Sunday, April 6, 2014

Hikes into the hills

Well, as you may have noticed, those were the only times that I went birding over Spring Break. It was a fun break! It was fun returning to Berkeley last weekend too, and of course I immediately got swept up in homework assignments and hours at the museum and attempting to wake up early for classes. It rained for most of last week. So when the sun peeked out and stayed out this weekend, everybody brightened with it. It's great to go about your day when the skies are clear and the sun is shining! This morning, I absolutely had to go sit in the sun. I hiked into the trails a bit and saw some birds as a bonus. :)

The Steller's Jays are always calling and making a fuss around Berkeley, but they don't like to show themselves very much. (At least, not to me.) It was nice to get a glimpse of these two futzing around in the grass. It was extra nice because I've now been sequencing Steller's Jays DNA sequences for around 3 months! I'm still mindblown every time we complete a sequence. I never imagined that I would be working with and looking at the DNA of real creatures. I love that I can see these birds hopping around the trees and bushes, and then go into the museum and handle the genetic blueprint of their cousins.

Spotted Towhees are so pretty!! I love how varied their songs and calls are, too. Every time I start thinking that I can recognize one Spotted Towhee song or call, they whip out a new one. Thankfully, these towhees are quite common along this trail. They're a wonderful spot of color amongst the leaves and litter.

As I was walking along the trail, I passed a pile of logs, bark, and branches from a downed tree. Little flickers of movement caught my eye. Upon closer inspection, the movement turned out to be this little bugger: a Brown Creeper! This adorable creeper was industriously collecting nest material. Whatever this tree was, it was the perfect tree for nest material. Its bark shredded off into threads that the Brown Creeper took total advantage of. Watching this eensy little bird go about its business was so much fun. It unraveled the tree for maybe a minute before flying off to deposit the material.

The Brown Creeper is one of those birds that looks drab at first glance, but is really very beautiful. Look at those streaks of white, yellow, and brown. This little brown job knows how to party.

As you can see, it stuffed its entire long and curved beak with material before flying off. That must be one fluffy nest! I hope the future chicks are satisfied.

This Bewick's Wren was another lovely surprise! I've seen House Wrens at the top of this trail, but not Bewick's Wrens. Every time one of these wrens pops up, I'm reminded of the time in Santa Barbara that three Bewick's Wrens squabbled right in front of me, even landing on the sidewalk not 2 feet away in a momentary standoff.

This bird sang its heart out. Of course, as I sat and listened to the song, I realized that I had been hearing its song every time I hiked up the trail, but shhh we'll ignore that. This great little bird gave me quite a show before flying into a more distant and leafy tree.

On my way back down, this Golden-crowned Sparrow popped right up to the top of a bush and basked in the sun for a moment. I hadn't heard more than a couple of White-crowned Sparrows during this hike, so I thought that most of the sparrows had gone along their way, but it seems some of them are still straggling behind! I'm not complaining. I'll miss the Golden- and White-crowns when they're gone. At the same time, I'm excited to see what birds will migrate into Berkeley for the summer!

It's nice to get outside and remind myself that more things exist than reading assignments and essay prompts. I'm happy and excited for the new week! I hope all of you have good weeks, too.


  1. Oh! I love Bewick's Wrens! They are VERY uncommon where we live in Tennessee, but there are a few pairs that breed in the middle of the state. Isn't their song so incredible? So much noise from a tiny bird. :)

    1. Hi, Chloe! Yeah, their song is amazing. I recorded it while I was up there and it always makes me so happy! I'm glad you've gotten to see them even though they're rare for you. :)

  2. Hey! I really enjoyed reading your post, these birds are all amazing! (Okay, I have to say it: the Steller's Jays are the ones wich look prettier for me, they're amazing! I can't see them where I live...) Like Chloe says on the other comment, Bewick's Wrens are also incredible...
    I've read that you have been the Young Birder Of The Year, that's cool! I want to take part of the contest, but I don't know if I can because I'm from you know that? If you do, please let me know, it would be so cool to take part of it! Also, can you look at my blog and give me some tips? Here you have the link:

    Thank you for everything! :)

    1. Hi, Irene! I'm glad that you're interested in the contest! I'm pretty sure that anyone can participate if they are under 18, no matter where you're from... You can read more about it here!
      Your blog looks incredible!! Your photos are very cool, and your descriptions are informative. I really like that you write your posts in two languages - is that Portuguese? :) Keep up the great work!!