Date   
Fort Mason Local Interest - today's GGAS walk

David Assmann
 

Lots of expected, but good birds on today's GGAS walk at Fort Mason.  Started the morning with a continuing YELLOW-SHAFTED NORTHERN FLICKER in the garden.  Everyone had great looks at the continuing male ORCHARD ORIOLE in the garden. A NASHVILLE WARBLER was just outside the garden on the west side. The WANDERING TATTLER was working its way along the edge of the water in Aquatic Park. A GREAT HORNED OWL sat right above us we walked down from the lower Battery. 49 species total

Black and White Warbler still at Alta Plaza Park 2:00 pm Dec. 15

William Grant
 

See on two tree trunks, SE corner of park, 50 ft W of Steiner, 100+ ft. N of Clay,
along the concrete path.

Originally reported by Richard Bradus on Oct. 31.

Pictures:

sfbirds@groups.io

Bill

Barn Swallows & Red-necked Grebes, Western SF, 12/14/19

Paul Saraceni
 

This morning Hugh Cotter and I birded a few locations on the west-side of the City.

Unseasonal BARN SWALLOWS were present at Lake Merced.  A group of 4 flew N over the middle lake.  A group of 12 (perhaps including those prior 4) were feeding over the north impoundment, seen from different viewpoints during the course of an hour.

From the Mile Rock viewpoint near Lands End we observed 2 RED-NECKED GREBES.  One showed well as it swam near the closest large rock to shore. A different R-n Grebe was observed in flight heading W towards the open ocean.

9 Black Oystercatchers were on the rock noted above.

Paul Saraceni
San Francisco

Summer Tanager at Fort Mason

David Assmann
 


A young male SUMMER TANAGER was in the Fort Mason Community Garden this morning.

Another Wilson’s Warb

Daniel Scali
 

All,

Just had a Wilson’s Warbler about 100 yds east of the Stow Lake boat house, lakeside of road and path. A male Common Yellowthroat also popped up in the same vegetation while a Great-horned Owl coo’d from (probably) Strawberry Hill. Ken Moy and others have been seeing a Wilson’s in the Botan at least 1/4 mile away so this is maybe a different one. Wasn’t there a 3rd at Sue B plaza?

Speaking of the SF botanical garden, I was there an hour ago and around the same time yesterday as well. Yesterday I got eyes on a Varied Thrush while making my to Zellerbach area. It flew into cover and after that I was hearing the thrush closer to the moon-viewing garden. Heard only today in moon-viewing/Zellerbach area (possibly coming from across road at south side of Stow. That’s the problem with having no high-frequency hearing in my left ear!)

Good over-wintering (or is it over-summering) birding,

Dan Scali

Murrelets, Crossbills, Mysteries, and Belateds

Brian Fitch
 

Marbled Murrelets made their first appearance of the season for me in a notable way today; two flyby pairs, then 2 flyby singles, then 4 pairs on the water, close to the north side of the Sutro terrace.  "Thayer's" Gulls began showing up in good numbers last week, and today there were roughly 20 hanging out between the baths and North Rock.  A few Herrings and Olympics were present as well.  An adult male White-winged Scoter flew by close enough to see the white around the eye, but he was following a mystery duck that was slightly smaller and less bulky, showed no marks on the dorsally brown plumage, had an all brown head, and a white breast and belly.  It wasn't a pintail, and that was the closest candidate from our region.  Then, just to press the theme further, a scaup-like duck flew by following 2 Surf Scoters, but the odd duck was a female type with no white at all in the face.  Shortly thereafter, a note came through from the East Bay that a Tufted Duck had been discovered, but I'm not saying that I saw the EB bird on its way to Emeryville.  It looked like a female Tufted, but was distant enough to leave as a second mystery.

