6/8/10 - Bayview Hill/Pier 94

Dominik Mosur

Birded Bayview hill this morning (7:20-8:10 a.m.)

Only obvious migrant detected was a singing SWAINSON'S THRUSH, very much out of habitat in the dense French Broom scrub, above the halted condominium construction off Jamestown Street. Isn't recession great?

Others of note included (5) singing SPOTTED TOWHEES, outnumbering (2) singing CALIFORNIA TOWHEES, singing AMERICAN/LESSER/PURPLE/HOUSE FINCH.

Blooming Farewell-to-Spring (Clarkia) and Ithuriel's Spear (photo):
were everywhere making up for the cold/windy conditions and slow birding.

Then a quick stop at Pier 94 (8:20-8:45 a.m.):
CANADA GEESE (8 adults, 22 juvs of various ages)
LONG-BILLED CURLEW (summering/late migrant)
AMERICAN AVOCET (4 adults, 3 nearly full sized chicks)
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON (adult, foraging in the south pond)
GREAT BLUE HERON (foraging in south pond)
SNOWY EGRET (2, flying over N)
EUROPEAN STARLINGS (100+ in a flock foraging in the marsh, 95% juvs)
BARN SWALLOW (male, foraging over marsh, likely nesting nearby)

Driving over the Illinois Street bridge I saw one WESTERN GREBE in the Islais Creek/Channel. The Illinois Street bridge was built in 2005/6 improving commerce in the area (?) but the construction work destroyed Muwekwa-Ohlone Community Park, one of the last breeding areas of Pacific Tree Frogs in San Francisco. We did such a thorough job of committing genocide on the original people I guess its only fitting that we also obliterate open spaces named in their "honor."

Good birding,
Dominik Mosur
San Francisco

Yellow throated warbler - mt d - right now

Dominik Mosur

Man I love being wrong sometimes!! Just got some good looks at the yellow-throated warbler on mt d that I found yesterday and mis- identified as magnolia!
Good luck, Dominik
(415) 786 2768 if you need directions

6/7/10 and 6/6/10

Dominik Mosur


As posted earlier to the list by Hugh Cotter, today I observed a possible Magnolia Warbler on Mt. Davidson.

I had signed up to take part in the San Francisco Butterfly Count but my area (Laguna Honda) was socked in with fog so I made a detour to Mt. D., arriving at 11 a.m.

About halfway up the main trail that starts behind the bus shelter at Myra/Lansdale I heard the sound of a scolding Allen's Hummingbird alternating with chip calls, reminiscent of Yellow Warbler but softer/quieter.

After a few minutes of searching the tops of the eukes along the trail I was able to get on a small wood warbler that moved constantly through the foliage, occasionally giving the soft chip calls.

I managed to get a couple of brief looks at the bird through (sometimes dense) fog. The few field marks I did discern included a yellow throat edged on the sides with black, black streaking at the bottom edge of the throat, a black "mask" over the eyes, white wing panel. In direct comparison with the mobbing hummingbird the warbler was clearly on the small side (Orange-crowned sized) with a long-tailed silhouette. The upperparts appeared black/gray without any obvious streaking/"braces."
I spent a total of about 2.5 hours in the area during which time I never did see the bird again beyond the first twenty or so minutes although it was still chipping away occasionally when I left around 1:30 p.m. At one point when the fog cleared for a bit and the sun looked like it just might break through I did hear a couple of verses of a rising "zippy-zippy-zippy-zip" song coming from the tree where the warbler was chipping that although similar, wasn't a dead on match to a song I had called up online through my phone of Magnolia warbler.

Unfortunately I never got a clear look at the diagnostic undertail pattern nor did I see the bird long enough to note if the yellow ran all the way down the belly. Based on the bird's size, active foraging behavior and chip call however I am confident in eliminating male Audubon's Warbler and Yellow-throated Warbler as possibilities. Nonetheless I will err on the side of caution and report this find as a possible Magnolia Warbler for now. With the cloud/windy conditions there is a chance this bird may stick around for a day or two so there is a chance that others may track it down.

