Fall Fliers

Last Saturday, local avian stud Jesse Grantham led a herd of bird nerds on a lap around the Ojai Meadow Preserve.  The fall migration season is picking up steam and the group espied 35 species.  Some highlights to astound and enthrall will ensue post-haste:



A marlin is a large sporting fish. Merlin is an Arthurian wizard.  A merlin is a fierce and speedy falcon who hunts small rodents.  Who would win in a fight?

Allen's hummingbird

Allen’s hummingbird

Allen’s hummingbird is an aggressive little rascal who has been known to attack falcons and small hawks.  Napoleon complex indeed.

Red-breasted sapsucker

Red-breasted sapsucker

Red-breasted sapsucker is a shy woodpecker who drills neat horizontal holes in trees to collect the sap and the insects that inevitably come to gorge.  I personally prefer Belgian waffles and a scoop of vanilla pecan with my sap.

Cassin's kingbird

Cassin’s kingbird

Cassin’s kingbirds are known to perform a hovering dance with their prospective mate above a favorite perch in the early spring.  I once tried a hovering dance, it didn’t end well.

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatches are monogamous and have been known to smear dead insects or vegetation around their tree nooks to throw off the scents that attract various predators.  Boy these birds are chock full of DIY tips.

Common yellowthroat

Common yellowthroat

The dashing black mask of the common yellowthroat doesn’t keep it from being eaten by merlins, hawks and even  large-mouth bass.

Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler is my favorite hike companion of the fall and winter.  They seem to love picking insects off of laurel sumacs.

Chipping sparrow

Chipping sparrow

This handsome little rust-capped fellow is common throughout the Americas, often found in small flocks foraging on the ground.

Savannah sparrow

Savannah sparrow

To identify the savannah sparrow look for the tell-tale yellow mark above the eye and the forked tail.

Lawrence's goldfinch

Lawrence’s goldfinch

Lawrence’s goldfinch has a black face to differentiate it from the lesser goldfinch.  Among the numerous seeds in their diet they seem to love chamise.  I know I get hungry when I see chamise.


The western meadowlark is the state bird of six different states, which is second only to the northern cardinal (seven).  It is in the same family (icterids) as orioles, cowbirds and blackbirds.

Thanks for joining us.  Next week we will Sow the Seeds with Brian.


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