Later, at the north end of the Soccer fields east of the Beach Chalet, I came across a wonderful mixed flock consisting of 24 species.  The highlights included an unseen sapsucker, 2 Red-breasted Nuthatches, a Bewick's Wren, 2 Golden-crowned Kinglets, 2 Lincoln's Sparrows, and at least 10 Red Crossbills.  The crossbills were quite low as they fed on cypress cones.  Their calls sounded like locals, but they were more confiding than any I've ever spent time with anywhere.  One immature crossbill was unstreaked and as pale as a Clay-colored Sparrow on the breast.  I only recently learned from Rudy that the guidebooks' streaked renderings are not the only possibility, as there was another unstreaked white crossbill at the Lily Pond last month.

On December 3rd, there was a Red-necked Grebe off of Land's End near Hermit Rock, the Red-footed Booby was fishing out in the Gate, six Northern Flickers were together in the small cypress at Battery Godfrey, and back at Land's End, a Fox Sparrow was giving a very good facsimile of an Evening Grosbeak call, while an unseen bird made an even better grosbeak call from nearby.

And on the 2nd, I found an interesting gull at Sutro that bore some resemblance to the bird Hugh reported, though not the same individual.  It was as dark as, but a little smaller than adjacent Westerns, with long wing extension like a California, and pink feet.  There is debate about that mix of characteristics, so keep your eyes and cameras on the lookout for odd gulls (and ducks).
Brian Fitch

Possible December pelagic - Interested?

Alvaro Jaramillo
 

Hello all,

       Several folks have contacted me to ask about a possible December pelagic. This is a time when we have a chance of rarities, such as Short-tailed Albatross but we would need a great deal of luck. Other winter specialties like Short-tailed Shearwater, Ancient Murrelet and Black-legged Kittiwake are much more likely. In any case, we have a good weather window late this week, and I am wondering if folks are interested in heading out offshore to look for birds on Thursday or Friday? (weather on the weekend is not good). Today a Leach’s Storm-Petrel was in Monterey, and there have been other sightings elsewhere with all of this weather. It could be interesting out there, but do not expect the numbers of birds we see in fall. It is different in the winter. As always rarities are going to be looked for, Thick-billed Murre is overdue out of Half Moon Bay.

   If you are interested in a pelagic perhaps Friday, let me know (e-mail me personally) and we will see if we have enough people to make it a go.

Thanks to all of the local birders who make the pelagics possible. We appreciate it, and we have been having so much fun showing you pelagic birds over the years!

Good birding,

Alvaro

 

Alvaro Jaramillo

alvaro@...

www.alvarosadventures.com

 

Local stuff

Bob Hall
 

I was at Hummingbird Farms community garden near Geneva and Moscow Friday and Sunday. The same birds were present both days. A Say's phoebe and an American Kestrel. The Kestrel was on the wires above McLaren. I at the garden with Eddie Bartley on Friday and there was a Bewick's wren buzzing about the coyote brush. Many crowned sparrows were present.
--
Bob Hall
San Francisco, CA
"There is no better high than discovery." - E.O. Wilson

Botanical Garden & Sales Force Park on 12/5

Ken Moy
 

A ramble through the Botanical Garden from 9 to 10:30 had low numbers of the usual suspects but finally offered up the continuing black throated gray and golden crowned kinglets in the trees above the double benches across from Zellerbach Garden around 10. The Wilson's warbler from last week also put in an appearance, same time and place.

Perchance, a (presumably 2nd) Wilson's warbler was foraging in the bush directly behind the sign for the South African Garden at Sales Force Park @ 1:30.

Good birding to all,

Ken Moy

Re: [pen-bird] Yellow-shafted Flickers in the Bay Area

maliadances
 

Awesome article Logan!  Thank you!!!!!
Malia

On Thursday, December 5, 2019, 10:05:13 AM PST, Logan Kahle <logan@...> wrote:


Hi All,

I wanted to address an issue that has been very prevalent this Fall/Winter, particular in eBird, in the Bay Area and other parts of California--the status and identification of "Yellow-shafted" Northern Flickers. This taxa of Flicker breeds from the Great Plains east and occurs as a rare but somewhat regular vagrant in California.

