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2202 S. Coast Highway Oceanside, CA 92054

Birding

Winter Spectacle — Cedar Waxwings

Christmas Bird Count 2018, Anstine Audubon Preserve in Vista. Our small group climbs a hill and checks for birds. Craning my neck, I mutter, “I hear Cedar Waxwings.”  We all start scanning the tops of trees, the sky, in all directions. Nowhere to be seen. As the enumerator, I could just mark down “1” and…

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A Study in Contrasts House Wren — The 21st-Century Caveman

When I used to monitor nestboxes, I would listen carefully as I approached a box, trying to hear what birds were in the area.  One especially bubbly, bouncing song would alert me to potential problems for the other cavity nesters in the vicinity. A 21st-century “troglodyte”—a.k.a. a House Wren—was looking to set up housekeeping.  …

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He May Not Be Pavarotti, But…

Anyone who enjoys bird song dreads summer’s end as a bit of an auditory desert. But if you live near California Thrashers, you can take heart. These songsters will actually begin ramping up their voices again in late August.   Slightly larger than a California Scrub-Jay, a California Thrasher features a long, heavy, and distinctly…

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In Living Color: Black-headed Grosbeaks are Back in Town

Just before my shift started, I walked into the baby bird room at the wildlife rehabilitation center. A distinctive sound ringing through the room—”WEE-urrr, WEE-urrr”—transported me back more than five years and 1,000 miles. The soundtrack of late summer in the pinyon-juniper habitat of our previous home in the Colorado mountains—baby Black-headed Grosbeaks were in…

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Avian Architects Setting Up Shop

They typically nest in large colonies, occasionally numbering in the thousands.  Within these noisy, chattering colonies, they push “neighborliness” to the limit, laying eggs in or even moving their eggs into their neighbors’ nests.  They recognize the voices of their offspring even among thousands of other kids squawking to be fed.  They spy on their…

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Familiar Friend The Lesser Goldfinch

Naming a species a “least” this-or-that or a “lesser” such-and-such smacks a bit of disparagement.  The bird exists only in relationship to a larger/greater/“better” bird.  The Lesser Goldfinch’s comparator is its Spinus congener, the American Goldfinch.  In this context, the Lesser Goldfinch comes up short in several ways.  It measures ½” (10%) shorter and weighs…

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Summary – Oceanside (CAOV) Christmas Bird Count – 2018

A big thank you to Kirsten Winter for writing this compilation of results: The 73rd Oceanside Christmas Bird Count was held on December 29, 2018.  It was a clear and cold day, breezy in the morning.  A talented group of 121 birders logged 231 hours and 451 miles, and recorded approximately 29,100 individual birds –…

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Tripping the Light Fantastic

When I set out to write about a species, I start with “What is interesting about this species?”  With hummingbirds, though, what isn’t interesting about them?  The smallest of all birds, most of the hummingbirds seen in California weigh between 0.1 and 0.3 ounces (~2.5 – 4 grams) or less than 5 original M&Ms.  Probably…

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119 Years… and Counting

  December 23, 2017.  I jolt awake at 3 a.m.  Was that a Great Horned Owl calling?  I strain to listen without getting out of bed, without opening a window.  I can’t be sure.  Better not count it.  In vain, I try to go back to sleep.  At 4:30, I finally get up even though…

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A Bird For All Seasons – The Western Meadowlark

While scouting the Great Falls Portage along the Missouri River in 1805, Merriweather Lewis heard an unexpected vocal fanfare from an otherwise familiar bird from the East—a bird then called the “oldfield lark” and now known as the Eastern Meadowlark.  Studying it closely, though, Lewis noted a differently shaped tail; a longer, more curved beak;…

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