An amazing variety of birds in the western hemisphere are called “tanagers”—estimates range from 300 to 400 species in all.  During breeding season, the U.S. routinely hosts only four tanager species, all closely related congenerics:  Western, Summer, Hepatic, and Scarlet. Westerns are by far the most common in this county; the San Diego County Birding…

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“Hush little baby, don’t say a word.  Pappa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird.  If that mockingbird won’t sing, Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.”  Northern Mockingbirds pretty much do nothing but sing.  So you can kiss that diamond ring goodbye.  A loud and indefatigable songster and consummate mimic, a Northern Mockingbird structures his song…

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

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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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