Flickers with Yellow underwings and undertails are not particularly uncommon in much of the Bay Area and finding one or two in a whole day of birding is not really unexpected. The vast majority of these birds, however, are intergrade "Red-shafted" x "Yellow-shafted" Flickers. These intergrades often outnumber (seemingly) pure Yellow-shafteds by more than 10:1 and while intergrades are not really a rarity in the Bay Area, "pure" Yellow-shafteds very much are.

There have been many reports in eBird across all counties of the Bay Area of "Yellow-shafted" Flickers with the sole comments that they had yellow underwings. While a flicker with yellow underwings is definitely not a "Red-shafted" Flicker, wing color proves nothing about a bird being a pure Yellow-shafted Flicker. Below are some of the features which can be used to accurately determine if a bird is a "pure" Yellow-shafted Flicker:

1) Head Pattern. The absolute most definitive feature for flicker identification is the head and face pattern. Red-shafted birds have brown around the face right around the bill (often extending to a brownish malar on female Red-shafteds) and gray on the rest of the head. Yellow-shafted birds have clean peach-colored throat and face extending from above the bill to the top of the breast. If the birds throat has any gray at all, its a hybrid (for birds with yellow underwings).

For reference, a "pure" Yellow-shafted Flicker face will look, more or less, exactly like this https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/83265481 plus or minus the black malar depending on sex.

2) Malar. For male flickers malar is a quick way to separate the two subspecies. Red-shafteds have red malars, and Yellow-shafteds have black malars. This by no means a flicker with an all black malar is a Yellow-shafted. It simply means that any male flicker with a mix of red and black in the malar is automatically a hybrid, and also that any seemingly pure yellow-shafted flicker, even if it ticks all of the boxes in point one, is a hybrid if there is even a single red feather in the malar.

3) Nape crescent. All plumages of Yellow-shafted have a red crescent on the nape, whereas Red-shafteds do not. Hybrids can have nape crescents, but sometimes they are reduced. A full red nape crescent will be found on all pure Yellow-shafted birds

4) Underwing color. While yellow underwings means nothing towards a bird being a pure Yellow-shafted, a hint of salmon is damning trait for any potentially pure birds. While there are birds in parts of the country which consume high-carotin berries in the winter and as such get a touch of reddish under the wing, I don't believe it is really worth considering these birds in California.

An important point to realize with the identification of flickers is that, while pure Red- and Yellow-shafted Flickers show very specific and unchanging field marks, intergrades are exceptionally diverse. That is, a hybrid could look exactly like a male Red-shafted Flicker other than having a red nape crescent or a hybrid could look exactly like a pure Yellow-shafted Flicker with a red feather or two in its malar. So, when in doubt, err on the side of caution with any seemingly "Yellow-shafted" Flicker

To reiterate the points a flicker with Yellow underwings in the Bay Area is very likely to be an intergrade, but if it seems like it may be a "pure" yellow shafted you have to look very carefully at a number of features in order to be certain of that identification.

If you are submitting a "Yellow-shafted" Flicker to eBird, please keep the above points in mind, and try to address the specifically with regards to your bird.

Anyway, hope this is useful for anyone interested in sorting out the mixed back of California Flickers.

Happy CBC season,

Logan Kahle

San Francisco, CA

Re: Yellow-shafted Flickers in the Bay Area

 

Excellently informative post, Logan.

Hoping to see more of this from you.




On Dec 5, 2019, at 09:57, Logan Kahle <logan@...> wrote:

Hi All,

I wanted to address an issue that has been very prevalent this Fall/Winter, particular in eBird, in the Bay Area and other parts of California--the status and identification of "Yellow-shafted" Northern Flickers. This taxa of Flicker breeds from the Great Plains east and occurs as a rare but somewhat regular vagrant in California.

Flickers with Yellow underwings and undertails are not particularly uncommon in much of the Bay Area and finding one or two in a whole day of birding is not really unexpected. The vast majority of these birds, however, are intergrade "Red-shafted" x "Yellow-shafted" Flickers. These intergrades often outnumber (seemingly) pure Yellow-shafteds by more than 10:1 and while intergrades are not really a rarity in the Bay Area, "pure" Yellow-shafteds very much are.

