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WESTERN

TANAGER
Volume 73 Number 5 May/June 2007 Los Angeles Audubon Society

The Desert Saw-whet of Palm Springs


by Mary Freeman
n February 13, 2007, I cool, well-wooded areas of North to seven montane owl sightings in

O found a new report on the


Inland County Birds list-
serv of a Northern Saw-whet Owl
America and into the mountains
of northern and central Mexico.
This owl is mainly a boreal
one night, suggesting that our
local breeders may not move
much, and desert records may be
at the Living Desert Museum in species and is sensitive to high of northerly origin. I would love
Palm Springs. The report was temperatures. In southern Califor- to find out for sure!
posted by Sandy Swan. As part nia Saw-whet owls are usually
of my study of the Northern Saw- found in our mountains in mixed I contacted Sandy, requesting
whet Owl in our local mountains, forests of conifers with oaks. that she contact me should she
I like to keep track of any winter There may be altitudinal migra- relocate the owl. She replied
records in the Southern California tion, but this is not understood. I back two weeks after her initial
area whenever I come across have found this owl in all months report with some details on more
them. Not much is known of of the year, and there have been recent observations. During the
their migratory movements in this winter nights where I’ve found up daytime, the owl was oblivious to
region during the winter. boisterous school children visit-
Records are few, but Garrett ing the museum on school field
and Dunn’s Birds of Southern trips. This little owl became
California: Status and Distri- somewhat of a museum celebrity
bution shows records ranging among the employees. She
from the inland empire to the wrote me, saying the owl had
coastal slope during the fall been observed feeding on a
and winter, and there is a mouse. An on-site naturalist
record of a specimen found reported it to be a desert pocket
during the Lancaster Christ- mouse. As the owl was feeding,
mas Bird Count many years Sandy said it was being mobbed
ago. Owls in general are by a Costa’s Hummingbird and a
considered by authorities to Cactus Wren. It was also heard
be less vocal in the early win- calling at 10:00 AM one morn-
ter, so many owls all but “dis- ing! Northern Saw-whets—as
Photo by Chet McGaugh

appear” when they clam up, with many raptors—will con-


leaving only physical speci- sume the head of their prey first
mens and roosting individuals and save the remains for later.
to be detected. Scott Weidensaul, a researcher of
Saw-whet Owls based in Penn-
The Northern Saw-whet Northern Saw-whet Owl at Living Desert Museum sylvania, has found the tail of a
Owl breeds throughout most mouse sticking out from under
first found it and told me how she
first found a round ball deep
inside and close to the trunk in a
thick tree. She was excited,
describing how she happened
upon it.

We then visited the education


center, and she introduced me to
the staff as the “owl researcher
from Los Angeles,” which sur-
prised me, but I was willing to
don the title if it allowed me to
get a look at their wayward owl.
The owl was then brought to us in
a bowl and placed on a table.

I examined it as best I could.


