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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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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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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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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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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Here at our beautiful Nature Center in Oceanside we offer programs for all levels of scouts on a variety of subjects.  Furthermore we can assist in acquisition of badges regarding animals, birds, watershed, and environmental concerns. Please contact us at the Buena Vista Audubon Nature Center or Sondra Renwanz (srenwanz@aol.com) for more information.  

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Measure Y (SOAR), a proposition on the November City of Oceanside ballot, simply requires that before agricultural, open space, or parkland can be rezoned to other uses such as dense housing or commercial, the people of Oceanside have a right to vote on the change.  We all pay the costs of sprawl development – traffic…

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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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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…

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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…

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