Early Calliope Hummingbird, FOS Black-headed Grosbeak, northbound Merlin and nesting Common Ravens in Atascadero

Kevin Zimmer

This afternoon (3/24), around 2:00 p.m., I was astonished to see a male Calliope Hummingbird at one of our feeders.  Almost as soon as I saw the bird, it was driven off by one of the resident male Anna’s Hummingbirds, and despite much attention since then, I have not seen the Calliope since.  This strikes me as an  unusually early date for the species, but I have not gone back through my records to check previous FOS dates.

At about 4:15 p.m., I photographed a northbound Merlin sailing over the house, the first of that species I have seen from the yard in a few years.

Common Ravens are indeed common in the eastern part of SLO County, east of the Salinas River Valley, but they are pretty uncommon-to-rare in the Santa Lucia Mountains.   Over the past 30+ years, I’ve irregularly seen high-flying individuals passing over our property, which is located west of the 101 and tucked up against the east base of the Santa Lucias.  This year, I’ve been seeing/hearing a couple of different pairs regularly (multiple times per week) in our neighborhood, including, in particular, around the intersection of Santa Cruz Road and Garcia Road, where there is a big open right-of-way for the high PG&E power lines.  A couple of weeks ago, Susan and I noticed 2 Common Ravens perched high on the crossbeams of one of the big towers, and I speculated then that they might be staking out the power line towers as possible nesting sites.  Well, on our walk this morning, we saw a Raven fly up to one of the towers, and, as predicted, it went to a big stick nest that wasn’t there just 2 weeks ago. 

Finally, Bill Rucci reported a FOS Black-headed Grosbeak from his yard (ca. 0.25 mile up the road from our house) this morning.

Kevin Zimmer

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