Noe Valley Bluebirds continue.


This morning at 9:40 there were at least 5 Western Bluebirds seen feeding in a fruiting Cabbage Palm or sitting on nearby perches, but on the Westside of the street and slightly towards 22 St. from 23rd of the Eastside location reported yesterday on Church St. They were in and around the elevated yard which has a number of spindly palms, small trees and shrubs: a nice little jungle. This began an amazing few hours of solitary birding, however the rest was done in Colma.

Bluebirds strike Noe Valley


While walking on Church St towards Dolores Park at about 9:15 this morning, I was surprised to find 3, but perhaps as many as 6 Western Bluebirds (3 were bluebird-shaped birds flying from this area towards Liberty Heights just as I noticed them) between 22 and 23rd Streets. They were feeding in a fruiting Cabbage Palm at about mid-block nr. the painted South American rainforest house (best not to mention exact address I suppose) and perching on the electrical poles and rooftops on both sides of street. When I walked back at about 1 pm, they were gone, but they might be worth looking for in the morning or at various times of the day as this tree has a lot of fruit, or when passing on the J or just strolling in the neighborhood because the J isn't soon arriving, like I was. Dolores Park at 20 and Church had an Orange-crowned warbler. Russ Bright

Sightings at North Lake, GG Park

Martha Wessitsh

This morning about 11:15 I saw 1 male and at least 1 female Shoveler (might have been 2 females - 1 had its bill tucked but it was hanging out with the male and the other female). There were also 6 or 7 female type Bufflehead, 2 of which I think were possibly immature males, and 1 adult male. Added to that were 3 Yellowthroat, Golden Crowned Sparrows, White Crowned Sparrows, 1 Fox Sparrow, Ruby Crowned Kinglet and the usual Ringnecks, etc. Pretty neat morning.
Martha Wessitsh

Sabine's Gull at Mori Point follow up

Eddie Bartley

To Pen Birders, SF Birders and especially the GGA field trip participants:

My bad for not better documenting to the public when I posted the Dec. 6,
2009 sighting of a Sabine's Gull off Mori Point. I knew that the encounter
was very uncommon but didn't realize just how rare a December sighting of a
Sabine's Gull was until I started doing research. Having heard about quite a
few October sightings of Sabine's Gulls guess I wasn't as shocked as I
should have been. In any case, I should have tried to get someone to
photograph the bird and this rare account will probably be lost to county
and state records because of that. My apologies to those diligent and
thoughtful folks that compile that valuable data. My only excuse for not
properly posting is being completely slammed with prior commitments and just
haven't had much time to devote to the report but here, albeit belated, is a
more detailed account from my notes penned when I returned home and memory
for any who are interested:

The GG Audubon group convened at 8:00 AM for a tour of the Mori Point and
Sharp Park preserves and made it up to the cape of Mori Point at about 10:15
AM, relieved that the prominent bluff partially sheltered us from the cold
and high winds. There were many hundred of loons, also many scoters, grebes
especially in the mini-bay to the south of the point which I attributed to
the changing weather. Howard Higley spotted a group of three Black Scoters
which we then scoped: one male and two females. After maybe a minute the
subject gull, strikingly small in comparison to the Scoters drifted within 5
feet of the three Black Scoters. All of these birds were on the leeward side
of the point so the water was fairly smooth and high clouds made for
excellent viewing with little contrast to the light. The bird was easily
seen with good binoculars, not more than 150 feet out and we had a Zeiss
85mm scope which we took turns looking through. Naturally, we ensured all in
the sizeable group got a good look through the scope at the rare sighting.
The primary observers and debaters were myself and Howard Higley. Other
experienced birders who had great looks at the bird included Jeff
Fairclough, Laurie Graham and Noreen Weeden. I don't think any present have
extensive experience with this species and I have never seen them in winter.

