Red Fox Sparrow, Richmond

Alan Krakauer

We had a Red-type Fox Sparrow among our morning sparrow flock today in Richmond near Wildcat Canyon. It was the first we've had here for several years.

A tan-stripe White-throated has been a fairly regular visitor but not seen yet today.

good birding,

Alan Krakauer
Richmond, CA

Yellow-headed Amazon Parrot in Oakland

David Robinson

At about 5pm or so, just after sunset, I was observing a large flock of crows (easily 200 or more) in my neighborhood, just west of Highland Hospital in Oakland (just west of Elliott St. and just north of 33rd St, to be precise). To my great surprise, I noticed a parrot among the crows at the top of a tree. 

Both the parrot and the crows took off when I raised my camera. Some of the crows proceeded to harass the parrot quite aggressively, chasing it and pecking at it again and again, two, three, or four crows at a time. Rather than simply fly off, the parrot flew in large circles overhead, sometimes vocalizing loudly. (The crows, meanwhile — many of the flock, not just the ones harassing the parrot — had been vocalizing loudly for the past half hour.) 

Despite the repeated attacks, the parrot seemed to be sticking with the crows rather than truly trying to escape them. Sure enough, when a bunch of the crows perched on a telephone wire, the parrot flew in and perched on the wire a few feet away. That's when I was able to take several photos, which I've included with my ebird report of the sighting

Finally, at about 5:15pm, the parrot flew off west/southwest, heading into the distance a bit south of Highland Hospital.

When I thought about it, I realized the parrot's having tried to stay with the crows might not really have been so strange: many parrots roost in large flocks. (According to, Yellow-headed Parrots sometimes do.) 

I'm wondering whether this bird is an escaped pet or an escapee from a zoo.

According to, Yellow-headed Parrots are endangered. Here's the reason given:

"The primary cause of declines in Yellow-headed Parrot has been trapping and poaching of eggs and juveniles from nest cavities for the pet trade, as well as hunting, or shooting as pests on fruit crops (Lousada and Howell 1996; Eisermann 2003). It is one of the most sought-after Neotropical parrots for the pet trade because it is considered one of the best "talkers" (Juniper and Parr 1998). Although capture for the pet trade is now illegal in Mexico, this activity still poses a serious threat. Poachers frequently cut down trunks with nest cavities, or enlarge nest hole openings, or cut a hole at the level of the nest if well below the entrance hole (Eisermann 2003). Thus, in addition to loss of productivity, this results in a declining number of available nest cavity sites. This species also faces heightened risk because of its specialization on threatened tropical deciduous forest habitats. This threat to Yellow-headed Parrot is loss of this habitat type due to unsustainable logging, wood harvesting, and clearing for agriculture and livestock grazing; habitat degradation due to intensive cattle grazing can also be a problem (Eisermann 2003)."

 Is there some authority this sighting should be reported to?

David Robinson
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Eastern Phoebe Granger's Wharf Martinez Regional Shoreline


A number of birders were looking for the Eastern Phobe today, a bird first found yesterday by Rebecca Matsubara and reported to eBird.  This is at Granger's Wharf at the very north end of Berrelessa Street.

When I arrived something after 11 AM, Robert Rafael was looking with another birder.  They told me that Teale Fristoe had seen the Eastern Phoebe earlier, but the two of them finally left.  After a while I, too,  wandered farther out through the Shoreline and eventually stopped near the hulk of the schooner Forester.  

Finding nice log on which to sit, I scoped the river and found a huge raft of ducks.  I counted over 250 Common Goldeneyes and had two male Barrow's Goldeneyes mixed in.  There were at least 100 Buffleheads, Scaups and maybe less than 30 Surf Scoters.

When I returned toward Berrelessa, I sat at a picnic table and waited some more for the E. Phoebe.  Eventually, Ethan Monk arrived and after a short time he found the bird in a tree right next to the street.  The Phoebe then flew even closer to us, flew to the ground a couple of times, went to the bushes at the far edge of the lawn, then crossed the trail to a bench north of the bathroom. 

Derek and Chris Heins arrived in time to see and photograph the Phoebe on the metal bridge over Alhambra Creek.  It flew upstream--to the south--and was last seen by Ethan in a backyard.

Chris Wills arrived, and Albert Linkowski came from farther out in the Shoreline.  He said the raft of ducks was much larger and he was going to put 500 Common Goldeneyes on his eBird list.  Derek & Chris, Ethan and Albert all headed out to the edge of the river to look for the ducks. I finally left around 2 PM. 

An eBird report indicates that Sarah Lynch arrived about 2:14.  She saw the Eastern Phoebe and left after birding for 13 minutes.

