Crows and ravens

Miller, Mark C <mark.c.miller@...>

Here in the southern San Francisco Bay area, over the years it's been very
interesting to watch ravens pushing out from the immediate shoreline into
suburban areas. Ravens have always been common in the Santa Cruz Mountains,
but down in the flatlands, even as recently as 1990 it was very unusual to
see a raven more than a mile from the bay, and now they seem to be all over.
My guess is that now that the landfills are getting capped over, the ravens
are spreading out, and have taken to nesting on the roofs of buildings.
Ravens are strangely absent from the Monterey Peninsula, but become common
and occur with crows from Big Sur south.

Mark Miller

Montana De Oro State Park


A male and female peregrine falcon were at Spooner's Cove yesterday
morning, but it was not the Morro Rock pair five miles away, which were
being observed at the same time and are incubating eggs now. There was a
fast chase over the water and capture of a pigeon- the female landed on
a rocky shore outcrop with it and then flew north along the dunes.

Every few years one or two ravens together fly over Montana De Oro along
the coast going north..."vacationing" from the east or perhaps moving
north along the coast from south of Santa Barbara?? Ravens and crows
occurred in semi-arid Simi Valley adjacent to San Fernando Valley where
I grew up...I wonder how the population dynamics of the two species have
changed with the loss of the large orange and walnut groves and
eucalyptus stands and replacement by a sea of residential development
(more landfill habitat though!).


Re: north coast Band-tailed Pigeon & Common Raven


Band-tailed Pigeons are one of my regulars (2-8) usually encountered on my
spring time weekly morning walks since 1994 in San Simeon State Park. Most
often seen or at least heard on the nature trail near the crest of the piney
hills before descending down to the riparian area. They have also been seen
or heard on most of my exploratory forays during the Spring along the higher
forested parts of Cypress Mountain Road east of Cambria.

Common Ravens indeed are very scarce if not down right rare along the north
coast. This apparent historic coastal 'gap' between Santa Barbara and San
Francisco, which oddly enough includes the rugged Big Sur coast, the Santa
Lucia Mountains, and Ventana Wilderness seems down right weird. Imagining a
rational reason completely escapes me. Little different as to why they are
absent from urban 'Pugetopolis' (Seattle area) but common all around. The
occasional sightings of Ravens at Piedras Blancas each Spring, usually only
once or twice, involves birds apparently off on vacation from back east
somewhere and on some sight seeing adventure. Initial detection and
awareness is announced almost invariably by call. I've seen birds come
flying in high overhead from straight out of the east and head straight out
to sea for up to a half mile or so. Oops! And they make an abrupt "U-turn"
and head back from where they came. Occasionally a bird or two will stick
around for a day or two or three, quite obvious, quite vocal. None have been
detected yet this Spring. For what it's worth, even Common Crows seldom make
the trip to the point, although only a half-mile away along rt.1 they remain
a frequent sight as anyone would probably know.

Richard Rowlett (Pterodroma@...)
NOAA/NMFS Gray Whale Survey
Piedras Blancas Lighthouse
San Simeon, California

"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what
nobody has thought" --Albert Szent-Gyorgi (1893-1986).

Band-tailed Pigeon

Karen Clarke <seachest@...>

Regarding Band-tailed Pigeon sightings, they have been present in the
forests of Cambria the last two years. I first sighted 1 on Weymouth St.
(east side of Hwy 1) March 8, 2000. A week later there were 6-8 at a bird
feeder in the Liemert Tract of Cambria. March 26 I counted 15 at the feeder
in my backyard on Moonstone Beach Dr. in Cambria. Since that date, 3 have
been present in my backyard at some time during the day. They are very wary
and bolt easily.

Last weekend as I searched for a Bell's Vireo in the Santa Clara River at
the Hwy 101 bridge (Ventura Co.) I spotted 5 Common Ravens flying low.
Remembering the email declaring Ravens as far west as the Hwy 101 bridge in
Santa Maria highly unusual, I discounted these birds as ravens. They had to
be crows, but then I heard one of them vocalize. Definitely raven in
timbre. Earlier I had been on Hwy 1 where it abuts Mugu Naval Air Station
and the Pacific Ocean. As I occupied myself spotting birds and watching the
Mugu air show, I spotted 4-5 dark birds soaring over the summit of the
adjacent Coreopsis covered hills. I could not make a clear ID of Common
Raven, however, I thought it unusual for a crow to soar with unflapping
wings minutes at a time. I now believe these birds to be the same ravens I
saw at the Santa Clara River site. Also at the Santa Clara R. site I came
upon a cage used to capture Brown-headed Cowbirds.

Karen C.

coastal ravens

Eric Johnson <e.johnson31@...>

It is my experience that ravens replace crows coastally roughly south of the Santa Barbara-Ventura county line.
Anyone else? Guy McCaskie has commented that the crow-raven distribution in Calif. is probably the least
understood. They co-occur coastally north of SF Bay!


