The Whiskered Screech Owl is found over a small area of the Southwest United States. Its distribution extends down the western mountains of Mexico and into part of Central America. We heard several “tooting” during the night where we were staying in Portal, Arizona. Sometimes their toots sound like Morse code.
Five-striped Sparrows were not shy and even came out and posed for us. I loved that there were a pair foraging together and I was also taken by the beautiful coloration with a gray head grading into a brown body.
Floy and I accompanied Ryan Phillips on a birding expedition into Southeastern Arizona. This area is known for some of the most unusual birds in the United States. The reason for these unique birds is that some of the mountains of Southern Arizona are contiguous with mountain ranges in Mexico. This enables some Neotropical birds to “hop” over the border and make themselves at home in Arizona.
The Five-striped Sparrow is a case in point because its distribution is mainly in Mexico over a strip that is about 450 miles long and less than 100 miles wide and extends from a few miles into Arizona and down the western mountain range of Mexico. This species barely makes it into Arizona and six were found about 32 miles north of the Mexican border, a few miles south of Tucson in a dry canyon. To the best of my knowledge this is as far north as they are known to occur. More details of this species can be found at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Neotropical Bird website.
It was a treat to run across a flock of cedar waxwings last Tuesday especially because it was a slow birding day. This flock was foraging in a flowering madrone tree.
Talk about an athlete, this warbler, which weighs less than half of an ounce, makes an 1800 mile non-stop flight over the Atlantic Ocean to get to its breeding grounds which are in far northern Canada and west to Alaska.
Tennessee Warblers were some of the drabber warblers we saw on our recent Texas trip but they were also the most abundant. This is a quick sketch where I tried to show these little birds in motion and partially hidden by leaves.
A truly beautiful flycatcher. The salmon-colored flanks are characteristic of this species. When it flies, the long tail reminds me of a train on a bridal dress. The area around the “armpit” or “wing pit” as it is sometimes called is a more intense redder salmon color.
This species breeds in the south-central U.S. and winters from South Mexico down into Panama.
One of my favorite summer Western California birds. It spends its winter in Western Mexico and stays with us in the summer in the higher elevations of the coastal mountains.
The striking blue color of this bird in otherwise green and yellow fields is real eye candy.
Our recent trip to Texas was mostly about migrating warblers, but it was also interesting to see all the wading birds- herons, egrets, ibises and spoonbills. I particularly liked these tall birds perched awkwardly in branches out of the water.
We spent 9 days in Texas starting on April 20, 2019. The purpose of the trip was to experience landfall of some of the billions of migratory birds that have crossed long distances over the Gulf of Mexico to reach North America. Many of these birds will make their way into norther Canada.
The Chuck-will’s-widow was an unexpected find. We heard it was at Boy Scout Woods in High Island, Texas on our last day. I asked one of the volunteers at the entrance if she knew where I could find this bird. She did better than that and got up and said follow me! My lucky day because trying to find one of these in dense forest on your own is nearly impossible because of this birds’ wonderful camouflage.
The name comes from the sound it makes, an incessant “Chuck-will’s-widow”
‘K is for Kestrel’ is part of ‘Alphabet Soup - art inspired by letters of the alphabet’
May 2nd - 20th, 2019, at Studio Gallery,1641 Pacific Ave., San Francisco, CA.
The Blue-gray Gnatcher is a common bird in Central-Coastal California in the summer. It flits around in the brush wagging and lifting its tail which startles insects causing them to fly to become a tasty morsel for this bird. This photo is of a male because of the blue “V” on its forehead.
If lucky, you will encounter these birds nest building. They gather caterpillar and spider silk and use it to fasten fragments of lichens into a small thimble which becomes the nest. The nest looks like a bump on a tree’s branch and it’s impossible to know if it’s a nest unless you see an adult fly onto it.
The jays in California aren’t anywhere near as colorful as those in the tropics but I do enjoy watching our sassy Steller’s Jays. This painting was completed in 2016 and was used is for the cover of a book of poetry.
Want to talk Gaudy? Talk about the Green Jay. This bird has a bizarre mix of colors: green, black, blue and yellow. I have encountered this species twice, once in Mexico and once in Southern Texas. I was unable to get what I consider great photos because the bird was either glued to a suet feeder or in the case of this photo, it stayed in the protective shade of vegetation. They have a well-developed family structure that cooperate to improved reproductive success. More information on this species can be found at: https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/grnjay/introduction
Flocks of Orange-fronted Parakeets visited our fig tree every morning in Sayulita, Mexico, as we were eating breakfast on our veranda which was covered in bougainvillea.
Hummers are always interesting to watch. Some of them can be extremely aggressive and will viciously defend a feeding station from other hummingbirds.
This is the Plain-capped Starthroat Hummingbird who seemed to give way to the more aggressive Cinnamon Hummingbirds who were also in the area.
One of the more strikingly colored orioles I have encountered. Every time we saw this species it looked like a flame in a tree. They are especially bright and beautiful when the sun is low. Mostly they were shy, but this fellow was grooming and did not seem to mind me getting close.
There is nothing like coming up on this little bird. We were walking down a road with dry grass and barbed wire fence. Out of nowhere, a blue gem catches the eye - even with its flashy colors, it just barely catches the eye.
We have just returned fro four days birding in Western Mexico. Our first day was spent in De lo Marcos and the river mouth there was teaming with birds.
Wilson’s Warblers arrive in the summer in California and it is a treat to find the first to appear.