California - November 3rd - 25th, 2015

Published by Mike Neale (mcnswiss AT


Photos with this report (click to enlarge)


A late trip to San Francisco in the year did not disappoint in terms of bird and wildlife observations. The changes in spectacular scenery and habitats made the trip very enjoyable.

Highlights included the fantastic drive along Highway 1 coastal road between Monterey and Morro Bay; Spectacular scenery in Death Valley; Fantastic Redwood trees; Close observations of Bears, Coyotes and other Mammals; Watching the Migrating Monarch Butterflies; and flocks of waders, pelicans and other birds on the way south.

As a result of snow and closed passes, original trip to Yosemite and to Mono Lake was modified and replaced with a very productive trip to Three Rivers and Sequoia NP.

California did have a few storms and strong winds restricted pelagic trips in Monterey resulted in limited whale and sea mammals seen by others on previous days.

Death Valley had also experienced flooding a few days prior to our visit and some areas including Artist Drive were closed.

Visits to the Aquarium in Monterey, the Carson Valley Train Museum in Nevada as well the Parks and Visitor Sites in San Francisco added to the experience.

Full report on cloudbirders

Species Lists

Ducks, Geese, and Swans (Anatidae)

Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons
Snow Goose Chen caerulescens La Merced Wildlife Refuge
Ross’s Goose Chen rossii * La Merced Wildlife Refuge
Black Brant Branta nigricans
Canada Goose Branta canadensis
Gadwall Anas strepera
American Wigeon Anas Americana
Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos.
RedHead Aythya americana
Northern Pintail Anas acuta
Blue-winged Teal Anas discors
Cinnamon Teal Anas cyanoptera
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
Green-winged Teal Anas crecca
Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris
Greater Scaup Aythya marila
Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis
Bufflehead Bucephala albeola.
Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula
Common Merganser Mergus merganser
Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator
Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis
Black Scoter* Melantîtta americana
Surf Scoter Melanitta perspicillata - Very Common
New World Quail, Turkeys etc
California Quail Callipepla californica
Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo

Loons (Gaviidae)

Pacific Loon Gavia pacifica Very Common
Common Loon Gavia immer Common
Red-throated Loon Gavia stellata

Grebes (Podicipedidae)

Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps
Horned Grebe Podiceps auritus
Eared Grebe Podiceps nigricollis
Western Grebe Aechmophorus occidentalis
Clark’s Grebe Aechmophorus clarkia

Cormorants (Phalacrocoracidae)

Brandt's Cormorant Phalacrocorax penicillatu
Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus.
Pelagic Cormorant Phalacrocorax pelagicus

Shearwaters and Skuas

Northern Fulmar* Fulmarus glacialis Pacific Grove beaches
Black-vented Shearwater* Puffinus opisthomelas Pacific Grove beaches
Pomarine Jaeger Stercorarius pomarinus * Pacific Grove beaches

Pelicans (Pelecanidae)

American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos. Mainly around San Francisco
Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis – Very Common

Bitterns, Herons, and Allies (Ardeidae)

American Bittern Botaurus lentiginosus
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias.
Great Egret Ardea alba.
Snowy Egret Egretta thula
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Cattle Egret Bubulicus ibis

Ibises and Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)

White-faced Ibis Plegadis chihi. La Merced Wildlife Refuge

New World Vultures (Cathartidae)

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura.
California Condor* Gymnogyps californianus Along Highway1 past Monterey

Ospreys (Pandionidae)

Osprey Pandion haliaetus

Hawks, Kites, Eagles, and Allies (Accipitridae)

White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus
Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus*
Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus
Sharp-shinned Hawk Accipiter striatus*
Cooper’s Hawk Accipiter cooperii.
Red-shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus.
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
Ferruginous Hawk Buteo regalis

Rails, Gallinules, and Coots (Rallidae)

American Coot Fulica americana.

Cranes (Gruidae)

Sandhill Crane Grus canadensis

Stilts and Avocets (Recurvirostridae)

Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus
American Avocet Recurvirostra americana

Lapwings and Plovers (Charadriidae)

Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Snowy Plover Charadrius nivosus
Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus

Sandpipers, Phalaropes, and Allies (Scolopacidae)

Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca
Willet Tringa semipalmata
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes
Long-billed Curlew Numenius americanus
Marbled Godwit Limosa fedoa
Sanderling Calidris alba
Dunlin Calidris alpina
Baird’s Sandpiper Calidris bairdii
Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla
Western Sandpiper Calidris mauri
Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus
Long-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus
Wilson’s Snipe Gallinago delicate
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Black Turnstone Arenaria melanocephala
Surfbird Aphriza virgata
American Whimbrel Numenius hudsonicus

Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers (Laridae)