Kittiwake was the first quick guess by both Howard Higley and myself before
we scoped the bird (I was using binos when the bird drifted in and Howard
exclaimed "What about that gull!?"). We had 10 plus minutes with the bird,
both Sibley and NG Field Guides out. The first thing that popped out at us
was the head: brownish on the cap and back of the neck, white forehead, face
in front of bill and throat. No appreciable auricular mark/dot as in Ross's,
Bonaparte's, Kittiwake, etc. The relative size to the Black Scoters who were
within five feet reduced the possibilities considerably. It was a tiny gull
with very long black primaries that projected upwards, rather tern like in
structure. The bill itself appeared all black, a shallow curve at the end of
the upper mandible and a very slight gonydeal curve on the lower. The shape
eliminated Ross's (tiny bill) and Red-legged Kittiwake (bill too long
relative to head size for Red-legged Kittiwake) with the upper and lower
mandibles appearing almost symmetrical. The head shape and bill structure
was identical to Sibley's illustration of Sabine's Gull and what led me to
consider it. As we observed the gull, we spoke out loud the characteristics:
All black bill, head mottled brown on the cap and back, white face and
throat. Gray back (mantle, scapulars, coverts) which confused us as there
were no comparable illustrations in our guides. The length of the all black
primaries extending well beyond the tail were greater than what is shown on
both Kittiwakes and right in line with Sabine's. More curious was that the
mantle, wings and the folded wing pattern which resembled Sibley's 1st
summer pattern to me more than 1st winter in the amount of white shown at
the base of the folded primaries (the inner primaries) and especially the
apparent lack of brown anywhere on the coverts which might be expected in a
bird transitioning from juvenile to first adult. I don't yet own the new
"ID Guide to NA Birds II" (Pyle) and am unfamiliar with Sabine's molt
sequence but Sibley's notes suggests juveniles transition to first adult
plumage by January.

Anywho, after considering all of the possibilities based on apparent size
and overall structure including head shape, bill shape and color, length of
primaries in relation to tail, arrangement of plumage and color and then
comparing these characteristics to the illustrations in our guide books, the
Sabine's call was made and eventually accepted. Admittedly I was the first
one to suggest Sabine's (and being the leader that could possibly have
biased other's opinion) but we had another five minutes with the bird after
that suggestion and none of the observers thought differently at the time. I
tried for a couple of minutes to turn it onto the other comparable gulls
using the guides and the more I looked, the more I was convinced it was a
Sabine's Gull and that was while we were still viewing the bird.

After perusing many images of comparable illustrations and images of similar
gull species, especially Kittiwakes, that same afternoon and subsequently,
I'm still confident in the call. Friends have suggested that it was more
likely that we spotted a Red-legged Kittiwake but, in all due respect, I
think there are quite a few differences, especially in bill structure (which
I always use as the number one factor when identifying closely related
shorebirds - plumage varies but bill structure, rarely) and folded outer
primaries (length in relation to the tail) between these two species. Also,
the cap and back of the neck were certainly brown, not gray or white - I
haven't found any images or illustrations of Kittiwakes with that plumage.
Naturally I'm happy to reconsider if images of Kittiwakes or other small
gulls come about that throw some doubt in my mind but as of now, I still
believe we saw a very rare sighting of a transitional Sabine's Gull.

Happy Trails!

Eddie Bartley

-----Original Message-----
From: notify@... [mailto:notify@...] On Behalf Of
Sent: Tuesday, December 08, 2009 8:25 PM
To: Eddie Bartley
Subject: Re: Mori Point & Sharp Park

Hi, Eddie

I have been getting a a lot of emails about the Sabine's Gull, so I told my
correspondents that you were the person who ID'd the gull. Have you been
getting any flack from anyone, specifically Ron Thorn or Joe Morlan?

I would like to know how you decided on the ID. I was so cold at the time
that I wasn't paying attention to the discussion, and am ashamed to say that
I saw the bird stretch its wings and couldn't tell you what they looked



Re: Christmas Count?

