Posts Tagged ‘Black Phoebe’

Birding on a Windy Day

This weekend I headed over to Lompoc to visit my brother, sister-in-law and beloved nephew, Elijah, who is almost two years old. We decided to head out to Ocean Park to go birding at the estuary. Estuaries, where fresh water meets the sea, are good places to see birds of many different kinds within several yards of each other.

On the drive over, we saw a turkey vulture soaring beside the roadway (of course), and as we entered the park, we saw Northern Shovelers fishing in fresh water. When we decided to park and get out of the car, our adventure took a bit of a twist, however, because it was extremely windy!

Some of the birds were literally being blown side-ways through the air before our eyes. It was a real trip to watch them try to stay on top of the wind currents and go where they wanted to go. Some seemed to be enjoying the wild wind (while others looked a bit harried). It was even difficult for me to hold my binoculars still at times and focus. It appeared to be high tide, and the ocean waves were lifting up their heads and crashing down all white with foam.

Despite the wind, we did see a large number of gulls, including a California Gull camped out on a log; a pair of Western Grebes, diving down for fish; a female Buffalo-Head duck, with an unusually large white patch on her cheek, in company with a few others; a Golden-Crowned Sparrow, who at one point looked like he had a mohawk because of the wind blowing up his crown feathers; and a Black Phoebe, who was blown on the wind into a patch of shrubbery when she took to the air.


More Birdwatching at Bonelli

“Haiku for Joy” by Jane Beal



black phoebe darting

between the white-barked birch trees –

you welcome me home


La Verne, CA

“All the Birds on Christmas Day” by Jane Beal

I didn’t know the birds were weeping.
They might have been singing praise!

The black phoebe, the hummingbird,
the distant geese I heard –

I thought they were a choir
for the most extraordinary birthday

the world has ever known.
But maybe the Great White Egret

standing on the side of the freeway,
not wading in the wetland waters

should have been my clue
that there is no joy on earth

not mingled
with lingering grief.


Davis & HWY 37


LISTEN: “Haunting” (Great White Egret)

“The Birds Live with Us” by Jane Beal


The black phoebe in the fig tree
flies to the roof edge
as if looking for something or
finding it –
will she try to build her nest close by?

She flies off, and as I
walk under the giant green leaves
of the fig tree, I see a mockingbird
has flown into the space
where she was moments before.

Did he frighten her away?


The blue jays are sailing
on invisible rivers of air between
old oak trees and white-barked birches.


As I turn the corner to walk the path
between the pool and the apartment building,
I look up and notice three iridescent gray pigeons:
one on the roof, one under the roof,
and one on the drain pipe extension.

I think: A picture of the Trinity!
Then a fourth gray angel
flies into their midst:
a herald of some mystery
I don’t yet know.

Why do the birds live with us?


I can hear the hummingbirds, happily
coding and decoding among themselves,
as I pass the red sugar-water feeder
that hangs over my neighbor’s patio
next to a sunlit tree.


In the evening, I walk my dog
in the park, past the blackberry bushes
by the dry creek-bed. We turn
down a dirt path with yellow grass
on either side of it.

I look up and see the silhouettes
of two birds in the sunset-sky –
one like a small hawk, the other
like a crow. They are hovering
because they are hunting

something that might hear them.


Earlier on the path, I had heard the rustle
of a giant turkey vulture above
me, and turned, to look back,
but hadn’t seen him.
My dog was undisturbed.


Lately, I have been remembering
the dream I had of a red cardinal
who flew out of a pine tree
and struck my left hand
between my forefinger and thumb:

the acupressure point
called the valley of peace.
Then, in my dream, the bird transformed
into an extraordinary parrot
from Central America.

Years later, I think I may
understand my dream at last.


Davis, CA


Birdwatching with Taylor

SAMSUNGOn Wednesday afternoon, I took my neighbor’s son, Taylor (a very active and exceedingly bright seven-year-old), to the UC Davis Arboretum. We did some birdwatching and started his birding life-list with some of our most common, Northern California birds:  the American Robin, Black Phoebe, Mallard Duck, and Western Scrub Jay. Taylor is particularly interested because he has his own duckling at home! We also saw two, rarer waterbirds: the Green Heron and a Double-Crested Cormorant.


The Birds Yesterday

ForstersTernYesterday morning, I went for a walk with my dog. (This is a habit.) As we entered Willow Creek Park, I saw two finches, one with a raspberry hood and one gray, and I heard them singing – endlessly trilling and repeating.

Because it was early, and the grass was dewy, and the insects were out early, the Black Phoebe (a flycatcher) was swooping over the green grass. I love the Black Phoebe! She landed on the branch of a green tree near me, as if to say hello to me. She is quite used to me for I am always walking through her territory.

Later in the day, at home, the black crows were irritated about something. One was standing on the lawn in front of my place, cawing. My dog came outside with me, but the bold crow did not fly away immediately. There were still other crows who gathered in a tree, complaining. I tried to figure out what had irritated them, but it was not at all obvious.

I took another walk in the evening with my dog. I happened to glance up at just the right moment and see the white belly and black-edged under-feathers of the wings of the Forester’s Tern. Thinking of this, I am reminded of the Byrds, singing: “To everything …. tern, tern, tern … there is a season … tern, tern, tern … :).