Friday, April 30, 2010

SCBC Officer Openings-Still Open!

Two officer postions for the Santa Cruz Bird Club will be open as
 of the end of May. The Program Director is responsible for the
monthly meeting programs, including arranging the actual
programs, and ensuring that publicity, any arrangements
necessary for the meeting location, etc., are all in place. The
Outreach Coordinator is responsible for outreach from the bird
club to other local organizations and to the public in general on
issues concerning birds and their conservation.See below for a
more detailed description of each of these (from our officers'
manual). If anyone is interested in either of these volunteer
positions, please contact Steve Gerow at

1. Arrange for speakers or other programs for regular club

meetings and other club events. Provide speakers with
directions to meeting locations and other information as
2. Arrange the location of monthly club meetings. If the

 location for the Club's regularly scheduled meeting is not
available on a certain date (or needs to be re-scheduled
for any reason) , arrange for a new date and inform the
Newsletter Editor, Webmaster, and President of the
change .
3. Introduce the speaker at each month's meeting and

the annual dinner,or arrange for another person to do so.
4. Make sure that equipment necessary for a presentation

(projectors,etc.) will be available at the meeting site.
6. Submit information to the Newsletter Editor and

Webmaster about speakers and programs scheduled for
upcoming meetings and other events.Include appropriate
information about the program and/or speaker for
the newsletter and the on-line events calendar.
7. Assume the duties of the President in his or her absence.

1. Be responsible for outreach to various sectors of the

community,including but not limited to students, seniors,
communityorganizations, and various groups interested in
wildlife, natural history, and the environment.
2. Develop materials and presentations designed to increase

public awareness and knowledge of birds, their habitats, and
3. Coordinate club representation (information tables,

booths, etc.) at community events where appropriate.
4. Encourage and coordinate participation by club members

in outreach activities.
5. Encourage SCBC membership and participation in club

activities among potentially interested community members.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bird List for 4/23/10 Wilder Ranch State Park

Areas of the park covered in this afternoon walk included the area around the ranch complex buildings, then inland of Highway 1, including the Wilder Creek riparian area, the horse corrals, and up the eastern side of the Engelsmann Loop Trail.  Among the non-bird highlights was a good study of a Pacific Chorus-Frog, a species that's commonly heard, but rarely well-seen.

Observation date: 4/23/10
Number of species: 53
California Quail 20
Turkey Vulture 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk (Western) 4- one carrying nesting material in Wilder Creek canyon
Merlin 1 -flew by near the farm ponds on the Engelsmann LoopKilldeer 1
California Gull 20
Caspian Tern 2- flying inlandBand-tailed Pigeon 6
Eurasian Collared-Dove 1-calling near the ranch building complexMourning Dove 5
Anna's Hummingbird 3
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 1
Olive-sided Flycatcher 1
Western Wood-Pewee 1
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 8
Black Phoebe 3
Ash-throated Flycatcher 1- near parking lotHutton's Vireo 8
Warbling Vireo (Western) 18-many singing; number recorded may be low
Steller's Jay 4
Western Scrub-Jay (Coastal) 6
Common Raven 2
Violet-green Swallow 15
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 1
Cliff Swallow 75- many building nests on ranch buildingsBarn Swallow 8
Chestnut-backed Chickadee 20
Oak Titmouse 2
Bushtit 12
Bewick's Wren 12
Swainson's Thrush 2- calling in Wilder Creek riparian
American Robin 12
Wrentit 5
European Starling 15
Cedar Waxwing 20
Orange-crowned Warbler 18
Common Yellowthroat 1
Wilson's Warbler (Pacific Coast) 15
Spotted Towhee 10
California Towhee 4
Golden-crowned Sparrow 3
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) 15
Black-headed Grosbeak 4
Red-winged Blackbird (Bicolored) 8
Brewer's Blackbird 20
Brown-headed Cowbird 4
Purple Finch (Western) 5
House Finch 20
Lesser Goldfinch 6
American Goldfinch 10
House Sparrow 10
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