It had a decent amount of fat on
the keel bone, the plumage was in
decent condition, and its primaries
were a bit worn on the edges. Its
overall plumage was in good con-
dition. The primaries were evenly
colored—gray brown and uni-
roosting owls. I’m sure that’s turing a decent likeness of a Saw- form, and according to bander
quite a sight! I communicated whet Owl during the daytime, but Dawn Garcia, upon seeing my
with Sandy that I would go out to also to document this rare low- photo, a second year bird (bird of
meet her to see this owl, as I’ve land winter visitor. the year, hatched last summer).
never seen one in the daytime— The mystery, however, was its
much less one in the desert! My We arrived at the parking lot demise.
exposure to Saw-whet Owls dur- and finally met up with Sandy.
ing my project, and at banding After our introductions, she gave I detected some trauma to the
stations, has all been at night, so me the heartbreaking news that left wing. After thinking it over
this would be new and exciting the Saw-whet had been found and consulting other owlers, it
for me. dead that morning. I was at a loss appears the trauma was likely the
for words. She was upset as well. result of a car strike. These owls
Sandy had forwarded Chet She felt a special closeness to this often feed close to roads, drop-
McGaugh’s photo of the owl owl as she was the first to have ping from perches to pick prey
taken on February 23, 2007, a located it and reported it to many from the ground.
lovely little owl, so on the morn- in the birding community via the
ing of Friday, March 3, Ben listserv. A docent had found the Although a sad ending to this
Loehnen and I drove out to the owl just after 6:00 AM at the beautiful owl, at the time of this
Living Desert Museum in Palm parking lot entrance to the facility. writing I have recent news from
Springs to follow up on the latest Sandy then walked us over to Kurt Leuschner, a desert ecologist
report. I was excited. Owls are show us its roosting site, the place associated with the Living Desert
difficult to photograph at night, where it had been seen feeding on Museum, and I am happy to relate
especially with digital equipment. the mouse. Parts of the mouse that he has managed to procure
I had brought my photographic still remained on the branch. Then this specimen for the ornithology
equipment with the hope of cap- she took me to the tree where she collection at the Natural History
2 Western Tanager
Museum of Los Angeles County.
Los Angeles County
Wintering Saw-whets in the flat-
10 Jan 1960 - Manhattan
Unfortunately, photos and lands appear to favor deserts to
Beach (Garrett and Dunn,
measurements have so far the coastal slope, perhaps due to
Birds of Southern California,
divulged nothing of the origin of either habitat preference or usual
1981)
California Northern Saw-whet migration routes. This last record
12 Dec 1990 - Lancaster
Owls. Museum specimens are of some duration is particularly
LACM 105614 (found recently
available to trained researchers to intriguing, as it is clearly a
dead on a CBC)
study frozen tissue and feather lengthy wintering record, and
samples. Studies on feather iso- proves that at least some Saw-
Orange County
tope profiles from Northern Saw- whets winter in the desert into
17 Dec 1972 - Huntington
whet Owls may eventually point March. Small points, but two of
Beach ((Hamilton and Willick,
to origin of wintering owls, but so very few pieces of information,
The Birds of Orange County,
far results have not proven deci- we have in the study of local
California, 1996)
sive. movements and possible influxes
of Northern Saw-whet Owls in
Kern County
The Palm Springs “desert Southern California.
28 Nov 1990 - China Lake
owl” may help us better under-
(Matt Heindel, Birds of East-
stand seasonal movements of Thanks to Sandy Swan for finding
ern Kern County, California,
western Northern Saw-whet Owl the bird, getting the word out, and
manuscript)
populations. A quick check of the providing me with her reports;
4 Jan 1997 - China Lake (Matt
literature turned up the following and to Chet McGaugh for his
Heindel, Birds of Eastern Kern
wintering Saw-whet records for beautiful photograph. Thanks
County, California, manu-
lowland southern California. Only also go to Nick Freeman for his
script)
dates from November through comments and to Kimball Garrett
February were included, in hopes for the citations.
Imperial County
of screening out migrants:
3 Feb 1950 - n. of Westmor-
land IMP (Patten, McCaskie
and Unitt, Birds of the Salton
Sea, 2003)
4 Feb 1978 - Regina e. base of
Imperial Dunes (Garrett and
Dunn, Birds of Southern Cali-
fornia, 1981)

Riverside County
23 Jan 1971 (but present earli-
er) to 11 Mar 1971 - Mecca
Beach (Garrett and Dunn,
Birds of Southern California,
1981)
19 Nov 2005 - Blythe (R. Hig-
son pers. obs.)

May/June 2007 3
MY PATCH
Ballona Creek and Watershed
by Lisa Fimiani
ver since I moved to Culver City, winter. Come summer the flocks of

E I have ridden my bike along the


Ballona Creek bike path as an
plovers coming in may catch your eye
with one or two plovers still in breeding

