Sunday, June 20, 2010

Photo Quiz #3

Here are two views of the same bird, photographed in the Terrace Point field at the west edge of Santa Cruz on May 2, 2010.  Can you identify it?

Answer to Photo Quiz #2

    This is pretty obviously a raptor, and none of the falcons that might occur in this area are a close fit, so we can assume this bird is in the hawk family.  Osprey and kite can also be thrown out easily, and so can both eagles.  Adult  female N. Harriers might be considered, as they are distinctly streaked below, but it is fine streaking, not heavy, cross-hatched patterning like in this bird, and harriers also have longer wings and a distinctively owl-like face pattern, among other differences.  That narrows it down to accipiters and buteos.  The tail looks relatively long, which might suggest an accipiter.  But adult accipiters have even and narrow barring on the underparts.  Juveniles are streaked, but none have this heavy, irregular mix of barring and streaking.  The upperparts are also wrong for any accipiter; some juvenal accipiters may have some spotting above, but not the white barring on the flight feathers shown by this bird.  Also, the bird is a little too bulky for Cooper's or Sharp-shinned, and the tail, though on the long side, is too short for an accipiter. 
    The structure of this bird best fits a buteo.  When identifying a buteo, it is always best to first consider the common and extremely variable Red-tailed Hawk.  But, to begin with, the shape of this bird is not quite right--too long tailed for one thing, even for a young Red-tail (buteos in their first year have proportionately longer tails and shorter wings than adults).  Also the heavy even barring and spotting on the underparts is unlikely on a Red-tailed Hawk, which are typically paler and less marked on the breast than on the belly.  And the barring on the flight feathers is too distinct and even for any Red-tailed, and also eliminates Broad-winged Hawk and other rare possibilities.  After eliminating our most common buteo, as well as various rare species, we find a good fit for this bird in our second most-common buteo, Red-shouldered Hawk.  Adult Red-shoulders are quite distinctive, but the juvenal-plumaged birds can be more confusing (like other hawks, they keep their juvenal plumage for about a year), especially when they are perched.  The reddish patterning on the underparts often suggests the barred pattern of the adults, but this is somewhat variable.  In addition, some combination of the long tail with fairly distinct black and whitish barring, and the obvious white barring on the flight feathers, will usually indicate the correct answer.  This young Red-shouldered Hawk was on the west side of Santa Cruz on April 6.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bird List for 6/12/10, Pogonip

Location: Pogonip Open Space Preserve
Observation date: 6/12/10
Number of species: 44
Red-tailed Hawk (Western) 4
Western Gull 2 flying over
California Gull 7 flying over
Band-tailed Pigeon 15
Mourning Dove 8
White-throated Swift 1 heard high over grasslands
Anna's Hummingbird 8
Allen's Hummingbird 4
Acorn Woodpecker 8
Downy Woodpecker 1 Lime Kiln Trail
Hairy Woodpecker 3
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) 1
Olive-sided Flycatcher 1
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 15
Black Phoebe 3
Ash-throated Flycatcher 2 two spots on the Spring Trail
Hutton's Vireo 12
Warbling Vireo (Western) 4
Steller's Jay 7
Western Scrub-Jay (Coastal) 10
Common Raven 4
Violet-green Swallow 5
Barn Swallow 1
Cliff Swallow 8
Chestnut-backed Chickadee 35 many young
Bushtit 20
Pygmy Nuthatch 5
Brown Creeper 15 some families of young
Bewick's Wren 15
Winter Wren (Western) 5
Hermit Thrush 8
American Robin 10
Northern Mockingbird 1 at Spring Street entrance
European Starling 15 mostly near Spring Street entrance
Orange-crowned Warbler (lutescens) 7
Wilson's Warbler (Pacific Coast) 15 feeding fledglings
Spotted Towhee 12
California Towhee 5
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) 35
Western Meadowlark 1 singing at UCSC border near Lookout Trail
Brewer's Blackbird 4 near entrance
Purple Finch (Western) 12
House Finch 5
Lesser Goldfinch 2
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

Friday, June 4, 2010

June 4, 2010- Natural Bridges and Antonelli Pond

Acmon Blue butterfly at Antonelli Pond; photo by David Sidle

The birds were not too active this morning, but there was enough to keep it interesting, plus frogs, butterflies, and other things.

Location: Natural Bridges SB
Observation date: 6/4/10
Notes: low activity this morning
Number of species: 51

Mallard 4
California Quail 1 lone male near compost area
Brown Pelican 3
Double-crested Cormorant 1
Cooper's Hawk 1
Red-shouldered Hawk (California) 1
American Kestrel 1
Killdeer 3
Black Oystercatcher 1
Western Gull 10
California Gull 30
Caspian Tern 2
Rock Pigeon 15
Eurasian Collared-Dove 2
Mourning Dove 2
Anna's Hummingbird 5
Allen's Hummingbird 2
Downy Woodpecker 1
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 4
Black Phoebe 1
Ash-throated Flycatcher 1 Moore Creek- late migrant?
Steller's Jay 2
Western Scrub-Jay (Coastal) 5
American Crow 10
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 1
Violet-green Swallow 4
Cliff Swallow 20
Chestnut-backed Chickadee 10
Oak Titmouse 3
Bushtit 30
Pygmy Nuthatch 10
Bewick's Wren 10
American Robin 5
Wrentit 3
California Thrasher 1
European Starling 15
Common Yellowthroat 2
Wilson's Warbler (Pacific Coast) 3
Spotted Towhee 5
California Towhee 10
Song Sparrow 8
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) 5
Black-headed Grosbeak 3
Red-winged Blackbird (California Bicolored) 15
Brewer's Blackbird 10
Brown-headed Cowbird 10
Hooded Oriole 1
Purple Finch (Western) 2
House Finch 10
American Goldfinch 4
House Sparrow 1

Location: Antonelli Pond
Observation date: 6/4/10
Number of species: 43

Mallard 1
Pied-billed Grebe 4
Double-crested Cormorant 2
Green Heron 1
Red-shouldered Hawk (California) 1
Red-tailed Hawk (Western) 1
American Coot 2
Killdeer 2
California Gull 5
Rock Pigeon 20
Band-tailed Pigeon 30 some flew over the pond, most working
                                  over hills to the north

Eurasian Collared-Dove 2
Mourning Dove 4
Anna's Hummingbird 4
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 1
Black Phoebe 2
Western Scrub-Jay (Coastal) 4
American Crow 5
Common Raven 2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 1
Violet-green Swallow 2
Barn Swallow 2
Cliff Swallow 20
Chestnut-backed Chickadee 10
Oak Titmouse 1
Bushtit 15
Bewick's Wren 8
Swainson's Thrush 1
American Robin 2
Wrentit 1
Northern Mockingbird 4
European Starling 20
Wilson's Warbler (Pacific Coast) 1
Spotted Towhee 5
California Towhee 10
Song Sparrow 10
Black-headed Grosbeak 1
Red-winged Blackbird (California Bicolored) 20
Brewer's Blackbird 5
Brown-headed Cowbird 5
Hooded Oriole 1
House Finch 10
American Goldfinch 2
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(