Monday, April 19, 2010

Upcoming Events: Public Meetings on Land Trust Conservation Plans

Note: the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County has been developing a "Conservation Blueprint" to guide its land conservation activities.  The preservation of habitats is, of course, a key factor in the conservation of our local birds and other wildlife.  The development of this document thus far has already involved many local people with knowledge or interest in various areas of concern, including quite a few SCBC members.  Now they are seeking further input from the community as a whole, and several public forums for this process are scheduled over the next couple of weeks.  The following is from a press release from the land trust:

Join the conversation to shape a
Conservation Blueprint for Santa Cruz County
Share your ideas about how we can work together to protect our county╩╣s quality of life and maintain our precious land, water and wildlife. The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County is hosting four Community Forums around the County in April and May and wants to hear from you.
Wednesday, April 21st
at Watsonville Community Room in the Civic Plaza from 6pm to 9pm.
Introduction and welcome by Mayor Luis Alejo
Tuesday, April 27th
at the Simpkins Swim Center in Live Oak from 6pm to 9pm.
Introduction and welcome by County Treasurer Fred Keeley
Thursday, April 29th
at the Long Marine Lab Seymour Center in Santa Cruz from 6pm to 9pm.
Introduction and welcome by former Assembly Member John Laird
Tuesday, May 4th
at the Highlands Park Senior Center in the San Lorenzo Valley, 6pm to 9pm.
Introduction and welcome by Supervisor Mark Stone
You can find out more about the Conservation Blueprint at
or call the Land Trust at (831) 429‐6116
Forums made possible with support from the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County
and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

If you cannot attend a forum, please write us and let us know what you think. You can send your answers to us at the address below.
How can land conservation help:
• Sustain the viability of agriculture and the jobs it provides?
• Contribute to healthy forests and a sustainable timber industry?
• Sustain our tourist industry and the jobs it provides?
• Provide clean, safe drinking water?
• Protect the waters off our coast and in the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary?
• Provide fish habitat?
• Address the underground aquifer overdraft problem?
• Protect habitats critical for biodiversity of plants and animals?
• Provide connections between large‐scale landscapes like the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Mt. Hamilton range, and the Gabilan Mountains?
• Address climate change and its impacts on plants and animals?
• Educate our children and future generations about the green economy and future green jobs?
• Provide access to nature and neighborhood parks for all children in our county?
• Promote a healthy lifestyle for all citizens in our county?

Land Trust of Santa Cruz County
617 Water Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 429‐6116

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bird List, Photos, and Notes for April 17, 2010- Upper UCSC Campus

This walk explored the forests, chaparral, and coastal prairies of the upper campus natural area at UCSC.  The area was active with birdlife, and there were good opportunities to compare similar song types- Orange-crowned and Wilson's Warblers and Dark-eyed Juncos, or Purple Finch vs. Warbling Vireo, or Brown Creeper vs. Golden-crowned Kinglet.  Some of the local breeding Hermit Thrushes had arrived, replacing the just-departed wintering Hermit Thrushes, and we heard their ethereal songs in several spots.  In addition to birds, the ample rains this year brought a nice variety of native flowers, including some scarce species, plus mushrooms, insects, a few mammals, and of course the occasional Banana Slug.

Lotus formosissimus in Marshall Field, UCSC

Bird List
Location: Upper UCSC
Observation date: 4/17/10
Number of species: 35
Double-crested Cormorant 1 flying over in the early morning
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Red-shouldered Hawk (California) 1
Band-tailed Pigeon 8
Mourning Dove 4
Anna's Hummingbird 2
Allen's Hummingbird 8
Rufous/Allen's Hummingbird 12
Acorn Woodpecker 6
Hairy Woodpecker 4
Northern Flicker 3
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 20
Hutton's Vireo 10
Warbling Vireo (Western) 8
Steller's Jay 7
Western Scrub-Jay (Coastal) 3
Common Raven 4
Cliff Swallow 2
Chestnut-backed Chickadee 25
Bushtit 2
Pygmy Nuthatch 15
Brown Creeper 7
Bewick's Wren 15
Winter Wren (Western) 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 2
Hermit Thrush 10
American Robin 5
Wrentit 10
Orange-crowned Warbler (lutescens) 25
Wilson's Warbler (Pacific Coast) 15
Spotted Towhee 20
California Towhee 1
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) 20
Red-winged Blackbird (Bicolored) 1 flew over West RoadPurple Finch (Western) 10
Pine Siskin 5
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

photos by Steve Gerow

Monday, April 12, 2010

Photo Quiz #2

photos by Steve Gerow

This hawk was photographed on the west side of Santa Cruz about a week ago.  Can you identify it?

