Eureka and the Winter Season North American Birds Report (long)

Tom Edell

SLOCo Birders (and others),

It now the end of the winter reporting period for North American Birds and as
the SLO County coordinator I solicit your reports of unusual and rare bird
sightings for the period of December 1999 through February 2000. Sightings
are compiled and submitted to Guy McCaskie for his Southern Pacific Coast
Regional Report. I received the following from Guy yesterday (I apologize to
those that subscribe to Calbird):

February) has ended and I solicit observations for the SOUTHERN PACIFIC COAST
REGIONAL REPORT. Observations should be arranged in ABA
Check-list order. Reports of rarities (Garrett and Dunn's BIRDS OF
guides for the Status and Distribution of Birds in Southern California)
should be accompanied by documentation (photo/written description/etc.).
should be sent to the appropriate County Coordinators.... ASAP."

I would like to stress that I need documentation of all rare or difficult to
identify species reported to be able to include them in my report (The Morro
Coast Audubon Society's pamphlet "The Birds of San Luis Obispo County
California is a good source for species status information). Please contact
me if you are unsure about whether a species needs documentation or the level
of documentation necessary. There is no way I can put together a complete
report without everyones help.

Below is a draft of my February Eureka Column for the Morro Coast Audubon
Flyway newsletter. Additions, comments, and corrections are appreciated. I
need to submit the Eureka column tomorrow and would be grateful for responses


Cattle Egret -- Seven continued to be seen on Cal Poly agricultural fields
through 2/11 (MS).

Greater White-fronted Goose -- One was in a flooded field between Cambria and
Hwy 46 on 2/12 (KC). On 2/21, a first year bird was at the mouth of Pismo
Creek (GS).

Snow Geese -- The two adults and two first winter birds found on the Morro
Bay Estuary in January continued through 2/13 (JRo). An adult and immature
were seen at Laguna Lake on 2/21 (GS).

Brant -- The Morro Bay population rose to a season high 3800 birds on 2/7
(JRo) due to an influx of northbound migrants.

Canada Goose -- The individual (small race) found at Ocean County Park in
January was present through 2/6 (MS). Fifty-one seen in the flooded fields
off Foothill Blvd (Los Osos Valley) on 2/11(JRo) were probably the birds
wintering at Laguna Lake.

Eurasian Wigeon -- Up to two males were reported on Morro Bay during February

Redhead -- Three females were discovered at Whale Rock Reservoir on 2/26 (TE).

Harlequin Duck -- A female found along the north coast south of the elephant
seal rookery on 2/14 (GS), may have been the same bird present at that
location in November.

Oldsquaw -- An individual was seen from the Port San Luis Pier on 2/15 (BB).

Common Merganser -- A male and female were in a flooded field between Cambria
and Hwy 46 on 2/23 (TE).

Osprey -- One was seen over the Los Osos middle school on 2/11 (MS).

Bald Eagle -- The adult occasionally seen at Atascadero Lake in January was
present again on 2/21 (MH).

Black Skimmer -- Numbers increased in February with a high count of 17,
including 4-5 first year birds, observed on 2/19 (JRo).

Spotted Owl -- One was heard in upper See Canyon on the night of 2/5 (JR).

Northern Saw-whet Owl -- One was heard in upper Sea Canyon on the night of
2/5 (JR).

Barn Swallow -- One seen at Oso Flaco Lake on 2/6 (MS) was a little early for
a migrant and may have been the same bird reported there in January.

Sage Thrasher -- Uncommon on the Carrizo Plain in winter, one was seen along
Seven Mile Road on 2/6 (CK) and two, including one at the south end of the
air strip in California Valley, were observed on 2/12 (TE).

Nashville Warbler -- A male that hit a window in Los Osos on 2/6 probably
wintered locally (JRo).

White-throated Sparrow -- One at Cal Poly on 2/17 (MS) was well away from the
bird wintering near the feed mill.