Bonaparte’s Gull Chroicocephalus Philadelphia*
Heermann’s Gull Larus heermanni Very Common
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis.
California Gull Larus californicus. Very Common
Herring Gull Larus argentatus.
Lesser Black Back Gull Laraus canus
Common (Mew)Gull Larus brachyrhynchus
Glaucous-winged Gull Larus glaucescens
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia
Forster's Tern Sterna forsteri
Elegant Tern Sterna elegans

Auks, Murres etc

Common Murre Uria aalge

Pigeons and Doves (Columbidae)

Rock Pigeon Columba livia
Band-tailed Pigeon Patagioenas fasciata
Eurasian Collared-Dove Streptopelia decaocto.
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura

Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus 1 Seen near Bodega Bay

Hummingbirds (Trochilidae)

Anna’s Hummingbird Calypte anna Common around San Francisco

Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)

Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon Seen near Lake Tahoe

Woodpeckers and Allies (Picidae)

Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus
Williamson’s Sapsucker Sphyrapicus thyroideus. In Sequoia NP
Red-naped Sapsucker Sphyrapicus nuchalis
Red-breasted Sapsucker Sphyrapicus ruber
Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens
Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus
White-headed Woodpecker Picoides albolarvatus Lake Tahoe
Nutthall woodpecker Picoided nuttallii *
Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus. Common.

Caracaras and Falcons (Falconidae)

American Kestrel Falco sparverius
Merlin Falco columbarius
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
Prairie Falcon Falco mexicanus

Tyrant Flycatchers (Tyrannidae)

Western Wood-Pewee Contopus sordidulus
Pacific-slope Flycatcher Empidonax difficilis
Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans
Say’s Phoebe Sayornis saya
Cassins Kingbird Tyrannus vociferans

Shrikes (Laniidae)

Loggerhead Shrike Lanius ludovicianus

Vireos (Vireonidae)

Huttons’s Vireo Vireo cassinii.

Jays and Crows (Corvidae)

Pinyon Jay Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus*
Steller’s Jay Cyanocitta stelleri. Lake Tahoe
Western Scrub-Jay Aphelocoma californica - Common
Clark’s Nutcracker Nucifraga columbiana * Lake Tahoe
Black-billed Magpie Pica hudsonia
American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos.
Common Raven Corvus corax.

Cuckoos, etc

Greater Roadrunner Geococcyx californianus Death Valley NP

Larks (Alaudidae)

Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris

Swallows (Hirundinidae)

Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor

Chickadees and Titmice (Paridae)

Mountain Chickadee Poecile gambeli. Lake Tahoe
Chestnut backed Chickadee Poecile rufescens

Bushtits (Aegithalidae)

Bushtit Psaltriparus minimus.

Nuthatches (Sittidae)

Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta Canadensis
Pygmy Nuthatch Sitta pygmaea. Lake Tahoe

Creepers (Certhiidae)
Brown Creeper Certhia americana

Wrens (Troglodytidae)

Rock Wren Salpinctes obsoletus
Canyon Wren Catherpes mexicanus
House Wren Troglodytes aedon
Pacific Wren Troglodytes pacificus*
Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris
Bewick’s Wren Thryomanes bewickii

Gnatcatchers and Gnatwrens (Polioptilidae)

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea

Kinglets (Regulidae)

Golden-crowned Kinglet Regulus satrapa
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula

Thrushes (Turdidae)

Western Bluebird Sialia mexicana
Mountain Bluebird Sialia currucoides
Townsend’s Solitaire Myadestes townsendi.
Hermit Thrush Catharus guttatus
American Robin Turdus migratorius.
Varied Thrush Ixoreus naevius

Mockingbirds and Thrashers (Mimidae)

Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos
Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis

Starlings (Sturnidae)

European Starling Sturnus vulgaris.

Wagtails and Pipits (Motacillidae)

American Pipit Anthus rubescens

Waxwings (Bombycillidae)

Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum.


Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas.
Audubons Warbler Very Common
Yellow-rumped Warbler Setophaga coronata. Very Common
Townsend’s Warbler Setophaga townsendi Common
Wrentit Chamaea fasciata

Emberizids (Emberizidae)

California Towhee Melozone crissalis
Spotted Towhee Pipilo maculatus.
Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina
White throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis
Rufus Crowned Sparrow Aimophilia carpalis
Lark Sparrow Chondestes grammacus
Black-throated Sparrow Amphispiza bilineata
Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis
Fox Sparrow Passerella iliaca
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
Lincoln’s Sparrow Melospiza lincolnii
White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys
Golden-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia atricapilla
Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis.

Blackbirds (Icteridae)

Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus.
Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta
Brewer’s Blackbird Euphagus cyanocephalus
Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus
Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater

Fringilline and Cardueline Finches and Allies (Fringillidae)

House Finch Haemorhous mexicanus
Purple Finch Haemorhous purpureus
Pine Siskin Spinus pinus.
American Goldfinch Spinus tristis

Old World Sparrows (Passeridae)

House Sparrow Passer domesticus.