Weekend Tricolored Blackbird Survey

Tom Edell

California's annual Tricolored Blackbird survey was held this past weekend.
Due to declining numbers it has been listed as a "species of concern" by the
Dept. Fish and Game. There are many historic nesting sites in San Luis Obispo
County, though none compare in size, or number of birds, to those found in
the Central Valley.

I surveyed historic nesting locations at along Hwy's 1, 41, 46, 58, and 101
plus Bitterwater and Creston roads. Tricolored's were found at only two
locations, a non-breeding flock on Bitterwater Road and breeders at a
residential pond on Hwy 58 just east of Bitterwater Road. Brad Schram
surveyed Hwy 166 and found breeders on an ag pond on Hwy 33, but none at the
Hwy 166 site just east of Twitchell Reservoir. It will be interesting to see
if birds arrive later at the more coastal sites. I am collecting data on
this species and would appreciate information on breeding and non-breeding
flocks found in SLOCo this spring and summer.

Other birds of note over the weekend include the CANYON WREN present at the
Cayucos Creek mouth since last weekend. The bird continues to sing from the
rock revetment around the parking lot. I stopped by the heron rookery at
Fairbank Point in Morro Bay State Park this morning. The DOUBLE-CRESTED
CORMORANT numbers continue to increase. I counted about 250 nests which is
up from the 138 recorded in 1989. They have now moved into the the dying
cypress trees which, when healthy, were used by Great Egrets. The egrets are
still nesting in the healthy cypress trees. I didn't count the number of
Great Blue Heron nests in the rookery but you have to look to find them. Has
anyone seen any Snowy Egret nests there this year?


Tom Edell
Cayucos, CA

Mike Stiles

I wanted to follow up on Tom's post on the Tricolored Blackbird survey.
Although not in SLO Co, I helped survey Tricoloreds in Kern Co this
weekend at Wind Wolves Preserve (managed by Poly grad Dave Clendenen).
We found about a dozen colonies ranging from 40 birds in a tiny patch of
nettle to thousands of birds in the larger wetlands, but the numbers
were way down from even 10 days ago according to Dave. It does seem that
this tricolored survey is very date dependent, as Tom was wondering
regarding coastal populations.

Mike Stiles