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Unusual Suspect

While participating in Cornell Lab’s “Project Feeder Watch” this season, I noticed a different visitor at my feeders.  Turns out this bright yellow bird with distinct gray cap, eye line and malar or “moustache stripe” (below the eye) is an exotic species, thought to be a pet trade escapee native to Africa, the common name is Yellow-fronted Canary.  This bird is a frequent visitor in my yard since I added a Nyjer thistle sock to attract more Goldfinches and House Finches. 

To find out more about Project Feeder Watch and how to participate, visit https://feederwatch.org/about/project-overview/

If you are looking for a good feeder and bird seed source, check out Lowe’s which carries an entire line of National Audubon Society seeds.  Also visit Audubon’s bird seed website at http://audubonbirdseed.com/

Note a variety of other exotic bird species are found in our area which include Black-throated Magpie-Jay, Pin-tailed Whydah, Scaly-breasted Munia, House Sparrow and European Starling (to name a few).  You can find more non-native examples in our Photo Gallery, included to help ID these unusual birds you might find.  It is important to note non-native species are not necessarily a good thing as they can impact our native bird species and habitats. 

Yellow-fronted Canary shown below with Goldfinches, photo credit Cindy Crawford.

Birding Classes!

** Class is now full**

This workshop is now closed, with 7 people on the wait list. Please contact Anne Maben at afmaben@gmail.com close to the workshop to see if there will be any openings.

For those who registered please watch your email for communications from the instructors, if you can’t make it to class please call the instructor so those wait-listed may attend. Thanks!!!

 

El Dorado Audubon is pleased to present our fall series birding class, developed and taught by Dr. Charles T. Collins and Anne Maben.   To register for this class please click here.  

A FREE series of three (4 hours each) workshops during fall bird migration are available to both our friends and members. Each interactive workshop will scaffold new concepts and skills including:

  • Bird evolution, adaptations and behavior
  • Bird form and function
  • Birding strategies for identification and appreciation
  • Understanding local habitats and best local birding spots
  • At least an hour of class time at El Dorado Nature Center/Regional park to practice new skills
  • Additional resources/training such as birding apps, hyperlinked documents on buying binoculars, wildlife cameras; digital photography tips, favorite birding field guides and links/descriptions to local field trips for birding

Workshop dates are Saturdays 8am to 12 noon:  Oct. 20th, Oct 27th and Nov. 17th (will be held near El Dorado Park).  

In addition, three optional accompanying field trips for class participants to practice their skills will be also offered on Nov. 10th (wetlands habitat, 8am to 10am), Jan. 5th (coastal ocean ecosystems, 8am to 12 noon) and Feb. 2nd (spring migrants in oak woodlands habitat, 8am to 12 noon), which participants won’t want to miss! 

Additional information and updates will be posted here on El Dorado Audubon Society’s website.  To register, please click here.  There will be a limit of 30 class participants as space is limited.  There will be a wait list should space become available due to any cancellations. 

Please contact Mary Parsell at (562) 252-5825 or by email mfp2001@hotmail.com if you are interested or have any questions.

About the instructors: 

Dr. Charles Collins is a retired CSULB Professor of Ornithology, a founding member of the El Dorado Audubon Society and continues to conduct research on swifts and local tern/skimmer species.  Anne Maben has been an educator for 45 years, a wildlife biologist studying endangered species in Micronesia and currently serves teachers as a Professional Learning presenter for the UCLA Science Project.

Photo credit:  Anne Maben

Not the Usual Suspects, by Steve Kent

Pin-tailed Whydah, by Steve Kent

I really enjoy reading about other birds seen in my area. The usual suspects that frequent my yard include the beak-clicking Black Phoebe, somewhat elusive Lesser Gold Finches, flitting Bushtits, occasional Orange Crowned Warbler and White-Crowned Sparrow, swooping Anna’s Hummingbirds, and often noisy, but intriguing American Crows. Moreover, let us not forget the ubiquitous House Finches, House Sparrows, and the multitude of Mourning Doves that consume 90% of my birdseed. My favorite is the Dark-eyed Junco foraging under our feeders. These all form the familiar family of birds we expect to see on a mostly regular basis in East Long Beach.

However, June of 2018 marked some extremely exciting observations. As most birders use sound to identify birds before seeing them, I heard an abnormal call that caused me to start searching the skies for this new visitor. I immediately ran for the binoculars to spy a bird that did not fit the normal expectations of a Southern California birder. Spotting a small bird on the power line with three extremely long tail-feathers, and black and white markings astounded me. Thanks to my son’s passion for drawing exotic birds, he had a good idea that this was a Pin-tailed Whydah. Wait! What? After a little research, we found that a bird from tropical Africa was visiting our part of the world! Apparently, these exotic pets have escaped their cages, like the many Parrots now in Long Beach, and have begun breeding and thriving in the “wilds” of suburban Orange County.

