February Walk at Rancho Los Cerritos Recap

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By Carolyn Vance
El Dorado Audubon Society

Another great walk at the Rancho! We started the day with a pair of Ravens flying over the parking lot, calling to each other.

Hermit thrush

Our next bird was a nice Hermit thrush, followed by a small flock of Cedar waxwings flying over. A pair of California Scrub jays flashed their blue wings at us as did the Western bluebirds.

Northern Mockingbird

A Northern mockingbird stood silent watch over us, unusual for this bird. Luckily, the Black phoebes and Allen’s hummingbirds weren’t silent as they zipped back and forth across the Rancho.

Our other fly-over birds included three Great Blue herons and 43 California gulls. A Red-shouldered hawk, heard several times, finally landed in the large oak tree for us to see, then took off again, calling. The best part of the day, for me, was the small group (21) of Bushtits in a low, open bush, feeding. It looked as though the bush was alive, swarming with birds in constant motion, going branch to branch. Then leaving it, one-by-one, as Bushtits do, going to their next feeding spot.

California towhee

The last bird of the day was the California towhee that we had been hearing, but couldn’t find, until he popped up on an open branch of the Toyon tree at the top of the drive.

Allen’s hummingbird

The most asked question of the day was: Why is that rust-and-green colored hummingbird an Allen’s and not a Rufous? Simple – Rufous hummers are only seen in this area in migration – spring and fall, so in winter-time you’re seeing Allen’s. Also, Allen’s have green on their back and Rufous’ don’t. Okay, okay – about 5% of Rufous’ show a little green on their back, but once again, our walk was in the middle of winter, when Rufous’ are in their wintering grounds. Check their range map in your favorite field guide for where they are now.

Many, many thanks to Kim Moore, our bug expert; Merryl Edelstein, Rancho Garden Docent; Jerry Millett, member of El Dorado Audubon’s monthly survey here and Rancho Horticulturist Marie Barnidge-McIntyre for all their help! At the end of the walk, we had seen 19 species of bird. Our next walk will be on Thursday, April 12th, from 8:00 – 9:30 a.m. Come join us!
(Photo credits: Allen’s Hummingbird & California Towhee by Kim Moore. Bushtit, Hermit Thrush & Northern Mockingbird by Jerry Millett)

Bird Walk at Rancho Los Cerritos
Thursday, April 12th
8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Leader: Carolyn Vance

The first two bird walks at Rancho Los Cerritos have proved to be very popular, especially with novice birders. Welcome to the wonderful world of birds and birdwatching! Our final walk of the fiscal year (Sept – June) is on Thursday, April 12th, beginning at 8:00 a.m. Meet in the parking lot of the Rancho – no reservations required, just show up. Don’t forget to bring a pair of binoculars, if you have them. If not, the Rancho has some to loan. Comfortable walking shoes are also recommended as we will be going up and down some dirt slopes and a couple of staircases.

The winter birds should be all gone by now and the garden in bloom. We may see some nesting birds, possibly Common Raven and/or Red-shouldered Hawk. Hummingbirds should abound, as well as Black Phoebes, and Bushtits. With spring migration on, we should also see several different species of warblers and swallows.

Don’t know your birds? No problem. Here’s some homework to get you ready for our April walk: visit RLC’s bird checklist. Look for the birds with a letter (A, C, U) in the “Sp” column (for Spring). Those are the birds you want to study. You can easily find photos on-line or in a field guide. Look at size, color, and bill shape. That way, you’ll be ahead of the game by knowing what to look for in the bushes or on the ground or in the air. I call it playing hide and seek – the birds like to hide, and I love seeking them out, watching their amazing behaviors!

Since this walk is in spring, when bird’s thoughts turn to love and mating, I’m including drawings of hummingbird displays, taken from the Second Edition of The Sibley Guide to Birds, by David Allen Sibley. Enjoy and hope to see you on April 12 at the Rancho!


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