ospreyphoto-blog: Common Murre Photo by Oleg…

Saturday, June 16th, 2018


Common Murre

Photo by Oleg Gurvits


Spotted one out past the waves at Surf Beach, looking vaguely like a loon but with the snazzy black-and-white breeding plumage shown here.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/174957756466.

montereybayaquarium: Sooty shearwaters undertake a remarkable…

Saturday, June 16th, 2018


Sooty shearwaters undertake a remarkable 40,000 mile migration every year, tracing a figure-eight path from breeding sites in the Southern Hemisphere to richer feeding sites in the North Pacific Ocean.

Hopefully they get frequent flyer miles!



They’ve been in the ocean off Santa Barbara County for a few months now, but I haven’t been out on a boat and they don’t usually come close enough to shore to be seen easily down in my part of the county. North county is another story, though; at the beach west of Lompoc this morning I saw hundreds of them. They were still out pretty far, but identifiable.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/174957660241.

acryptozoo: Least Tern (Sternula antillarum) #272A few weeks ago…

Saturday, June 16th, 2018


Least Tern (Sternula antillarum)


A few weeks ago someone reported four of them out at Ocean Beach County Park west of Lompoc. This morning I drove out to see if they were still there.

They were. 🙂

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/174956109991.

#271Mississippi Kite (Ictinia mississippiensis)I set up before 6…

Thursday, June 14th, 2018


Mississippi Kite (Ictinia mississippiensis)

I set up before 6 a.m. in a spot that had a decent view of where the kite was seen yesterday. It was overcast and foggy, though, and there didn’t seem to be much possibility of an insect-hawking bird being active.

Just before 8:00 the sun broke through. I only had about an hour before I needed to head home for work, and I was busily scanning trees when a message came through the group chat: “Kite is showing now”.

No one was visible up or down the road from where I was. I texted back “Where?” and started hustling back to my car. “Just north of tennis courts” (a quarter-mile up the road from where I was). A few minutes later I was standing with a group of excited birders checking out my first-ever (and Santa Barbara County’s fourth-ever) Mississippi Kite. I got great views of the bird both perched and flying; the photo above is the best of the ones I digiscoped, though I’m sure there will be spectacular photos available on eBird shortly from the people who were near me with much better equipment.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/174888299296.

debunkshy: Dusky Flycatcherde Anza Trail, AZ, 1-21-17 #270The…

Sunday, June 10th, 2018


Dusky Flycatcher

de Anza Trail, AZ, 1-21-17


The best place in Santa Barbara County to find these fun little flycatchers breeding is Big Pine Mountain, so it’s super-helpful to go there if you want to hear them singing on-territory. And at least for someone with my limited Empidonax expertise, hearing them singing is pretty much required in order to identify them.

Anyway: Dusky Flycatcher achievement unlocked!

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/174779108371.

northwestnaturalist: Pygmy Nuthatch (Sitta pygmaea)…

Sunday, June 10th, 2018


Pygmy Nuthatch (Sitta pygmaea) Sittidae

Council Grove State Park, MT
March 16, 2015
Robert Niese

There are three species of Nuthatch in the Pacific Northwest, but the Pygmy Nuthatch is the only one endemic to our region. These birds are only found in the Rockies and inland Pacific Northwest. They are particularly fond of old Ponderosa Pine forests.


Saw lots of these adorable little squeakers on Big Pine Mountain over the last few days. 🙂

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/174778932031.

Tomorrow before dawn I’m leaving for a part of Santa Barbara County I’ve never been to: Big Pine…

Friday, June 8th, 2018

Tomorrow before dawn I’m leaving for a part of Santa Barbara County I’ve never been to: Big Pine Mountain. At 6,820 feet it’s the highest point in the county. It’s going to take a lot of driving on 4WD roads that normally are closed to the public; we’ve got special permission from the Forest Service to go in for an annual bird census.

The forecast is for high winds, which is unfortunate, but we’re going to be there for most of two days, so hopefully there will be some quieter stretches.

I’m super excited, both because of the silly obsession with the county year list and because I’ll be birding with some people whose skill I really admire.

There are 3 or 4 species they often get up there that I don’t have yet, and another 10 that are possible though unlikely. But you never know!

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/174706610101.

sunwendyrain: Scott’s Oriole Big Bend, Texas #268The other…

Sunday, June 3rd, 2018


Scott’s Oriole 

Big Bend, Texas


The other desert bird I was hoping to add in my Cuyama trip. I heard two of them singing before sunrise, then got good looks at a third one while hiking the trail.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/174543771831.