Magnolia Warbler is one of our more regular fall vagrant Eastern warblers but there are only a few spring records.

Other observations of interest on Mt. D today included a quiet WILSON'S WARBLER that may have been carrying food in the direction of a spot south of the X in the trail where one had been singing persistently since at least late April. Also had a single VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW fly-over.

By 2 p.m. I was surveying the land holdings of Laguna Hospital for butterflies. Birds of note here included a probable late migrant OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER in the eukes along Clarendon, a BAND-tAILED PIGEON doing flight displays over the same stand of eukes (and a spot where I had observed BTPi doing display flights since mid April so a potential nesting attempt may be in progress), a singing WILSON'S WARBLER in dense willow/blackberry scrub understory below exotic plantings adjacent to a massive cat/raccoon feeding station. A lone TREE SWALLOW was foraging over the open weedy/grassland of the hospital and a HAIRY WOODPECKER was calling from the euke stand along Clarendon.

Driving home this evening on HWY 101 near "hospital curve" (between Cesar Chavez/Army and Vermont exits) I saw (40-50) AMERICAN CROWS flying over, the largest assemblage of this species I recall seeing over the city.


Began the morning doing a loop around West Wash - Battery Chester - Fort Miley East (6-7:30 a.m.) Highlights included the continuing singing WRENTIT in the West Wash, singing ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER below VA parking lot (same spot I had one singing in the last week of May) and multiple calling NUTTALL's WOODPECKERS at Fort Miley East that we now know are breeding there. Compared to (9) WILSON'S WARBLERS detected on this route on my last visit some 10-12 days ago, I only saw/heard (3) this time.

I then co-lead the 1st Sunday of the month Arboretum walk. Highlights from the other groups included a heard-only singing ROSE-bREASTED GROSBEAK (A. Ridley), a getting on the late side migrant SWAINSON'S THRUSH (G. Marshall) from the other two groups while my group settled for a hatch-year PEREGRINE FALCON being flying into and almost immediately being chased out of a eucalyptus above the succulent garden by Common Raven and later a BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD chick being fed by DARK-EYED JUNCOS.

Good birding,
Dominik Mosur
San Francisco

Oystercatcher chick at HHP

Eddie Bartley

Surveyed Heron's Head & India Basin today for the 2010 SF Butterfly count.
The cursed SF spring winds did not help but it wasn't cold.

Since I was challenged with finding the locally rare Sandhill Skipper, which
required some off trail inspection of Salt Grass, I decided to circle the
marsh and include a June Shorebird census knowing I would be annoying some
of them a bit anyway. The shorebird numbers I detected in the marsh and near
shore I thought surprising for June:

5 Killdeer
2 Black Oystercatcher
14+ American Avocet
2 Black-necked Stilt
2 Whimbrel
3 Long-billed Curlew
1 Marbled Godwit
1 Glaucous-winged Gull
XX Western Gulls
7 California Gulls
2 Forster's Tern
3 Caspian Tern
Also of note: 1 female Bufflehead

Except some 2nd and 3rd cycle gulls these were all adults. I did see two
Avocets cloaking as I moved quickly along the fisherman's trail south side
of the marsh so maybe not all is lost in this year's crop. An Oystercatcher
clued me in to look for a chick as it shuttled mussels to the north, but out
of site.

Today was a convenient day to do the Southern Waterfront Summer Bird Survey
too which includes the dilapidated pier in Lashlighter Cove. I started at
the east end where the pier has fallen in the bay: One male Surf Scoter, 3
Brandt's and one Pelagic Cormorant, then an Oystercatcher with a Mussel flew
in and another adult was already there maybe 15 feet in from where the pier
is collapsed. I could only see their legs once it dropped down then a
glimpse of a chick's legs between the two adults. Have seen juvenile
Oystercatchers at this park three of the last six years but this was the
first chick. Came back several hours later with Noreen and the scope (the
wind was terrific at 4:00 PM, at least a five on the Beaufort scale!) and we
eventually got great looks at the whole chick: fine, even, gray down, my
guess is 2 - 4 days old. Black oystercatcher chicks are considered Precocial
level 3 (born mobile, downy, follow parents, are shown food. Since this bird
was hatched on the pier and they take about 28 days to fledge I would expect
the parents have their work cut out for them. Oystercatchers are known for
their aggressive defense of territory/chicks and they'll need that
considering there are also at least 9 Western Gull nests on the pier. This
pier is planned to be demolished as soon as SF Port can get the funding.

