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”

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”

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”

Marbled Godwits

Marbled Godwits are among the birds that autumn’s migration has brought to Zuma Beach. Having spent the summer breeding in shortgrass prairies and eating insects, earthworms and freshwater fare, they now forage for small fish and seaside invertebrates.   All About Birds indicates that the bills of Marbled Godwits change color depending on the season; just now theyContinue reading “Marbled Godwits”