Archive for the ‘Bird Photographs’ Category

Band-Tailed Pigeon

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My Day was MADE

I had a weird and wonderful birding day! I stopped by one of the piers in Bonelli today, got off my bike, and focused my binoculars … because I saw a Swainson’s hawk (light morph) on the ground killing and eating a male Mallard. A male Great-Tailed Grackle was in a nearby tree, crying out! On the water below were other Mallards, including a blonde Mallard (rare!), and a White-Crested Duck, which I had never seen before and had no idea showed up in the wild in LA! Four or five Dark-Eyed Juncos, males and females, flew down to the waterside, and my day was made. Did I mention that I saw an immature Snow Goose, too? #wow!!!


p.s. Before those killer minutes, I saw many Snowy Egrets, Great White Egrets, Great Blue Egrets, the Black-Capped Night Heron … a lot of American Coots, Clark’s Grebes … the sweetest California Towhee!

Birding Hansen’s Dam

I was lured to Hansen’s Dam by the possibility of White-Faced Ibises, which I did not see. But I did see (and hear!) many other birds:

  • an American crow in a pine, a busy Nuttall’s woodpecker, white-crowned sparrows and house finches flittering about, singing …
  • American coots, Mallard ducks, and American widgeons intermixed with Eurasian widgeons on the lake …
  • a “dark morph” Swainson’s hawk perched high up and surveying the lay of the land …
  • a hummingbird, a common yellowthroat, an American goldfinch, lesser goldfinches, American pipits, California gnatcatchers, a Bewick’s wren, a wrentit, a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet …
  • a Great White Egret that started to stalk across my path, then took flight once she saw me …
  • a turkey vulture circling with ravens …
  • California towhees …
  • a Great Blue Heron, standing still …
  • a black Phoebe, swooping in a circle to snatch insects from mid-air …
  • and then, sitting down on the bank, I watched two double-crested cormorants on the tree branches of the island in the middle of the lake beside a American White Pelican … a Snowy Egret in flight … a male Mallard Duck in flight …
  • and the Black-Capped Night Heron, hunting along the edge of the water!

Bewick’s Wren!

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Seen today at Descanso Gardens:  Hutton’s Vireo by the entrance fountain, a Doe on the path, Dark-Eyed Juncos by an orange leaf and a stone, Mallard Ducks on the lake shore, California Towhees, a Northern Mockingbird, and a hummingbird by the cacti …

in the oak wood, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Acorn Woodpecker, Spotted Towees, and a Stag whose antlers were illuminated by the morning sunlight as he lay down in the ivy …

in the rose garden, Bewick’s wren and a Yellow-Rumped Warbler!

Bolsa Chica Birding in December!

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New Birding IDs Today:
Green-Winged Teal, American Widgeon, Greater Yellowlegs,
Surf Scoter, Northern Pintail, Eared Grebe,
Western Sandpiper

I saw the Surf Scoter right as I entered Bolsa Chica, to the left of the footbridge, and his beak was so bright and parti-colored! I saw four immature Black-Crowned Night Herons through the chain-link fence, all sleepy. The snowy egrets were out in abundance, standing calmly by the path and down by the water’s edge. There was a huge flock of double-crested cormorants on the water; one California White Pelican landed in the lead position among them! There was an unexpected flock of American Avocets, many Marbled Godwits intermixed with Western Sandpipers, and lots of Bufflehead Ducks, Scaups, and Willets, too. I saw a few Ring-Necked Ducks. I also saw my favorite duck: the Gadwall! For once, Canadian Geese, mallards, and grebes were scarce, but as usual, American Coots were quite plentiful.

Around a leafless tree in the middle of the wetlands were three or four Great Blue Herons, but the Osprey stood out where she stood looking down from the highest vantage point in the branches. There were plenty of Great White Egrets, gulls, sanderlings, and terns around too. I may have seen a Dowitcher (non-breeding); I definitely saw a Long-Billed Curlew. Three white-crowned sparrows sang sweetly to me from the brush, and two rock doves said goodbye to me as I crossed the bridge back to the parking lot. I saw a Black Phoebe and a California Brown Pelican as I drove away.

Beautiful day!


Did a bone vulture kill the Greek playwright Aeschylus?

As myth has it, a bone vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) did kill Aeschylus, the Ancient Greek playwright who wrote the trilogy called the Oresteia, the tragedy of Agamemnon and his family. The vulture did so by dropping a bone on his head, a bone which the bird intended to shatter so that it would be able to eat smaller pieces of it. For bone vultures, also known as lammergeiers, eat bones.

They also “paint” their white feathers red or orange, using reddish soil, but they do so secretly. The behavior appears to be instinctual and is used to assert status among the vultures, who are cousins to the much smaller Egyptian Vulture. To learn more about bone vultures, read on.

  • Thanks to ULV English major, graduating senior, and future librarian, Meredith Jones, for bringing the bone vulture to my attention!

Royal Terns, Western Gulls, and Heermann’s Gulls

Today I went to the beach in Santa Monica. I was delighted to ID several Royal Terns on the edge of a rocky shore, with the help of binoculars, and I heard them making their distinctive calls. There were a number of gulls, too, including first-year Western Gulls and first-year Heermann’s Gulls.