#267Eight of them, at least, looking pretty much like this as…

Saturday, June 2nd, 2018


Eight of them, at least, looking pretty much like this as they chased each other above Ballinger Canyon. Such cool birds; I get such a thrill out of seeing nightjars.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/174521187016.

digitalaviary: Black-throated SparrowIn Arizona we often call…

Saturday, June 2nd, 2018


Black-throated Sparrow

In Arizona we often call this bird the Desert Sparrow. In the winter small flocks search for seeds and insets hidden under tangles of cactus. Hikers are often startled by the whirring wings of surprised Black-throated Sparrows. 


This desert species just barely makes into the northeast corner of Santa Barbara County, where another birder recently reported seeing some. Today was the first chance I’ve had to check them out; one popped up singing right in front of me about 5 minutes after I arrived at the spot where I’m currently camping. Yay!

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/174521114336.

renatagrieco: March 14, 2015 – American Avocet (Recurvirostra…

Saturday, June 2nd, 2018


March 14, 2015 – American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)

Requested by: taylorrbranham

American Avocets are found in fresh and saltwater wetlands in western North America into Central America and the Caribbean. They eat aquatic invertebrates, foraging in shallow areas, often sweeping their beaks through the water to locate prey by touch. Their nests are shallow scrapes, usually lined with grass or feathers, which they aggressively defend from predators. Females sometimes lay their eggs in the nests of other American Avocets or occasionally in other species’ nests. Common Terns and Black-necked Stilts also sometimes lay eggs in avocet nests, where the parents may raise the chicks along with their own.


Two of them, feeding in the New Cuyama waste treatment pond. They’re not a particularly rare species, but they’re uncommon and local in Santa Barbara County, and for whatever reason I’ve been unable to catch up with any so far this year until today. Whew. 🙂

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/174520965511.

debunkshy: Willow Flycatcher The Arb, WI, 5-31-17 #264This is a…

Sunday, May 20th, 2018


Willow Flycatcher

The Arb, WI, 5-31-17


This is a better view than I had; the one I saw (after my birdy marathon up around East Pinery Road and the Davy Brown Trail, when I stopped to check out the birds along Cachuma Creek) was in the top of a tree, so all I saw was the tail pumping and the whitish undertail coverts. But the pumping tail was enough to make it an empid, and call it was making was enough to make it a WIFL. 😀

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/174099061246.


Monday, May 14th, 2018



Black Swift (Cypseloides niger)


I was feeling kind of run down yesterday afternoon; a lot of pollen in the air and my allergies have been kicking in from all the time I’ve been spending in sparrow habitat. Then I got a text from Eric: “Seems like a good swift day. Eight Black over Franklin Trail.”

That was all the incentive I needed. Ninety minutes later, a little out of breath, I met up with Eric on his way back down and we checked out a total (while I was there) of 10 Black Swifts migrating north over the Santa Ynez mountains. Such awesome birds; more than any other (except I guess maybe some long-distance pelagics like albatrosses) they’re creatures wholly of the air, always flying. I’d seen White-throated and Vaux’s Swifts before, but this was my first time ever seeing their larger cousins.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/173896016686.

Black-chinned Sparrow (Spizella atrogularis)Photo by Flickr user…

Sunday, May 6th, 2018

Black-chinned Sparrow (Spizella atrogularis)

Photo by Flickr user Tom Benson


Brad Hacker recently reported hearing some of these up on West Camino Cielo near Refugio Pass, so this morning I got up there as the sun was rising and sure enough; I was barely out of my car when I heard the bird’s distinctive song – until now something I’d only heard in recordings.

I wasn’t able to see the bird, but the song is distinctive enough that I’m fine with counting it.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/173654352566.

birdsandbirds: MacGillivray’s Warbler (Quite grumpy looking) H.J…

Friday, May 4th, 2018


MacGillivray’s Warbler

(Quite grumpy looking)

H.J Andrews Experimental Forest, OR


You remember my friend Eric? The same one helped me see my county-year Swainson’s Thrush and Calliope Hummingbird? Today around noon he texted me: “You don’t still need macgillivray’s do you?”

Yeah, actually, I did. People have been reporting them all over. Not a lot of them, just 1s and 2s in the appropriate brushy stream-side habitat. I’ve been looking, sifting through lots of Common Yellowthroats and Wilson’s Warblers, but so far no luck.

Anyway, I headed to the 8th Street bridge where Eric had just seen three of them, and shortly thereafter he refound one of them for me. Thanks Eric!