There have been many reports in eBird across all counties of the Bay Area of "Yellow-shafted" Flickers with the sole comments that they had yellow underwings. While a flicker with yellow underwings is definitely not a "Red-shafted" Flicker, wing color proves nothing about a bird being a pure Yellow-shafted Flicker. Below are some of the features which can be used to accurately determine if a bird is a "pure" Yellow-shafted Flicker:

1) Head Pattern. The absolute most definitive feature for flicker identification is the head and face pattern. Red-shafted birds have brown around the face right around the bill (often extending to a brownish malar on female Red-shafteds) and gray on the rest of the head. Yellow-shafted birds have clean peach-colored throat and face extending from above the bill to the top of the breast. If the birds throat has any gray at all, its a hybrid (for birds with yellow underwings).

For reference, a "pure" Yellow-shafted Flicker face will look, more or less, exactly like this https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/83265481 plus or minus the black malar depending on sex.

2) Malar. For male flickers malar is a quick way to separate the two subspecies. Red-shafteds have red malars, and Yellow-shafteds have black malars. This by no means a flicker with an all black malar is a Yellow-shafted. It simply means that any male flicker with a mix of red and black in the malar is automatically a hybrid, and also that any seemingly pure yellow-shafted flicker, even if it ticks all of the boxes in point one, is a hybrid if there is even a single red feather in the malar.

3) Nape crescent. All plumages of Yellow-shafted have a red crescent on the nape, whereas Red-shafteds do not. Hybrids can have nape crescents, but sometimes they are reduced. A full red nape crescent will be found on all pure Yellow-shafted birds

4) Underwing color. While yellow underwings means nothing towards a bird being a pure Yellow-shafted, a hint of salmon is damning trait for any potentially pure birds. While there are birds in parts of the country which consume high-carotin berries in the winter and as such get a touch of reddish under the wing, I don't believe it is really worth considering these birds in California.

An important point to realize with the identification of flickers is that, while pure Red- and Yellow-shafted Flickers show very specific and unchanging field marks, intergrades are exceptionally diverse. That is, a hybrid could look exactly like a male Red-shafted Flicker other than having a red nape crescent or a hybrid could look exactly like a pure Yellow-shafted Flicker with a red feather or two in its malar. So, when in doubt, err on the side of caution with any seemingly "Yellow-shafted" Flicker

To reiterate the points a flicker with Yellow underwings in the Bay Area is very likely to be an intergrade, but if it seems like it may be a "pure" yellow shafted you have to look very carefully at a number of features in order to be certain of that identification.

If you are submitting a "Yellow-shafted" Flicker to eBird, please keep the above points in mind, and try to address the specifically with regards to your bird.

Anyway, hope this is useful for anyone interested in sorting out the mixed back of California Flickers.

Happy CBC season,

Logan Kahle

San Francisco, CA

Yellow-shafted Flickers in the Bay Area

Logan Kahle
 

Hi All,

I wanted to address an issue that has been very prevalent this Fall/Winter, particular in eBird, in the Bay Area and other parts of California--the status and identification of "Yellow-shafted" Northern Flickers. This taxa of Flicker breeds from the Great Plains east and occurs as a rare but somewhat regular vagrant in California.

Flickers with Yellow underwings and undertails are not particularly uncommon in much of the Bay Area and finding one or two in a whole day of birding is not really unexpected. The vast majority of these birds, however, are intergrade "Red-shafted" x "Yellow-shafted" Flickers. These intergrades often outnumber (seemingly) pure Yellow-shafteds by more than 10:1 and while intergrades are not really a rarity in the Bay Area, "pure" Yellow-shafteds very much are.

There have been many reports in eBird across all counties of the Bay Area of "Yellow-shafted" Flickers with the sole comments that they had yellow underwings. While a flicker with yellow underwings is definitely not a "Red-shafted" Flicker, wing color proves nothing about a bird being a pure Yellow-shafted Flicker. Below are some of the features which can be used to accurately determine if a bird is a "pure" Yellow-shafted Flicker:

1) Head Pattern. The absolute most definitive feature for flicker identification is the head and face pattern. Red-shafted birds have brown around the face right around the bill (often extending to a brownish malar on female Red-shafteds) and gray on the rest of the head. Yellow-shafted birds have clean peach-colored throat and face extending from above the bill to the top of the breast. If the birds throat has any gray at all, its a hybrid (for birds with yellow underwings).