OBSERVERS: Bill Bouton, Karen Clarke, Tom Edell, Marlin Harms, Clay Kempf,
John Roser (JRo), Jim Royer, Greg Smith, Mike Stiles, and mob = many
observers. For information about birds or locations mentioned in this
report, contact Tom Edell at (805) 995-1691 or


Tom Edell
Cayucos, CA

Wood Ducks

Roger Zachary <rzachary@...>


I was over at the de Anza trail yesterday, leading a bird walk for the
annual celebration of the trail. The birding was great! We observed at
least 3 pairs of Wood Ducks up in the cottonwood trees within the first
quarter mile of the trail. Appeared like they were searching for nest
sites in the trees. Last year (April) I observed a pair of Wood Ducks in a
cottonwood just right inside the trailhead area.

Further down the trail about a mile, we observed a pair Turkey Vultures
copulating. There were several others in a large cottonwood with one pair
in the mating postion. Anyway, it's that time of year...

Roger Lau went over to the sewage ponds afterwards and reported the
following species: Wood Ducks(1-pr)., Ruddy Ducks(25), Cinnamon Teals(30),
Blue-winged Teal(1-male), Greater Scaup(1-male), Ring-necked Duck(1),
American Pipit(1), and Violet-green/Tree Swallows.

Have a Good One!

Roger Zachary

Re: PS Flycatcher 3 March 2000

Tom Edell

Mike.....Did the PS Flycatcher look the same as the one you saw in December?
Just kidding. While this bird is in the same location and therefore may be
the bird that wintered there, county records show that it could be an early
migrant. Early dates of arrival for this species include an individual at
Spooner's Cove Campground in Montana de Oro State Park on 3 Mar 1993 and two
at Cerro Alto Campground in the Santa Lucia Mountains on 4 Mar 1986.

It would be great if we all posted SLOCo arrival dates of spring migrants to
the list. You can check the status and distributional bird list "The Birds
of San Luis Obispo County California" that is published by Morro Coast
Audubon to find out when migrants typically arrive. Regards......Tom

Tom Edell
Cayucos, Ca

In a message dated 03/03/2000 9:19:45 PM Pacific Standard Time, writes:

<< Today at Cal Poly in the creek near the feed mill I refound the
Pacific-slope Flycatcher that was first seen in December. I assume it
was the same one. I saw it in the same tree anyway. If it's not the same
bird it's an early migrant >>

PS Flycatcher 3 March 2000

Mike Stiles

Today at Cal Poly in the creek near the feed mill I refound the
Pacific-slope Flycatcher that was first seen in December. I assume it
was the same one. I saw it in the same tree anyway. If it's not the same
bird it's an early migrant.

Mike Stiles
Los Osos, CA

Brant trip


Reminder of the Brant field trip with John Roser this Sat., 4 March - meet at
east end of Morro Bay State Park Marina parking lot at 11:30AM.

Ted Pope

Re: 4 March Brant field trip


Sorry - forgot to mention John is doing this for the Morro Coast Audubon


4 March Brant field trip


Saturday, 4 March, John Roser is leading a field trip on which he will share
his expertise on the Brant - a sea goose which migrates from Northern Alaska
and Artic waters as far south as Baja California. Many Brant are seen in
Morro Bay this time of year and John will tell us where they are from, where
they are going, why they are here, etc.

Meet John at 11:30AM at the East end of the Morro Bay State Park Marina
parking lot. Bring a spotting scope if you wish. Call me if you need more

Ted Pope

Bullocks Oriole

Tom Edell

I am hoping someone can help me out. If I remember correctly, a Bullock's
Oriole was reported at the Sweet Springs Nature Preserve in January during
the Winter Bird Festival. I would like to determine who found the bird and
the dates it was seen. FYI, this species is very rare to casual in SLOCo
during winter, averaging less that one bird per year. I'd appreciate any
information on this or any other recent winter records of Bullock's Oriole in


Tom Edell
Cayucos, CA

cooper's hawks on the road

Gale Kordowski

Bill and I had just turned right onto Hwy 1 from Grand
Ave. in G.B. Sunday late morning, when Bill said in a
frantic voice �my God, look at those birds��just
before the car in front of us were (what appeared to
be) two Cooper�s Hawks that apparently locked talons
and dropped from the sky to the middle of Hwy 1�(thank
goodness the car going southbound stopped and the car
in front of us slowed down)�.just that quick one bird
flew left and the other went to the right. As we
slowly drove on I saw the bird that flew left soaring
in the sky (its tail was very long)�.as we drove on, I
bird that flew to the right had landed on a low tree
stump. It was hunched over, wings slightly spread
out, and was hanging onto a lifeless red-winged
blackbird in its talons�its tail was also very long�I
quickly asked Bill to turn around to make sure the
birds were not hurt�.when we drove back to the
scene�all the birds were gone.

