Atascadero birding update

Kevin Zimmer

Needing to decompress a little, I decided to do a "Yard Big Hour" on Wednesday afternoon, from 5:00–6:00 p.m.  During that hour, I recorded 48 species of birds (all from my yard in north Atascadero), a new yard big hour record for me (41 of them in the first half-hour), and recorded 61 species of birds for the day (not bad considering the landlocked location and only 2 water birds [Great Blue Heron & Mallard].  Still well short of my yard big day record of 76 species!  Since Wednesday, I've been paying close attention to bird movements through the property.

Highlights of the past few days are as follows:

Red-tailed Hawk  -  Three years ago, a pair of Red-tails seemingly displaced the resident pair of Red-shouldered Hawks that had nested in our yard for 20+ years.  The Red-tails have occupied the same nest for the past 3 years, and are back at it again this year.  During their residence, I have occasionally seen them prey upon the abundant Band-tailed Pigeons in the yard, but I had never seen them take any other birds.  Yesterday (4/24), we saw one of the resident Red-tails take a male California Quail in our yard, and carry it to the nest.

Black-chinned Hummingbird -  1 male at the feeders was our FOS, and at least 1 male has been attending the feeders each day since, including today (4/25).

other hummers -  Good numbers of Selasphorus continue to move through, along with lots of Anna's.  No Calliopes at our feeders yet, although I photographed a male Calliope at my in-laws' feeders on 4/18.

Vaux's Swift  -  An estimated 5+ seen in with a large feeding aggregation of swallows (50+ Violet-greens, 5+ Cliffs) and White-throated Swifts (2+), and then, 20 minutes later, at least 4 individuals (photos) foraging independent of any other birds, high over the creek that borders our property.

Warbling Vireo  -  FOS for us on 4/23, singing from the riparian corridor bordering our house.  Very vocal 4/24 & 4/25 with 2-3 territorial birds up and down the creek.

Black-throated Gray Warbler -  1 male in yard on 4/23 was our FOS.

Wilson's Warbler & Yellow Warbler -  Our FOS in the yard.  Both have been singing and apparently territorial starting 4/23.  Wilson's was first seen on 4/20.

MacGillivray's Warbler  -  1 male in the yard on 4/21 was not vocal, and may have been a migrant passing through, since I have not heard it singing at all in the past few days.  In years past, we usually had a nesting pair of MacGillivray's on the property.

Western Tanager  -  Multiple birds (individual males identifiable by plumage differences, particularly in extent and saturation of orange on the head) seen daily since 4/20.  Regularly stopping to drink & bathe in the fountain of our small pond.

Zonotrichia news  -  All 3 species (Golden-crowned, White-crowned & White-throated) continued in the yard in normal winter numbers through Wednesday afternoon, but as of Thursday morning, most of the Golden-crowneds and White-crowneds had clearly disappeared (none seen Thursday; only 1 Golden-crowned seen today so far).  However, at least 3 of my 4 wintering White-throated Sparrows were still present as of this morning (4/25), when I photographed all three at once!  Interestingly, only one of the three has developed into a brightly plumaged bird; the others remain in a dull (tan-striped) and streaky sub-adult plumage.

Kevin Zimmer

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