I am wondering if the Eastern Phoebe has some kind of route it is flying and comes around every hour to hour-and-a-half.  Maybe it feeds for a while, and then decides to just sit somewhere where we cannot see it? 

Still, thanks to Rebecca for finding it and to Ethan for spotting it and getting me on it.  I am sure there will be more reports on eBird:

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek

Friday morning in Heather Farm Walnut Creek


At least 25 Ring-necked Ducks were on the large, mostly natural pond this morning.  They were joined by at least 7 Buffleheads.  The cold farther north must finally be driving them south. 

I only found four Cackling Geese today, three on the main lawn near the playground area, and one on the north ball field.  The ball field also had six Killdeers.

The sparrows were happy to find some of my seeds on the west side of the pond, including a Lincoln's Sparrow

I heard what I am calling a Sora at the southwest corner of the pond.  I was still on the pathway next to the Ygnacio Canal and had passed the little wooden bridge.  We call it Bob's Bridge after the late Bob Wisecarver, who pushed the city to put it on previous bridge foundations.

A Common Gallinule was out on the pond with the duck flotilla.  One day earlier this week there were two out on the pond.

A Merlin was seen from the Contra Costa Canal trail as I rode west toward the crossing over the concrete channel of Walnut Creek.  The Merlin was on top of the western-most power pole near the water pumping station.  This ole is almost over the corner of the concrete pond seen from the trail.  About two poles to the east and on the wires were seven nervous-looking Mourning Doves.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek

Late Wednesday birds in Walnut Creek


I did two bike rides to Heather Farm Park from our house starting about 3:30.  The first was by myself, the second with Rosita.  A total of 130+ Canada Geese were in several areas of the park, mostly the north and south ball fields.  Three Cackling Geese were on the north field, two on the south field, and a single was walking around the large, mostly natural pond.  When last seen it was at the dog park parking lot.

Two Common Mergansers were in the Contra Costa Canal when I went the second time with Rosita.  Two Common Gallinules were in the middle of the big pond with some Ring-necked Ducks, Buffleheads and Coots.

A Kingfisher was seen from the CC Canal trail at the pond closest to the private Seven Hills School.  An adult Red-shouldered Hawk was in a small tree across the walkway from the gravel boat ramp.

I called the police to report three young teens fishing in the natural pond, where there are plenty of signs with the words No Fishing.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek

Double-crested Cormorants - Antioch City Reservoir - 11/18

Paul Schorr

Today Nancy and I took advantage of a break in the weather and birded at Antioch City Reservoir from 12:35 - 2:45.

We were amazed to count 250+ Double-crested Cormorants on the reservoir, clearly a very high number.

A complete list of the birds we saw or heard follows;

Canada Goose 29
Bufflehead 20
Common Goldeneye 13
Ruddy Duck 1
Pied-billed Grebe 5
Eared Grebe 1
American White Pelican 1
Snowy Egret 14
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Virginia Rail (heard) 1
Sora 1
American Coot 12
Ring-billed Gull 25
Anna’s Hummingbird 2
Nuttall’s Woodpecker 1
Black Phoebe 3
CA Scrub-Jay 3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 5
Northern Mockingbird 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 15
Song Sparrow 3
White-crowned Sparrow 1

Birding at Antioch City Reservoir can be challenging because there are only a couple of narrow pullouts along the entrance road into adjacent Lone Tree Golf Course. All viewing along the road is done through a chain-link fence.

Happy birding, be well and stay safe.

Paul Schorr

Great Blue Heron white morph!

Stephen T Bird

Thanks to all those with responses to my driving to Portland email.

On the way stopped through Colusa NWR and saw the described bird on the road up to the photography booth (I was on the main route, after the first right once you’re really in the refuge, so was too far for a good photo with that I have with me).

Very heavy Aredea, bulk in neck and very heavy bill, Pale yellow under Bill with Gray-greenish upper, Buffy Gray yellow legs.

As this is my first white morph, how uncommon are they in Sac valley? 

Also at least two Eurasian Wigeons with a photographer promising me he’d seen a few more at the first pond.


Bath Time for Vultures

Neil Burmester

Rain showers arrived in the North Berkeley Hills around 11:00 AM today, Friday.  Around 11:30 we observed three Turkey Vultures, perched in a redwood tree, grooming and preening in the rain.  We watched them sitting with their wings outstretched as if they were sunning themselves but there was no sun, only steady rain.  They also flapped their wings in place and preened their feathers, all in the steady rain.  This went on for more than 15 minutes at which time we left.  At dusk we saw two TVs perched in the same tree.  TV's are common around here especially when they soar on the updraft created by northeast winds.  (Not what we had today).  But, I cannot remember ever seeing  perched TVs, much less bathing TVs, in this neighborhood.  