Over at Agua Vista we counted 13 adult Caspian Terns and guess 6 or 7 of
them to be incubating. Another big chunk of that pier system has collapsed
recently but the nesting platform appears more stable than others.

We are advocating that the SF Port agency replace the dilapidated pier
structures with permanent shell mound covered islands. There is some hope
that they are taking that into consideration.

Re: The Butterfly Count at HHP & India Basin
25 - Anise Swallowtail
53 - Cabbage White
3 - West Coast Lady
4 - Sandhill Skipper (1 at HHP, 3 at IB)

P.S. The pier is probably too far for me to get shots of the Oystercatching
chick even with the 800. If anyone manages to digiscope the bird we would be
very grateful to be able to include it in the Southern Waterfront Study. An
image of a shorebird chick might be very compelling to a commission deciding
the future of our port ecology.

Happy Trails!

Eddie Bartley

Poss. Magnolia Warbler on MT D - fide Dominic

h cotter

Just received a message from Dominic - he has a warbler on Mount D that he thinks is Magnolia.
It is in the Eucs. He is trying to nail it down.


Random Notes: Presidio (correction)

Felix Rigau

Thanks to several posters who commented and corrected my field observation. The singing bird was most likely an immature male x female GOFI. Best,Felix

Felix Rigau Photography

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More on Baby Birds

Richard Bradus

Hi all!

I added more photos to the Baby Birds 2010 folder on the SF Birds Group page to document developments over the past few days re: the Alta Plaza Park White-crowned Sparrows and the Lafayette Park Hummingbirds.

On Thursday and Friday the two WcSp fledglings were easily found in the northeast corner of the park by listening for their begging calls. The down has been shed and both are showing the typical juvenile plumage. They have begun foraging for themselves but still beg persistently and the parents diligently feed them. They quickly became much more wary of humans and hide out in shrubs and ground cover when disturbed (hence I now have a much harder time getting any decent photos with my little camera). By the weekend they have become much more adept at flight and now often pursue their parents into the trees down and across Steiner St. to be fed (as do some House Finches in the vicinity).

Both Anna's Hummingbird chicks were still calmly sitting in their nest on Wednesday, but were showing more activity, with one occasionally partially opening and pumping its wings. By Thursday afternoon this chick had fledged [presumably; I did observe the mother visiting the nest to feed the remaining chick and also making other return trips in the vicinity, but I could not locate the fledging], and on Friday the nest was empty. Success!

Also, the Hooded Orioles are becoming more conspicuous, increasing their feeding runs to the nest, though there are no chicks visible yet (the parents still delve deeply into the nest to feed them). Sorry I don't have any pictures - they are just too far away.

Thanks to Dominik for his reports on the WcSp and Nuttal's Woodpeckers out west, and a shout out to everyone to share their observations on locally breeding birds. Every observation adds to our understanding of these local populations.


SF City Species Count - April and May

h cotter

It has been a very poor spring this year so far and the species totals bear that out.

As far as species count for the City went, April finished with 211 species, one above the 5 year average but behind last years total of 218.

May was very poor with only 3 species added, compared with an average add of 13 species.
Last year we added 11 species in May.
The total at the end of May was 214 species.

Big misses for the year so far include Cinnamon Teal, Bonapartes Gull and Red-Breasted Nuthatch.


Rose-breasted Grosbeak in SFBG

Allan Ridley

On our first Sunday of the Month bird walk this morning, we were able to elicit a full singing response from "the Botanical Garden Rose-breasted Grosbeak" using playback from an iPhone.
The bird sang in the vicinity of the moon-viewing pond - NW of the pond. We did not see the bird. It was spotted yesterday in that area on the SFNature Education first Saturday bird walk.
The song was a good match for the iPhone version ( - the other groups were not playing iPhone songs back to us). I'm aware of the controversy about "calling birds" & we did not persist in using playback to find the bird.