Answer to Photo Quiz # 1

photos by Wendy Naruo
(See March 23, 2010 post for original quiz, with larger-format photos.)

   This is a bird we encountered on an SCBC field trip on August 28, 2009.  A small, brown bird with a thick-based conical bill and a streaked back suggests some sort of sparrow, but it is not really a good match for any of them.  The very short tail, combined with a flat head sloping into the bill, eliminates from consideration most of the plain-breasted American sparrows, as well as a female House Sparrow.  The closest match is probably Grasshopper Sparrow, but even they don't have this short a tail.  Also, the crown on this bird lacks the distinct median stripe of a Grasshopper Sparrow, the face pattern is wrong (the face pattern on this bird actually looked surprisingly like a Warbling Vireo's, in the field at least), the upperparts (not too visible in these photos) have a less complex pattern; really,  there are quite a few differences in details between this bird's plumage and structure,  and that of a Grasshopper Sparrow. 
   There is also a superficial resemblance to a female or basic-plumaged Bobolink.  The crown pattern is wrong, though, lacking the bold striping of a Bobolink, the tail is too short and lacks the spiky tips, and, again, it differes in a lot of details, as well as being much too small.  Even a review of some far flung rarities (among sparrows, buntings, finches, and similar birds) that might have a slight possibility of showing up here, finds nothing that seems a good match. 
   When faced with such a situation, it is worthwhile to consider the various exotic species that are kept as pets, and may escape or be released.  One of these that appears rather frequently in California is Orange Bishop; there are even some reproducing populations in some parts of the state, that may be more or less established in very localized areas.  The male of this species in breeding plumage is pretty much unmistakeable, but females and basic-plumaged males are more confusing- a small, sparrow-like bird with brown, streaked upperparts, unstreaked cream-colored underparts, a flat head, a very short tail, and. . .well they look just like this bird, which is a female Orange Bishop.  This is not an established species in Santa Cruz County, so this bird is likely an escape, but a wanderer from one of the reproducing wild populations in the state probably can't be entirely ruled out.  So while it is not "listable" by the standard rules of such things, it is worthwhile keeping track of observations of these exotic species; one never knows what might happen.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bird Lists, Notes, and Photos for April 9, 2010, Natural Bridges & Antonelli Pond

Today's Santa Cruz Bird Club field trip visited Natural Bridges State Beach.  It was a colorful morning, with blue skies, and lots of bright warblers singing in the willows and eucalyptus.  A majority were YELLOW-RUMPED (both forms, but more Audubon's), but there were quite a few migrant ORANGE-CROWNED as well, and a number of WILSON'S.  Bob Ramer spotted a BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER a short distance south of trail marker #5 on the east side of the park, for one of the highlights of the morning.  A BULLOCK'S ORIOLE chattered and sang a few times from the eucalyptus in this area, though we couldn't get a look at it.  There were also a couple of LINCOLN'S and one FOX SPARROW on the east side of the park.  Moving down to the beach, a flock of over 30 SURFBIRDS and a couple of BLACK TURNSTONES were working around the base of the Natural Bridge.  Then another flock of 40+ more SURFBIRDS flew in, landing on the rocks on the west side of the beach, for a nice total of about 75.  There were also about 50 SANDERLINGS, 9 WHIMBRELS, 2 BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS, a SPOTTED SANDPIPER, a KILLDEER, and a couple of SNOWY EGRETS that thought they were shorebirds.  A couple of CANADA GEESE flew over, and the ocean had a couple of PIGEON GUILLEMOTS, migrating PACIFIC LOONS, and other things.  A highlight at the Butterfly Boardwalk was a great study of a very cooperative singing PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER.  Among the additions on the west side of the park was a good look at an adult female SHARP-SHINNED HAWK. 
   At the end of the morning part of the group continued on to Antonelli Pond, where we found five species of swallows (including one locally-scarce TREE), and a lone VAUX'S SWIFT sped through the swallow flock.  A calling SEMIPALMATED PLOVER flew over.  Another FOX SPARROW was feeding at the edge of the willows, and a GREEN HERON flew in and landed at the edge of the cat-tails.  One RUDDY DUCK, the last remaining of the small wintering flock,  was also still in the pond.
                                                                             ~ Steve Gerow

