migration update for Atascadero

Kevin Zimmer

After what has been a very strange, seemingly delayed Spring migration, at least in Atascadero, I’ve noted a marked uptick in migrants over the past 3 days.

Hummingbird numbers and diversity are still WAY down, but Bill Rucci has 1 Black-chinned and 3-5 female/immature male Selasphorus sp. attending his feeders as of yesterday afternoon, along with the usual Anna’s.

On Friday (4/23), an hour spent watching Graves Creek at the north end of our property, produced a number of birds coming in to bathe & drink in the early afternoon.  Notable in terms of migrants and FOS (at our place) breeding species were Pacific-slope Flycatcher (only a month late!), Cassin’s Vireo (singing), 3 Warbling Vireos in my binocular-view at one time, Black-throated Gray Warbler (1) and Wilson’s Warbler (2), Western Tanager (1 female), and Lazuli Bunting (3 males).  

On Saturday (4/24), from the same overlook of the creek, I saw 1 Golden Eagle (being harassed by one of our resident pair of Red-tailed Hawks); 1 Vaux’s Swift in the late afternoon; my FOS Swainson’s Thrush; my FOS Yellow Warbler (singing); my FOS Nashville Warbler (bathing), Western Tanager (1 heard), and Lazuli Bunting (1 male).  Total species count for the day from the property was 65 species.  

Today (4/25), despite very gloomy weather, an hour spent down at the same overlook added my FOS MacGillivray’s Warbler.

Additionally, a pair of Lawrence’s Goldfinches appears to have taken up breeding residence at the same spot – I have recorded them daily for the past 2 weeks, and the male has been singing a lot.  Ash-throated Flycatcher, Warbling Vireo and Orange-crowned Warbler are all singing persistently from spots on our property where they normally have territories, and both the Wilson’s Warbler and Yellow Warbler, although only recently arrived, are singing a lot as well.  Both Hooded and Bullock’s Orioles are present and conspicuous — it seems we have 3 pairs of each frequenting our feeders and staking out territories – as are Black-headed Grosbeaks, which are, hands-down, the most persistently vocal birds in the neighborhood right now.

The Common Raven pair that I posted about a few weeks back, is actively nesting on the PG&E tower 1/2-mile or so down the street from our place, and we continue to see them getting after any large bird (so far, including Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Turkey Vulture, Peregrine Falcon and American Crow) that flies through their airspace.

Our Zonotrichia flock has dwindled considerably.  The 30+ wintering White-crowned Sparrows were down to 1 on 4/20, and all had left by 4/21.  We still have a handful of Golden-crowned, all looking very sharp in breeding dress, and I expect them to leave anytime in the next week.  If the past is any guide, the White-throated Sparrows will be the last to leave – we are still seeing all 4 (2 adults, 2 streaky immature birds) that have been with us all winter.

Pine Siskins are down to < 5 (after mid-winter numbers of 120+).

Odd to me has been the absence of American Goldfinches in our yard.  Normally, they outnumber Lessers at our feeders throughout March & April, but this year, we had only a few seen sporadically in March, and I haven’t heard or seen a single one in our yard in April.  Lawrence’s has been the most conspicuous goldfinch in the yard this month, which is bizarre (but I’m not complaining).

Kevin Zimmer

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