Montana De Oro State ParK


It was quite an experience leadng a hike with kids on the Valencia Peak
trail today. At 700 ft. elevation an adult golden eagle suddenly
appeared at eye level out of the windblown fog at a 50 foot distance, a
red-tailed hawk in the air screaming at it.
Below a northern harrier flew low over the brush. A pair of white-tailed
kites are nesting in a patch ot taller coffeberry shrubs above a canopy
of coastal scrub, at about 300 ft. elevation near the Oats Peak trail.
All three goldfinch species are in the general viciniity of the
Spooner's ranchhouse. Other sightings on the mountain hike today: gopher
snake, yellow-bellied racer, garter snake, rattlesnake (six along the
trail yesterday!), fence lizards, alligator lizards, brush rabbits, and
a coyote.




To: the group
From: John Roser

For those who are interested, here's an update on the Morro Bay Brant
population and a brief summary of some of my findings over the past 3 years:

Spring migration out of Morro Bay has been on in earnest the past few weeks.
Numbers have been as follows: 2,700 3/11, 2,200 3/17, 1,600 3/23, 1,300
3/30, 700 4/7, 170 4/12. This years population peak was 3,800 Brant during
the first week of February. Last year the population peaked at 2,400 and the
year before it was 1,700. The bay's Eelgrass beds were in very poor
condition 3 winters ago and have since slowly recovered to the approximate
acreage seen preceeding the fall of '94 Hwy 41 fire and spring of '95 floods
(which brought heavy sediment loads to the bay and led to a severe depletion
of Eelgrass). The Brant numbers seen this year are probably more indicative
of the bays current true carrying capacity. Brant counts from the '60s were
typically from 6,000 to 8,000 with a count in the '50s of 11,000. Band reads
obtained in Morro Bay represent all of the Black Brant banding localities
from Russia and Alaska to Banks and Victoria Islands in Canada. One
individual of the 'western high arctic' or 'gray bellied' race was observed
last year, and several were observed this year. Their breeding range is
Melville and Prince Patrick Islands and they winter in Puget Sound. They
currently are recognized as a distict race but they have no subspecies
designation. These birds look more like the eastern hrota race in plumage
(very pale, almost white bellies with a thin necklace that is typically
incomplete in front), but they are observably larger than our nigricans race
(as opposed to the hrota race being smaller).

This year I got over 1,100 band reads over the six month season. Once again
band read data showed that our wintering population seemed to consist of a
core of family groups that spend the entire season. Of the family groups in
which juveniles are banded as well as their parents, data shows that many of
them spend the entire season here from Nov. through Mar. or Apr. Family
groups typically stay intact until they leave on migration. Strong site
fidelity has been observed over the 3 year study. Many pairs have returned
to spend the entire season 3 years in a row. In January northward movement
from Mexico picks up. Many birds were observed all three years with their
first sightings here occurring roughly at the same time each year (for
example, if I first picked it up in Feb. the first year, odds are that's when
I first would pick it up in subsequent years). Some of these birds stay a
month or two, some seem to move on more quickly.

First arrivals in the fall are heavily weighted by family groups with a large
influx of what are probably failed breeders or non breeders arriving later in
mid to late Nov. During the 97/98 season a dramatic Eelgrass crash occurred
in January. At that time the population abruptly went from 1,700 to 600
individuals with many family groups remaining and the failed or non breeders
departing. At that time the birds fed in the salt marsh on algae and
vascular plants all day (both high and low tide) for several weeks (you may
have noticed this). This behavior did not occur during the past two seasons
due abundant Eelgrass availability.

It is estimated that about 80% of the 130 - 140 K population of Black Brant
now winters in Mexico. Of the approximately 40 radioed brant that were
radioed in their breeding sites in Alaska and were tracked migrating straight
to Baja, only one was detected using Morro Bay as a northward stopover this
year. Most Mexican migrants fly right by and I believe many don't even know
Morro Bay exists due to low flight elevations over Estero Bay and the dunes
of the spit obscuring their view of the bay. Some of these northward
migrants will stop briefly at intertidal sites along the coast to eat Ulva
(sea lettuce).

SLOCo Birding, 4/11 and 4/12

bbouton <bbouton@...>

Hi All,

I spent a couple of hours around the Oceano Lagoons (and campground) on
Tuesday. Birds of note included:

A pair of Eurasian Collared-Doves at the corner of Norswing and Harding and
another (same?) heard calling later in the campground where they nested last

Laurence's Goldfinches, 6 or 7, in the pines along Highway 1 N of the ranger
station .

Dark-eyed Juncos feeding fledged young in the willows on the W side of the

I attempted to go out onto the ocean with Paul Lehman and his tour group
today (Wed), but the dense fog caused the plan to be aborted. So I went up
onto West Cuesta Ridge for an hour or so.

Band-tailed Pigeons were several times seen perched in the tops of the
cypress skeletons, the first time I've ever seen them up on the Ridge.

A Black-throated Gray Warbler was in song at the Cuesta Ridge Botanical Area

Many Black-chinned Sparrows were in song along much of the route as were
Rufous-crowned Sparrows.


Bill Bouton
San Luis Obispo, CA

Morro Bay Doves

Tom Edell

I sent this message yesterday, apparently to the wrong address (thanks Mike).
It relates to Eric Johnson's question about Ringed Turtle Doves in Morro Bay.