Random Notes: Presidio

Felix Rigau

On Saturday, June 5th I walked to Inspiration Pt. for sunset via El Polin and was treated to several new observations. I sighted a Dark-eyed Junco with a young fledgling gleaning insects from the branches of a redwood grove below Inspiration Pt. The adult Junco was actively fanning its tail as the fledgling flittered about gleaning insects. The "tail fanning" with its white margins was quite visible as if the adult Junco was saying to the youngster to "come here". At the base of Inspiration Pt. I heard the song of a Purple Finch. Finding the bird I noticed the songster was a female (c.p. californicus) and perched closeby was another PUFI a male who was counter singing. This was my first observation of a female Purple Finch singing!Good Birding,Felix

Felix Rigau Photography

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Re: Hooded Oriole with Fledgling

Mark Eaton

Sorry to dampen your spirits, but that looks like a Brown-headed Cowbird chick to me. As per Jaramillo and Burke:

"Juvenile (Juvenal) [Hooded Oriole]: Like adult female, but with buffy wingbars and duller plumage. the overall colour is olive-brown above, and pale olive-yellow below. The underparts are much duller than on adult females, and they show a noticeably whitish belly unlike the females."

Also from Jaramillo and Burke:

"Hooded Oriole is parasitised by both Brown-headed Cowbird and Bronzed Cowbird; it has successfully fledged young of both species..."

Mark Eaton

On Jun 5, 2010, at 3:32 PM, GunderTaker wrote:

The highlight of my trip to the Potrero Recreational Center this morning (Saturday, June 5th) was spotting a female Hooded Oriole feeding her fledgling. The fat little guy was just sitting out on branch and I was able to watch her come and go twice. After the second feeding the fledgling was able to move off with her and I lost sight of them both.

Here are links to two of the photos I was able to get:

and being fed

Bob Gunderson


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6/5/10 misc. observations

Dominik Mosur

Stopping at Lloyd Lake (6:45-7 a.m.) I found an adult GREEN HERON and managed to capture a sequence through the fog as it caught a fish:

This is likely a post-breeding wanderer, as there are no recent records of breeding Green Herons in the city away from Lake Merced.

(3) WILSON'S WARBLERS in the exotic plantings on the lake's north side were probably late migrants as the habitat in this area appears marginal at nest for nesting. (3) PURPLE FINCHES were singing nearby as was a BROWN CREEPER. A DOWNY WOODPECKER was heard giving rattle calls.

At Elk Glen Lake (15) CEDAR WAXWINGS feeding on red fruit (similar to a cherry?) in an exotic.

A Botta's Pocket Gopher rambling around on a lawn nearby was decidely out of habitat above ground, (perhaps a migrant from the Presidio? ;):

Driving over Twin Peaks on the way to work (sigh), I observed (3) VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS over the open reservoir just off Twin Peaks Drive. Two were adults, the third lacking the bright violet and green sheen was a hatch year bird. These are the first dispersing post-breeders of this species I have noted this year in the City.

A quick walk around Corona Hill before opening up the museum didn't produce anything in the way of passerine migrants. A pair of RED-MASKED PARAKEETS flying by are likely breeding locally though. I've seeing and hearing them almost daily in the palms that grow beside the old hospital turned condo located between Corona Hill and Buena Vista Park.

Western Gulls are the only species of gull I expect over the city in the summer month so seeing (4 adult, 1 2nd cycle) CALIFORNIA GULLS flying over Corona Hill headed NW. This is on the very late side for migrating California Gulls in the Bay Area. (2) other, single, adult California Gulls were seen flying over later on as well.

A TURKEY VULTURE soaring over the area and eventually flying off to the south had a missing 9th and broken/bent 10th primary.

A ragged AHY (after-hatch-year) RED-TAILED HAWK flew over the hill headed South around 12:45 p.m.

