Rose-breasted Grosbeak in Ukiah

George Chaniot

Mon, 08 Jun 2009 -- I just wanted to let you know that there has been a male
ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK visiting my bird feeder on Ford Street in Ukiah. I
saw him visit off and on yesterday (Sunday, June 7) in the early morning and
again in the afternoon. -- Lois O'Rourke

House Wren-predator drama


House Wren babies just hatched three days ago in a nest box outside my house. I've been watching the parents running themselves ragged bringing insects and caterpillars, and leaving with fecal sacs. It seems like one or the other parent came with food about once a minute.

About half an hour ago I heard frantic alarm chattering outside. I found the two parents flying to the nest hole, fluttering for a few seconds, and then leaving. Over and over again the parents narrowly avoided colliding with each other. They kept up an intense chatter-buzz the whole time. An Oak Titmouse, a Lesser Goldfinch, and an Ash-throated Flycatcher came and perched close to the nest. The forays went on for quite some time before I saw light bouncing off something just inside the black opening of the nest box. Then it moved. My first thought was that I was seeing a baby bird's head, but then I realized it didn't look quite right. I finally figured out I was seeing a snake's head. I called my neighbor, Gaby, to come watch.

The snake was apparently ready to leave. It stuck its head out a few times, but every time it did so the wrens attacked. I was taking pictures, so I couldn't see well what was happening, but Gaby saw it get hit a few times. At her suggestion I finally turned on the movie feature of my camera and filmed the rest of the drama. The birds kept dive-bombing the snake as it stuck its head out. Finally the snake decided to make its escape. It wound out of the hole, coiling and counter-attacking twice in the process of exiting. It successfully made it down the tree. It was a 24-30" gopher snake.

I thought that was the end of the story, and came into the house. After a while I heard intense titmouse chatter and went back out. Titmice and several other species were mobbing something down the hill. I suspected the gopher snake heading down into the draw was the object of their attention. As I was trying to figure out what was going on I heard peeps from the nest box!

An adult wren approached the opening and veered away, apparently in fear. It had a crane fly in its bill. The other adult came close and swooped to the side. They kept up an approach-and-retreat flutter dance for a few minutes. Finally the one with the crane fly perched on the edge of the opening, leaned forward to deliver the food, and flew away immediately with a fecal sac.

I will never know whether the gopher snake ate any babies or not. It's hard to believe it wouldn't have wanted to eat all of them, however, once it was inside the nest. Did the wrens successfully scare it off? It seems possible.

Kate Marianchild

Re: Beginning Birder Binoculars?

Jeff Osier-Mixon

I second (third? fourth?) the recommendation for Out of This World. Wonderful folks, a LOT of firsthand knowledge, and excellent prices.

I bought a Nikon binoc there a few years ago for about $75 for astronomy viewing, and they turn out to be excellent for birding as well, particularly when used with the tripod mount and an easily-maneuverable tripod head, or at least that's the way I like to use them. (Not to mention sitting in an adirondack chair looking at Saturn's rings late at night.)

re binocs

J Rosen <mendojanet@...>

A few yrs ago when I was still living in San Francisco, my car was burglarized the night before I was due to take some friends out for a basic birding walk. In desperation I dashed first thing that morning to a mall camera store and quickly checked and deemed ok the optics on a under $50 Dakota binocs, 8 x 42. They have become my favorite binocs (I've never had the $ for the brands that advertise in Audobon magazine), light enough for comfortable carrying and with better light gathering than any others I've ever had.

Janet Rosen
Zanshin Art
"When I feed the poor they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor are hungry they call me a communist" - Helder Camara

Re: Beginning Birder Binoculars?


I highly recommend you go to Out of This World and get their help. Their customer service and their knowledge of their products is fantastic, and their prices are excellent. You'll want to try different binoculars on for fit. If you also like to look at flowers and insects you might consider a pair that also offers close focus.


Re: Beginning Birder Binoculars?