Mark Eaton

So there's a pelagic component to the SF CBC? Cool!

Mark :-)
Mark Eaton

On Dec 9, 2009, at 11:51 AM, Siobhan Ruck wrote:

Has there been an announcement/signup for the SF Christmas Count? I
don't think I've seen anything about it either by mail or email, and
just want to make sure I don't miss the boat. It's 12/29, right?

Siobhan Ruck


To unsubscribe from this group, visit the YahooGroups web site at:

Yahoo! Groups Links

Re: Christmas Count?

Juli Chamberlin

From the Golden Gate Audubon Chapter newsletter:

Join your friends—or meet new ones—by taking part in Golden Gate Audubon’s
2009 Christmas Bird Counts: in Oakland on Sunday, December 20, and in San
Francisco on Tuesday, December 29. Not only will you have an enjoyable day
of birding, but you can cap it off with a delicious dinner where area
leaders report results from the field, including the whereabouts of unusual
species found that day. Sign up at


Juli Chamberlin

On Wed, Dec 9, 2009 at 11:51 AM, Siobhan Ruck <siobhanruck@...>wrote:

Has there been an announcement/signup for the SF Christmas Count? I
don't think I've seen anything about it either by mail or email, and
just want to make sure I don't miss the boat. It's 12/29, right?

Siobhan Ruck

Christmas Count?

Siobhan Ruck <siobhanruck@...>

Has there been an announcement/signup for the SF Christmas Count? I don't think I've seen anything about it either by mail or email, and just want to make sure I don't miss the boat. It's 12/29, right?

Siobhan Ruck

Presidio, Bison Sparrow Planting Dec 12, our Venezuela birdsong project in NY Times

Josiah Clark <josiahbird06@...>

Hi Birders-

I did a frigid big hour in the Presidio by bike yesterday between 3 and 4pm. Dylan Hayes from the Natural Areas came along for the ride and impressed me with his newly discovered and honed birding abilities. Even with all the construction noises, bitter cold, dark clouds and breezy late day conditions we came up with 50 species.

Highlights follow:
Inspiration Point: OC Warbler-2
Thompson’s Reach- Lincoln’s Sparrow-1
Crissy Field: RB Merganser, Pacific Loon, Red-necked Grebe, Say's Phoebe-1
Ft. Scott: Western Bluebird-1

White-crowned Sparrow Planting at the Bison Paddock, Saturday Dec 12, 9am:

In sparrow news, its Bison Paddock planting time again. This coming Saturday December 12th Golden Gate Park will be hosting another volunteer work day to plant native coastal scrub, breeding habitat for our locally declining Nutalls’ White-crowned Sparrow.

Golden Gate Park Manager, Gloria Koch Gonzalez has lined up 45 Americorp volunteers to help prepare and plant a new part of the site on Friday. Among other plants that will go in the ground are hundreds of native Sticky Monkey Flower, a favorite nectar source for Allen’s Hummingbirds. We also have a rare opportunity to plant scores of native Coast Live Oak trees, a cornerstone of California ecosystems.
Also on December 12 students from The Urban School will begin small-scale work at North Lake to begin to control Cape Ivy there. Once this invasive plant is under control the stage will be set to create riparian plant communities, the optimal habitat for migrant songbirds.

Winter and Habitat:
With plants dormant and the ground wet, winter is among the most important seasons for creating habitat. It is also a great time to come out and see the birds around the Bison Paddock. The more plants we get in the ground now, the more habitat we will have growing this spring!

Bird Walk: 8-9am For those interested in going on a bird walk, arrive at 8am and we will meet along the fence line near our plantings.

Volunteer Work Party: We will meet at 9am along JFK at the paddock and get right to work. We will have water, snacks, gloves and tools. The work party officially ends at noon. Hope to see you there!

Finally in other bird news, a project Ivan Samuels and I have been working on in Venezuela was recently covered by the New York Times. Be sure to check the multimedia link:

Hope to see you on Saturday!
Josiah Clark, Consulting Ecologist

Alcoa White-throated Sparrow.


