miscellanea; and the saga of returning winter birds (vagrants)


lehman.paul@verizon.net
 

Only some minor new miscellanea to report over the past few days: 3 Purple Finches and a Wilson's Warbler at Heritage Park in eastern Chula Vista, a Yellow Warbler at Eastlake, and continuing Gray Flycatcher first found by J. Sperling on fence at entrance to Sweetwater Summit Campground--all on the 8th--an OK count of 20 Scripps's Murrelets and 19 Rhino Auklets offshore on the 9th, when also 11 Surfbirds on the Mission Bay north jetty, 10+ Violet-green Swallows near Batiquitos Lagoon on the 10th (typical date for migrants), a new Western Tanager near SDSU on the 11th, a new Costa's Hummingbird and continuing Clay-colored Sparrow and Hepatic Tanager in Tierrasanta on the 12th, and a new Bullock's Oriole along Gilman Drive on the 13th.

As everyone knows, a fair number of our winter rarities annually are returning individual vagrants from previous winters. Some come back a LOT of years, such as the Poggi Greenbelt Thick-billed Kinbgbird, now in its 11th year there (and the first year it was found there--which is the first year the site was checked!--it was already aged an adult...). The adult male Baltimore Oriole recently seen by many at La Jolla Colony HOA Park is presumably the same individual first seen there in January 2015, so now present at least SEVEN years in the general neighborhood. (An adult male Baltimore at a Santa Barbara feeder back in the 1960s returned for at least 8 winters in a row.) Once a bird ends up liking a spot and successfully overwintering there, why not do it again..and again?! A couple other species of vagrant orioles also do OK on the returning front. As long as they are still alive. But who knows where such "vagrants" then spend the intervening summers--within or outside their normal range?? What is also interesting is that some species are much more likely to repeat than are others. Probably the most reliable suite of species are a number of the "southeast Arizona" specialties--Greater Pewee, Grace's Warbler, Painted Redstart, and Hepatic Tanager--and sure enough, this winter we have a three-year returning Greater Pewee, three or four (!) individual returning Grace's Warblers (the recently discovered La Jolla Colony individual could be the same bird seen there in Oct 2019) for as many as four years each, a returning (and a new) Painted Redstart, and three (!) returning Hepatic Tanagers each for up to three years now. Another species that has a good returning track-record is White-throated Sparrow, often those at feeders, whereas several other sparrows, including the same-genus, feeder-loving Harris's Sparrow, as well as Clay-colored and Swamp, have relatively poor return rates. Black-and-white Warblers aren't bad (think recent birds at Harry Griffen and se. Balboa Park, for example), but local American Redstarts are just OK, and Palm Warblers do surprisingly poorly as a returning species, as do Lucy's Warblers. A couple empids do fairly well (e.g., Pacific-slopes and Grays), but Eastern Phoebe and Tropical Kingbird only do so-so or worse (the presumably same, multi-year TK currently at Dairy Mart being an exception), but Scissor-taileds maybe do a bit better (although the sample size is rather low). Summer Tanagers are moderately returnable, Plumbeous Vireos somewhat less so (although the current bird at the Marina Village parking lot is very likely a returning bird from last winter). So, "Like it, and I shall return" is somewhat of a mixed-bag motto, but with some interesting geographic and family/genus patterns and comparisons.

--Paul Lehman, San Diego


Lisa Ruby
 

Regarding returning Tropical Kingbirds, there was one at Famosa Slough
for at least three winters in a row - 2016 thru 2018. One was reported
there in October of 2019, but then not again after that.

Lisa Ruby
Sabre Springs

On 2/13/2021 11:11 AM, lehman.paul@verizon.net via groups.io wrote:
Only some minor new miscellanea to report over the past few days: 3
Purple Finches and a Wilson's Warbler at Heritage Park in eastern Chula
Vista, a Yellow Warbler at Eastlake, and continuing Gray Flycatcher
first found by J. Sperling on fence at entrance to Sweetwater Summit
Campground--all on the 8th--an OK count of 20 Scripps's Murrelets and 19
Rhino Auklets offshore on the 9th, when also 11 Surfbirds on the Mission
Bay north jetty, 10+ Violet-green Swallows near Batiquitos Lagoon on the
10th (typical date for migrants), a new Western Tanager near SDSU on the
11th, a new Costa's Hummingbird and continuing Clay-colored Sparrow and
Hepatic Tanager in Tierrasanta on the 12th, and a new Bullock's Oriole
along Gilman Drive on the 13th.

