Brant Emeryville


In the bay at the end of Powell Street in Emeryville marina is a group of over 100 Brant. Look north towards the Berkeley pier.

Good Birding!

Jim Chiropolos,, Orinda

Re: California Thrasher


I had two singing back and forth across the trail a few days ago in Strawberry Canyon, Berkeley. At least I think it was two, unless one was a very good ventriloquist.
Judi Sierra

On Tue, 2/24/15, greg greg profegreg422@... [EBB_Sightings] <EBB_Sightings-noreply@...> wrote:

Subject: [EBB_Sightings] California Thrasher
To: EBB_Sightings@...
Date: Tuesday, February 24, 2015, 7:46 PM


Today, around 5:30, I experienced an amazing
concert of at least three California thrashers up at Vollmer
Peak in Tilden Park in
Berkeley. I was watching two of them belting it out and
a third, I believe was competing in the distance. An amazing
first for me. This was all witnessed from the asphalt path
in the little meadow below it on the east side of the peak.
They were quite cooperative in posing for photographs,
though the lighting conditions were difficult.
Happy birding,Greg

Sent from
Yahoo Mail for

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California Thrasher

greg greg

Today, around 5:30, I experienced an amazing concert of at least three California thrashers up at Vollmer Peak in Tilden Park in Berkeley. I was watching two of them belting it out and a third, I believe was competing in the distance. An amazing first for me. This was all witnessed from the asphalt path in the little meadow below it on the east side of the peak. They were quite cooperative in posing for photographs, though the lighting conditions were difficult.

Happy birding,

Monterey pelagic trip March 21st

John Sterling

There are still spaces open for the Monterey Seabird pelagic trip on March 21st.  Sign up by calling the office at (831) 375-4658.

John Sterling

26 Palm Ave
Woodland, CA 95695
530 908-3836

Monterey Seabirds
(831) 375-4658

Bird molt workshops

Peter Pyle

Hi all -

Excuse the cross-posting.

After our successful workshops last fall we will be offering additional one-day and two-day molt workshops this April and August. The April workshops are coming up soon (and the two-day one is on Easter weekend to boot). They will take place in Marin, at Richardson Bay Audubon Center near Tiburon for the two-day workshops and around Bolinas Lagoon for the one-day workshops. A description of them and link to further information is below. We hope you will consider joining us!

Thanks, Peter

Link for more information:

Birding By Feather
Professional Molt Workshops with Peter Pyle

Course Description: We will be offering 2-day and 1-day professional workshops that will emphasize bird molt and how it can be used to identify and age birds. Two-day workshops will take place at the Richardson Bay Audubon Center and will include powerpoint lectures on molt, a half-day in the field examining molt in waterbirds, and a half-day in the field banding landbirds and examining birds in the hand. Banding and other field observations will occur among oak woodlands, coastal scrub, and shoreline habitats of San Francisco Bay, while classroom activities will take place on-site. One-day workshops will include a full day of field observation at several hotspots around Bolinas Lagoon, examining both waterbirds and landbirds for molt and age-determination, along with 1-2 hours of classroom activities. We will particularly emphasize molt in shorebirds,  raptors, gulls, and other large waterbirds, but will discuss it in all birds that we observe or capture for banding. Dates have been chosen to optimize learning opportunities about molt in these and other bird species. We encourage participants to bring digital cameras to obtain images of birds in the field for later analysis. 

These workshops are designed to help advanced birders and ornithologists expand their field skills and data-collection capabilities but can also accommodate intermediate-level and beginning birders who would like to learn about molt strategies and how they can help us to age and identify birds.
The range of topics we will be covering are included in an essay by Peter Pyle in Birding Magazine: Birding By Feather

We will be offering one day and two-day workshops in April and August 2015

Two-day Workshops
April 4th-5th (the 5th is Easter) and August 15th-16th, 2015
Times: Saturday (Day 1) at 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday (Day 2) 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: Richard Bay Audubon Center, north of San Francisco, California ( Map)
Includes: light breakfasts and coffee/tea service; full-time instruction from Peter Pyle; lectures on bird molt, bird-banding, age-determination in the hand and field, and other topics; opportunity to help band birds for one morning; does not include lunch, dinner, or lodging.
Enrollment: Limited to 15 participants.
Fee: $495 for the 2-day workshop

One-day Workshops
April 12th and August 30th, 2015
Times: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Location: Meet at the Bolinas School, off Hwy 1 north of San Francisco ( Map)
Includes: Full-time field-instruction from Peter Pyle on bird molt, age-determination in the field, and other topics; 1-2 hours of classroom activities. 
Enrollment: Limited to 15 participants.
Fee: $125 for the 1-day workshop