PB 2000 (week 4: April 3-9)


Piedras Blancas and north coast summary (week 4: April 3-9)

The season's first Gray Whale cow/calf pair showed up on Tu 4/04 thus
signaling the start of 'Phase 2' of the annual Alaska bound migration of this
coast hugging species and the primary reason I'm here in the first place. We
had a total of five by week's end plus at least one more on Su 4/09. Phase 1
involving adults and juveniles continues to wind down and on schedule. Other
cetacean species seen from shore this week included Minke Whale, Risso's,
Common, and Bottlenose Dolphins.

Last weeks string of magnificent calm days has been gradually breaking down
with the return of the marine layer (mornings) and increasing but tolerable
afternoon longshore northerlies. A telephone number you might find useful is
for current real time wind speeds at the lighthouse. Call 927-0386 anytime.
The little man we keep locked up in the lighthouse will eagerly take your
call 24 hours a day. Just the wind, nuthin' else cuz he doesn't know,
doesn't care :-))

coastal seabirds --

Strong flights of loons, brant, and surf scoters Mo 4/02. Tu was a virtual
zero; We & Th were only a little above that but steadily picking up midweek
through the end. The Mo 4/02 flight of Brant was the first significant
flight noted this Spring (~5,000). Good flights of both Pacific (several
thousands) and Common Loons (a few hundred) on Fr and Sa 4/07-08 kind of
petered out just in time for a rather disappointing Sunday 4/09 dedicated
'big eye' session (see below). Pacific Loons have taken over as the
predominate loon species now. Last week it was running about 3:1
Red-throated : Pacific; this week the trend reversed to about 4:1 Pacific :

Still almost a total bust around here for 'tubenose' seabirds. One or two
immature Black-footed Albatross were present briefly Th 4/06 midday. A few
Sooty Shearwaters started appearing from Th 4/06 onwards finally breaking a
two-week zero dry spell. The general absence of shearwaters so far this
Spring is unusual as they should be becoming fairly plentiful around here by
now, yet more often than not, their conspicuous absence all the way out to
the shelf break (3 nmi) and horizon (6 nmi) has been particularly noticeable.

There were only two Black-legged Kittiwakes this week, single adults on We
4/05 and Su 4/09. The season's first Forster's Terns observed migrating past
PB were a flock of 5 on Sa 4/09.

alcids -- Impressive northward flight of Rhinoceros Auklets observed Sa 4/08
with 415 counted between 0700 and 0720hrs (flocks up to 35), after which it
all but stopped. Pretty good flight early Su 4/09 too. This was the first
time this spring Rhinos have been seen in such impressive numbers. Two
Ancient Murrelets were seen on Th 4/06 and one on Sa 4/08. Not a single
Cassin's Auklet has been detected or even suspected so far this season. When
they are about, they often make for a favorite Peregrine meal.

A dedicated coastal seabird count conducted Sunday 4/09 (0700-0900hrs)
weather: clear, wind NNW 10-15kts, sea state B3/4, visibility clear light
haze to ward horizon. Nonstop effort on the 'big eyes' (Fujinon 25X150
binoculars) resulted in the following selected species counts:

Sooty Shearwater ~40
Short-tailed Shearwater 1 (400 meters)
Red-throated Loon 545
Pacific Loon 2080
Common Loon 76
Brant 26 (very low!)
Surf Scoter 110 (very low!)
White-winged Scoter 2
Red-breasted Merganser 5
Greater Scaup 3 (one male, two female)
Black-legged Kittiwake 1 (adult)
Forster's Tern 11
Common Murre 125
Rhinoceros Auklet 280
migrant shorebirds: Black-bellied Plover, Greater Yellowlegs, Whimbrel,
Marbled Godwit, Surfbird, Short-billed Dowitcher, and a few little 'peep'
like objects.

During the continuous 'big eye' scans, I spotted a tight little flock of 8
Surfbirds initially heading north out nearly a mile and just large shorebirds that time. Sighting the 'Point' they turned to head toward shore. Bad
idea I immediately thought and kept my eye on them. About 30 seconds later
as they approached the beach, Mr. Peregrine bolted from it's top of the
lighthouse perch, blasting into the middle of the rocky shore bound
Surfbirds, deftly nabbing one from the group. The flock of 8 made an
immediate emergency departure as a flock of 7.

other stuff....

Ferruginous Hawk -- not seen all week. Fr 3/31 was the last day and I guess
the strong Santa Ana winds that day must have blown it out of here or
inspired it to leave for good. March 31st thus is the latest coastal Hearst
Pasture / Piedras Blancas departure date on record here since I've been
keeping track (1994).