A quick internet search found one article from 1965 describing similar behavior by some TVs in New Mexico.

Oregon birding recommendations?

Stephen T Bird

A little relieved that Portland Thanksgiving plans have been cancelled (we'd only agreed to the plans to prevent more at-risk family members from attending larger gatherings), I find myself in the unlucky position of still needing to make the trip up to Portland to pick up some things and all the time in the world to do it alone,  avoiding all human contact along the way.

Does anyone have suggestions for early winter birding in Oregon & Northern California? The more remote (and unpeopled) the better. Last Thanksgiving I was lucky enough to go through Tule Lake & Lower Klamath NWR where I saw more buteos than I have ever seen in my entire life, at one point it was one on every other telephone pole, of all morphs. I think I'll stop through, car-camping, on the way up, again. It can be anywhere, I've got legs to hike on or an inflatable boat to paddle in on, and time.

With gratitude,

Re: American Golden Plover At Eden Landing

Aaron Maizlish

Hi Jim,

This is a great find.  Can you please let us know if F133 is in one of the parts of Eden Landing that is open to the public, or if you were doing the Shorebird Survey in one of the closed-off areas?  And if its viewable to the public, coordinates or description of where the plovers were?    I’m sure others would like to see if it’s still around.

I can probably share a photo to the group as the moderator if you want to forward it.


Aaron Maizlish
EBB Moderator

On Nov 17, 2020, at 9:49 AM, Jim Roethe via <JimRoethe@...> wrote:

During yesterday's shorebird survey at survey spot F133 at Eden Landing, Ann Brown and I saw an American Golden Plover with a small group of Black-bellied Plovers.   We got a very good look at the bird with just 3-4 of the Black-bellied birds.  Smaller than the black-bellied.   A very obvious and distinct white supercilium and longer primaries that appeared to extend beyond the tail. 
Will post on e-bird when the site is reopened on Friday. 
Jim Roethe

Re: American Golden Plover At Eden Landing

Jim Roethe

During yesterday's shorebird survey at survey spot F133 at Eden Landing, Ann Brown and I saw an American Golden Plover with a small group of Black-bellied Plovers.   We got a very good look at the bird with just 3-4 of the Black-bellied birds.  Smaller than the black-bellied.   A very obvious and distinct white supercilium and longer primaries that appeared to extend beyond the tail. 
Will post on e-bird when the site is reopened on Friday. 
Jim Roethe

Monday in west Contra Costa County


Sorry for the late report.  Before participating in the Point Blue Shorebird Survey yesterday, I birded a bit in Richmond.  My first stop at 8 AM was the Richmond Marina from Vincent Park.  I very quickly found two Black Scoters with some Surf Scoters across the marina and in front of the boats.  Searching the rest of the way around the park and looking out toward Brooks Island, I could not find any White-winged Scoters.  I made a similar check from Shimada Peace Park.

I drove around to Ferry Point and there were very few ducks on the water while looking toward the Chevron Long Wharf.  All I found was a distant scattering of Buffleheads.

My area for the Shorebird Census was Point Pinole.  Susana de Trapaga and I had a total of 10 Spotted Sandpipers along the west side of the point as we walked to the fishing pier.  That may be a high number for this area over the last 5-7 years.  I do not remember and have not looked back to see when I first did this.

We also had a pair of White-tailed Kites when we started at 10:45, several Turkey Vultures and a Barn Owl in a palm tree before we returned to the parking lot.

Hugh B. Harvey
Walnut Creek

Pine Siskin, new yard bird


After years of reading reports of pine siskins in other peoples yards they've finally come to mine. A small flock, twice in the last few days. They seemed to be more interested in the bugs (aphids?) on my plum tree than the feeders.

Judi Sierra
North Oakland flats

Reminder ebird down Tues-Thurs


So if someone does refind the Le Conte's please report here.

Re: LeConte's Sparrow - Arrowhead Marsh (11/14/2020)

Stephen T Bird

There was a Nelson’s reported at Hayward
With the same Nelson’s/LeContes reported at MLK

So maybe not impossible with vigilance.

Good birding,

On Sun, Nov 15, 2020 at 9:33 PM Alexander Henry <awhenry@...> wrote:
A very low detection probability bird. No matter how many, and how good, the birders who searched for it today, it could still have been overlooked. It could well be gone, but all hope is not lost.

Alex Henry

Re: LeConte's Sparrow - Arrowhead Marsh (11/14/2020)

Alexander Henry

A very low detection probability bird. No matter how many, and how good, the birders who searched for it today, it could still have been overlooked. It could well be gone, but all hope is not lost.

