Monthly Archives: February 2019

Baltimore & Hooded, and even Orange-crowneds (including subspecies issues)…

On Feb 24, an adult male Baltimore Oriole present since the beginning of December continues in residential La Jolla/UTC.  Back on the 19th, there was a female Hooded Oriole at Cottonwood Creek Park in Encinitas, in the pink-flowered eucs behind the tennis courts–very near where a similar bird wintered last year, so probably returning. Elsewhere in Encinitas, there were 2 Western Tanagers (Cardiff Sports Park and private HOA park) and a Black-thr Gray Warbler (Encinitas Community Park).

While Orange-crowned Warblers are, of course, very widespread and numerous, one typically only sees 1 or 2 or 3 individuals (very rarely 4 or 5) at a given site–probably because there would be too much fighting otherwise. On the 19th, I had a single flock of 10 Orange-crowneds, with Yellow-rumpeds, in an overgrown lot at Liberty Station, which might be an all-time single flock count for me!  Also, be aware that if you are reporting SUBspecies of Orange-crowned Warblers in your eBird lists that NOT all individuals of various subspecies are safe to differentiate in the field, and that duller celata and brighter lutescens regularly (commonly) intergrade in the south-central Alaska region–and probably winter in CA–and could easily be mistaken for either parent or for orestera or ??

–Paul Lehman,  San Diego
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Lake Murray REPH / Ramona Mtn Bluebirds

This morning (Sun, Feb 24) the RED PHALAROPE found a couple days ago by Dan Jehl continues. I spotted it loafing near Del Cerro Point around 8:30am, easy to pick out as the only tiny white bird out there.

Yesterday I checked out Rangeland Road in Ramona, and was blown away to find a massive flock of ~200 or more Mountain Bluebirds working a big wet grass field W if the road for fresh worms alongside Western Meadowlarks, Horned Larks and Am Pipits. I stopped counting at well over 100 with a single brief scan of the field. I’ve never seen such a concentration of MOBL in the county before.

Eitan Altman
San Carlos
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Lake Murray Red Phalarope, Bald Eagle 2/22

Dan Jehl found a Red Phalarope yesterday 2/22 in the AM at Lake Murray in La Mesa. The bird was still present late afternoon in the middle portion of the lake.
An adult Bald Eagle was also seen in the PM on two occasions, eventually grabbing a fish and eating it on the rocks just west of the dam at the south end of the lake.
The continuing first-cycle Glaucous-winged Gull and up to three Bonaparte’s Gulls were present as well.
Jim Pawlicki
La Mesa, CA

Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

San Dieguito Monthly Bird Survey – Next Sunday, March 3rd.

This is a reminder about the next San Dieguito monthly bird count. The March 2019 bird count is on the first Sunday  – March 3rd. We are now in our tenth year of collecting bird data at the San Dieguito Lagoon.

Everyone is welcome – interested, beginners, visitors, experienced birders.

We will meet at the usual time and place: 7:30 AM at the south end of San Andres. (Turn right/south off of Via De La Valle, on the east side of I5. San Andres dead ends at the San Dieguito Lagoon.) We coordinate with park rangers to provide vests and access for the restricted areas. We'll divide into five groups to count the different areas.

We gather to tally our results at noon at the Del Mar Public Works parking lot/picnic tables off Jimmy Durante Rd.

Hope to see you next Sunday for another great day of birding.

