2202 S. Coast Highway Oceanside, CA 92054

Birding

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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 –…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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;…

Read More

The Song Sparrow – San Diego’s Reliable Crooner

Outdoors on late summer mornings, I strain to catch any hint of bird song.  For those who relish the avian breeding season symphony, the end of summer represents a bit of an auditory desert.  As breeding season wraps up, with no need to attract mates or defend territories, the birds quit singing. Some even head…

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

A Little Respect

San Diego County’s majestic natives aren’t feeling the love. Golden eagles require large territories and more than a little privacy to thrive. When not nesting on a preferred cliff, they are usually resting high on treetops or hunting in chaparral, grassland, and safe scrub communities — land increasingly taken over by development. Unfortunately, this native…

Read More