Peregrines -- nothing terrific or dramatic observed other than the Surfbird
incident mentioned above. They've pretty much settled down now to the
occupation of incubation.

hummingbirds -- The Allen's hatched on Tu 4/04 and the before described
luxury nest now hosts two tiny chicks. Only a 15-day incubation period seems
really short. The two Anna's nest and chick occupants continue to do well
and are growing like mad. The chicks in the nest outside the front window
are bubbling over the top now as they pretty much fill up the nest which
appears to remain quite secure despite its exposed location. Since this one
is fully exposed and well below eye level, it's easy and fun to watch the
female making the regular and frequent feeding visits. Yet another nest, my
fourth this season already, was discovered Sa 4/08. Another Allen's, very
much under early construction but already containing two eggs. It always
fascinates me to watch the female constructing the nest whichstarts out as
just a flimsy platform around the already laid eggs. The first time I
discovered such back in 1994, I thought the egg which appeared was just an
infertile 'practice' egg. Imagine my astonishment when a second egg appeared
within 48 hours and the nest grew up around them. Rufous Hummingbirds remain
scarce to almost nonexistent.

other yard birds -- Nothing of note, no migrants and not a single warbler
yet. I've suspended the back yard ground feeding temporarily which means
losing the Spotted Towhee I think. A few House Sparrows settled in and I
don't want to encourage them to get in the habit of hanging around or worse,
nesting here. Once they've moved on, and they will, then we'll open up shop
again. The singing House Wrens have finally given up and moved on too as I

San Simeon State Park --

morning walk (Th 4/06, 0630-0930) -- What a difference an overcast morning
can make; the silence was deafening. The only thing really 'ripping'
(literally!) the silence apart were a couple very irate Great Blue Herons
disturbed from their roost (or nest) by the nearby roost of Turkey Vultures
as they began their day and commenced taking flight. Daylight Savings
doesn't help either this early in April when limited to a time constraints.
69 species, nothing new, no late departures, and missed several
characteristic and usually encountered species (Snowy Egret, Red-tailed Hawk,
Acorn Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Golden-crowned Sparrow). No Winter Wren
again. Hermit Thrush was the highlight in the wooded portion. An adult male
Peregrine was the only other notable, perched on the top of the large rock
just north of the mouth of San Simeon Creek. I thought this one might be the
Piedras male, but since I drove straight back to the lighthouse at 60mph from
there to find the adult male perched on a fence post in front of the house,
I'm guessing that the San Simeon Creek bird must be different ...unless it's
one hell of fast flyer! That rock is best viewed and scoped from the pullout
just south of the bridge (ocean side) and looking back north.

No foreign travel to Monterey Co. this week.

Richard Rowlett (Pterodroma@...)
NOAA/NMFS Gray Whale Survey
Piedras Blancas Lighthouse
San Simeon, California

"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what
nobody has thought" --Albert Szent-Gyorgi (1893-1986).


Eric Johnson <e.johnson31@...>

From: e.johnson31@...
To: TEdell@...
Subject: cuckoo
Date: April 10, 2000

Tom - I am the one who prepared the skin. The bird was partially decomposed, and tho I am quite good at
internal sexing (thousands of birds!) it was impossible to deternime. The insides were mush - that's the
there was no sex indicated on the tag. The skull seemed completely ossified, but since I had never before
skinned a cuckoo and had no idea how soon a cuckoo skull ossifies completely, and since I was not aware
minor differences in plumage between adults and juveniles, I refrained from making an age determination.
but we were very lucky to get any kind of skin at all! I always suspected from the date that it was more
likely an
eastern lost bird (which would probably make a juvenile more likely) than a western. I think you did very

On another topic, what kind of exotic doves are in Morro Bay? We have a pair of what seem to be Ringed
turtle doves (not Eurasian collared) in my neighborhood. They hang out on the wires behind 392 Christina
(corner of Christina and Warren, off Patricia) - the male is calling a lot. Never seen a pair before in town,
singles. And for those who don't think of band-tails as a spring bird, jim Landreth is feeding 40 daily at 613

I don't seem to have the Egroup address in my address book. Can you send it?

Eric J.

swan song

Eric Johnson <e.johnson31@...>

As many of you are aware, I retired from Poly two years ago, after teaching there for 29. I introduced the
ornithology course in Spring of 1971, and it has been offered once or twice a year ever since. I am now
about to leave the area (in mid-June) and wish to share some reflections on 31 years of birds and birders in

First, why leave? To be closer to my kids, grandkids (2), and my old friends - cardinals, redstarts, Rose-
breasted Grosbeaks, Indigo Buntings, and all the other eastern birds of my youth that captured my interest
and convinced me to take the road I did. We have purchased a log home on 30 acres in Stuart, Virginia (SW
corner of the state, 15 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of my most favorite places in North
America.) I hope to give back something, via nest boxes, feeders, and protected habitat, to the birds that
turned me on when I was 9. I will continue to stay in touch with SLO birders via this Egroup, since I seem to
be an historical resource of sorts! We will welcome birders who might like to see a real warbler wave (sorry
- Calif. can't compare!) or bird the Parkway for eastern lifers. I hope old friends will keep in touch, and visit.
(Bring your fishing pole - we have 1/4 mile of stocked trout stream running through our property.)

A few observations on SLO bird populations. I was never a vagrant-chaser - left that to others (after all,
most of the vagrants here were old friends from my eastern days!) But I have some observations on land bird
populations in the area. First and most disappointing, the Am. Crow population in the City of SLO has
increased more than a hundred-fold since the early 70's, when students censusing birds in SLO for my class
could find only 2-4 birds in spring. Now there are over 200 throughout the city, surely to the detriment of
open-nesting passerines. I see them searching for nests to rob all over town. The local mockers seem to be
holding on, perhaps because they are so aggressive in defense of nests, but other species must be feeling the
pressure. Starlings were not a breeder when I arrived, only a wintering species. You need to watch for
depression in cavity-nesting species, especially Acorn Woodpeckers and bluebirds. Put up Starling-proof
boxes. On a brighter note, there are now robins nesting regularly though town. They were nearly nonexistent
as breeders in SLO in the 70's, though MBSP has always had a good population.

