Red-Tailed Hawk

A noticeable decline in birdseed consumption in our back yard has us wondering: what’s changed? There’s a new cat prowling the neighborhood, and we’ve had a couple of Santa Ana wind events. The birdseed didn’t smell rancid. Why the downturn in our feeder traffic? This juvenile red-tailed hawk might be a key.  Notice that itContinue reading “Red-Tailed Hawk”

Western Snowy Plover

Malibu Lagoon is the only place in the Santa Monica Mountains where freshwater drains to the Pacific. Malibu Creek’s watershed is a valuable source of water for much wildlife and feeds the lagoon.  The estuary’s water level fluctuates, depending on rainfall and the tides’ impact on Surfrider Beach. Water morphs from freshwater at the Creek,Continue reading “Western Snowy Plover”

Sharp-Shinned Hawk or Cooper’s Hawk?

We have two bird feeders in the pergola and enjoy the daily chittering and alarm calls of lesser goldfinches, juncos, house and purple finches, and the dedicated mourning doves who pick up any spillage. But in the last few months, we’ve noticed these birds are being eaten by neighborhood hawks. Just last week, the hawkContinue reading “Sharp-Shinned Hawk or Cooper’s Hawk?”

By-the-Wind Sailor

One delight of walking the shore is seeing what treasures have washed up with the tide.  Yesterday morning, we spotted several blue-gray colored oval shapes in the wrack. At first glance, I thought that a trove of rare blue beach glass was underfoot. On closer examination, I realized the sapphire blue-rimmed discs had translucent triangular sailsContinue reading “By-the-Wind Sailor”

Cactus Wren

Joshua Tree National Park is a treasure of geologic wonders that impress with each turn in the road. A bit of patience is required to spot animal residents.  We recently visited the park and saw this cactus wren. This species is a non-migratory song bird ranging from southeastern California to southern Arizona and New Mexico.Continue reading “Cactus Wren”

Pigeon Guillemot

During a recent walk on the commercial wharf in Monterey Bay, California, we spotted several pairs of pigeon guillemots near the sea lions. They are impossible to miss with their neon red legs, and sporty black and white feathers. A member of the auk family, and related to murres and puffins, pigeon guillemots are found fromContinue reading “Pigeon Guillemot”

Turning to Terns

NOTE: Identifying terns can be tricky, and for this post I am indebted to Chuck Almdale who graciously shared his knowledge.  After an absence of several months, and newly returned from their wintering grounds in Central America, the Elegant Terns are back at Zuma Beach. With their distinct tufted crest feathers and yellowy-orange beaks, theyContinue reading “Turning to Terns”