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”

Northern Mockingbirds

Today, a guest post from Bob Yates. If I could interview a mockingbird after one of its concerts on a power line near me, I think my first question would be: “Who are your major influences?” Admission to these shows is free. They feature medleys from lower registers to high in the same breath, from CarusoContinue reading “Northern Mockingbirds”

Cooper’s Hawk

We’ve had a feeder up since Christmas, and are attracting lesser goldfinches, house finches, fox sparrows, white-crowned sparrows, juncos, mourning doves and California towhees. And now, their chittering attracted the attention of the neighborhood Cooper’s hawk population. We’d previously seen one standing at the edge of and in the birdbath, and they’re frequently observed perching on utility poles during ourContinue reading “Cooper’s Hawk”

Love is in the Air

A mid-February visit to the Malibu Lagoon did not disappoint. The water level was quite low, resulting in fewer birds and species. At midday, California brown pelicans were preening on islets in the middle of Malibu Creek, surrounded by gulls and cormorants.  Several pelicans sported poppy red breeding plumage on their necks.   The light blue eyes are aContinue reading “Love is in the Air”

American Coots

American Coots were easily spotted on a recent visit to the Malibu Lagoon. A fresh water basin in Western Los Angeles County, the restored estuary once again hosts a variety of birdlife year around, fed by water draining out of Malibu Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains. The level of the water was low onContinue reading “American Coots”

Cooper’s Hawk

A juvenile cooper’s hawk recently stepped into our birdbath.   https://youtu.be/6YXhTKHQmgk   This was the first time since the trail cameras were installed that we had a sighting on film. We had already seen one fly into the oleander hedge and swiftly emerge with something in its talons. I’d never seen a raptor in a birdbath.Continue reading “Cooper’s Hawk”

Great Horned Owls

After dusk this week, I heard great horned owls calling.  Year-round residents of the United States, they begin their days after sunset.   Turn your volume way up to hear the call of the great horned owl and a juvenile calling to a parent. The Ojai Raptor Center very kindly provided information about the second, higher pitched call.Continue reading “Great Horned Owls”

Female (Audubon’s) Yellow-rumped Warbler

Spotted on a bird-of-paradise blossom, this sparrow-sized bird is a year-round resident of Southern California. Cornell University’s All About Birds website indicates that Yellow-rumped Warblers eat insects and berries. Their stout beaks probe for insects and pick berries from stems. In fact, the species’ appetite for berries “when no insects are available enables them toContinue reading “Female (Audubon’s) Yellow-rumped Warbler”

White-crowned Sparrows

Winter residents in the southern two-thirds of the United States, white-crowned sparrows are easy to spot with distinct black and white stripes on the heads of the males.Here’s a male demonstrating “double-scratch” foraging  as described by John P. Dunning in The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior 2001 edition (page 524).They’re spotted on theContinue reading “White-crowned Sparrows”

Spotted Towhees

A very sporty looking member of the bird world, the Spotted Towhee is easy to notice with its colorful plumage. Click here to watch a singing member of this species: https://youtu.be/tupEPvqkmGo In The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior, “New World Sparrows” author John B. Dunning Jr. advises that they are seed eaters and insectContinue reading “Spotted Towhees”