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Black Oystercatchers at Point Isabel, Richmond
Wed, 25 Jun 2003 07:22:42 -0700
From: Doug Greenberg

During our regular morning dog walk at Point Isabel Regional Shoreline at the south edge of Richmond yesterday, my son and I saw two Black Oystercatchers flying along the rocky bay shore while calling repeatedly.

Doug Greenberg

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Re: Indigo Bunting at Briones Regional Park
Wed, 25 Jun 2003 14:55:26 +0000
From: Judi Sierra

I would have to disagree with Larry about the color of the Briones Regional Park Indigo Bunting. Having seen it again as recently as Monday with Lazuli Buntings in close proximity, this bird is definitely darker!

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Can anyone identify this bird nest?
Wed, 25 Jun 2003 14:43:53 -0700
From: Lisa Owens-Viani

Can anyone tell me whose nest this might be (is it even a bird)?:

My friend was mowing a bunch of bristly ox-tongue out in Moraga and came across two nests in the grasses, a few feet off the ground. The nests are oval, set on their sides, only about 2.5 inches long, with a tiny opening at one end (on the side). Woven from finer grasses near the opening; coarser ones around the sphere itself. My friend is convinced the nests are birds' nests, but I can't imagine which birds they would belong to (don't fit any description I can find), plus they are so small. The opening is probably only 0.5 inch in diameter.

Thanks for any help anyone can offer.

Lisa Owens-Viani

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Re: Indigo Bunting in Briones Regional Park
Wed, 25 Jun 2003 17:37:05 PDT
From: Bill Gilbert

Regarding passerine hybrid fertility, I'm sure it must vary greatly with the species involved. For warblers, I recall hearing a talk many years ago about hybridization between Townsend's and Hermit Warblers in an area of breeding overlap;. My memory on the situation is that they interbred freely, and that there were various intergrades, suggesting hybrid offspring were fertile and bred back. I recall that a hybrid typically would have a Hermit-like yellow head, but with Townsend-like black coming up the nape (I saw one like this once). For species like these, separation seems to be maintained more by range than infertility or breeding incompatibility (and seems to raise disturbing questions about what constitutes a good species; i.e., why are "Myrtle" and "Audubon's" Warblers considered the same species [Yellow-rumped Warblers], but Townsend's and Hermit Warblers are not?).

For Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warblers the hybrid "Brewster's" Warblers are quite fertile, and if two of them breed the young shake out at a 9:3:3:1 ratio for underside color and face/throat pattern, the "1" being the rare "Lawrence's" Warbler.

Bill Gilbert

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Sunol Regional Wilderness
Sun, 29 Jun 2003 17:39:24 -0700
From: Bruce Mast

Four of us spent a leisurely morning birding in Sunol Regional Wilderness as part of today's scheduled Golden Gate Audubon Society field trip. No unexpected birds but we had a fine day, especially considering the warm temperatures and the lateness of the breeding season. Overall, we saw or heard 46 species.

We birded from the Visitor Center, along Alameda Creek, as far as Little Yosemite. Highlights included a spectacular view of a male Bullock's Oriole bathing in the creek below the bridge and a pair of California Quail shepherding their 12 (or was it 14?) chicks down the path in front of us. We didn't find an American Dipper at Little Yosemite but, in consolation, we were treated to a singing Canyon Wren, which then obligingly led us to its nest in the shadowy depths of a crevice. We could just make out the movements of a few chicks about the rim of the stick and mud platform. Not to be outdone, a Black Phoebe also showed us its mud platform nest tucked under an overhanging rock ledge. The nest held three charcoal gray chicks that flashed their bright orange mouth linings whenever the adult showed up with food.

