MWHA Bird Walk with Julian Donahue Saturday, April 14.
Twenty One species of birds spotted!!!!!
Eight lucky Alliance members, the first folks to sign up, showed up at 9 AM, binoculars in hand, to begin a short walk beginning at the SRF entrance on San Rafael Avenue, down Elyria Drive and into Elyria Canyon Park. After some preliminary instructions on using the binoculars and birding protocol (never walk in front of the leader) the group set off toward Elyria Canyon Park.
The sightings began immediately as the group assembled on the corner, and the list of species included several hawks, hummingbirds and others, but perhaps the most thrilling sighting was a male Black-Headed Grosbeak. There was an unfamiliar, especially melodic call coming from a large laurel sumac shrub on the side of the trail. Neither Clare nor Julian recognized the call, but the group eventually spotted a beautiful male Black-Headed Grosbeak deep inside the bush. When the sun emerged from behind a cloud and illuminated him, the subtle orange and yellow colors of his breast plumage was positively delightful. The group lingered at this exciting sighting for about fifteen minutes, as he continued to sing.
As the 11 o’clock hour arrived, the group began its walk back, and Clare suggested another trail where she had spotted a Phainopepla several weeks earlier feeding on the golden currant berries. Since many birds are territorial, especially during nesting season, the group was rewarded with a repeat sighting of the event Clare had witnessed several weeks earlier, a male Phainopepla in the same Golden Currant.
Here is a list of the twenty one species encountered on the April 14.
Cooper’s Hawk. Nice view of one soaring overhead.
Red-tailed Hawk. Good looks at an adult soaring overhead.
Mourning Dove. Several seen and heard; arguably the most common bird on Mt. Washington.
White-throated Swift. Several high overhead, migrating north.
Anna’s Hummingbird. Several, including a nice male flashing his gorget in the sun.
Rufous Hummingbird. One or two, passing through on their way north.
Allen’s Hummingbird. A few of this local resident. Smaller and paler below than Anna’s.
Black Phoebe. One on the corner of Elyria and San Rafael, and Clare heard another one.
[Western Kingbird. A flycatcher, possibly this species, on a quick fly-by overhead]
Western Scrub-jay. Abundant, active, and vocal, if not downright vociferous.
Common Raven. Common indeed. This is the bird most often seen soaring over Mt. Washington (crows don’t soar).
Bushtit. A small flock that Clare spotted, and we called back for closer inspection.
Bewick’s Wren. Daniel spotted one that we called in for a closer look.
Wrentit. Finally found this recent returnee to Mt. Washington, but he wouldn’t sit still for a prolonged look.
Northern Mockingbird. Several seen, including a pair defending their territory on Elyria Drive. Conspicuous and vocal, singing a medley of songs not to bring joy to our lives, but because its gonads are enlarging.
Phainopepla. A nice male heard, then found, dining on golden currant fruits. One of the few fruit-eating birds, usually preferring mistletoe berries.
[Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s) Warbler. A brief look at a likely candidate; common here in winter, most have departed by mid-April]
California Towhee. Prolonged look at one in the middle of a lawn; usually in the brush and more difficult to see.
White-crowned Sparrow. Nice looks at this dapper winter visitor; most will have departed by the end of April.
Black-headed Grosbeak. His song gave away the location of this recently-arrived summer resident.
House Finch. Several seen; among the most common birds on Mt. Washington.