So, I left off at the birds in the field.
Along with the Western Bluebird, there were two other birds on the soccer nets, both Phoebes. Again, one was black and white, and the other was tan (with a yellowish tint to it’s stomach).
First, the black and white one.
The identification of this bird was very simple. First, you start with the type of bird that you are dealing with. Based on habits alone (hawking prey, and then flying back to hawking spot, bobbing tail), you could tell that this bird was a type of Flycatcher. Then, you want to be able to think of any Flycatcher that you know of that is black and white. There aren’t any that can be found in the United States that fit those colors and color patterns (white from the undertail coverts coming to a tip at the breast, and black everywhere else), other than the Black Phoebe. Studied closer, the range fits, so you have your match.
Now, the second Phoebe.
Again, this bird was easy to identify. Because of the habits (same as Black Phoebe) this bird can be placed in the Flycatcher family. The tan and yellow color on this Flycatcher is a little bit harder to work with, because tan is a much more universal color among the Flycatcher world. But, this bird was completely tan, with a bit of a yellowish tinge on its belly, a darker tan on it’s tail, and no prominent wing bars. Because of the area that this bird was seen, along with the reasons listed above, I came to the conclusion that it was a Say’s Phoebe.
So, with an additional two lifers for Pinecrest Park, we moved into the wooded section of the trail. For a distance, there was nothing besides the occasional Song Sparrow and a House Wren that made a nest in a bird house along the trail. Then, a shot of orange caught my eye. The bird that I saw was an unmistakable male Hooded Oriole. Up in a tree, the Oriole was out on a limb, giving me a excellent but quick look at it. With a black face, bib, wings, and tail, along with white wing bars, this bird has a stunning orange-yellow color everywhere else on it’s body (male only), making it appear that it is indeed hooded.
Then after it flew off, the activity in the woods really picked up. There were Bushtits in the bushes along our sides, Black Phoebes on tall snags, some other unidentified Flycatcher species flitting around, and a Wren on the ground, as well as a Warbler in a tree.
The Warbler in the tree was very easy to identify. Based on the overall yellow color with a bit of olive mixed in, and the midnight black cap, it was quickly identified as a Wilson’s Warbler. I assure you that if you are ever to see one (or if you already have), you will know it right away from this simple description. As far as standing out goes, it is sort of like Canada Geese… (almost as common, too)
And the Wren tricked me a bit. I could have guessed Bewick’s, but, from spending 8 years birding on the east coast, I automatically turned to Carolina. But, as you can take from the bird’s name, the Carolina Wren probably doesn’t show up in California 🙂 I think of the Bewick’s as the western Carolina, just think of it that way.
Just as we finished up those sightings, along with another one of those California Towhees, we walked a bit farther, and then came to the woods edge where there was a field. Unfortunately, we had to leave, as we were going to my father’s business’ annual party. But finally, right before we left, I was able to catch a Spotted Towhee, the second of three Towhee lifers in California. To identify this bird, just think, if you are familiar with the Eastern Towhee (as I am), then picture it with spots on its back and wings, and you have the Spotted Towhee (or my better name for it, the Western Eastern Towhee)!
Upon leaving, I got more and more excited about the coming day, as it would be the first full day of birding in CA!