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/173588133221.

brooklynbridgebirds:Swainson’s ThrushBrooklyn Bridge Park, Pier…

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018


Swainson’s Thrush
Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1


My friend Eric told me he’d seen Swainson’s Thrush in Carpinteria Creek near Lillingston Canyon Road, so today I did the crack-of-dawn thing, dropping into the creekbed and walking along it for a mile and a half. I saw lots of great birds, including three Swainson’s Thrushes, the last of which posed politely and turned several times so I could appreciate it from all angles.

I also saw a couple of Purple Martins flying by with a flock of swallows, which was neat even though I’d already seen them this year, and something truly adorable: A female Anna’s Hummingbird bathing in the creek by hovering and lowering herself slowly into the water while paddling upstream with her tiny feet.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/173487833431.

debunkshy: Olive-sided Flycatcher (Dane County year bird #231),…

Sunday, April 29th, 2018


Olive-sided Flycatcher (Dane County year bird #231), photobombed by a proud Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

Pheasant Branch, WI


One had been reported at Los Alamos County Park, which was sort of on the way for my trip home, so I stopped in to see if I could find it. It was very windy, which had the birds under cover and made it hard to hear vocalizations, but it still was fun (fact: birding is always fun).

I’d given up and was walking back to my car when I saw a bird fly to the top of a tall radio antenna on the hill west of the park. It was pretty far away, but in the binocs I could see the short tail, big head, and white belly contrasting with the dark sides. Yay! The universe rewarding me again!


Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/173439603526.

renatagrieco: June 21, 2016 – Bell’s Sparrow (Artemisiospiza…

Sunday, April 29th, 2018


June 21, 2016 – Bell’s Sparrow (Artemisiospiza belli)

Found in sagebrush, chaparral, and other scrubby, open habitats of California and western Arizona, these birds and the Sagebrush Sparrow were previously considered the same species. First known as Bell’s Sparrows, then split into two species, they were lumped again as the Sage Sparrow in the 1950s, before being split once again. They eat seeds, insects, spiders, small fruits, and vegetation in the breeding season and mostly grass and other plant seeds in the non-breeding season, foraging mostly on the ground. Females build open cup nests in or under shrubs, from twigs and grasses, lining them with fine grasses, thin bark, feathers, wool, and hair.


I’d seen their previous conspecific Sagebrush Sparrow on our Mammoth trip, so I knew what to look for. These shy LBJs are hard, though.

Crappy digiscoped documentation photo:

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/173439430301.

permagrinphoto: Yellow-headed Blackbird #257At the Cuyama…

Sunday, April 29th, 2018


Yellow-headed Blackbird


At the Cuyama Dairy, two females mixed in with the hundreds of Tricolored Blackbirds and assorted Brewer’s and Brown-headed Cowbirds.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/173439088926.

crazycritterlife: Prairie falcons in flight in Arizona. Top…

Sunday, April 29th, 2018


Prairie falcons in flight in Arizona. Top photo is a wild bird (we think juvenile, but not positive) and bottom photo is a young bird being trained for falconry. She was trapped a few weeks earlier and this was her first free flight training session.

There were tons of prairie falcons in Arizona during my trip. On the first day we were there, Kai refused to hunt with us because a wild prairie was hunting nearby (we didn’t know this until afterwards). A forest-adapted goshawk out in the open desert is no match for a prairie falcon in their natural habitat, so he took off towards the cover of neighborhoods and led us on a tail chase for 10 minutes. It took a lot of convincing to get him to come down. It was scary, but also so fascinating seeing how different species interact with each other.


This was the bird I was most hoping for when I made the last-minute decision to head to Cuyama yesterday. Since it was a solo trip I couldn’t spare too much attention from driving, but what I could was dedicated to scanning telephone poles and prominent rock piles and anything biggish and flying for the slim figure of a big falcon.

Until mid-morning today it was mostly Common Ravens (Edgar would have liked them), some Red-tails, and a few Swainson’s Hawks. And then, as I was driving along Foothill Road toward the dairy where I planned to look through blackbirds in hopes of a Yellow-headed, I saw it: Trim and fast, pointed wings but clearly way bigger than the kestrel I’d seen earlier. I braked and got the car to the side of the road, jumped out and raised my binoculars, but even without them I knew it was good; the sandy color and black axillaries looked just like the Prairie Falcon I’d seen near Bridgeport on our Mammoth trip last month.

The bird was chasing a raven that had something in its beak. After a few seconds the raven dropped whatever it was and the Prairie Falcon grabbed it in its talons and flew off screeching. I don’t know if the falcon was robbing the raven or just stealing back something the raven had stolen first.

That’s bird-watching: Hours of driving and camping over two days for twenty seconds of awesomeness. Totally worth it. 🙂

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/173438860801.