Instructor: Peter Pyle is an professional ornithologist and marine biologist who has been banding birds and studying bird molts and plumages since he was four years old. He is author of Identification Guide to North American Birds, Parts 1 and 2, covering identification, molt, and age/sex determination, and considered the "bible" among North American bird banders. He participated in the Hawaii, Micronesia, and Samoa Forest Bird Surveys, conducted research on birds and white sharks as a biologist at the Farallon Islands, conducted numerous at-sea marine mammal and seabird cruises, and lead over 50 birding and bird-banding tours and workshops throughout the Americas and the Pacific. To date he has authored or co-authored over 150 papers in scientific journals, four books, and an on-line monograph on the Birds of Hawaii. He currently works for the Institute for Bird Populations, studying bird molt and demographics, and advises research and confirms bird identifications for the National Marine Sanctuary's Beach Watch program.

Red-Naped Sapsucker (possible hybrid) in north Berkeley

Lee Friedman

To my astonishment this morning I saw a Red-Naped Sapsucker located in the trees in front of 722 Spruce Street in Berkeley 94707 (a residential street). I was fortunate to get some photos to help verify identification. Links to them are below. The first photo shows clearly the black line through the eye and the white line above the eye that distinguish the Red-Naped from the Red-Breasted. It also shows the red nape that distinguishes it from the Yellow-Bellied. This first photo also shows the lack of a distinct black collar line underneath the red throat. In the article published by Walters, Miller and Lowther in Birds of North America 2002 No. 663 on distinguishing the Red-Naped and Red-Breasted, it note that immatures and adult male red-napes may lack the black collar; it also notes that these two species can hybridize. The second photo is included to show the back pattern; it has the extensive white and appears identical to the pattern shown for the Red-Naped Sapsucker in Cornell’s All About Birds photo #4 by Laura Erickson. The second photo also shows the continued lack of black below the red nape. So it appears to me to be a Red-Naped Sapsucker with the black collar exception, but perhaps there are reasons to favor a hybrid interpretation. I look forward to any helpful comments about this.


Main photo:


Back pattern photo:


Good birding,

Lee Friedman


White-tailed Kites nesting in Oakland Hills

Wendy Parfrey

A quick walk around our heavily forested neighborhood this morning and I saw something I would never have expected. 

A pair of white-tailed kites are nesting in a 100-ft Monterey pine at the intersection of Colton and Hemlock.  The male was perched on the top branch with occasional flights around the nearby trees.  While perched, he continually chirped loudly.  The female brought branches to the nest and then sat in it and preened.  An hour later, they were still there, both chirping. 

The only grasslands are more than a mile away in Sibley and Redwood Parks, but maybe the kites are finding small mammals plentiful in our back yards.

Colton at Heartwood

Spring in Heather Farm Park, Walnut Creek


The last couple of weeks have felt like spring, though for several days it has been chilly in the morning.  The Tropical Kingbird has continued, sometimes early, now; the last two days it has been seen before 9 AM hawking insects on the slope just above the dirt boat ramp at the southwest corner of the large pond.  The number of Buffleheads has dwindled to a dozen or so, but we have had Ring-necked Ducks in varying numbers for over a week.  Sometimes there are 10 or so, sometimes only 2-3 individuals. 

Numerous observers have mentioned the Oak Titmouse activity in the large oak across the small Ygnacio Canal west of the large pond.  They always seem to be in pairs, now.  Northern Rough-winged Swallows have been flying over the pond early, up to 3-4 of them.  

This morning I again heard and then saw a male Spotted Towhee south of the equestrian area.  Another was also seen and heard in the Gardens.  Bushtits have been building nests and the Red-winged Blackbirds are making some very unusual gurgling sounds after their normal song.  Ruby-crowned Kinglets are also practicing their songs.  

Heather Farm Park is located in the Ygnacio Valley east of downtown Walnut Creek.

Hugh B. Harvey

Walnut Creek

Cormorants Nesting at Lake Merritt

Hilary Powers <hilary@...>

I strolled down to the lake to get an idea of the population for the 4th-Wednesday GGAS bird walk, and was happy to see that the Double-crested Cormorants have started to populate their nests in the trees on the islands. With crests! I birded for years without seeing those; thought they were a myth!

- Hilary Powers - hilary@... - Oakland CA -
- Freelance copyediting and developmental editing -
- "Making Word 2010 Work for You" - -
- The edit you want - online, on time, and on target -
- Needle Felting:; -

Backyard Y-B Sapsucker

Daniel Scali


Yesterday afternoon (2/22) was quite the event for my parents' backyard in Lafayette.  After ten years of fairly regular watching, at 4:00pm we had our first visit from a beautiful Varied Thrush.