Another foreign visitor this month included the Nutmeg Manikin! At first, I thought this was a juvenile Dark-eyed Junco, but closer investigation revealed that the brown head, not black, and scaly black and white breast are indicative of the Tropical Asian Munia, also known in the pet trade as the Spice Finch. This is a gorgeous sparrow-sized beauty thriving in our neighborhood, and probably goes unnoticed by most of our neighbors.

I have only been paying attention to the birds in my area for a few years, but I am quickly learning that if you keep your eyes and ears open you find beautiful little creatures all around you. Most become familiar after a short time, while others surprise you to the core.

Celebrating Summer, Field Trips & Events

Sneak peek of the President’s column in our June newsletter — it’s been an amazing year and a lot of upcoming activities are planned…stay tuned! 

Celebrating Summer, Field Trips and Events
Thoughts from the President – Mary Parsell

“Never Give Up Listening to the Sounds of the Birds,” -Audubon.

This summer we are looking forward to a variety of field trips and events not only in June but throughout the summer.  In June, we look forward to our Members’ and Friends’ night, field trip to Yorba Regional Park on the Santa Ana River, and El Dorado Park Cleanup.  Our Los Cerritos Wetlands field trips continue June, July, and August.

We are planning a beginning birding class to be held on a weekend in July or August (date to be determined).  Since this is the last edition of our newsletter until September, please check our website for classes, events, and walks in July and August. 

Thanks to all of you, our volunteers, who contribute your time, energy, and passion to conservation of birds and other wildlife.  We have a great group of officers, committee chairs, committee members and YOU, our members and contributors!  As we wrap up this year, we are going for another year of birding!

Thanks, and see you on the birding trail!

(Photo credit C. Crawford, Snowy Egret, location Los Cerritos Wetlands)

Bird Walk, Rancho Los Cerritos

By 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 bird watching! Our final walk of the fiscal year is on Thurs., Apr. 12th, at 8:00 a.m.

Meet in the parking lot of the Rancho; no reservations required. If you dont have binoculars, the Rancho has some to loan. Comfort-able walking shoes are recommend-d as we will be going up and down dirt slopes and some staircases.

The winter birds should be gone by now and the garden in bloom. We may see some nesting birds, possibly Common Raven and/or Redshouldered 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.

Dont know your birds? No problem. Heres some homework to get you ready for our April walk. Go to the Ranchos website (https://www.rancholoscerritos.org/) and click on Things to Doon the top. Click on Bird Watching, then download the bird check list. Look for the birds with a letter (A, C, U) in the Spcolumn (for Spring). Those are the birds you want to study. You can easily find photos online or in a field guide.

Photo credit ©Jerry Millett

Walk at Rancho Los Cerritos Recap

By Carolyn Vance

 Our very first bird walk at Rancho Los Cerritos in September was a huge success! Fall migration was on, even though it was a beautiful end-of-summer day.  Not only did we see Canada geese and Western gulls flying over, we had two Olive-sided Flycatchers and a Western Wood-peewee.  Of course, we also saw the ever-present Allen’s Hummingbirds, Black Phoebes, Mourning Doves, Bushtits, and Western Bluebirds.   Robins, House Finches and California Towhees were also around, and we heard a Red-shouldered Hawk calling from outside the Rancho.

Many, many thanks to Kim Moore, our big expert; Merryl Edelstein, Rancho Garden Docent; Jerry Millett, member of El Dorado Audubon’s monthly survey here and Rancho Horticulturist Marie Barnidge-McIntyre for their help with such a large group and answering everyone’s questions!  At the end of the walk, we had seen 21 species of bird, smelled wonderful plants and had big grins on our faces from the marvelous walk.

Join us on February 8, 2018 for our second walk, which will give us our winter birds.

Pictured below birds seen on this walk, female House Finch (left), female Western Bluebird (right), photo credit Kim Moore, including the group photo — Thanks Kim!

Events

Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge Tour

Reservations required at least four days in advance: 562-598-1024. Photo ID (adults only) required. All ages welcome.

More info: https://sealbeachnwrfriends.org/home/tours-and-visits

Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge Tour

Reservations required at least four days in advance: 562-598-1024. Photo ID (adults only) required. All ages welcome.

More info: https://sealbeachnwrfriends.org/home/tours-and-visits

Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge Tour

Reservations required at least four days in advance: 562-598-1024. Photo ID (adults only) required. All ages welcome.

More info: https://sealbeachnwrfriends.org/home/tours-and-visits

Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge Tour

Reservations required at least four days in advance: 562-598-1024. Photo ID (adults only) required. All ages welcome.

More info: https://sealbeachnwrfriends.org/home/tours-and-visits

Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge Tour

**CANCELLED**

The tour won’t be held in December due to the holidays, please join us next month.  Happy New Year!

 

Reservations required at least four days in advance: 562-598-1024. Photo ID (adults only) required. All ages welcome.

More info: https://sealbeachnwrfriends.org/home/tours-and-visits