Some photps from the morning by Wendy Naruo (click on image for a larger view)

Bird Lists
Location:     Natural Bridges SB
Observation date:     4/9/10
Notes:     SCBC field trip
Number of species:     68

Canada Goose (Large)     2     pair flying over
Mallard     1
Surf Scoter     15
California Quail     1     heard only; likely mmore present
Red-throated Loon     4
Pacific Loon     35     migrants flying up the coast offshore
Western/Clark's Grebe     5     small group too far to ID
Brown Pelican     2
Brandt's Cormorant     3
Double-crested Cormorant     1
Pelagic Cormorant     1
Great Blue Heron     1
Snowy Egret     2
Sharp-shinned Hawk     1
Red-shouldered Hawk (California)     1
Killdeer     1
Black Oystercatcher     2
Spotted Sandpiper     1
Whimbrel (American)     9
Black Turnstone     5
Surfbird     75     two flocks, one of over 30, one of over 40
Sanderling     50
Western Gull     20
California Gull     2
Pigeon Guillemot     2
Rock Pigeon     10
Eurasian Collared-Dove     1
Mourning Dove     8
Anna's Hummingbird     7
Allen's Hummingbird     2
Pacific-slope Flycatcher     2  great views of one near the butterfly boardwalk
Black Phoebe     3
Steller's Jay     2
Western Scrub-Jay (Coastal)     8
American Crow     15
Common Raven     2
Chestnut-backed Chickadee     15
Oak Titmouse     8
Bushtit     20
Pygmy Nuthatch     20
Bewick's Wren     10
Ruby-crowned Kinglet     1
American Robin     7
Wrentit     1
Northern Mockingbird     1
California Thrasher     1
European Starling     20
Cedar Waxwing     150
Orange-crowned Warbler     10     migrants singing around the park
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)     10
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's)   50  most numerous migrant warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler     1
Wilson's Warbler     5
Spotted Towhee     8
California Towhee     12
Fox Sparrow     1     calling near the bend in the road
Song Sparrow     12
Lincoln's Sparrow     2     one seen, one heard only
White-crowned Sparrow     10
Golden-crowned Sparrow     8
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon)     3
Red-winged Blackbird (Bicolored)     2
Brewer's Blackbird     5
Brown-headed Cowbird     8     many singing and displaying
Hooded Oriole     1     calling in the distance around Swanton Blvd.
Bullock's Oriole     1     calling and singing in eucalyptus near marker #4, but  not seen Purple Finch (Western)     1
House Finch     10
American Goldfinch     10

Location:     Antonelli Pond
Observation date:     4/9/10
Notes:     SCBC Field Trip
Number of species:     50
Mallard     2
Ruddy Duck     1
Pied-billed Grebe     2
Double-crested Cormorant     1
Green Heron     1
Sharp-shinned Hawk     1     likely the same as was at Natural Bridges earlier
Red-tailed Hawk (Western)     2
American Coot     6
Semipalmated Plover     1     flew over, calling
Western Gull     10    
California Gull     20    
Glaucous-winged Gull     1    
Rock Pigeon     10
Eurasian Collared-Dove     2
Mourning Dove     4
Vaux's Swift     1     flying among swallows; calling
Anna's Hummingbird     2
Black Phoebe     1
Western Scrub-Jay (Coastal)     4
American Crow     10
Common Raven     5
Tree Swallow     1
Violet-green Swallow     4
Northern Rough-winged Swallow     1
Cliff Swallow     75     most toward Raytek, but some around the pond
Barn Swallow     2
Chestnut-backed Chickadee     5
Oak Titmouse     2
Bushtit     10
Bewick's Wren     5
American Robin     4
Northern Mockingbird     2
European Starling     12
Cedar Waxwing     100
Orange-crowned Warbler     5
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)     5
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's)     15
Common Yellowthroat     2
Wilson's Warbler (Pacific Coast)     3
Spotted Towhee     2
California Towhee     4
Fox Sparrow (Sooty)     1     fairly dark type
Song Sparrow     8
White-crowned Sparrow     5
Golden-crowned Sparrow     6
Red-winged Blackbird (Bicolored)     40
Brewer's Blackbird     10
Brown-headed Cowbird     8
House Finch     10
American Goldfinch     10

