Black-chinned Hummingbirds, Pleasant Hill, Lafayette, etc. (and Blue Grosbeaks Bethel)

Ethan Monk

Hi All,

It has become better known in recent years that Black-chinned Hummingbird populations exist in small numbers off Happy Valley Road in Lafayette and over a slightly larger area in West Pleasant Hill. The Contra Costa Breeding Bird Atlas ('98-'02) never documented any birds of this species in the general area, possibly either because of the species' extreme locality in the area/lack of coverage or a recent range expansion into these locales. Presumably the former is true, considering a year or so back, I had a conversation with a lifelong birder who spent his childhood years (the '80s, I believe) in Pleasant Hill (he now lives out of state) who mentioned recording Black-chinned Hummingbirds at his feeder multiple times a summer. I tried to refind the emails I exchanged with him to find a more precise location, that way I could check and see if they still summer and/or breed close by (I'm sure Black-chinned Hummingbirds still breed somewhere in the general vicinity) but could not recover the emails. Maybe I deleted them? Whatever the case, I was wondering if anyone who reads this has a) observed breeding evidence of this species in either Lafayette or Pleasant Hill or b) if anyone knows where I can find these birds without walking into private backyards so that I can attempt to confirm breeding, myself.

On another note, since I would like this thread to remain on EBB-Sightings so that it is visible to more people and not removed to EBB-Discussion (it seems rather superfluous to have two separate email groups that both discuss birds in the East Bay... We are the only listserve in the Bay Area--and possibly all of California--that actually segregates bird messages into different groups based on their subject matter) So, here are some bird sightings...

Sunday afternoon, I checked Bethel Island for any signs of migrant or breeder activity for a short hour or so. A quick report:
--On the West side of Bethel Road in the field immediately before the first willows shore up to the side of the road, there is a cooperative breeding pair of Blue Grosbeaks, countercalling. The male probably sings in the morning.
--The fields on the East side of Bethel Island Road that are flooded in winter remain flooded, although few shorebirds are currently using them. 3 Least Sands, 3 Killdeer, 3 Stilt and 9 Avocet.
--The bottlebrush at the end of Bethel Island road was productive as always hosting 5 Bullock's and 1 Hooded Oriole (no Black-chinned Hummingbirds to be seen).
--Piper Slough Willows were entirely devoid of migrant activity (probably partially due to the time of day) save Yellowthroats and one lingering basic plumaged Audubon's Warbler.

Good birding,
Ethan Monk

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