Before green: aluminum. About 1:30 pm today a tan-striped White-throated sparrow, associating with about 30 mostly well-spread adult White-crowned sparrows, was feeding atop the pruned shrubbery on the elevated plaza of the Eastern end of Alcoa Building on Clay St., best reached from the elevated walkway over Davis from Ferry Park. Hats off to the unknown architect of this elegant, sleekly curving, smartly planted, serenely designed and productive cement commons from the wayback! One Orange-crowned warbler, more than a few Audubon and Townsend's warblers, and several Ruby-crowned kinglets were also spotted there or/and in the adjoining park. Found on the walkway: a Swarovski binocular raincap. Russ Bright

SF Birding resources for young children?

Candy Mabry

Hi All,

I will be embarking on a bird project with my class at an independent school in the Mission District in San Francisco at the end of January and am looking for thoughts on resources as well as any experts willing to work with my class during the late winter and spring. We are fortunate that our campus includes the yellow chevroned parakeets that live in our palm trees and the red-tailed hawks that nest in our bay laurel tree and roost on Mission Dolores during the day. Any thoughts or suggestions would be very much appreciated!

Candy Mabry
Candy Mabry
Preschool Head Teacher
Children's Day School
333 Dolores Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 861-5432 x326 (ph)
(415) 861-5419 (fx)

Birdbox line fixed was Re: Birdbox down temporarily

Joe Morlan


AT&T fixed the line. The Northern California Birdbox is back up and
running. As before, it can be reached at (415)-681-7422.

On Sun, 06 Dec 2009 14:00:57 -0800, Joseph Morlan <jmorlan@...>


The main telephone line for the Northern California Birdbox is currently
down because of a line failure. We expect AT&T to fix it tomorrow morning.
Thank you for your patience.
Joseph Morlan, Pacifica, CA jmorlan (at)
SF Birding Classes start Feb.9
California Bird Records Committee
Western Field Ornithologists

Noe Valley Merlin

hdemann <scott_yh@...>

I walked up the hill to look for the Merlin reported by Adam Winer. According to some further information, it is hit or miss whether the bird is on the perch... seen there "once a week." After finally figuring out how to get to the 4100 block of Cesar Chavez, I almost immediately saw the merlin coming in for a landing.

I was able to get some good close-up photos as well

Link to a photo.

Thanks Adam for the info,

Scott Bowers

Lake Merced- White-Fronted Goose and Snipe

C Lou


From the concrete bridge at Lake Merced, there were two GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE
seen on the south side. They were at first resting in the willows and later drifted
towards the south end. There were three WILSON'S SNIPE at the 'southeast' corner of
the bridge.

Calvin D Lou
San Francisco

Mori Point & Sharp Park before the storm

Eddie Bartley

Golden Gate Audubon Field trip: Mori Point (GG National Parks) / Sharp Park
(San Francisco): turned out better than even expected with a great group of
birders and some uncommon sightings.

After being treated to a briefing by Brent Plater on the status of the Sharp
Park restoration plan we ventured over to the pollywog pond spotting crowned
sparrows, Northern Flicker, Pygmy Nuthatches, thrushes, warblers and three
Red-legged Frogs. Returning to the main trail there was a Say's Phoebe
perched up on a home satellite dish diligently dashing out to clean the
adjacent roof of spiders and then Brent discovered a male Common
Yellowthroat in a mixed flock in the chaparral. Next we braved the cold
winds and drizzle whipping across the newly restored pond system and someone
mentioned a snipe hunt then lo and behold a Wilson's Snipe magically
appeared feeding very near but way out in the open for the whole world to
see. Low temps and a serious head wind kept us from lingering very long in
the open so we headed to the west side of Laguna Salada where a bit of cover
made things a tad more tolerable. The usual suspects here, most of them
dozing away. A very lightly colored second cycle Glaucous-winged Gull was
auspicious and a flock of 8 Killdeer wheeled in to bath at the lakeside.

