Bird Song

I’ve been trying to sneak Jerry & the Boys into a post for months… It’s a bit of a shoehorn but I guess I’m still giddy from Sunday night’s Furthur show.

On to Ojai’s bird songs… Summer is finally over, which means the hooded orioles have moved south:

Hooded oriole

And the White-crowned sparrows have begun to arrive at backyard feeders:

White crowned sparrow

On Saturday consummate bird maven John Pavelko led the Conejo Audubon Society crew for a bird watching extravaganza up Canada Larga road on the southern edges of our lovely valley.  It is a unique 5 mile stretch replete with turnoffs where you can get out and scan the hills, dales, meadows mountains and valleys for our avian friends.  Look real close and there are quite a few geocaches as well.  John was kind enough to provide a list of the birds they spotted, here are some of the highlights.  Thanks to the fabulous site All About Birds, run by the Cornell School of Ornithology.  Click any of the bird names to link to more info, pictures and bird songs.

American kestrel:

American kestrel

The smallest and most common falcon in North America this predator is often prey for Red Tailed hawks, barn owls, crows, corn snakes and even fire ants

Northern harrier:

Northern harrier

Males will often mate with up to 5 females in a season.  The unique stiff feathers about the face help the harrier hear prey, similar to an owl.

Loggerhead shrike:

Loggerhead shrike

This small songbird uses its strong hooked bill with a strong notch to sever the spinal cord of its prey.  it then impales the future meal on barbed wire or thorns while it proceeds to slice and dice.

Warbling vireo:

Warbling vireo

Small nondescript bird of forest edges and riparian areas, more often heard than seen

Barn owl:

Barn owl

Up to 46 races of barn owl worldwide, the North American is the largest.  Strictly nocturnal predator swallows it’s prey whole, later coughing up pellets of indigestible material

Western bluebird

Western bluebird

A colorful thrush that likes to nest in cavities, the bluebird doesn’t have the bill to make it’s own holes for nests so it relies on woodpeckers or natural decay to create nooks for them.

Nuttall’s woodpecker

Nuttall’s woodpecker

Unique to California, smaller and more speckled than the more common acorn woodpecker.

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

Often seen crawling vertically up and down trunks or fences, the nuthatch gets it’s name from the habit of stuffing seeds or nuts into crevices then whacking them open with their beaks.

Violet-green swallow

Violet-green swallow

This beautiful little insect catcher of open woodlands is unique to the western united states.

Northern flicker

Northern flicker

The flicker is a woodpecker that spends a lot of it’s time on the ground hunting ants.

Bewick’s wren

Bewick’s wren

The master songsmith with the white eye stripe is nearly extinct in the Eastern United States due to the expansion of the aggressive House Wren

Wilson’s warbler

Wilson’s warbler

Recognizable by it’s bright plumage and dark cap it is the only migrant Warbler to winter in the tropics

Spotted towhee

Spotted towhee


Hear the unmistakable trill as the male tries to attract a mate.  Like the California towhee they often feed as they hop along the ground.

Thanks again to John and crew….

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3 Responses to Bird Song

  1. stermondt says:

    You guys saw a northern harrier on Canada larga? Que wow!

    Hey so I finished the book that Lisa sent me and my mom sort of wants to read it so I was hoping I could hold on to it for just a little longer and then I’ll drop it by your house? Let me know if Lisa is ok with that.

    Cuidate, Sarah

  2. How do we get more flickers in our yard? We have plenty of ants for them… PS – I saw a chicken in front of the house this morning, does that count for anything? Hoping Felix doesn’t decide to challenge it to a duel…

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