus spragueii
Cedar waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum
Phainopepla Phainopepla nitens
Olive warbler Peucedramus taeniatus
Orange-crowned warbler Vermivora celata
Nashville warbler Vermivora ruficapilla
Virginia’s warbler Vermivora virginiae
Lucy’s warbler Vermivora luciae
Northern parula Parula americana
Yellow warbler Dendroica petechia
Black-throated gray warbler Dendroica nigrescens
Black-throated green warbler Dendroica virens
Townsend’s warbler Dendroica townsendi
Grace’s warbler Dendroica graciae
American redstart Setophaga ruticilla
MacGilivray’s warbler Oporornis tolmiei
Common yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas
Wilson’s warbler Wilsonia pusilla
Red-faced warbler Cardellina rubrifrons
Painted redstart Myioborus pictus
Yellow-breasted chat Icteria virens
Hepatic tanager Piranga flava hepatica
Summer tanager Piranga rubra
Western tanager Piranga ludoviciana
Green-tailed towhee Pipilo chlorurus
Spotted towhee Pipilo maculatus
Canyon towhee Pipilo fuscus
California towhee Pipilo crissalis
Abert’s towhee Pipilo aberti
Rufous-winged sparrow Aimophila carpalis
Botteri’s sparrow Aimophila botterii
Rufous-crowned sparrow Aimophila ruficeps
Chipping sparrow Spizella passerina
Brewer’s sparrow Spizella breweri
Black-chinned sparrow Spizella atrogularis
Vesper sparrow Pooecetes gramineus
Lark sparrow Chondestes grammacus
Black-throated sparrow Amphispiza bilineata
Sage sparrow Amphispiza belli
Savannah sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis beldingi
Grasshopper sparrow Ammodramus savannarum
Fox sparrow Passerella iliaca megarhyncha
P. i. schistacea
Song sparrow Melospiza melodia
Lincoln’s sparrow Melospiza lincolnii
White-throated sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis
White-crowned sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys
Golden-crowned sparrow Zonotrichia atricapilla
Dark-eyed junco Junco hyemalis hyemalis
J. h. caniceps
Yellow-eyed junco Junco phaeonotus
McCown’s longspur Calcarius mccownii
Chestnut-collared longspur Calcarius ornatus
Northern cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
Pyrrhuloxia Cardinalis sinuatus
Black-headed grosbeak Pheucticus melanocephalus
Blue grosbeak Passerina caerulea
Lazuli bunting Passerina amoena
Varied bunting Passerina versicolor
Red-winged blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
Tricolored blackbird Agelaius tricolor
Eastern meadowlark Sturnella magna lilianae
Western meadowlark Sturnella neglecta
Yellow-headed blackbird Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
Brewer’s blackbird Euphagus cyanocephalus
Great-tailed grackle Quiscalus mexicanus
Bronzed cowbird Molothrus aeneus
Brown-headed cowbird Molothrus ater
Hooded oriole Icterus cucullatus
Bullock’s oriole Icterus bullockii
Scott’s oriole Icterus parisorum
Purple finch Carpodacus purpureus
Cassin’s finch Carpodacus cassinii
House finch Carpodacus mexicanus
Red crossbill Loxia curvirostra
Pine siskin Carduelis pinus
Lesser goldfinch Carduelis psaltria
Lawrence’s goldfinch Carduelis lawrencei
American goldfinch Carduelis tristis
House sparrow Passer domesticus