For the Birds

VRP from Rice Road

As much as I whine about non-natives like mustard, it does make for a fine photo.  Thanks to Brian for sending this one in, that panoramic app for the Iphone is just so cool.  Frankly I’m amazed I just used the word “app” in a sentence and it wasn’t followed by “etizer”.

A full docket of whimsical wonder on tap for this weekend, check the handy dandy calendar before you lace up your hiking boots.  OVLC has their “Wild on Ojai” program, a two day affair that will delight any nature lover.  Allen Bertke from the Ventura Audubon Society will be introducing you to the many fine feathered friends of the Ojai Meadow Preserve.  Friday night will be a “getting to know you” program at the OVLC headquarters where Allen will have a slide show and a free birding kit for the first 50 participants.  Special attention will be paid to the 12 birds you will be focusing on for the Saturday Bird count.  Results of the count will be reported to the Cornell University school of Ornithology.  Allen was kind enough to take a few questions from your humble narrator:

1.  What makes Ojai/ Ojai Meadow Preserve unique in terms of bird populations and migrations?

The Ojai Valley has a very diverse habitat that appeals to a wide variety of birds, both in terms of gathering food and finding places to nest..  The Ventura River and San Antonio Creek are two of southern California’s rare year long waterways, attracting many bird species.  The sparse human population along with easy access to many birding “hangouts” makes for pleasurable and unique birding experiences.  The Ojai Meadow Preserve is a particularly good birding spot because it is a protected area and combines a number of habitats – strands of mature trees, open meadows, ponds, marshy areas, dense brush and grass, and smaller, newly planted trees and bushes..  
2.  3 Birds you will definitely see next Saturday
House Finch, American Coot, Western Bluebird 

American coot

3.  3 Birds you might see….
White-tailed Kite, Lesser Goldfinch, Great Egret

White tailed kite

4.  3 Birds it would be a minor miracle to see..
Sora, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Wilson’s Snipe.  They have all been seen at Ojai Meadow, but they are not very common.

Wilsons snipe

5.  Recommendations for someone on their very first bird hike so as not to get overwhelmed
1. Don’t be afraid to point out birds or even just something moving to the leader.  You don’t have to know what they are – that’s the leader’s job!.
2.  Ask yourself this question.  Is it larger or smaller than a sparrow, robin or crow?
3. Don’t try to do too much.  Settle for learning about just 3 or 4 species that you don’t know or haven’t seen before.
4. Bring a pen and notebook.  When the leader or someone else in the group identifies the bird, write the name of the bird and anything you remember about it – bill size and shape, color and patterns, location and behavior.  Then look it up in a bird guide or bird app.  This exercise will help tremendously in your ability to recognize the bird when you see it again.
5. Just have fun and enjoy the outdoors!

6.  Favorite bird Apps for smartphones?
iBird, Sibleys Bird App, Petersons Bird App

7.  Birds still on your personal “bucket list”

Golden-crowned Kinglet, Least Bittern.  My nemesis for my personal Yard List is the Townsend’s Warbler.  Although I have seen them all over Ojai and nearly everywhere else, I have yet to see one in my own yard to add to the 107 other species on the yard list!

Townsend’s warbler

Thanks Allen!   Also Dr. Lanny Herbwalk will be leading his crew through the Murietta loop, someone please take a picture of the Humboldt Lily if they are blooming

Humboldt lily

Thanks for reading, hope to see some of you on Saturday for the Ojai Museum native plant/treasure sale.

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