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  1. So Pretty — Western Bluebird

    So Pretty — Western Bluebird

    Today was in the high eighties and I think the open beak was to help this pretty boy stay cool. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Western_Bluebird/overview
  2. A Surprise Visitor – Long-tailed weasel

    A Surprise Visitor – Long-tailed weasel

    First photo, in a full run. — I was sitting quietly hoping to get some good pictures of some juvenile Cooper’s hawks in the near-by trees when this weasel appeared from under a brush pile. He was hunting for a quick supper. He is so full of energy I had trouble getting him in the frame. I made a...
  3. A Surprise Visitor – Long-tailed weasel

    A Surprise Visitor – Long-tailed weasel

    Second photo, scanning for prey. — I was sitting quietly hoping to get some good pictures of some juvenile Cooper’s hawks in the near-by trees when this weasel appeared from under a brush pile. He was hunting for a quick supper. He is so full of energy I had trouble getting him in the frame. I...
  4. A Rare Visitor – Lawrence’s Goldfinch

    A Rare Visitor – Lawrence’s Goldfinch

    I’ve been waiting a year to see this beautiful goldfinch. Last year this pretty boy was captured by my game camera but I've never actually seen him. Many Lesser Goldfinches are always present but this one is a rarity. He sports more gray, has a black cap, face, and under chin, with yellow belly...
  5. California Vole (Microtus californicus)

    California Vole (Microtus californicus)

    We caught this speedy new visitor stealing birdseed from our yard . Although superficially resembling a mouse, notice the blunt snout, relatively small ears and short tail indicating this is a Vole. Note also the light gray whiskers and feet. Sometimes called "California Meadow Vole" these...
  6. White Globe Lily (Calochortus albus)

    White Globe Lily (Calochortus albus)

    Often called "Fairy Lantern" the petals form a hollow ball. A distinctive bump on the outside of the petals is formed by a depressed gland. This species is a California endemic ranging through the southern two thirds of the State. The genus "Calochortus" means "beautiful grass." The leaves...
  7. Pacific Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer catenifer)

    Pacific Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer catenifer)

    We found this young non venomous Gopher Snake in the corner of a park rest room. The park ranger removed it and released it back into the wild. This species can grow up to seven feet, but this little one was only about 18" long. Its head is narrow, but clearly wider than its neck. This nominate...
  8. Little Gull

    Little Gull

    Here is a video of the immature Little Gull today showing the "M" pattern on its back and wings.
  9. Little Gull

    Little Gull

    Although superficially resembling a Bonaparte's Gull, Little Gull is a unique species now classified in its own genus. Formerly it was included in "Larus" but moved to "Hydrocoloeus" 2008 by the AOS in the 49th checklist supplement (Auk 125:758–768, 2008). This species is the smallest gull in...
  10. Pigeon Guillemot

    Pigeon Guillemot

    This is an adult in breeding plumage. California birds are the race "C. c. eureka" which is smaller with shorter wings, but with a longer bill than populations breeding further north. These distinctive alcids nest along coastal cliffs as well as offshore islands. They arrive here in March in...
  11. Swainson's Thrush

    Swainson's Thrush

    The complete buffy eyering helps distinguish this species from similar thrushes. More often heard, than seen, this secretive species is common in Willow thickets where their ethereal upward spiraling song can often be heard at dawn and dusk, even before sunrise or after sunset. In our area they...
  12. Black Tern

    Black Tern

    This is an adult in full breeding plumage. This declining species normally breeds inland in fresh water marshes. They are rare here in the San Francisco Bay Area at any season. This individual was found 25 May by Ryan Phillips during a census of breeding Black Skimmers. This small swallow-like...
  13. White-breasted Nuthatch

    White-breasted Nuthatch

    Taken through glass window at "Window on Wildlife" feature. Note the worn gray primary tips suggesting this is a young bird hatched last year with retained juvenile primaries. This largest of the North American nuthatches exhibits some interesting geographic variation. This is the widespread...
  14. Brown Booby

    Brown Booby

    This is an adult female, presumably of the Eastern Pacific race "S. l. brewsteri." Note the pink bill with yellow base and extensive inky-blue color in the lores. This individual appears to be in heavy molt and spent most of its time preening. This species has increased in recent years in...
  15. Wilson's Warbler

    Wilson's Warbler

    These small jumpy warblers have arrived recently from wintering grounds in the tropics. This is an adult male showing an extensive shiny black cap. However some females also have a black cap in West Coast populations. We know this one was a male primarily because it was singing. The orange color...
  16. Pine Siskin

    Pine Siskin

    The amount of yellow in the wings varies individually and cannot be used to reliably sex these siskins. Juveniles resemble adults but have buffy wing-bars. This is a rather nomadic species, and California seems to be currently experiencing a modest invasion of these birds. There are three...
  17. Summer Tanager

    Summer Tanager

    It was sitting in a relatively dark spot with a lot of light on the background.
  18. White-faced Ibis

    White-faced Ibis

    Scarce along the immediate coast, this one was first reported 13 May by Teale Fristo. It is an adult in nearly full breeding plumage showing metallic green and bronze colored wings. This close relative of the widespread Glossy Ibis replaces that species in western North America. As both species...
  19. Long-billed Curlew

    Long-billed Curlew

    This is the largest North American shorebird. It is largely a grassland species breeding in the western plains and wintering primarily in Mexico. However it is not uncommon in the valleys and coasts of California in migration and in the winter. These birds are highly skilled at manipulating...
  20. Vermilion Flycatcher

    Vermilion Flycatcher

  21. Merriam's Chipmunk (Neotamias merriami)

    Merriam's Chipmunk (Neotamias merriami)

    This was a new visitor to our yard. California has numerous cryptic chipmunk species. This one is Merriam's Chipmunk which reaches the northern limit of its range here. Notice the long tail with white hairs at the tip and the grayish cast to its body. This one was feeding on fallen red holly...
  22. Gambel's Quail female

    Gambel's Quail female

    Near the visitor center in 29 Palms
  23. LeConte's Thrasher

    LeConte's Thrasher

    This has been a bit of a bogey bird for a while. I have been to this exact park at least three times before and several other places where it should exist, and never seen it. This time it flew over a gravel road I was driving and landed in top of one of the Joshua Trees, singing its heart out.
  24. Steller's Jay

    Steller's Jay

    Frequently misspelled, this species was named in honor of the explorer Georg Wilhelm Steller. They range in evergreen forests of western North America where they often visit picnic tables. They imitate a variety of birds, mammals, and other sounds including hawks, squirrels, and creaking trees...
  25. Caspian Tern carrying Jacksmelt (Atherinopsis californiensis)

    Caspian Tern carrying Jacksmelt (Atherinopsis californiensis)

    This Caspian Tern was carrying an unusually large fish which turned out to be a Jack Silverside (Atherinopsis californiensis) often called Jacksmelt. Note the greenish patch anterior to the gills typical of this species. This fish ranges along the West Coast from Oregon to Baja, Mexico and is...