Thursday, December 12, 2013

Woah, Ioana looks at live birds, too?

I have to be honest - I haven't had that much time to go birding at all. It's a real shame! :( The weather has been pretty nice recently, and I can hear birds outside whenever I walk to class, but it's so hard to find time to actually bird.... Especially since next week is finals week!! Woohoo, you can bet I've been running around and working on all kinds of things recently. But here are a few pictures from the couple of times that I have gone birding in the past month!

I've taken 2 floormates birding with me during this semester! They both seemed to like it, so I'm glad to spread the joy of birding! <3 This picture is my favorite one from those trips. I took it in November, with one of those floormates. I had just been telling him about all of the woodpeckers possible in the region, and said something like "Man, I haven't seen a Red-breasted Sapsucker in two years," when he looked up and said "Wait, something flew into that tree!" He directed me to the bird and -- lo and behold -- it was a Red-breasted Sapsucker. I got very excited. He was less impressed.

Then, I went birding this morning -- yeah yeah, I know I'm supposed to be studying, but a girl can only stay inside working on essays for so many days straight. There were lots of lovely birds out today!!!!

The Steller's Jays were super active all over the trail. They're so pretty! I have a great big soft spot for my Western Scrub Jays, but I can appreciate these cute crested jays, too. This guy gave me quite the run-around, but I did manage to get a couple of pictures!

I was actually just trying to hike today. Birding was not my main goal. But as I kept walking up the trail, more and more surprising birds showed up. First of all, a thrush flew in front of my face and buried itself into a bush. I tried to get a better view, but it stayed very well obscured. Don't worry... the Thrush Saga continues later on. ;)

As I kept hiking, I heard Yellow-rumped Warblers, American Robins, Dark-eyed Juncoes, the usual. When I stopped to watch a nearby group of Juncoes, it exploded with activity. An Oak Titmouse flew onto a log right next to me, then a jogger spooked it away before I could get a picture. A House Wren wobbled around the base of a cute little bush, then zoomed away across the path. I looked up from the ground and saw - directly at eye level - a stunningly golden Townsend's Warbler.

He was literally 5 feet away from me for a moment, then flew into this bush, slightly further away. He was a real cutie! I love these Townsend's!

Haha, this photo isn't very clear or anything, but I like it.

Remember how I mentioned that the Thrush Saga would continue? ;) As I watched the Townsend's Warbler, a small brownish bird flew into view. I dropped my gaze to it -- and immediately stopped breathing. (Studies have yet to prove if not breathing helps with not spooking birds.) There it was, this time in much better light... A Hermit Thrush.

This adorable bird stuck around for probably 30 seconds, then skulked back into a dark tangle of branches. (Of course, this wasn't my last encounter, hehehe.)

After much gasping and whining, I made it to a flat part of the hill. And at that little plateau, the bird world gave me a wonderful gift... five White-throated Swifts zooming around at eye level. You may think I exaggerate when I say "eye level." But I am completely serious. Not once, not twice, but three times, the swifts zoomed so close to my head that I could hear the wind whistling over their wings. It was INCREDIBLE.

The birds were all in the same general area, but followed their own individual paths. The above moment happened when two trajectories accidentally intersected. The birds chattered at each other angrily for a moment, then zoomed away from each other. There must have been a lot of yummy birds up there!

This was such an amazing experience. I wish I could have gotten better pictures, but at least I have these wonderful memories. You can bet I'll be climbing that hill again soon!

And, as I walked/slid back down the hill, I met my final Hermit Thrush of the day. This lovely birdy flew right in front of me into a bush.

Okay, so! You can tell this guy is a thrush because it's shaped like a songbird, but is much larger than any sparrow or warbler. Also, its habit of crawling around under bushes and amongst branches is just like a thrush. There are only two thrushes with brown backs and speckled bellies that come to this part of California. That would be the Swainson's Thrush, and the Hermit Thrush. First of all, Swainson's Thrush would be extremely unlikely this time of year, since they only migrate through California. But for the sake of identification practice, let's pretend they are a possibility. One of the most helpful field marks is this thrush's reddish wing and tail feathers.

Swainson's are just brown overall, while Hermits are tinged with rufous. Plus, Swainson's Thrushes have light brown "spectacles" around their eyes. This bird's face is very plain. I also heard its call, which was a low chup, like a Hermit Thrush.

So yeah, that was your super quick bird ID lesson of the day, hehe!

This was a really fun morning for me! Now, I'm ready to sit down to Chemistry..... I guess.... Thanks for joining me! Have a great week!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for taking us along on your walk!

    You can see how the American Robin is a thrush--much family resemblance to the Hermit. Great photos! They aren't easy to capture in pixels, those skulking hermit thrushes...

    Good luck with finals!!!