Other birds we saw included:

Green Heron - 1 flyby
Turkey Vultures - several
Sharp-shinned Hawk - flyby, carrying a small rodent
Golden Eagle - several good but distant views
Mourning Dove - 1
White-throated Swifts - 6 to 8 high overhead
Anna's Hummingbirds - several seen and heard
Acorn Woodpeckers - many, including adults feeding young
Nuttall's Woodpecker - several seen and heard
Northern Flicker - several heard, 1 seen well
Western Wood-Pewee - several heard, at least 2 seen well
Ash-throated Flycatcher - good looks at 2 birds
Western Kingbird - 1
Violet-green Swallow - 2 or 3
Northern Rough-winged Swallow - 3 to 5
Cliff Swallow - 2
Bewick's Wren - 1
House Wren - many heard, a couple seen
Western Bluebird - 1 pair
American Robin
Wrentit - very cooperative
Bushtit - 1 flock
Chestnut-backed Chickadee - many
Oak Titmouse
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub-Jay
Yellow-billed Magpie - 2
European Starling - too many
Warbling Vireo - 1 pair seen well, several more heard
Orange-crowned Warbler - 1 seen briefly
Spotted Towhee - many
California Towhee - many
Dark-eyed Junco - several
Black-headed Grosbeak - distant views
House Finch - 1 flock
Lesser Goldfinch - many

Heard only:

Red-shouldered Hawk
Downy Woodpecker
White-breasted Nuthatch
Cassin's Vireo
Hutton's Vireo
Song Sparrow

We didn't find Rufous-crowned Sparrows today but we did catch an intriguing glimpse of a sparrow-like bird flying down toward the creek from the sagebrush and chaparral. Last week's scouting trip turned up a number of Rufous-crowned Sparrows but all were high up the south slope of Flag Hill. More surprising than the sparrows was the dearth of raptors. Last week, I had an American Kestrel, several Cooper's Hawks, and a pair of White-tailed Kites, none of which were in evidence today.

Bruce Mast

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Re: Sunol Regional Wilderness
Sun, 29 Jun 2003 19:13:24 -0700
From: Rusty Scalf

Bruce Mast wrote:

No unexpected birds but we had a fine day ...
Sharp-shinned Hawk - flyby, carrying a small rodent

Hello Bruce,

A Sharp-shinned Hawk this time of year is very interesting. A very few were found nesting on the Alameda and Contra Costa County Breeding Bird Atlases and people were rather surprised. The conventional wisdom was that, at this latitude, Sharpies as breeding birds were birds of the Sierras and high-elevation coast ranges and not lower elevations. Check out the range maps in the Sibley and National Geographic guides.

Sharpies nest late. I'll bet the one you saw was headed to a nest to feed young.

Pretty cool if you ask me.

Rusty Scalf

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Birds of the week
Sun, 29 Jun 2003 21:38:18 PDT
From: Brian Fitch

Sorry to post too late for weekend birding, but Ken Burton's birdbox message reminded me of the oversight. We also had early Semipalmated Plovers, at least six of them, at the Albany mudflats on Tuesday. Other goodies:

Brian Fitch & crew

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Re: Sunol Regional Wilderness
Sun, 29 Jun 2003 22:37:21 -0700
From: Bruce Mast

Rusty Scalf wrote:

A Sharp-shinned Hawk this time of year is very interesting. ... I'll bet the one you saw was headed to a nest to feed young.


It's also quite possible that I just misidentified the bird. I called it a Sharp-shinned Hawk based on what looked like a squarish tail and smallish head on a relatively small accipiter but it was motoring overhead on a direct line so we just got a quick look. We saw it in the same general area where, last week, I saw a Cooper's Hawk harassing a Turkey Vulture and, in turn, getting harassed by an American Kestrel. What's the likelihood that Sharpies and Coopers would be breeding in the same habitat?

Bruce Mast

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Re: Sunol Regional Wilderness
Sun, 29 Jun 2003 22:51:37 -0700
From: Rusty Scalf


I'll bet it was a Sharp-shinned Hawk. Sounds like the bird was carrying food to a nest. Cooper's Hawks nest real early and I think they'd be done by now (someone correct me if I'm wrong) whereas this would be the perfect time for Sharp-shinned Hawk nesting. Plus it sounds like you identified it based on good field marks. They both nest in open woodlands, and we know that a few Sharp-shinned Hawks do nest in these parts and at this elevation. Just not very many.


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