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bird List, Notes, and Photos for 4/2/10: Moore Creek Preserve

This Santa Cruz Bird Club field trip visited Moore Creek Preserve at the west edge of Santa Cruz. Among the highlights were four WESTERN BLUEBIRDS (apparently two pairs) in the Vernal RIdge area of the preserve, the males looking especially colorful among the large patches of goldfields and other flowers. Two COOPER'S HAWKS in this area were acting like a pair, and one was doing a display flight, though that one was a first spring bird retaining juvenal plumage. Three GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS were singing in the grasslands, though staying well hidden in the grass. There were several SAVANNAH SPARROWS that seemed to be in nesting territories. The wintering WESTERN MEADOWLARK flock was still around, with 50+ birds. A WILD TURKEY was wandering through the grass near Moore Creek Canyon on the upper part of the slope, the first of those I have seen in that preserve. The forest areas had a lot of singing warblers, especially TOWNSEND'S and ORANGE-CROWNED, with some WILSON'S and YELLOW-RUMPED. Deer were numerous, and coyotes were howling and wandering around.
~Steve Gerow

photos by Wendy Naruo; click on image for larger view

Bird List
Location: Moore Creek Preserve
Observation date: 4/2/10
Notes: SCBC Field Trip; Prairie View, Terrace Loop, Vernal Ridge and part of Moore Creek trails; cool and mostly cloudy, sprinkling near the end of the morning
Number of species: 57

Wild Turkey 1 in grasslands near edge of Moore Creek Canyon, above the lower terrace
California Quail 10
Great Blue Heron 1 flying by just W of preserve
Northern Harrier 1
Cooper's Hawk 2
Red-tailed Hawk (Western) 3
American Kestrel 2
Western Gull 10 gulls flying over regularly
California Gull 20 gulls flying over regularly
gull sp. 20 gulls flying over regularly
Rock Pigeon 1
Band-tailed Pigeon 2
Mourning Dove 4
Anna's Hummingbird 3
Allen's Hummingbird 1 Moore canyon
Acorn Woodpecker 3
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 3
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 1
Black Phoebe 1
Hutton's Vireo 4
Steller's Jay 4
Western Scrub-Jay (Coastal) 6
Common Raven 4
Violet-green Swallow 4
Cliff Swallow 5
Barn Swallow 6
Chestnut-backed Chickadee 10
Oak Titmouse 2
Bushtit 6
Pygmy Nuthatch 8
Brown Creeper 1
Bewick's Wren 10
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Western Bluebird 4 Vernal Ridge area, appeared to be two pairs
American Robin 5
Wrentit 3
California Thrasher 1 singing in Moore canyon
European Starling 25
Cedar Waxwing 25
Orange-crowned Warbler (lutescens) 8
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's) 4
Townsend's Warbler 10 many singing
Wilson's Warbler (Pacific Coast) 3
Spotted Towhee 2
California Towhee 4
Savannah Sparrow (Western) 5
Grasshopper Sparrow 3 all singing birds, staying hidden in the grass
Song Sparrow 1
Golden-crowned Sparrow 4
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) 5
Black-headed Grosbeak 1 heard at a distance in lower part of Moore Canyon
Red-winged Blackbird (Bicolored) 20
Western Meadowlark 50 still a large wintering flock
Brewer's Blackbird 5
Purple Finch (Western) 4
House Finch 10
Lesser Goldfinch 2

This report was generated automatically by eBird