Six MWHA members who enjoy the wonders of wildlife attracted to the open space we have on Mt Washington joined Julian Donahue for a second bird walk in Elyria Canyon Park. Several new species that were not spotted the previous week thrilled those lucky enough to see them.
The first new species spotted by the group was a beautiful male Western Tananger that flew across the Elyria Drive several times. A second more drab individual was seen in the same area, and it might have been a female or an immature male. The elusive creatures, though conclusively identified, did not sit still long enough to be photographed or for Julian to view them through the scope. This photo taken by Kathy shows the group trying to get a better view down the hill into Elyria Canyon Park.
In the same general area of Elyria Drive as the Western Tananger sighting, the group got to watch a pair of Band-Tailed Pigeons, a native species not to be confused with the introduced city pigeons. Band-Tailed Pigeons are much larger than the introduced pigeons and they can be recognized by the white band at the edge of the tail.
A pair of tiny Bushtits was seen searching a California Black Walnut tree for insects. During much of the year, Bushtits travel in flocks that are nearly always heard before they are seen. They miraculously appear in trees and shrubs where they forage for insects, and then they seem to just as quickly vanish from view, reappearing in some other nearby tree. Julian noted that during mating season, which is occurring now, the Bushtits stop flocking and they pair up to build a nest and raise a brood.
The group then caught a quick glance at a Lazuli Bunting, but this fleeting view did not allow for any photos. This taught Daniel a very good lesson. He had stopped on a nearby bench to remove foxtails from his socks and missed the unusual sighting.
The final new sighting on this trip was of a California Thrasher that Julian heard and finally located at the top of a hill where it was perched in the top branch of a California Black Walnut tree. The distinctive downward curving bill immediately identifies this relative of the Northern Mockingbird, another common species that was sighted throughout the walk. Please try to join us on upcoming MWHA bird walks that have been scheduled to coincide with spring migrations, a time that brings many nonresident species to our neighborhood. The open spaces and parks that the community has worked so diligently to preserve over the past twenty years provides a perfect habitat for native species and seasonal migrants. Here is a complete list of the species spotted on Saturday, April 21, 2012 as provided by Julian Donahue.
Account of the 18 Species Observed
Band-tailed Pigeon. Good views of this gorgeous native resident, not to be confused with the domestic pigeon (now known as Rock Pigeon)
Mourning Dove. They’re everywhere, and their mournful song can be heard all over the hill.
Anna’s Hummingbird. Good scope view of a male on his lookout post in the canyon. When he flashed his gorget it looked rose or mauve, although it usually appears orangeish.
Allen’s Hummingbird. Good scope view of a perched bird on Elyria Drive.
Nuttall’s Woodpecker. One seen on Elyria Dr. by Julian at the end of the tour after the group disbanded.
Black Phoebe. This handsome flycatcher was hanging around the house on the corner of Elyria and San Rafael before the group fully assembled.
Western Scrub-jay. Conspicuous and noisy; several perched atop trees surveying their territory.
Common Raven. The common large black bird on the hill; a marvelous vocalist.
Bushtit. They seemed to be all around us on Elyria Drive.
Northern Mockingbird. Several of these gray-and-white songsters hurling their songs to the heavens.
California Thrasher. Great find–a lone bird singing from the top of a tree. Requires brushy habitat, so there may only be one or two of these birds on the hill.
Phainopepla. A male of this slim, crested, black beauty flashed the white patch in his wings as he flew around us.
Western Tanager. Great views of an astonishingly beautiful male as he flew to and from a fruiting mulberry tree on Elyria; this migrant is only passing through, on his way to more northern breeding grounds.
California Towhee. A surprising number of these perky brown residents showed themselves well.
Black-headed Grosbeak. His song drew our attention to this stunner, who just arrived to spend the summer on the hill.
Lazuli Bunting. Barbara spotted a beautiful male that disappeared almost immediately, affording most of us only a brief look.
House Finch. Common, with many males showing their brightly colored breeding plumage, which can be very variable in color.
Lesser Goldfinch. Several at Monique’s thistle-seed feeder, including males in full breeding plumage.
Thank you all for sharing a fine birding day with me. And keep your eyes and ears open!