I have had the good fortune of contributiong, in a way, to the local kestrel population. Since 1995, a pair
have nested in a box on the back of my house, and have so far successfully fledged 21 chicks. They're back
this year, on 5 eggs again (she has laid 5 every year, but only fledged one her first year) and if successful, they
raise the total to 26. But this is their last year. I will remove the box after they fledge, since I don't trust the
new residents of my property to take proper care (mostly changing chips and cleaning). Kestrels nesting in
palm trees frequently fail, I suspect because of rats eating eggs and young chicks. Put up a kestrel box! Even
in a city yard, I've had four natives nest successfully (my titmouse in the box on the front tree is on 8 eggs).

My most important contribution, to my way of thinking, has been the introduction of so many young people to
the delights of birding. Many of you in the Egroup got your introduction to birds at Cal Poly, and my greatest
pleasure was turning you on. For those who came already turned on (Curtis, Paloma, Brian Walton) at least I
didn't turn you off! I leave the county in the hands of far many more competent birders than it had when I
arrived (Tom, Mike, Steve, John, Dean, Francis - the list is too long to name you all.) It is particularly
satisfying to have a former student now teaching birds and mammals at Poly. And others have University
positions: Paula Kleintjes at the U. of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, Jon Grinnell at the College of Wooster in
Ohio, and undoubtedly others of whom I've lost track.

Professionally, the condor work of the early 80's was my high point. Many of you were involved in that, and
you should realize that there are still condors out there in great measure because of our ability to individually
identify the birds, and thus census them. The low numbers we documented gave an urgency to the captive
breeding program that might not otherwise have happened in time to save them. You will find your work
praised extensively in the Snyders' forthcoming book, The California Condor, A Natural and Unnatural
History. Required reading for former condor-watchers at The Sign.

Come visit us - nearest airport is Greensboro, NC, about an hour and 20 min. drive from Stuart. Spring
migrants should peak in early May, fall colors best in late Oct. (I'm extrapolating from my experiences in
Massachusetts - I'll know more precisely when I've been there a year.) When I have a respectable local list
and know the area better, I'll e-mail you through the group so you can see how many "lifers" you might get.
Hooded and Cerulean Warblers are virtually guaranteed.

Our address after June 20 is: 928 Poorhouse Creek Rd., Stuart, VA 24171. I'll send a phone # when we
have one, an if my e-mail address changes (probably) you'll get that too.

So long, keep in touch, and most of all, good birding!!

Eric Johnson

Visit SLO area

Donna Chance


We will be in SLO from 4/12 to 4/26 visiting family, sightseeing and birding. If anyone is going birding in the area between those dates and wouldn't mind us tagging along or driving, we would appreciate hearing from you. Our life list of CA species is small and almost anything that doesn't appear in Texas or Kansas would be a welcome sight. Thanks in advance.

Donna & Herb Chance <dhchance@...>
Wathena, KS
Get Your Private, Free Email at

The Links Course at Paso Robles

Regena Orr <regenao@...>

Yesterday evening (April 3rd), there were two Cattle Egrets near the irrigation pond at The Links golf course on Jardine Road in Paso Robles.  At the pond were two Yellow-headed Blackbirds and a Ross' Goose (first seen on March 20th).  Sure is nice having that extra hour of daylight to go birding after work.
Regena M. Orr
Assistant Resource Ecologist
San Simeon District
California State Parks

PB 2000 (week 3: Mar 26 - Apr 2)


Piedras Blancas and north coast summary (week 3: Mar 26 - Apr 02)

Weekly summaries henceforth starting with this one will end on Sundays rather
than Saturday.

It was another fine week but a little slow in the bird department. Longshore
northerlies were a bit strong Monday and Tuesday after which the winds and
seas quieted down and by Friday through Su 4/02, this place was heavenly.
Especially Sunday! It was flat slick calm and crisp to the horizon from
sunrise to sunset. Such magical days are extremely rare and although
Sunday's are our 'day off', I couldn't think of any place else to wander off
to that could have been better, so I just stayed put, watched the birds, and
soaked up a bit of sun. We'll no doubt have to pay for those fine early
Spring days soon enough.

coastal seabirds.....

After a 5-day lull and slow start this week, Pacific Loons 'turned on' with
the first perceptions of an actual migration midweek with numbers gradually
building day by day through the end except on Fr 3/31 when the strong
offshore Santa Anna winds kicked in and killed any chance of seeing much of
anything along the coast. If there were any birds out there, they were
pushed further offshore. Red-throated still far outnumber Pacific (about
2:1) and several hundred of both species were seen almost daily from midweek
on except Fr 3/31. Likewise, Common Loons are on the move but in much
smaller numbers.