Back up on the eroding levee we turned our attention seaside where there
were huge numbers of Red-throated Loons with some Pacific's mixed in. On the
rocks at the southern end of the beach we were able to find Black
Turnstones, Surfbirds, Black Oystercatchers and Pelagic Cormorants amongst
the Western and GW Gulls. A hike up Bootlegger Steps warmed us up
considerably and took us to some of the best sightings of the day out on the
cape of Mori Point. Howard spotted three BLACK SCOTERS which we scoped and
then another gull drifted into the same view that turned out to be a
hatch-year SABINE'S GULL. While the head of this very interesting Sabine's
was still in juvenal plumage the flight and body covert feathers as far as
we could see had already molted to first adult plumage. We were able to
study the very cooperative bird for 10 - 15 minutes. Very fun! Many, many
more loons, grebes and scoters bobbed in between the water chop. We missed
the hatch-year Peregrine that Noreen and I saw Saturday on the cliffside but
the significant whitewash under the perches we observed it at yesterday
might indicate it has taken up winter residence.

Returning on the coastal trail there was a great flock of sparrows and
Icterids working the hay at the most recent native plantings. The breezes
calmed significantly and passerines began perching up. Jeff Fairclough and
Laurie Graham pointed out the spot they had seen Thrashers back in October
when we noticed Howard down the trail pointing to the scrub just as the
first comic sounds of Thrashers filtered through to our ears. They seemed to
be in a bit of a tiff with some scrub-jays when we reached the area but
eventually perched up so all could admire those crazy curved bills. We
speculated that these birds may have expanded over from the nearly
contiguous habitat at Sweeney Ridge where very mature chaparral hosts big
numbers of this species. About 1/2 of the group so inspired continued on to
the south east side of the park but those of us who had appointments with
veggie burgers amongst other things returned to the starting point via Mori
Rd. which was greatly enlivened compared to our frigid beginnings three
hours earlier. The berry scrubs were getting worked hard by thrushes while
the cypress hosted a large group of Pygmy Nuthatches a few kinglets and a
Hutton's Vireo for comparison. As we were leaving a Downy Woodpecker
squeak-toyed to us a reminder to return to this area and often.

Happy Trails!

Eddie Bartley & Noreen Weeden

12/06/09 8:00-11:00 AM - 62 Species:

Surf Scoter
Ruddy Duck

Pacific Loon
Red-throated Loon

Pied Billed Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe

Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant

Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
Peregrine Falcon (12/5 only)

American Coot

Black Oystercatcher
Black Turnstone
Wilson's Snipe

Heerman's Gull
Western Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Forster's Tern

Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove

Anna's Hummingbird

Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker

Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Hutton's Vireo
Western Scrub Jay
Common Raven
American Crow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Pygmy Nuthatch
Bewick's Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
California Thrasher
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Spotted Towhee
California Towhee
Song Sparrow
Gold-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch

Harbor Seals
CA Sea Lion
Brush Bunny


bauersteven1 <>

Today at about 8 AM there were 3 Western Bluebirds along with about 20 American Goldfinch on the telephone wires at 40th and Anza.

Between 1:30 and 2 PM there was a first year White-throated Sparrow near the stone bridge on Stow Lake and a Say's Phoebe near the small lawn on the southwest side of Spreckel's Lake.


Get gifts for them and cashback for you. Try Bing now.

Birdbox down temporarily

Joe Morlan


The main telephone line for the Northern California Birdbox is currently
down because of a line failure. We expect AT&T to fix it tomorrow morning.
Thank you for your patience.