As exciting as that was, the visitor I noticed at about 2:30pm was quite a lot less likely (I think. I'm definitely no expert :). I heard drumming that was out of sync with a Nuttal's movements high in a bare oak. I approached to find a sap-sucking bird working some holes in a birch. My step-dad and I looked it over and it looked like nothing we'd ever seen.

We studied it for a while in shadow, noting the black line through the eye, the brownish white lines above and below. It had yellow on the belly and faintly on the sides of the chest with a black collar and a white throat. The large white lateral patches were hidden by golden brown, black, and white plumage, which seemed to cover both front and back. There was no red anywhere but the head did have a speckled look to it. The bird stayed for over an hour drilling and sipping on different branches. 

You all will certainly have more knowledge about this bird. We decided it was a juvenile Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker based on the throat, speckled head, and fact that Red-Naped is juvenile through October only, according to Sibley.

This picture taken with iPhone through binoculars is probably the best I got. There is also video if folks think it will help.

The bird will be hard to find from public access as backyards on that court are pretty secluded and you would almost certainly  have to look in the direction of houses to see it. However, if you feel like checking out the surrounding area, the house is on Windsor Ct. with cross street Windsor Rd. in Lafayette. 

Bird on,

Daniel Scali
Inner Sunset, SF 

Red-throated loon at Jack London Square

Megan Jankowski

I just had a very cooperative Red-throated loon preening close to shore at Jack London Square near the ferry dock.

Megan Jankowski


Violet-green Swallows - nest hole selection


On Saturday, February 21, Derek Heins and I walked about 2 miles of the Orsan Trail at Brionnes reservoir.

Very birdy with spring arrivals of violet-green swallows and orange-crowned warblers. No Lewis Woodpeckers seen.The highlight was watching a pair of violet-green swallows select a nesting cavity in an large oak tree.

Good birding,

Jim Chiropolos

Re: [CB] Alameda County

John Sterling

We also found a male Eurasian Green-winged Teal and a pair of Blue-winged Teal at the first fenced off pond as you enter the MLK park heading to Arrowhead Marsh.  

John Sterling

26 Palm Ave
Woodland, CA 95695
530 908-3836

Monterey Seabirds
(831) 375-4658

On Feb 22, 2015, at 8:08 PM, Jim Lomax augustbirder@... [countybirders] <countybirders-noreply@...> wrote:


’s up, dogs,

Opted to make my first try for the sparrow at Arrowhead Marsh today and arrived at 1300 knowing that the high tide was at 1446 hrs. A few other birders were already there and about 1400, John Sterling and Todd Easterla arrived with their gull class entourage. We watched the marsh with hopeful eyes but never saw the sparrow. As the tide rose, and it was a smaller tide at 5.9 than this morning’s tide of 6.9, other influenced birds made their way to the shoreline and bushy cover as we watched including Sora, Virginia’s Rail, Ridgeway’s Rail, Song Sparrow, and a Lincoln’s Sparrow.

Thus at about 1515 hours, we all started for the parking lot. Then, as we walked along the path, Todd spotted the sparrow in a bush along the shoreline. A few got close enough fast enough to see the bird. As for me, and that’s what it’s all about, I caught a glimpse of a mouse-like bird running under the bushes but not enough to count it. After 10 minutes of everyone looking, the conclusion was that it got away and we all left again. But I hung back a little. And John came back to talk to me. As we made our way to the parking lot, the NELSON’S SPARROW was suddenly there. Up near the top of a bare bush. The same bush Todd first found it. John called the others and I stayed on the bird roughly 20 feet away. I’m not sure, but I think most got a very good look or a look before it dropped down and then flew back across the channel of water to the brush in the water. Very nice.

“Truckin’ like the do-dah man”,

Jim Lomax
Solitary Birder
from No Particular Place

Not at all sure where I’ve been, but I’m not starting over again.

Upper San Leandro Reservoir, Sunday


20 very enthusiastic birders enjoyed a sunny day on a GGAS field trip at Valle Vista/Upper San Leandro Reservoir yesterday. There was no water visible in the reservoir from our vantage points, so no ducks or other water birds. Otherwise, it was quite birdy, with lots of singing. The thrashers were singing their heads off on the hillside above the parking lot and we had a couple of early ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS singing, as well.

Here's the list.