Jessica Morton

Having worked my way through a few pairs of binos over the years,
here are a few ideas I've found important to me (and my non-glasses-
wearing husband):
* "Eye relief" is critical - you really do have to try out many pairs
of binoculars to find those that work with your eyeballs. Some can
actually make you feel dizzy if they don't match up with your vision
needs. A good store to try is Out of This World - they're happy to let
you test theirs outside here in Mendocino.
* What's the feel of the binoculars - do they get they heavy after a
while, are they comfortable to hold, easy to focus quickly so you
don't miss birds while fumbling with the focus knob?
* If one/both of you wear glasses, there are pop-up or twist-up eye
rings for people who don't wear glasses (for a closer fit to the eye
area). So having that part work smoothly and easily, if you're going
to be sharing a pair, can help eliminate the annoyance of "leaving the
seat up" after one partner has used the binos.

Re: Beginning Birder Binoculars?

jerry white

About one and a half years ago, purchased 8X42 Nikon Monarch binocs from Out of This World(competitive prices) in Mendocino for $300 plus bucks. Very good binoculars. Jerry White

---- Original Message -----
From: swbearden
Sent: Sunday, June 07, 2009 7:35 AM
Subject: [Mendobirds] Beginning Birder Binoculars?

Hi there,
Stan and I are in need of recommendations for entry level binocs for bird watching. Any suggestions??

Re: Beginning Birder Binoculars?

Joe Morlan

On Sun, 07 Jun 2009 14:35:37 -0000, "swbearden" <>

Hi there,
Stan and I are in need of recommendations for entry level binocs for bird watching. Any suggestions??
You might consider Bushnell H2O. A very good value for under $100.

Joseph Morlan, Pacifica, CA jmorlan (at)
SF Birding Classes start Sept. 15
California Bird Records Committee
Western Field Ornithologists

Beginning Birder Binoculars?

swbearden <swbearden@...>

Hi there,
Stan and I are in need of recommendations for entry level binocs for bird watching. Any suggestions??

Red Crossbills

Richard Hubacek

Fri-5 June 2009--Red Crossbills are now coming to our feeders in Little River. I've seen at least 2 juveniles. They are very trusting. I've posted two close-up pictures in my Red Crossbill album in the photo section.

Richard Hubacek
Little River

Rufous-crowned sparrow nest

Robert J. Keiffer <rjkeiffer@...>

Wednesday - 3 June 2009 - UC Hopland Research &Extension Center - this
morning Greg Giusti, Shane Feirer, and I discovered a Rufous-crowned Sparrow
nest with 4 unmarked whitish-blue (maybe white as it was hard to tell in the
shadows) eggs in it. It was in Blue Oak (Quercus douglasii) habitat with a
grass understory .rattlesnake grass, ripgut, dogtail, etc. The site was
very well shaded and is on a west aspect old cut on the upper side of a very
old dozed-fire trail . with the nest tucked into a small pocket on the
partially grassed road-cut. The nest is grassed-lined with tightly woven
grass, with an overhand which protected the upperside of the bird and nest.
The female returned to the nest to brood shortly after being flushed. I
believe that this may be Mendocino County's first documented nest .although
nesting has been confirmed in the past by observers witnessing adults
feeding fledged young. Good birding. Bob Keiffer

Common Moorhens at Mendocino College

George Chaniot

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 -- Having some time to kill at Mendocino College this
afternoon, I went to the "Rail Pond" to take a look. I was surprised to
find a COMMON MOORHEN. I have not seen them there since late March. As I
was watching the bird at the east end of the pond, I heard another calling
from the cattails on the south side. I presume that these are the same two
birds that wintered here. During the 50 minutes that I watched the pond I
had a moorhen in view less than 10% of the time. I heard them call about 10
Having two birds in the right habitat at the right time of year is the
lowest level evidence of possible nesting. This bears further observation
since I don't believe there is a Mendocino breeding record to date.

George Chaniot
Potter Valley, MEN, CA

Lawrence's Goldfinches in Willits


Marisela de Santa Anna reported that on Saturday, 5/30/09, during a
bike ride along Reynolds Hwy., in Little Lake Valley, she saw for the
first time there, a pair of Lawrence's Goldfinches. The exact
location was not mentioned. She wondered if Lawrence's Goldfinches
had ever been reported from Little Lake Valley or the Willits area
before. I don't recall ever hearing of that either. Does anyone know?


collared doves

Henrietta Bensussen

Invasion of the Exotics: Eight Eurasian Collared-Doves in our Ft. Bragg yard today. They came in with a group of starlings and a pair of house sparrows, plus a pair of mourning doves.

