Monthly Archives: November 2013

Winter Birds 11-20-13

Most of our Winter guests have arrived.  This morning I (finally) found a golden-crowned sparrow. Yesterday I was sure I heard one, a high-pitched eerie call similar to its relative, the abundant white-crowned sparrow.  The golden-crowned call includes a long coda of a single repeated note. These birds seem to prefer trashy, weedy habitats and often hang out with white-crowneds. Why haven’t they found my yard?

Golden-crowned Sparrow, 1st winter.

Golden-crowned Sparrow, 1st winter.

Golden-crowned Sparrow, 1st winter

Golden-crowned Sparrow, 1st winter

 

I’ve seen gray-headed juncos  in my yard several times this year and last.  Today I found 3 in the yard next to the Baptist church.  According to Sibley’s map, they are rare in this area.

Gray-headed Junco

Gray-headed Junco

Gray-headed Junco

Gray-headed Junco

 

Ruby-crowned Kinglets are now very common.  They get their name from a bright red crown patch that they display when they’re pissed-off, which happen a lot.  Their usual call is a soft chattering, similar to a hooded oriole.  This is a tiny bird. The bird’s bill tells us that it eats bugs, like a warbler.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet - a common winter resident

Ruby-crowned Kinglet – a common winter resident

The Lincoln’s sparrow is another bird that has recently appeared at the swamp and at the west end of town adjacent to the old ag fields.  It is related and quite similar to the rare swamp sparrow.  The obvious difference is that the markings along the breast on the Lincoln’s are crisp whereas the marking on the same area of the swamp are blurry.   I expect to find a swamp sparrow any time now. Last year Gary Nunn found one at the swamp and another showed up at the lake.  I forgot who found the second bird.

Lincoln's Sparrow

Lincoln’s Sparrow

Lastly, a cool flicker.  This one is a male.  Note the red malar.  Also note the faint red chevron on the bird’s nape.  This is evidence that he has a bit of yellow-shafted in his family history.  Mostly red-shafted heritage however.  A full-blooded yellow shafted male has a black malar, bright red nape chevron and yellow on the underside of his wing and tail feathers.

Red-shafted x yellow-shafted flicker

Red-shafted x yellow-shafted flicker

My pyracanthas  are heavy with bright red berries which are raided constantly by American robins, flickers, cedar waxwings, white-crowned sparrows, one northern mockingbird, an occasional black phoebe and ravenous European starlings.

 

 

 

Flicker and Friends 11-8-13

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

 

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

This adult female northern flicker, Colaptes auratus, showed up a couple of days ago in my yard and has adopted it.  This is a large woodpecker.  The male has a bright red malar or “mustache.”  The malar on this female is a light orange.   The bird forages on the ground for tasty grubs and later pops pyracantha berries.

Myrtle Warbler

Myrtle Warbler

 

Myrtle Warbler

Myrtle Warbler

The Myrtle warbler is a variety of the yellow-rumped warbler, by and far the most common warbler that winters in Jacumba. This is a dull “first winter” female. (I think)

Fox Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

 

Sharp-shinned hawk

Sharp-shinned hawk

This is a small hawk.  The larger relative is the the well-known and common Cooper’s Hawk.  Very fast and acrobatic in its pursuit of small birds. A very efficient predator.

Scott's Oriole on a pole

Scott’s Oriole on a pole

I could not resist this swizzle-stick oriole.