Alex Henry

LeConte's Sparrow - Arrowhead Marsh (11/14/2020)

Jerry Ting

Just serve as a messenger here.
Rick Lewis found and photographed a LeConte's Sparrow around 12:30 pm (about an hour after high tide) on Saturday 11/14 at Arrowhead Marsh in MLKJ Regional Shoreline. The bird was seen in coyote bush/sage mixed are just east of the boardwalk. Since Rick doesn't have an Ebird account and EBB does not allow posts with any photo attachment, I posted the sighting with photos that Rick emailed me on my Facebook FBC birding group.

Here is the link:

You can see the obvious purplish streaks on the nape in those 3 LeConte's photos. Rick also included a Nelson's Sparrow shot from 2015 for comparison.
As far as I know, this will be the first confirmed ALA county record. Congrats Rick and thanks for the fine photos.

A lot of birders were there during high tide this (12/15/2020) morning and no one has re-found the bird.

Happy Birding and Stay Safe,
Jerry Ting

Clifton Court Forebay

Ethan Monk

Hi all,

After a successful goose chase today and birding a couple other spots, Srikant Char, Logan Kahle, Augie Kramer, and I spent the afternoon birding together at Clifton Court Forebay. Char and I arrived a little before Logan and Augie, and Char brought my attention first to the little white speck flying across the water--a Red Phalarope. We stayed on it for 5 or so minutes as it flitted its way between coot and scaup flocks, heading E the whole time. We finally lost it about 5 minutes prior to Logan and Augie's arrival. Post Red Phalarope, all of us (Logan and Augie included) connected with a remarkably late Bank Swallow with 2 Barn Swallows about halfway to Euc. Isl., and also 3 Red-breasted Mergansers. The swallows seemed to show some site fidelity. Otherwise, only 2 Redhead are left on the forebay. 

Documentation (for all birds) and eBird list will come sometime in the future.

Good birding,

Re: Termite Emergence at UC Berkeley

Bruce Mast

For what it's worth, I was at Sharp Park golf course yesterday (Pacifica, San Mateo county) and there were multiple termite hatches there too. So it's a regional phenomenon.

Bruce Mast

On Sat, Nov 14, 2020, 2:41 PM Philip Georgakakos <pgeorgakakos3@...> wrote:
Nice observation Judith! I went for a run in Redwood Regional Park this afternoon, and there were thousand of termites emerging there. The local birds were going nuts. It’s always so fun to catch these annual events. It’s one of my favorite markers of the start of the “wet” season. 

Best wishes,

Ps. I’m pretty sure these are subterranean termites that don’t pose any threats to structures.

Sent from my phone

On Nov 14, 2020, at 14:00, Judith Dunham <jldunham@...> wrote:

On my way to downtown Berkeley this morning, I decided to walk through the campus to photograph my all-time favorite buckeye tree now that it is leafless and showing its stunning bones. Upon entering the campus at College and Bancroft, on the east side of the Hearst Museum, I noticed Western Bluebirds sallying out from the conifers to hawk insects. I soon realized that the bluebirds, along with Black Phoebes and Yellow-rumped Warblers, were chasing a cloud of termites emerging from the ground along the sidewalk.

Continuing north, I stopped at Strawberry Creek to watch another feeding frenzy. This one included four Townsend’s Warblers, which grabbed the flying insects within two feet of my head, so close that I could hear their bills snap. Walking west along the south side of the creek, I came across another buffet. As elsewhere, Dark-eyed Juncos were also in attendance. One plucky Townsend’s Warbler stood watch over a termite hole and defended it from a junco. The bird did not care that I was a mere three feet away.

List and a few photos here: Best photo is of the termites. Don’t enlarge if you are squeamish or fear for your foundation.

Judith Dunham
Berkeley, CA

Valle Vista termites and an interesting sapsucker

Patricia Bacchetti

EBMUD Valle Vista Staging Area on Pinehurst Road was also resplendent with termites this morning.  I was there yesterday guiding some friends from Minnesota and we saw none-we left just as the skies were getting threatening.  They emerged overnight-so cool to see.
Another friend and I had 64 species there this morning, including a Bald Eagle, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Coopers Hawk, 2 resident White-shouldered Kites, California Thrasher, Pine Siskin, Hooded Mergansers, and a good assortment of ducks on the reservoir. 
On our way back through the conifers at the early part of the King Canyon Trail, at the downed tree along the side of the trail, we saw and heard a sapsucker.  The bird was very active so we weren't able to get great looks, but it was fly-catching for termites at several points and flashed its belly in the sun.  That belly was suspiciously yellow, and the head and face were suggestive of a possible hybrid.  It warrants someone getting a better look and photos of this bird.  Unfortunately for us, it flew off toward the reservoir before we could get either.
A Denise Wight sighting was also made.
Pat Bacchetti

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