The only notable flight of Surf Scoter flight this week was on Th 3/30 with
~6-8,000. Brant flights so far this season have been relatively light.
There were no tubenose type seabirds sighted at all this week! Black-legged
Kittiwake numbers are vastly diminished to maybe no more than a dozen all
week. Ditto Mew Gulls. Usually, I've seen a Glaucous or two by now, but
have detected none of those yet. Of course they and anything really can slip
by when I'm not present or happen to be looking. A little group of 5 Royal /
Elegant type terns were just a wee bit too far offshore to confirm an ID on
Tu 3/28. Otherwise, no other terns apart from occasional Caspians. Fewer
Common Murre and Rhinoceros Auklets were seen this week. Shorebird migration
picked up a wee bit this week but nothing particularly noteworthy.

A dedicated coastal seabird count conducted Sunday 4/02 (0700-0900hrs)
weather: clear, wind calm, sea state flat slick 0, visibility unrestricted to
the horizon
nonstop effort on the 'big eyes' (Fujinon 25X150 binoculars) resulted in the
following selected species counts:

'tubenose' seabirds 0
Red-throated Loon 1070 (steady all day; est. 2500-3000 for the
Pacific Loon 620
Common Loon 8
Brant 61
Surf Scoter 235 (better after noon, est; ~1500 day
White-winged Scoter 11
Red-breasted Merganser 2
Brant 60
Common Murre 12
Rhinoceros Auklet 16

weeks highlights and other notes....

Ross's Goose -- two dropped in on the 'Point' on Su 3/26, but only as an
afternoon wonder. A pair of Canada Geese, also seldom seen around here,
dropped in on Th 3/30. "Molly", Susan's either totally adilpated or secretly
ultra intelligent (after six seasons, we still don't know which) Golden
Retriever chased after them which kept them from landing right at our feet.
They did manage to put down on the west point in the iceplant and rested
there for a couple of hours before moving on. Usually, Molly just lays
around at our feet all day pretending to be dead and only wakes up with a
heart stopping jolt when a Turkey Vulture comes by and goes off wildly
chasing and barking. It's just her way of letting them know that she's not
really a lifeless dinner morsel carcass as she appears to be most of the time.

Ferruginous Hawk -- the light morph was still hanging on at least through Fr
3/31 much to my amazement and has actually been a bit more conspicuous this
week, or I've just been having better luck with my casual glances over there
from time to time from our gray whale monitoring site on the southwest point.
Also one or two Harriers along with the ubiquitous and several Red-tailed
hang out out there as well.

Rufous Hummingbird -- A slight improvement this week with a few scattered
around from time to time but not in significant numbers.

Anna's Hummingbird -- The nest and tiny younglings are still doing well
outside the front window. Yet another nest containing two eggs was found on
Su 3/25 and both hatched on We 3/29 between 0630 and noon. I've witnessed
all four now as they punched out of their tiny miniature jelly bean sized
eggs. Witnessing a hummingbird actually hatching is a most inspirational

Allen's Hummingbird -- continues incubating two eggs laid a week ago. She's
much more skidish about hanging around the nest and seems to spend more time
off than on.


Peregrine Falcons -- I'm fairly certain that the traditional PB pair are
incubating eggs now up in the tiny cave like eyrie on the SE face of the
Outer Rock (the big rock just off the western most point). Copulation was
observed up on the lighthouse on Mo 3/27 and both the male and female were
tinkering around inside the eyrie early in the week as well. It appears that
the Brant's Cormorants are reigning kings of the hill top this year. In the
past, the top of the rock has been a favorite perch and lookout and the
Peregrines usually clear the cormorants off. Not this year. Even some of
the other previous favored ledge perches on the rock are occupied by Pelagic
Cormorants and a pair of Western Gulls. Never mind. Since the top of the
lighthouse has been decapitated (no rotating beacon any more or any light
that works at all for that matter), the Peregrines seem to have opted for
utilizing the unobstructed view from the rail around the top as the most
favored perch especially on calm days.


other things of insular PB local interest.....

Nothing much actually. The Spotted Towhee remains along with the two House
Wrens which continue to sing. A Lincoln's Sparrow has been seen off and on
and a few Golden-crowned Sparrows (missing until this week) have finally
joined the yard bird collection.


further afield.....

San Simeon State Park --

morning walk (Tu 3/28, 0600-0930) -- A much quieter morning than the last
visit on 3/23. I had to find most things the hard way, missed several common
woodland species that shouldn't have been missed, and had to struggle just to
find a token Junco and House Wren. Still managed to tally 71 species, but
unfortunately the Winter Wren wasn't one of them.

Merlin -- female hunting over the large marsh area and perched in the first
dead snag where the trail starts to climb up the hill after leaving the
boardwalk over the marsh. Incredibly tame for a Merlin; I was able to nearly
walk right up to it. An adult male Cooper's Hawk was seen in that same tree
about an hour earlier on my way in.

Common Merganser -- the two females and one gorgeous adult male remain in San
Simeon Creek below and just east of the road and foot bridge (the one inside
the campground).

Hermit Thrush (1), Pacific-slope Flycatcher (2-3), and Wilson's Warbler (3).

Townsend's Warblers and Purple Finches, the two jays, and Acorn Woodpeckers
were among the most conspicuous noise makers up in the woods.

