2202 S. Coast Highway Oceanside, CA 92054

Posts by Tina Mitchell

California Gnatcatcher: Hero of the Coastal Sage Scrub Habitat

Heading down the trail from the San Elijo Lagoon parking lot, he played a wheezy, kitten-mewing type of call on his phone.  “That’s what we’re listening for.”  This good friend and avid birder from Colorado was on a mission—to find a California Gnatcatcher.  Searing that call into our brains, we followed our ears to find…

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Songs in the Air

I’m walking with the dog shortly before sunrise one spring morning, heading down the riparian path.  It’s a peaceful time for us humans and canines.  But once I shift my awareness, I can hear the air crackling with communications.  “Chup-ZEEEEE (Spotted Towhee). TEEKTEEKTEEK eek-eek-eek-eek-eek-eek  (California Towhee). WITCHity-WITCHity-WITCHity  (Common Yellowthroat)  oo-AH-ooooo-oo-oo  (Mourning Dove). Sis-SEE sit-SEEW sis-SEE…

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Nest Boxes & Cavity Nesting Birds

Birdhouses come in all shapes, sizes, and styles.  They can be eye-catching pieces of art that delight humans.  Or they can be very plain boxes that focus solely on what a bird might want, with little concern for what a human might think.  And they can fall anywhere between those two extremes.  But a very…

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Who’s Awake? The story of the Great Horned Owl

Who’s awake?  Me too!  Who’s awake?  Me too! This series of five rhythmic, muffled, slightly eerie hoots—all on one pitch—wafts through the darkness this time of year.  The sentinel taking attendance is the Great Horned Owl.  Measuring nearly two feet from head to tail, the Great Horned is the largest and most widespread owl in…

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Bringing Back the Ridgway’s Rail-and its Habitat

Call someone “thin as a rail” and what are you really saying? Thin as a bed rail?  As a train rail?  A chair rail? None of the above, actually.  The phrase refers to a family of birds called “rails” that tend to frequent marshes. One rail local to San Diego County has gained modest renown…

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The Tricolored Blackbird: Next on the Endangered List?

One evening last fall, on a restaurant deck overlooking Oceanside Harbor, I watched House Sparrows skitter around the floor, searching out crumbs.  A larger bird caught my eye and I thought, “Red-winged Blackbird.”  Then he uttered a noise rather like a snarling cat.  Or maybe an irritated chicken.  Okay—that’s no Red-winged Blackbird.  A closer look…

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Western Scrub-Jay Species Split by AOU

Birders have been known to keep all sorts of birding lists—species ever seen; those seen this year; seen in this state, this county, this park, this yard—even lists such as “birds I’ve ID’d on television,” “birds I’ve seen on a wire,” or “birds I’ve found dead in my yard.”  (Some birders are darker than others.)…

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