The event happened near the driveway to the mobile
home park on Hwy 1 between Pismo Monarch Grove and

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Bald eagle

Marlin Harms

Hi all,
I saw the adult bald eagle at Atascadero Lake again mid-afternoon today after
not seeing it, but checking frequently, for about 3 weeks. It was in the
same tall tree above 9576 Marchant Way, on the west side of the lake.
Marlin Harms

dark morph Ferruginous Hawk

Guy Tingos <gtingos@...>

A group of Santa Barbara birders cruised the Cuyama area on Saturday and
had a beautiful dark morph Ferruginous Hawk. The bird was in a large
field on the north side of 166 between Highway 33 and Kirchenmann Road,
just east of the sign for Tut Brothers Farm.

Also seen were lots of standard Ferruginous Hawks, 2 Prairie Falcons, 1
Merlin, 1 Golden Eagle, 3-4 Mountain Bluebirds, 1 Sage Thrasher, several
Sage Sparrows and Lawrence's Goldfinches. No Mountain Plovers,
Longspurs, or Solitaires were seen.

Guy Tingos

Pismo Gulls

Brad Schram

Yesterday afternoon, Feb. 17, had 2000+ gulls on the beach at the mouth of
Pismo Creek. 98% at least were California Gulls. The flock did have quite
a few 1st year Herrings and a few Thayer's gulls however.


Re: Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Tom Edell


I must have missed your first post as your post below seems to answer
someone's response. I keep status and distributional data for birds in San
Luis Obispo County. There are only five records of Yellow-billed Cuckoo in
SLOCo since the 1960's.

8 Aug 1980, an individual was in a yard in Los Osos.
7 Nov 1989, one hit a window in Morro Bay.
30 Jul-1 Aug 1991, one was seen at a stock pond on the Carrizo Plain.
18-26 Jun 1999, an individual was found and later banded at Oso Flaco Lake.
15 Jul 1999, one was banded on San Simeon Creek.


Tom Edell
Cayucos, CA

In a message dated 02/17/2000 9:38:02 AM Pacific Standard Time, writes:

<< No, I have not seen one, but I am wondering when and where they have been
seen in SLO county last. Recently the Department of Interior proposed
listing them as endangered. >>

Feb 17, 2000

Mike Stiles

Today at Cal Poly I found a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW in a flock of
crowned sparrows around the Engineering building #13, just west of the

Mike Stiles

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Cal French <ccfrench@...>

No, I have not seen one, but I am wondering when and where they have been
seen in SLO county last. Recently the Department of Interior proposed
listing them as endangered.
The Federal Register announcement (90-day notice) follows:

Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Notice of 90-Day
Finding for a Petition To List the Yellow-billed Cuckoo as Endangered
and Commencement of a Status Review
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of 90-day petition finding.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a
90-day finding on a petition to list the yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus
americanus) as endangered, with critical habitat, pursuant to the
Endangered Species Act (Act) of 1973, as amended. We find that the
petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information to
indicate that the listing of the yellow-billed cuckoo may be warranted.
Therefore, we are initiating a status review to determine if the
petitioned action is warranted. To ensure that the review is
comprehensive, we are soliciting information and data regarding this
DATES: The finding in this document was made on February 7, 2000. To be
considered in the status review and subsequent 12-month finding for the
petition, your information and comments must be received by April 17,
ADDRESSES: You may submit data, information, comments, or questions
concerning this finding to the Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-
2605, Sacramento, California 95825. The petition finding, supporting
data, and comments are available for public inspection, by appointment,
during normal business hours at the above address.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karen Miller at the Sacramento Fish
and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES section above), or at 916/414-6600.