White-tailed Kites -- There *are* for sure at least four hanging around the
park and immediate adjacent area. I suspected more than a pair, but this was
the first time I've ever been able to confirm such and actually *see* all
four at once.


Cedar Waxwings -- a tight flock of 80-100 were seen swirling over and
alighting in the pines in West Cambria as I was rolling up to the stop light
on rt.1 at 5pm Th 3/30. I don't know if Cedar Waxwings are generally common
or just irregular. I seldom seem to run into them, so thought I'd just
mention it.


and finally, just over the county line again.....

With Friday's (3/31) offshore Santa Annas heating up the area and blowing all
the muck and haze offshore, I couldn't resist making an overnight camping
trip to San Martin Top, camping out under the stars on the open ledge ~2500
feet straight up above rt.1, the ocean, and Gorda (Monterey Co). A gorgeous
warm dry night up there. Birdwise, pretty quiet but the TOWNSEND'S SOLITARE
reported last week was still present and was most confiding and conspicuous
as it kept me close company during dinner and again for breakfast before I
had to descend and go back to 'work'. A Common Poorwill and Great Horned Owl
were calling just before dawn.

Richard Rowlett (Pterodroma@...)
NOAA/NMFS Gray Whale Survey
Piedras Blancas Lighthouse
San Simeon, California

"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what
nobody has thought" --Albert Szent-Gyorgi (1893-1986).

April Fools Birds

Karen Clarke <seachest@...>

The numbers of gulls at the mouth of Santa Rosa Creek in Cambria have dropped dramatically in the last week or so.  Friday, 3/31, there were 7 Mew Gulls and 7 California Gulls.  Feeding from the dumpster at my house was an immature Glaucous-winged Gull.  During the winter 20+ gulls gorged themselves on restaurant remains in the dumpster.  Now 4-6 gulls partake of the feast.
Saturday, 4/1, I visited Heilman Park in Atascadero in order to find the Chipping Sparrows that were reported to be there.  I didn't see one during the Big Year competition.  I found one quickly, feeding at the edge of the path to the tennis courts.  Many birds were present in the oak woodland---White-tailed Kite (1), Wild Turkey (2+), Band-tailed Pigeon (20+), Acorn Woodpecker (20+), Violet-green, Tree, Barn, and possible Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Oak Titmouse (15+), Bushtit (20+), White-breasted Nuthatch (6+), Western Bluebird (4+), Yellow-rumped Warbler (2), Spotted Towhee (3+), White-crowned Sparrow (14+), Golden-crowned Sparrow (8+), Lesser Goldfinch (20+), and Lawrence's Goldfinch (1).
I walked to the wastewater ponds of the Atascadero sewage treatment plant.  There was a fair number of duck species:  Wood Duck (2), American Wigeon (8+), Mallard (16+), Cinnamon Teal (16+), Bufflehead (2), Ruddy duck (20+).  Some shore birds worked the water's edge:  Greater Yellowlegs (4+), peeps (12+)(didn't have a spotting scope), Common Snipe (1).  I heard or saw 12+ Common Yellowthroats.
Karen C.

SLOCo March Bird Sightings

Tom Edell

Here is a draft of my column for the Morro Coast Audubon Flyway newsletter
covering March bird sightings in SLOCo. Comments, corrections, and additions
are welcome. Thanks.


Tom Edell
Cayucos, CA


Black-vented Shearwater -- One seen from Point Piedras Blancas on 3/18 was
the first reported this winter (RR).

Cattle Egret -- Three were present on Cal Poly agricultural fields as of 3/31

Mute Swan --For the past few years this species has been seen off an on at

Atasadero Lake creating suspicion that they are breeding somewhere in the
nearby area. One was again present at the lake on 3/21 (RZ).

Greater White-fronted Goose -- Three were present at Laguna Lake all month

Snow Goose -- A flock of 65 found in the fields NE of Point Piedras Blancas
on 3/12 (MS) dwindled to 19 birds on 3/20 (RR) and were not recorded
thereafter. Five birds seen near Little Pico Creek on 3/19 may have been
part of that flock. Another flock of eight birds were present on Morro Bay
3/15-24 (SS,JR).

Ross's Goose -- The three wintering at Laguna Lake were last seen on 3/11

Brant -- The number on Morro Bay dropped to 1300 birds by 3/30 (JR).

Canada Goose -- The individual (small race) found at Ocean County Park in
January was present through March (TE).

Wood Duck -- Pairs were again present along the Salinas River at and around
the Atascadero sewage ponds on 3/5 (RL, RZ).

Eurasian Wigeon -- Last report was of two males on Morro Bay on 3/13 (JF).

Blue-winged Teal -- A male and female were found on Morro Bay on 3/4 (JR). A
male was also found at the Atascadero sewage ponds on 3/5 (RL).

Ferrugionus Hawk -- The bird wintering on the coast at Point Piedras Blancas
was present through at least 3/25 (TE).

Black Skimmer -- Numbers fluctuated in March between two and thirteen birds
on Morro Bay (JR).