As everyone knows, a fair number of our winter rarities annually are
returning individual vagrants from previous winters. Some come back a
LOT of years, such as the Poggi Greenbelt Thick-billed Kinbgbird, now in
its 11th year there (and the first year it was found there--which is the
first year the site was checked!--it was already aged an adult...). The
adult male Baltimore Oriole recently seen by many at La Jolla Colony HOA
Park is presumably the same individual first seen there in January 2015,
so now present at least SEVEN years in the general neighborhood. (An
adult male Baltimore at a Santa Barbara feeder back in the 1960s
returned for at least 8 winters in a row.) Once a bird ends up liking a
spot and successfully overwintering there, why not do it again..and
again?! A couple other species of vagrant orioles also do OK on the
returning front. As long as they are still alive. But who knows where
such "vagrants" then spend the intervening summers--within or outside
their normal range?? What is also interesting is that some species are
much more likely to repeat than are others. Probably the most reliable
suite of species are a number of the "southeast Arizona"
specialties--Greater Pewee, Grace's Warbler, Painted Redstart, and
Hepatic Tanager--and sure enough, this winter we have a three-year
returning Greater Pewee, three or four (!) individual returning Grace's
Warblers (the recently discovered La Jolla Colony individual could be
the same bird seen there in Oct 2019) for as many as four years each, a
returning (and a new) Painted Redstart, and three (!) returning Hepatic
Tanagers each for up to three years now. Another species that has a good
returning track-record is White-throated Sparrow, often those at
feeders, whereas several other sparrows, including the same-genus,
feeder-loving Harris's Sparrow, as well as Clay-colored and Swamp, have
relatively poor return rates. Black-and-white Warblers aren't bad (think
recent birds at Harry Griffen and se. Balboa Park, for example), but
local American Redstarts are just OK, and Palm Warblers do surprisingly
poorly as a returning species, as do Lucy's Warblers. A couple empids do
fairly well (e.g., Pacific-slopes and Grays), but Eastern Phoebe and
Tropical Kingbird only do so-so or worse (the presumably same,
multi-year TK currently at Dairy Mart being an exception), but
Scissor-taileds maybe do a bit better (although the sample size is
rather low). Summer Tanagers are moderately returnable, Plumbeous Vireos
somewhat less so (although the current bird at the Marina Village
parking lot is very likely a returning bird from last winter). So, "Like
it, and I shall return" is somewhat of a mixed-bag motto, but with some
interesting geographic and family/genus patterns and comparisons.

--Paul Lehman, San Diego





--
Lisa Ruby
Sabre Springs


Teale Fristoe
 

For another data point on Tropical Kingbird from up north in the Bay Area, there was an individual that returned to the same park (https://ebird.org/hotspot/L373922) for seven winters (first reported Jan 2014, last reported April 2020). That said, I'm unaware of any other birds returning even two years in a row.

Happy birding,
Teale Fristoe
Berkeley


On Sat, Feb 13, 2021 at 3:33 PM Lisa Ruby via groups.io <lbruby1=protonmail.com@groups.io> wrote:
Regarding returning Tropical Kingbirds, there was one at Famosa Slough
for at least three winters in a row - 2016 thru 2018. One was reported
there in October of 2019, but then not again after that.

Lisa Ruby
Sabre Springs

On 2/13/2021 11:11 AM, lehman.paul@... via groups.io wrote:
> Only some minor new miscellanea to report over the past few days: 3
> Purple Finches and a Wilson's Warbler at Heritage Park in eastern Chula
> Vista, a Yellow Warbler at Eastlake, and continuing Gray Flycatcher
> first found by J. Sperling on fence at entrance to Sweetwater Summit
> Campground--all on the 8th--an OK count of 20 Scripps's Murrelets and 19
> Rhino Auklets offshore on the 9th, when also 11 Surfbirds on the Mission
> Bay north jetty, 10+ Violet-green Swallows near Batiquitos Lagoon on the
> 10th (typical date for migrants), a new Western Tanager near SDSU on the
> 11th, a new Costa's Hummingbird and continuing Clay-colored Sparrow and
> Hepatic Tanager in Tierrasanta on the 12th, and a new Bullock's Oriole
> along Gilman Drive on the 13th.
>
> As everyone knows, a fair number of our winter rarities annually are
> returning individual vagrants from previous winters. Some come back a
> LOT of years, such as the Poggi Greenbelt Thick-billed Kinbgbird, now in
> its 11th year there (and the first year it was found there--which is the
> first year the site was checked!--it was already aged an adult...). The
> adult male Baltimore Oriole recently seen by many at La Jolla Colony HOA
> Park is presumably the same individual first seen there in January 2015,
> so now present at least SEVEN years in the general neighborhood. (An
> adult male Baltimore at a Santa Barbara feeder back in the 1960s
> returned for at least 8 winters in a row.) Once a bird ends up liking a
> spot and successfully overwintering there, why not do it again..and
> again?! A couple other species of vagrant orioles also do OK on the
> returning front. As long as they are still alive. But who knows where
> such "vagrants" then spend the intervening summers--within or outside
> their normal range?? What is also interesting is that some species are
> much more likely to repeat than are others. Probably the most reliable
> suite of species are a number of the "southeast Arizona"
> specialties--Greater Pewee, Grace's Warbler, Painted Redstart, and
> Hepatic Tanager--and sure enough, this winter we have a three-year
> returning Greater Pewee, three or four (!) individual returning Grace's
> Warblers (the recently discovered La Jolla Colony individual could be
> the same bird seen there in Oct 2019) for as many as four years each, a
> returning (and a new) Painted Redstart, and three (!) returning Hepatic
> Tanagers each for up to three years now. Another species that has a good
> returning track-record is White-throated Sparrow, often those at
> feeders, whereas several other sparrows, including the same-genus,
> feeder-loving Harris's Sparrow, as well as Clay-colored and Swamp, have
> relatively poor return rates. Black-and-white Warblers aren't bad (think
> recent birds at Harry Griffen and se. Balboa Park, for example), but
> local American Redstarts are just OK, and Palm Warblers do surprisingly
> poorly as a returning species, as do Lucy's Warblers. A couple empids do
> fairly well (e.g., Pacific-slopes and Grays), but Eastern Phoebe and
> Tropical Kingbird only do so-so or worse (the presumably same,
> multi-year TK currently at Dairy Mart being an exception), but
> Scissor-taileds maybe do a bit better (although the sample size is
> rather low). Summer Tanagers are moderately returnable, Plumbeous Vireos
> somewhat less so (although the current bird at the Marina Village
> parking lot is very likely a returning bird from last winter). So, "Like
> it, and I shall return" is somewhat of a mixed-bag motto, but with some
> interesting geographic and family/genus patterns and comparisons.
>
> --Paul Lehman, San Diego
>
>
>
>
>
>




--
Lisa Ruby
Sabre Springs