2202 S. Coast Highway Oceanside, CA 92054

Posts by Tina Mitchell

Learning from the Past, Fighting for the Future

In the early 1800s, the Passenger Pigeon held the distinction of the most abundant land bird in North America—perhaps in the world—with an estimated population of 3-5 billion individuals. (That’s billion. With a “b.”)  Compare this figure to the present-day North American abundance champion, the Mourning Dove, with estimates ranging from 100-450 million. (With an…

Read More

A Win for the Home Team!

In the birding world, the look-alike Empidonax flycatchers—affectionately or dejectedly referred to as “empids”—create two non-overlapping groups: those who eagerly rise to the ID challenge (not me) and those who despairingly mutter “empid” and move on (me).  But one empid occupies a rarefied spot in San Diego County:  the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher.   The Willow…

Read More

Hooded Orioles – Coming Home to Roost

Commotion at a hummingbird feeder drew my eye.  A Bullock’s Oriole—all 9” of him—was trying to maneuver around the various ports to get a drink.  No luck.  The fellow reminded me of a 6th grader trying to ride a tricycle—nothing fit and nothing worked.  Later that day, a Hooded Oriole (a bit smaller at 8”)…

Read More

Hawk Watch: Spring Brings More Than Flowers to Anza-Borrego

My first (and, so far, only) hawkwatch—a play in one act   [curtain rises: a ridge in Morrison, Colorado]   Hawk Enumerator 1:  I’ve got a bird—over the microwave tower, moving north. Me:  *searches for the microwave tower, wonders which way is north* HE2:  Got ‘im!  Looks like an American Kestrel, male. Me:  *might have…

Read More

Overdue Credit to a Frequent Flyer

North American folklore has touted the American Robin as the harbinger of spring.  Me—not so much.  For me, that honor goes to the Mourning Dove and its soft song drifting through the air beginning early in the new year. A Mourning Dove is a medium-sized, streamlined bird with an almost ridiculously small head; a long,…

Read More

Working the Night Shift

Who’s awake?  Me too!  Who’s awake?  Me too!  In the fall and winter, this series of five rhythmic, muffled, slightly eerie hoots—all on one pitch—increasingly wafts through the darkness.  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 widely…

Read More

Season Tweetings – Nature’s Winter Serenade

Fee odi-odi zeeee-zaaaa-zoooo.  Nope.  Seee zreee chidli-chidli chi-chi-chi.  Not that either.  See sitli-sitli ti-ti-ti-ti-zrrrr.  Good grief, not even close.  Let’s face it.  Humans really can’t recreate this avian song on paper—a sorry statement about our language limitations rather than a reflection of this lilting song.   Generally in early to mid-November, this familiar song—a long,…

Read More

Uncommonly Intelligent – Ravens at the Top of the Class

Call a despicable person “pond scum” and I take offense on behalf of pond scum everywhere.  Scoop up a handful of pond scum and you might actually be looking at diminutive, individual aquatic plants or even blue-green algae such as spirulina, which some health food fans herald.  Think someone is, um, “bat-guano crazy?”  Bats the…

Read More

Home For the Holidays…It’s a Risky Decision

Let’s say you’re a bird.  Your breeding area this spring and summer abounded with budding plants, fresh fruits, nutritious insects—plenty for you and the kids you raised.  But what about the coming fall and winter?  To paraphrase the Clash, should you stay or should you go?   In San Diego County, a number of species…

Read More

Day Care Gone Wild!

At best, it’s a bit confusing and startling.  Some people even use emotion-laden words such as “heart-breaking” or “sad.”  No telling how you might feel the first time you see a small bird such as a Song Sparrow working like crazy to feed a begging cowbird youngster more than twice its size.  But one thing…

Read More