Joseph Morlan, Pacifica, CA jmorlan (at)
SF Birding Classes start Feb.9
California Bird Records Committee
Western Field Ornithologists

Rose Breasted Grosbeak in the Aboretum this morning 12/6/09

Dominik Mosur

while co-leading the Golden Gate Audubon bird walk this morning, I found an adult male ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK on the north side of the Arboretum, about 50 yards east of the succulent garden feeding on thistle in a weedy patch between two paths. It was almost exactly in the same spot where I found a hatch year Rose-breasted Grosbeak on last year's December walk so it's possible this is a returning bird.

Best of all was that all three groups this morning were in the same area and everyone (I hope) got to see the bird.

Good birding,
Dominik Mosur

Sutro bath Heermann's gull with white wing patches

Rob Garriock <rgarriock@...>

Today I observed a gull fly into sutro bath with white wing patches. It was that rare color form of a HEERMANN'S GULL. This was the only HERRMANN's GULL I observed today. There was also a large flock of BLACK TURNSTONES (10-15 birds). Offshore there was some good feeding activity including a pod of 10 or more dolphins (White-Sided?). Nothing special of the feathered kind except for 3 COMMON MURRE.

Later Today near my home a Dead Young Male TOWNSEND'S WARBLER was on the steps leading down to the 17th and Clayton intersection. Beautiful bird.

cheers, Rob San Francisco.

Sora & Wilson's Snipe action at Lake Merced

Marc <crannif@...>

Went to the cement bridge at Lake Merced again today around 4pm and saw a SORA, four (4) WILSON'S SNIPES, a COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, two (2) MARSH WRENS, and a YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER.

Links to a few pics:



SF coasts, 12/05/09

Paul Saraceni

Hugh Cotter and I birded a few locations on the ocean and bay sides of SF.

Highlights were 2 hybrids.

On the west side of the south impoundment of L. Merced, we again observed the presumed hybrid Red-breasted x Red-naped Sapsucker, still faithful to the dying pine covered with sapsucker wells near the rocky drainage. Since we first observed it 2 weeks ago, it's plumage seems to have developed a bit, as it is now showing more well-defined white wing patches and is also showing a brighter yellow wash on its belly. It called several times and chased a Ruby-crowned Kinglet from the wells.

At India Basin Open Space on the bayside, there was a drake hybrid Eurasian x American Wigeon. This bird has the rufous-colored head of a Eurasian, but with a greenish eye patch. In the same flock were a couple of striking white-morph drake American Wigeons -- showing white or cream colored foreheads and cheeks. The flock later moved to the shore of Heron's Head park.

Other observations of local interest:

Lesser Scaup 1 m. (s. L. Merced)
Common Goldeneye 3 (2 @ Yosemite Creek, 1 @ Heron's Head)
Black Scoter 20+ (the regular flock just off the s. parking lot of the Great Highway)
Red-br. Merganser 1 f. (HH)
Green Heron 1 (calling nr. concrete bridge, s. L. Merced)
Pelagic Cormorant 1 imm. (Warm Water Cove on bayside)
Common (2), Pacific (10+), Red-thr. (20+) Loons (off of s. parking lot, Great Highway)
Peregrine Falcon 3 (1 on s. tower of GG Bridge, 2 over Yosemite Creek)
Black Oystercatcher 10 (2 fly-bys @ s. parking lot, 5 @ Yosemite Creek/Double Rock, 3 @ HH)
Black-necked Stilt 2 (HH)
Am. Avocet 7 (6 @ HH, 1 @ Pier 94)
Whimbrel 6 (Yosemite Creek/Double Rock)
Gr. Yellowlegs 3 (2 @ HH, 1 @ P94)
Herring Gull 4 (2 @ s. L. Merced, 2 @ HH)
White-thr. Swift 2 (flying over Candlestick Park)
Say's Phoebe 1 (HH)
Am. Pipit 2 (calling fly-overs @ Battery Godfrey)
Lincoln's Sparrow 2 (HH)
Purple Finch 2 (calling fly-overs @ BG)
Red Crossbill 1 (calling fly-over @ concrete bridge)

Paul Saraceni
San Francisco

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