Between 1:10-1:25 p.m. I observed at least (7) and possibly as many as (9) Turkey Vultures soaring over the City in the triangle of airspace formed by Lafayette Park/Downtown - Corona Hill - Potrero Hill. I tried to get my Saraceni on and peered at them as hard as I could but the best I could do was pull out an adult Red-tailed hawk out of the kettle. The TVs eventually drifted north, out of sight, while the Tail continued to soar over the Mint/Market St.

A post-breeding dispersant immature/female type ALLEN's/Selasphorus type Hummingbird continued to visit the exotic and native flowers east of the Museum terrace, mixing it up with the Anna's Hummingbirds.

Good birding,
Dominik Mosur
San Francisco

Hooded Oriole with Fledgling

GunderTaker <sfgundertaker@...>

The highlight of my trip to the Potrero Recreational Center this morning (Saturday, June 5th) was spotting a female Hooded Oriole feeding her fledgling. The fat little guy was just sitting out on branch and I was able to watch her come and go twice. After the second feeding the fledgling was able to move off with her and I lost sight of them both.

Here are links to two of the photos I was able to get:

and being fed

Bob Gunderson


Alan Hopkins

Nothing  moving today as far as I could tell. The only migrant I saw was a Long-billed Curlew flying along Ocean Beach in the fog.
Alan Hopkins

Singing Wrentit

tapbirds <tapbirds@...>

I was "botanizing" the serpentine paths between Baker and Marshall beaches and heard a singing Wrentit to the east of the trail, close to Marshall Beach. I also got a quick look at the bird - - even managed to take a couple of fuzzy photos. I have *heard* Wrentit singing at Lobos Creek, but this is a first city sighting for me.

Happy birding,
Scott Cox

Presidio pm


Highlights from a bike ride through the Presidio late this afternoon were a GREEN HERON at Crissy Lagoon, and...newly installed interpretive signage at the wooden platform overlooking the bayside WPA!

Matt Zlatunich

Fort Miley East 6/4/10 - nesting Nuttall's Woodpecker confirmation

Dominik Mosur

After work I walked around Fort Miley East (open scrub/grassland and Monterey Pine woodland between VA hospital and Legion of Honor/Lincoln Park golf course.)

The "Trickster's" presence:

set off the calls of a male and female NUTTALL'S WOODPECKER. A recently fledged juvenile joined them. Following the food carrying female I was able to locate the nesting cavity in a snag. Climbing 15 feet up into a nearby tree I perched precariously for a few minutes and was able to document a second juvenile emerging from the cavity, begging for food:

This is the 2nd known nest of Nuttall's Woodpecker in San Francisco. The first was found by Kevin Liberg at the Potrero Rec Center earlier this year.

Interestingly both nests are located in Monterey Pines, a tree that has been targeted for mass removals throughout City parks and the Presidio.

Other notables found at Fort Miley this afternoon included:
WILSON'S WARBLER (an obvious migrant feeding in radish away from nesting habitat)
WESTERN BLUEBIRD (a male foraging near the Nuttall's snag)
PINE SISKIN (fly-over)
PURPLE FINCH (closely associating male/female pair)

I saw a EURASIAN COLLARED DOVE fly over the Legion of Honor as I limped back to by car, after having a bit of trouble in descending the wet pine tree I had climbed earlier.

Good birding,
Dominik Mosur
San Francisco

Lazuli Buntings Western Tanagers American Kestrel Downey Wood pecker

fun_light_witty <cobra1976@...>

Where and when are the best places to see these birds ?

Hooded Oriole

Roberta Guise

Am being dazzled by a magnificently colored male Hooded Oriole, which is popping in and out of my Glen Park garden as I write.

It stops on the fence, preens, shakes the mist off its feathers, flies into the Siberian Elm, swoops along the lane at the side of the house, back up into the tree, repeat. How can one work with such a showy distraction beckoning?!

Roberta Guise

serenity in early May

Lewis Ellingham <magicpool@...>

Doubtless now all this is but a memory:



and Mr Rabbit weighing down the edge of my book





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