For reference, a "pure" Yellow-shafted Flicker face will look, more or less, exactly like this https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/83265481 plus or minus the black malar depending on sex.

2) Malar. For male flickers malar is a quick way to separate the two subspecies. Red-shafteds have red malars, and Yellow-shafteds have black malars. This by no means a flicker with an all black malar is a Yellow-shafted. It simply means that any male flicker with a mix of red and black in the malar is automatically a hybrid, and also that any seemingly pure yellow-shafted flicker, even if it ticks all of the boxes in point one, is a hybrid if there is even a single red feather in the malar.

3) Nape crescent. All plumages of Yellow-shafted have a red crescent on the nape, whereas Red-shafteds do not. Hybrids can have nape crescents, but sometimes they are reduced. A full red nape crescent will be found on all pure Yellow-shafted birds

4) Underwing color. While yellow underwings means nothing towards a bird being a pure Yellow-shafted, a hint of salmon is damning trait for any potentially pure birds. While there are birds in parts of the country which consume high-carotin berries in the winter and as such get a touch of reddish under the wing, I don't believe it is really worth considering these birds in California.

An important point to realize with the identification of flickers is that, while pure Red- and Yellow-shafted Flickers show very specific and unchanging field marks, intergrades are exceptionally diverse. That is, a hybrid could look exactly like a male Red-shafted Flicker other than having a red nape crescent or a hybrid could look exactly like a pure Yellow-shafted Flicker with a red feather or two in its malar. So, when in doubt, err on the side of caution with any seemingly "Yellow-shafted" Flicker

To reiterate the points a flicker with Yellow underwings in the Bay Area is very likely to be an intergrade, but if it seems like it may be a "pure" yellow shafted you have to look very carefully at a number of features in order to be certain of that identification.

If you are submitting a "Yellow-shafted" Flicker to eBird, please keep the above points in mind, and try to address the specifically with regards to your bird.

Anyway, hope this is useful for anyone interested in sorting out the mixed back of California Flickers.

Happy CBC season,

Logan Kahle

San Francisco, CA

Sherman Island CBC on December 31st

Jonah Benningfield
 

Hi all,

The 2019-2020 CBC season marks the second year of the Sherman Island Christmas Bird Count, which covers regions around Rio Vista, the Montezuma Hills Wind Farm, Robinson and Flannery Roads, and multiple delta islands (including Sherman, Ryer, Twitchell, Bradford, Bethel, and Jersey). The count will take place on December 31st, 2019. All ages and skill levels are welcome.

There is still much need for birders on this count. If you are interested in participating or leading an area please contact me at shermanislandcbc@...

Happy CBC season,

Jonah Benningfield
San Francisco, CA


Bt Gray Sue Bierman, hooded mergansers mountain lake

Josiah Clark
 

A belated report from Saturday where a quick visit to Sue Bierman Park produced a female black-throated Gray warbler, perhaps a continuing bird. Also a Varied Thrush there among good numbers of wintering species. Definitely seemed like lots more birds there we didn’t lay eyes on, so worth more searching.
At Mountain Lake Park the Hooded Merganser number grew to 6 along with 4 Ring-necked ducks. Interestingly pied billed grebe continue to be completely absent from my searches. So strange to me as this breeding species has been a year round fixture there for years.