Eurasian Collared-Dove -- This species continues to expand its territory in
SLOCo. One was seen in Los Osos on 3/10 (KH) and another was present in
Cambria on 3/18 (KC). I would appreciate hearing about any nesting locations
in the county.

Burrowing Owl -- An individual was found along the coast in Montana de Oro SP
on 3/5 (MA).

Lewis's Woodpecker -- One along Hwy 166 near between mile posts 42 and 43 on
3/5 (JC) was at a previously unrecorded location.

Northern Flicker -- A "yellow-shafted" race bird was seen on Dairy Creek on
3/5 (MA). A male "yellow-shafted" in Los Osos on 3/8-10 (KH) was probably
the bird seen off and on along the bay front all winter.

Pacific-slope Flycatcher -- One seen near the Cal Poly feed mill on 3/3 (MS)
could have been either the individual that wintered there or a spring arrival

Magnolia Warbler -- The female wintering at the Oceano Campground and lagoon
was last reported on 3/18 (BH).

Black-headed Grosbeak -- An adult male and a first spring male present at a
feeder in Bee Canyon on 3/10 (DS) were reportedly present all winter.

White-throated Sparrow -- Two adults were found in Bee Canyon, Arroyo Grande,
on 3/10 (DS). An individual was at a feeder in Los Osos on 3/19 (M&PC).

Tricolored Blackbird -- Approximately 20 birds were seen near the
intersection of Orcutt and Morretti Canyon roads on 3/22 (DS).

Yellow-headed Blackbird -- There were multiple reports of a male seen between
13th and 4th Streets in Los Osos from 3/11-16 (MS,mob)

OBSERVERS: Mary Adams, Bill Bouton, Jamie Chavez, Karen Clarke, Michael &
Peggy Craig, Tom Edell, Jerry Friedman, Marlin Harms, Karen Havlena, Bruce
Hollingworth, Roger Lau, John Roser, Richard Rowlett, Steve Schubert, Mike
Stiles, Doug Stinson, Roger Zachary, and mob = many observers. For
information about birds or locations mentioned in this report, contact Tom
Edell at (805) 995-1691 or tedell@....

Tom Edell

American Dippers

bbouton <bbouton@...>

Hi All,

This isn't *quite* SLO birding, but close. It is just a mile or two into
Monterey County.

Today, April 2, at about 14:00, during a family outing to the rather
spectacular falls that is 3 1/2 miles north of Ragged Point Inn (Salmon
Creek, I believe it is called), we saw two American Dippers fly past us
going upstream to the falls. They flew to about 1/2 way up the falls,
puttered around a bit, then continued up until they disappeared behind the
water about 3/4 of the way to the top.

Bill Bouton
San Luis Obispo, CA

SLOCo Birds 4/1-2

Tom Edell

A few minor sightings to report for the weekend. I checked Whale Rock
Reservoir Saturday morning. The most interesting bird was a male HOODED
MERGANSER seen in the Cottontail Creek arm of the reservoir. The County's
latest winter date is April 3, so a few more days and this bird's presence
becomes locally significant. Other birds on the reservoir included 7
The usual group of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS were roosting on the fish trap
in the Santa Rita Creek arm (is anyone aware of any inland nesting locations
for this species?) and three GREAT BLUE HERONS were feeding along the creek.
I suspect that the herons breed somewhere around the reservoir (anyone know?)
possibly in the eucalyptus grove on Santa Rita Creek just above Old Creek

Today Mike Stiles and I birded the Oceano Campround (I apologize for the
mistake of accidentally sending a personal message to the group yesterday)
looking for a tanager reported there on Wednesday. We found no tanagers and
no birds of note around the lagoon but did see two red-eared sliders
(turtles) sunning themselves on a wood platform in the lagoon (anyone got a
trap). At the Oceano County Park there was a BRANT and the smallish CANADA
GOOSE that has been present all winter. It seemed a little long-necked and
pale below for a minima. The bird is larger (and taller) than the Brant and
has a stubby bill that is about the same length as the Brant. There was no
noticeable white separating the black upper neck from the brownish lower
neck. Any guesses as to subspecies?


Tom Edell
Cayucos, CA

FW: [sbcobirding] Special savings on Paul Lehman lecture!

Paul Keller <wrentit@...>

From: Patrick McNulty <mcnulty@...>
To: sbcobirding@...
Subject: [sbcobirding] Special savings on Paul Lehman lecture!
Date: Sat, 01 Apr 2000 21:31:18 -0800

Dear SBCObirders,

As has been mentioned, Paul Lehman, author of Birds of Santa
Barbara, is giving a talk Monday night in
SB on the effects of Weather on Bird Migration (or
perhaps "How to use the Weather Channel to
plan Birding Trips"). See our relocated web page
for details at:

For those of you who receive our
newsletter, El Tecolote, we were happy
that the editors published ahead of schedule
in order to get notice out about this talk, but we
should reassure our readers that the price of
admission is $5, not the $10 shown in ET. Such a

(I'm not subscribed to the SBCObiding or VENturabirding
listservers, but if anyone familiar with those lists thinks it
would be useful to re-post this, that would be fine, thanks.


Patrick McNulty W: (805) 893-4165
Santa Barbara. CA H: (805) 967-9900
mail: mcnulty@...

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