Friday, April 29, 2011

What's New in the Neighborhood?

Not only do I enjoy the arrival of  migrants and summer breeders in the spring, but I also enjoy breeding behavior of common permanent resident bird species.  The California Towhee (left) was involved in an apparent courtship display as it lengthened its neck, cocked its tail and fluttered its wings as another towehee was nearby.  The other bird was doing similar behavior and since I cannot tell the male from the female I don't know for sure if this was a male/female pair or not.  I assume it was, but I suppose it could have been two males squaring off?  This happened at Pecho Willows on April 25.  On the next day I observed a California Towhee running along the ground with its tail up and fluttering its wings.  It was working it, but i did not see another towhee nearby.

This Yellow-breasted Chat (left) was in the "migrant just passing through" category as they don't nest in my neighborhood.  Usually I find this species by hearing its loud and varied repetoire of calls, but this bird was silent.  It popped into view on April 25 when I chattered for orioles.  (You can click on the picture for a closer view.)  I only see this species about once a year in my home territory, so it was a treat and definitely a new green year bird!  It is usually a secretive bird so I was unable to get a better shot.

On April 30, the wind shifted from the usual on-shore direction to a warmer off-shore direction.  This often brings more migrants to the coast and this morning was no exception as I had my first Western Tanager singing in the trees at the end of my street and Lazuli Buntings were flying by with their buzz call note.  My third green year bird was an Olive-side Flycatcher, new for my neighborhood, that posed long enough in a couple of trees near the edge of the bay for me to get this far off shot (left) before it took off.

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