Posts Tagged ‘Amber Ridge’

Two Mockingbirds and a Merlin (female) at Amber Ridge in the Morning

This morning, I was walking around Amber Ridge when I heard raucous bird calls. As I drew closer to the source of the sound, I saw that it was being made by two mockingbirds. They were squawking and flying up in the air and then back into their tall, green tree. I drew close to the tree, to find out what was irritating them, and saw a placid Merlin (female) perched on a high branch whom they were trying to scare off. The Merlin’s banded tail and distinct, brown chest streaking, facial patterning, and size (11-12″ apx) and wingspan (shorter than a larger hawk) made the ID.

June seems late for a nesting pair of mockingbirds, and the Merlin (Merlin columbarius) is supposedly here in SoCal mainly between mid-October and March. Yet here was this drama unfolding at the top of the tree: ┬áplain as day. Although the mockingbirds were not initially successful, my interest in the Merlin, demonstrated by a curious stare as I drew closer, prompted the small raptor to take flight … and the two mockingbirds chased it across the sky!

 

loud, shrill mockingbirds

defending a tall, green tree

the Merlin takes flight!

jb

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Male and Female Merlin

p.s. The drama was re-enacted again this morning, Sunday, 7/16/2019. This time, when the mockingbirds chased off the Merlin, she let out an almost four-second long series of 10-12 sharp chips as she flew. Her banded tail spread was spread out in flight and clearly visible. A striking combination of sight and sound! So the ID of the Merlin was confirmed again today.

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Orange-Crowned Warbler

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Band-Tailed Pigeon

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Northern Rough-Winged Swallow

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Seen today at the top of a tree on Amber Ridge: a Northern Rough-Winged Swallow! Also noticed House Finches, White-Crowned Sparrows (with their immature young, differently colored than the adults, lighter), Allen’s Hummingbirds, Bushtits (I think of them as “Pims,” after their Latin name, psaltriparus minimus or PMs or Pims!), Mourning Doves, American Crows, Ruby-Crowned Kinglets, Yellow-Rumped Warblers (tho’ there are fewer of these than there have been). Day before yesterday, I saw the Oak Titmouse again!

Oak Titmouse

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I saw the oak titmouse on my morning walk! A pair of them were playing at sunrise as the clouds in the sky turned pink, then yellow, then white. They were hopping about in the bushes that grow through the chain-link fences around Amber Ridge. The call of one of them was distinct — confirmed by listening at the Cornell Online Birding Lab — presumably the male. The other, presumably the female, was quiet.

Songs & Calls of the Oak Titmouse

Later, I saw a white crowned sparrow fly down from the branches of an oak tree and a black Phoebe circling low through the air for insects … I could hear the hummingbirds, already awake, and the mockingbirds. I saw a black crow. This is just an ordinary day here!