Re: Fox Sparrows at Hillpoint Park

William Grant
 

Mary Stofflet observed four Fox Sparrows that were different from the Sooty subspecies at Lafayette Park recently,
They have more white on the breast. 
I have a picture of one of them.
Bill

-----Original Message-----
From: bitanangan
Sent: Dec 4, 2019 1:25 AM
To: SFBirds@groups.io
Subject: [SFBirds] Fox Sparrows at Hillpoint Park

Hi Birders,
      Birds were everywhere and abundant today in SE SF, including Hillpoint Park where there were at least 3 subspecies of Fox sparrows, including Red. This has led me on a late-night quest for further info, which has further led to varied discoveries, including an interesting Facebook page where a cascade of Fox Sparrow photos are posted with many expertly vetted. Fox Sparrows are full of puzzles and ambiguity, but you feel, as a non-professional, like you’re cutting into a mystery, digging deeper into what is, what was and what may be yet again (and again) thought a species and subspecies. I’m pretty sure about the Red, but not quite sure about what I nonetheless called a Slate-colored because it seemed more that than a Sooty—and of further obscure interest—which was also molting it’s flight feathers which I’ve not noticed before in any Sooty Fox Sparrow in SF in December. Apparently very little is known about molt in Fox Sparrows, and I think I understand a little better why I love sparrows, especially in nearing winter under a grey drizzling cloud!

Russ Bright
SF

Hillpoint Park Fox Sparrow correction.

bitanangan
 

Hi Birders,
     Upon highly-valued advice, I’m no longer contending with any dollop of certainty that I saw an altivagans Slate-colored Sparrow yesterday, thus only spotting 2 subspecies, or even species—depending upon who and what one reads. Jump into this puzzle, and you might be destined to be perplexed.
Russ Bright

Fox Sparrows at Hillpoint Park

bitanangan
 

Hi Birders,
      Birds were everywhere and abundant today in SE SF, including Hillpoint Park where there were at least 3 subspecies of Fox sparrows, including Red. This has led me on a late-night quest for further info, which has further led to varied discoveries, including an interesting Facebook page where a cascade of Fox Sparrow photos are posted with many expertly vetted. Fox Sparrows are full of puzzles and ambiguity, but you feel, as a non-professional, like you’re cutting into a mystery, digging deeper into what is, what was and what may be yet again (and again) thought a species and subspecies. I’m pretty sure about the Red, but not quite sure about what I nonetheless called a Slate-colored because it seemed more that than a Sooty—and of further obscure interest—which was also molting it’s flight feathers which I’ve not noticed before in any Sooty Fox Sparrow in SF in December. Apparently very little is known about molt in Fox Sparrows, and I think I understand a little better why I love sparrows, especially in nearing winter under a grey drizzling cloud!

Russ Bright
SF

Termite Hatch-out

Richard Bradus
 

Hi all

Well, it didn't last very long, but the sun this morning following our rainy spell was enough to precipitate a termite hatch-out. I took a noontime stroll down through the Presidio to El Polin and there were thousands of the little winged insects all along the paths and grassy hillsides, being eagerly gobbled up by a whole host of species (Thanksgiving for them, I'm sure, given the soggy conditions over the past week). It's always a bit unnerving to see our usual seed eaters (sparrows and such) chasing down and devouring the little treats, not to mention the odd sight of Kinglets foraging on the ground. 

No rarities, but enjoyable nonetheless. The sight of so many birds on the ground was apparently too much of a temptation for an immature Red-tail, which tried (unsuccessfully) to nab a sparrow, managing only to rough up its rear exiting from the underbrush. Hey, at least it's trying - have to learn to hunt somehow!

Good luck to all as we slog through some more.

Richard Bradus
San Francisco

Belated Report: Lesser black-backed Gull - 10.28.19

H Cotter
 

A belated report.

I had what now appears to be a third cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull on Ocean Beach south of the water treatment plant on Friday 10.28.19.
The bird was in the small gull flock and was only present for a few minutes before everything was flushed.
According to Peter Pyle it appears to be the same bird he found back in the summer on Ocean Beach and subsequently re-found by David Assman at Crissy.

Details here:


Hugh

SF Botanical First Sunday Bird Walk

Chris Vance
 

Hey all,

The Golden Gate Audubon Society's SF Botanical Garden First Sunday Bird Walk is cancelled due to the stormy weather. Hope the weather in January is much better.
All the best.
Chris & Carolyn