Rufous H.

Karen Clarke <seachest@...>

This morning I saw an adult male Rufous Hummingbird in my backyard feeding at the Pride of Madeira blossoms.  This is my first sighting this year.
I was also awakened at 7 AM by the raucous cawing of 5-6 crows.  Thinking that they were probably mobbing a hawk in the Cypress tree, I got up and took a look.  sure enough, an immature Cooper's Hawk was feeding on one of the branches of the tree.  The hapless prey turned out to be either a Brewer's or Red-winged Blackbird.  Too bad it didn't catch one of the two Brown-headed Cowbirds stuffing themselves at the feeder.
Karen C.

SLOCo Birding 2/15

bbouton <bbouton@...>

Hi All,

I checked the shores off of Shell Beach and Avila to Port San Luis this
morning. I saw NO shorebirds of ANY species -- not on rocks, not on sand.

Off the Port San Luis Pier, where at least 550 scoters, not counting any
that were under water during my scanning. I saw only Surfs, though many
were far out and viewed against the glare of the sun. Near the end of the
pier, among one group of scoters was one OLDSQUAW.


Bill Bouton
San Luis Obispo, CA

Morro Bay birds

Marlin Harms

Hi all,
Sunday (2-13) in the rain I saw 2 alternate plumage ad. Heermann's Gull & one
immature at Morro Rock, seemingly late to see adult birds. Also two Common
Goldeneye near the south end of the Embarcadero in Morro Bay. I went back
today (2-14) late afternoon & saw three, an ad. male, female, & immature
male. Also, in the bay across from about Harbor St., a group of 13 Common
Loons, not usually so close together.
Marlin Harms

Carrizo Plains Feb 12

Tom Edell

I led a field trip for Morro Coast Audubon to the Carrizo Plain on Saturday.
The rain kept the attendance low - myself and two others - but the weather
through threatening held throughout the day. The Plain got approximately
three-quarters of an inch of rain on Friday, enough to soak everything, but
not not enought to make all the roads trecherous to drive. We were able to
drive Seven Mile Road and Elkhorn Plain Road (both dirt). We also birded
along Soda Lake Road, Hwy 58, Belmont Trail (west of Soda Lake Road), and
Branch Mountain Road.

We managed to see many of the Plain specialities, though we missed the most
sought after including Sandhill Crane, Mountain Plover, Short-eared Owl and
Burrowing Owl. We did manage to find the following along with numerous Say's
Phoebes, Ravens, Horned Larks, Starlings, Loggerhead Shrikes, White-crowned
Sparrows, Red-winged and Brewer's blackbirds, and House Finches:

Northern Harrier - 1 female
Red-tailed Hawk - 6 (numerous on the drive to the plain along Hwy 58)
Ferrugionus Hawk - 4 adults
Rough-legged Hawk - 1 adult
Golden Eagle - 1 immature
Mountain Bluebird - 4 (3 Male, 1 female)
Sage Thrasher - 2
Sage Sparrow - 1

Nice trip considering the weather.


Tom Edell
Cayucos, CA

Greater White-fronted Goose

Karen Clarke <seachest@...>

I decided to check the creek mouths, Sat 2/12, in Cambria after the rain.  Maybe there would be something new and unusual.  Santa Rosa Ck, flowing swiftly to the ocean, had 200 gulls, most of which were California Gulls.  Mew Gulls numbered 20?  Two Glaucous-winged Gulls were present.  Two days ago there were 5---4 1st year birds and 1 2nd year bird.  One has also shown up at my house on Moonstone Beach Dr., Cambria.
San Simeon Ck was flowing strongly into the ocean.  No shorebirds.  There were 50? gulls in approximately the same species ratio.  The flooded "flats" south of the Day Use parking area had Mallards only, about 20.
The pastureland, located between the Ardath St. signal in Cambria and the Hwy 1 & 46 intersection is now flooded.  Ducks haven't found it yet.  However, I did see 1 Greater White-fronted Goose.
In my backyard I saw 6 Brown-headed Cowbirds (4 females, 2 males) feeding with a mixed flock of Red-winged and Brewer's Blackbirds.
Karen C.

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