Steve Lombardi
San Ramon
EBMUD--Valle Vista Staging Area (permit required), Contra Costa, US-CA
Feb 22, 2015 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Protocol: Traveling
3.0 mile(s)
Comments:     GGAS field trip. Sunny, 50s-low 60s, brisk breeze late morning. No water in the reservoir visible from where we walked.
44 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose  2
Mallard  2
Turkey Vulture  5
Golden Eagle  1
Cooper's Hawk  1
Red-shouldered Hawk  2
Red-tailed Hawk  5
gull sp.  10
Band-tailed Pigeon  25
Mourning Dove  10
Anna's Hummingbird  5
Belted Kingfisher  1     Heard
Acorn Woodpecker  20
Nuttall's Woodpecker  4
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  2
American Kestrel  2
Hutton's Vireo  1     Heard
Steller's Jay  5
Western Scrub-Jay  20
Common Raven  2
Tree Swallow  10
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  20
Oak Titmouse  2
Bushtit  20
Red-breasted Nuthatch  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Brown Creeper  1
Bewick's Wren  20     Mainly heard, few seen
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  5     Mainly heard, 2 seen
Wrentit  6     Mainly heard. One seen well next to trail.
Western Bluebird  5
Hermit Thrush  1     Heard
American Robin  20
California Thrasher  5     Singing their heads off.
European Starling  50
Orange-crowned Warbler  2     Seen and heard singing.
Yellow-rumped Warbler  2
Spotted Towhee  10
California Towhee  10
Song Sparrow  1     Heard
Golden-crowned Sparrow  50
Dark-eyed Junco  3
Red-winged Blackbird  1
Lesser Goldfinch  5

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

Re: Tree swallows

Jane Chinn

We saw at least that many on Thursday, February 12, same place, at about 1:00 p.m.  Fortunately, several landed in a tree so we could make a positive ID. 

Jane Chinn

From: "greg greg profegreg422@... [EBB_Sightings]"
To: EBB_Sightings@...
Sent: Sunday, February 22, 2015 10:28 PM
Subject: [EBB_Sightings] Tree swallows


Loads of tree swallows have returned to Coyote Hills out at the nest boxes on The Dust Trail. I haven't seen anyone else post this. I was wondering if they arrived today, because I was out there for about 20 minutes at around 2:30 and it was silent. Suddenly there were perhaps 30 or 40 of them frantically flying about. They are fun to watch if not a bit neck-wrenching.

Happy birding,

Re: Tree swallows

Michael Helm <cecinit2007@...>

We saw some tree swallows there a week ago last Saturday on a class trip with Denise Wight, but 
we didn't go down to the nest box area on that expedition.

On Sun, Feb 22, 2015 at 10:28 PM, greg greg profegreg422@... [EBB_Sightings] <EBB_Sightings-noreply@...> wrote:

Loads of tree swallows have returned to Coyote Hills out at the nest boxes on The Dust Trail. I haven't seen anyone else post this. I was wondering if they arrived today, because I was out there for about 20 minutes at around 2:30 and it was silent. Suddenly there were perhaps 30 or 40 of them frantically flying about. They are fun to watch if not a bit neck-wrenching.

Happy birding,

Contra Costa county 2/22/15

Logan Kahle

Hi all,

Spent the day birding around Contra Costa county with Eric Pilotte and Roger Muskat of Solano county.
We started at Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline at around 6:30am. It was quite diverse, with highlights including:
Brant-3 flybys
Eurasian Wigeon-1 male with the American flock
Red-breasted Merganser-2
Red-throated Loon-2
Pelagic Cormorant-2
Black-crowned Night-Heron-1
Sharp-shinned Hawk-2
Black-bellied Plover-4
Red-breasted Nuthatch-1 was quite a surprise
Varied Thrush-4 or more
Townsend's Warbler-1

We continued on to Sandpiper spit, where the following highlights were found (including birds on brooks island):
Common Merganser-1 male. Odd here
Black Oystercatcher-2
Spotted Sandpiper-2
Mew Gull-2
Peregrine Falcon-1

Next stop was Canal boulevard, where we found the following birds of note:
Thayer's Gull-1

We then headed up into the nearby hills in Tilden. We decided first to drop down to Jewel Lake. Our brief stop here was fairly productive with:
Sharp-shinned Hawk (singing!!)
Belted Kingfisher-1
Acorn Woodpecker-2
Downy Woodpecker-1
Hairy Woodpecker-1
Pacific Wren-1
Varied Thrush-1
Townsend's Warbler-1

A brief visit to Inspiration Point was rather slow, with the following consisting of the sole highlights:
Hairy Woodpecker-1
Pygmy Nuthatch-2