Jayne Lesley (cell phone: 858-663-6568)

Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Re: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at the Ball fields

At Nestor Park last week we had a pair of Summer Tanagers, Cassin's Vireo.  Heading away from the ball field turn left om Hollister, on the right here are community gardens & over the bridge on the right is Bird & Butterfly Gardens, both of these locations we have the Black-throated Magpie Jay.
Here is another place to go that we had some rare Egrets/Herons & a Common Goldeneye.  link to map for these: 32°45'14.9"N 117°14'45.5"W
Good Birding! Emoji
Sonja Beevé                        
(Luna Nightwynd)

Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

San Ysidro Laughing Gull and Vermillion Flycatcher

Today, February 21st, at 2:10 the male Vermillion Flycatcher continued on the sheet metal fence behind the Ross store of the Las Americas Plaza shopping center, it has been there without fail for the last couple of weeks. The continuing second cycle Laughing Gull was hiding amongst the vegetation in the flood plain of the Tijuana River south of the Sod Farm, today it was joined by five Bonaparte’s Gulls. It flushes often, revealing the black in the tail and dark underwings.

Dan Jehl
San Diego
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Swainson's Hawks in Borrego Springs

Yesterday evening 18 Swainson's Hawks roosted at the Date Farm (Evans Farm is the correct name now). We officially opened the hawk count today. Each evening we hope to monitor incoming hawks from a mesquite dune located 1.8 miles north of Palm Canyon Drive on Borrego Valley Rd. Incoming hawks usually arrive between 4pm and just after sunset. The morning watch is located 2.8 miles north of Palm Canyon Drive on DiGiorgio Rd. (south of Henderson Canyon Rd.) Our official count site is on a raised sand hill to the east. We monitor migration hawks from 8am-11am each morning through March. If you would like to be on the ALERT list, send me an email and you will be added. I send out information about roosting hawks when we get more than 100 in town. I estimate the departure time for the following day. A major flower bloom is predicted this season. If we have a super bloom and with it millions of caterpillars, we will have a record number of Swainson's Hawks. Beware that March weekends will be very crowded in Borrego Springs especially with a warmup in the coming weeks. On March 18, 2017 we counted 3,713 Swainson's Hawks migrating. You can access information about the hawkwatch at and our blog at

Borrego Springs

Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports

Re: on identifying and reporting Sagebrush Sparrows

Chris McCreedy was responsible for the recent 'Sage' Sparrow study in Arizona. His response to Paul's email is below.
Justyn Stahl
San Clemente Island
Hi Paul, 
conducted the study in AZ, with the help if many volunteers. As Paul
wrote, identifying the two taxa in the field can be very difficult. 
apologize I have not gotten our results out there earlier, i has been a
busy few years. I finished my thesis, my Dad died and I was responsible
for his estate, I moved twice, changed jobs, and much of my free time
was devoted toward desert avicaching and desert thrasher survey protocol
developement. I have finally completed nearly all of those things and
will be picking back up on the Sage Sparrow paper this spring. 
captured wintering Sage Sparrows and used blood sampling to confirm sex
and assign ID. The differences are there, we caught 70-80 birds if my
memory serves, and our in the hand identifications conflicted with lab
identifications for only one, or perhaps two birds. Those conflicts
occurred the first day or two of the study, and it did not take long
before we were pretty confident of which species we had in the net
within a few moments of extracting the capture. 
photographed all of our birds and I will include ranges of overlap of
plumage traits in the paper. But I just wanted to say that following
Paul’s comments, I studied these birds intensively and I still leave the
majority of individuals I encounter in the field as ‘Sage’ Sparrows,
and I am instantly suspicious when I encounter eBird checklists with
most or all birds observed taken to Sagebrush and/or Bell’s, with 0 or
few left as Sage Sparrow. 
mistakes are assuming that back streaks = nevadensis and that lack of
streaks (without taking distance and glare off of the back into account)
= A. belli canescens. Multiple photographs are desired both for views
of different characters and because camera settings and lighting can
make it difficult to understand plumage coloration and contrasts in
individuals with just a shot or two. 
am happy to look at photographs if you send them, though I work a lot
and cannot always get to them immediately for you.  You will find that I
will often tell you ‘best to leave it as a Sage Sparrow’.  I will have
the article out for you as soon as I can, and yes, I would love to
replicate our study at more sites and habitats in AZ and SE CA. 
Chris McCreedy

Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports