Sporting a dapper black cap, a sky-blue bill accentuating a chestnut-brown body, a gleaming white cheek patch, and black perky tail feathers, a male Ruddy Duck in breeding season assumes an entirely different bearing from his nondescript winter alter ego. All in all, with its small size, broad flattened bill, disproportionately large head, and distinct,…

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Yellow-billed Cuckoos (Coccyzus americanus) are fairly common in the eastern U.S. But in the last half-century, they have become rare in the West. Over the past 10 years in San Diego County, eBird shows unique sightings only 15 times—almost always a single bird in June or July, at Lake Henshaw, Lake Hodges, the Anza Borrego…

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A member of the silky-flycatcher family, the Phainopepla inhabits the Southwest and Mexico. The male has a thin frame; shiny black plumage; piercing crimson eyes; and a sparse, cow-lick crest. In contrast to the male’s shimmering plumage, the similarly shaped female sports sooty gray feathers with the same crimson eyes and wispy crest. In flight,…

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Late one winter when we lived in Colorado, a female American Kestrel had roosted for several weeks on a ledge above our neighbors’ garage.  Thinking perhaps she might consider breeding there, my husband built a nestbox for the neighbors to install.  Alas, she moved on.  But a month or so later, a pair of Northern…

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“Hey—grab the scope! What’s that bird?” I pointed to a small, dark bird with a distinctly dipping tail, sitting upright on a distant branch overhanging the river. For the Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas, we were surveying our block of pinyon/juniper, high-altitude conifers, and a short stretch of the Arkansas River in central Colorado, to document…

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Channel 8’s OUT & ABOUT reporter Jenny Milkowski and camera person visited Buena Vista Lagoon recently to highlight birding around the lagoon. They interviewed Tom Troy and our executive director Natalie Shapiro. As you may know, Tom is a long-time BVAS field trip leader and former board member. Thank you Tom and Natalie for representing…

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When I started working at the wildlife rehabilitation center 15 years ago, I knew nothing about wildlife rehab.  But as a birder, I knew birds and their habitats. The staff knew a lot about healing birds but they weren’t birders. So when they asked me to check on a Spotted Towhee they were worried about…

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A “tall, thin tramp in a swallow-tailed coat.” A “long striped snake on two legs.” A lanky, blue and purple cartoon character with a flopping crest, constantly foiling Wile E. Coyote. What do these descriptions have in common?  They all belong to the Greater Roadrunner. A large, loping, ground-loving member of the cuckoo family, this…

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Walking past the sage-scrub open space in the pre-dawn winter twilight, I heard a number of birds singing loudly.  Some sounded like Song Sparrows improvising a different intro and jazzier closing notes—maybe a different song for winter than summer?  Others made me think of extremely musical Spotted Towhees, although Spotteds (and most songbirds) don’t sing…

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Summary, Oceanside (CAOV) Christmas Bird Count—2019 Kirsten Winter (CBC Compiler) Download a PDF copy of the results here. The 74th Oceanside Christmas Bird Count was held on December 21, 2019.  It was a clear and pleasant day, with light breezes. Temperatures ranged from approximately 35−40 degrees F in the morning to about 60−70 degrees in…

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