Waterbird Regional Park was somewhat active, with the following present:
Belted Kingfisher-1
White-throated Swift-10
Peregrine Falcon-1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow-2
Great-tailed Grackle-2

On to Black Diamond Mines, where the winds had picked up to make listening for birds almost impossible. So, it was likewise not too diverse, but we found one of our targets:
Sharp-shinned Hawk-1
White-breasted Nuthatch
Canyon Wren-1

With wind really starting to pick up, we headed to Ironhouse Sanitary District. At this points, gusts of up to 30 (or higher?) miles per hour kept us from hearing most birds, especially passerines, and as a consequence we missed Marsh Wren and Common Yellowthroat, two birds normally common here. Highlights here included:
Lesser Scaup-1
Black Rail-1
Greater Yellowlegs-1
Lesser Yellowlegs-1 (one of few I've seen in the county)
Wilson's Snipe-3
Mew Gull-4
White-throated Swift-1
Belted Kingfisher-1
Say's Phoebe-1
Barn Swallow-1
Lincoln's Sparrow-1

We bolted to Jersey Island, where the overall lack of flooded fields made birding hard. However, we did find:
Greater White-fronted Geese-20
Ferruginous Hawk-1

On to the Holland Tract, where, as expected, most activity was very distant. We did, however, find:
Greater White-fronted Goose-100
Snow Goose-100
Cackling Goose-30
Northern Pintail-10
American White Pelican-2
Sharp-shinned Hawk-2
Sandhill Crane-8

We proceeded on to a rather dull Clifton Court forebay, where just about the only highlight was a flock of about 100 Boneparte's Gulls on the eastern shore of the forebay.

Then, still doomed by the wind, we went on to Byron Airport preserve. Mostly the usual cast of characters here, including:
Horned Lark-2
Savannah Sparrow-3
Tricolored Blackbird-5

As the day drew to a close, we visited the Byron WTP to find all the fields in the immediate vicinity were flooded! Highlights here were many, and included:
Cinnamon Teal-1
Greater Yellowlegs-2
Least Sandpiper-100
Long-billed Dowitcher-100
Wilson's Snipe-3
Tricolored Blackbird-3

We took Marsh Creek road on our way home, and while there was nothing on the reservoir, 2 Lewis's Woodpeckers were hawking on the snags in the distance.

From my preliminary calculations, we saw 144 species today without any owls plus extreme wind. Additionally, mostly due to lack of effort we missed common birds like California Quail, Marsh Wren, Common Yellowthroats, White-tailed Kite, Virginia Rail, Band-tailed Pigeon, etc. So not a bad tally! 150 or even 160 seems easily doable with owls in winter...

Good birding,
Logan Kahle
San Francisco

Tree swallows

greg greg

Loads of tree swallows have returned to Coyote Hills out at the nest boxes on The Dust Trail. I haven't seen anyone else post this. I was wondering if they arrived today, because I was out there for about 20 minutes at around 2:30 and it was silent. Suddenly there were perhaps 30 or 40 of them frantically flying about. They are fun to watch if not a bit neck-wrenching.

Happy birding,

Nelson's Sparrow continues at Arrowhead

Steven Tucker

In case anyone has the same miserable luck I have had (until today) with seeing Nelson's Sparrows at Arrowhead Marsh, one was still present this afternoon, first seen 30 or 40 minutes before high tide. A Greater White-fronted Goose is still hanging out near the Burrowing Owl mounds along the entrance road.

Earlier in the morning, a lingering female Barrow's Goldeneye was in the Lake Merritt outflow, between 7th and 10th.

Good birding,

Steve Tucker

Places to Observe Pigeons in Suburban and Rural Settings?


Hello! I am part of a group of students at UC Berkeley who are doing a field research project on pigeons and the bumblefoot infection. We are currently looking for field sites to add to our research area, but we don't have enough familiarity with the bay area to know where we will be able to find consistent pigeon populations.

We already have plans to visit a few sites in San Francisco and the East Bay, but currently all of our sites are quite urban in nature. We would like to add a few sites on the less urban side, so that we might make a comparison of the prevalence of bumblefoot and other foot injuries in urban vs suburban areas. Are there any BART accessible areas (we have little to no access to cars) that are relatively suburban but also have consistent pigeon populations? 

Also, we are interested in comparing our observations of pigeons in urban and suburban sites to pigeons in a more rural setting. Are there any places in the East Bay (or even further away), perhaps a feed lot of some sort, where we might be able to observe pigeons in a completely rural setting?

Any help would be much appreciated!