Henri Bensussen

Ash-throated Flycatcher at Juan Creek

David Jensen

May 29, 2009 - Friday
Late this afternooon I found a single Ash-throated Flycatcher on the south side of Juan Creek, just east of Highway One. Juan Creek is on Highway One north of Westport, just before the road turns inland. I also saw several Purple Martins at that location.
Dave Jensen

No Ash-throated

Arthur Morley <agmorley@...>

No Ash-throated Flycatcher was seen during the scheduled bird survey this morning at Pt. Cabrillo. If still there it could have a larger feeding territory than where I saw it.

However, there was a White-breasted Nuthatch recorded on the survey, which is also unusual for the coast, and there are no oaks on the Pt. Cabrillo Preserve. The WBNU was seen in the south-east corner of the Preserve in mixed pine and riparian vegetation.


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TUFTED PUFFIN - Mendocino Headlands

Karen Havlena <jkhavlena@...>

Mon, 25 May 2009 -- Larry Siemens spotted a TUFTED PUFFIN near
Goat Rock, Mendocino Headlands SP on Memorial Day.  The group he
was with birded there early in the weekend, but did not see the TUPU
until Monday.  (Apologies for the late report).

From Hwy 1 near Mendocino village, take Lansing St intersection (north
side of Mendocino), and turn west on Heeser St and park at the NW parking
area.  Goat Rock is the large, grass-covered rock that would be the most
due north.  Scope the water in this area.  A pair bred here last year, so this
could be one of the same adults.

For Larry Siemens --

(thanks to Matthew Matthiessen's alert)
K. Havlena

Ash-throated Flycatcher

Arthur Morley <agmorley@...>

5/28/09. Today at about 3:30 I saw a Ash-throated Flycatcher at Point Cabrillo. It was about 100 yds north of the houses in an area surrounded by wax myrtle and spreading Cypress. It was about 50 feet from breeding bird survey station #12. We will watch for it on the survey tomorrow morning. It could be nesting.


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Lawrence's Goldfinch

Robert J. Keiffer <rjkeiffer@...>

28 May 2009 - Thursday morning - today I observed a male Lawrence's
Goldfinch gather salt at the traditional spot from years past along
University Road here at the UC Hopland Research & Extension Center. The
"traditional spot" is a black-plastic salt feeder for sheep that is on the
SE side of the road near a wooden pasture sign that says "Vassar Corner".
There are multiple Lesser Goldfinches and House Finches that come in for the
salt also. The salt feeders have a large black plastic rain shield over the
top of the tubs. Viewers are welcome to stop at the "parking area" near the
sign for the goldfinches at the salt feeder close by (25 feet), or
the salt feeder behind the gate (75 feet), or atop the many fences, or
bathing at the bird bath near the tank overflow to the SE. Listen for the
high "bell-like tinkle" sound of the Lawrence's. Good birding. Bob

lots of nesting and dispatched ravens

lakshmikary <lakshmikary@...>

Hi - A few interesting things.
This year Im seeing alot more nesting birds, unfortunetly the european sparrows are chasing the new birdbird couple out of the boxes.
Some ravens were nesting atop a tall pine tree in our yard(about 3 stories up) on monday morning I found 3 young raven heads , neatly detached and about 3 feet from their intact bodies on the ground below the nest, it appears they were just about to fledge, still with a few pin feathers..they were just dispatched and kicked out there were no signs of them being eaten,etc.
I beleive this attack happened at night. I dont hear any more sounds , nor do I see the parents who were regulars here.

I saw 2 young piliated woodpeckers that appear to have just left the nest.
And ,It wasnt the piliated woodpeckers in our dead pine tree as I suspected as I see a female and male on our property often,
because yesterday I saw a female flicker enter a hole in it.

There are a number of other nesting birds that have returned to the same nests for several years now.

Usually we have a number of Pheobes here, but for some reason they are all absent for a few weeks now.( really strange as we usually have so many)

Today I saw some sort of raptor type bird Ive never seen in this are area before, it had long ,narrow wings, and was very light colored,top and undersides with white/grey with some black perhaps, but it definetly was not a kite or the usual hawks around here.
I wasnt able to grab my binocs before it flew off.It wasnt making any sounds. Curious if anyone has any ideas on that.
Lynne- Road D redwood valley
any birder is welcome to hangout here and "bird" just call ahead.

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