Photo by Lisa Fimiani


excuse to get some exercise. I usually plumage. It's the Black and Ruddy Turn-
start at the Sepulveda bike path entrance stones that nearly make me fall off my
and ride all the way to the Marina del bike when they are still in summer
Rey Jetty. Some days are easier than plumage. It's that jolt of adrenalin I love
others; many times I am riding into a to experience, every time I see interest-
stiff headwind from the Northwest. If I ing behavior, an unusual bird, or a bird
can tough it out, it's worth the ride, over in spectacular plumage that I didn't Cement Views
twelve miles roundtrip, because, besides expect to see. I'm never disappointed. many species of birds come to rest
feeling great, once I stop at Pacific One bird or another is always putting on throughout the day and at night. My
Avenue Bridge, going back is a breeze. a show. favorite time of day here is sundown. At
I've birded the Creek many times before, low tide, Brown Pelicans, weary from
but it's been hard for me to get past all On hot summer afternoons, Barn migrating, settle down for the night
that grey. Being an East Coast trans- Swallows and Cliff Swallows dart along along the near shoreline and the resident
plant, I'm used to lush rivers and creeks the water feeding on insects. They glim- flock of Caspian Terns congregate at the
with green plants lining the sides of mer in the setting sun, and they are so head of a huge gathering of Western and
much fun to watch as they swoop by. In California Gulls on the sandbar in the
May Caspian Terns, Brown Pelicans, and middle of the Creek. Great and Snowy
our resident Great Blue Herons can be Egrets and Great Blue Herons can be
Photo by Lisa Fimiani

found in large groups. Once I saw an seen on the grassy knoll across the way,
American Avocet in summer plumage and depending upon the time of year,
among some Black-necked Stilts in June. some surprising ducks can be over there
Many times you have to do a double as well, such as Green-winged Teals,
take; you never know what you're going Cinnamon Teals, American Wigeons and
to miss. With the Least Tern Colony Redheads. I've seen just about every
Bike Path
nearby, you may see Least Terns diving species of duck on the Creek that one
for fish, feeding chicks on the cement would expect to see, and the surprise
waterways, not concrete. Surprisingly, shoreline, barely visible from across the species are really just the gravy. Blue-
the number of bird species that can be Creek. Huge flocks of Heermann's Gulls winged Teals, Ring-necked Ducks,
found in Ballona Creek makes up for and Willets in mixed plumage can be Northern Pintails, and Northern Shovel-
having to look at the cement lined seen. It's always exciting to be riding by ers, just to mention a few more. We are
shores. just as a flock lands. The birds are all so lucky here in Southern California to
agitated, fluffing their feathers after hav- be in the Pacific Flyway.
As far inland on the bike path near ing traveled many miles to rest here.
Duquesne, riding west towards Overland, Once I saw fifty Whimbrels along the Last summer I saw groups of Red-
I have seen Greater and Lesser Yel- shore; they must have just flown in. necked Phalaropes swim upstream, turn
lowlegs in small flocks, Spotted Sand- Usually I only see one or two at a time. around, float downstream backwards and
pipers, Black-necked Stilts, and Willets. Bonaparte's Gulls are also fun to watch. peck at the bugs on either side of them
Someone told me that's a sign the water When the Ospreys are around, it's inter- as they floated by. They were hysterical.
is getting healthier if we are finding esting to see the shorebirds take flight.
these birds going East from Sepulveda. They don't trust that raptor, even though
The majority of birds can be found it's not interested in them. There is a
between Centinela Avenue and Pacific Belted Kingfisher that lives under a
Photo by Lisa Fimiani

Avenue Bridge. Any time of year is bridge and comes back every year. I
good birding on the Creek. In December love to look for him.
and January, it is not uncommon to see
large flocks of Black-bellied Plovers, One of my favorite viewing sites is
American Coots, Mallards, and Willets the Centinela Creek Convergence. It is
along the Creek. I love seeing the Buf- here, on the sandbar that appears at low
fleheads; they are my signature duck of tide and disappears at high tide, that Brown Pelicans

4 Western Tanager
Photo by Lisa Fimiani

BOOKSTORE NEWS

Great Egrets
Starting Monday, June 4, 2007 you can now order your
They did it again and again.
books and other items through our online Nature Store.
Go to Los Angeles Audubon's web site
Over the holidays, I received the www.laaudubon.org and click on Nature Store to begin
Southern California Coast Almanac
engagement calendar for 2007, and that shopping.
has proven to be invaluable with an
accurate listing of the tides. When I'm
in the mood for shorebirds, I check the
As always you can still order by phone at 888-522-7428
tide schedule. I know where to find or FAX 323-876-7609 or email books@laaudubon.org.
Least and Western Sandpipers, dowitch- We are also here to answer your questions and advise
ers, godwits and Whimbrels across the
mud, and I know where to find grebes you on the best book, audio, video, or equipment for
(Eared, Horned, Western) across the your birding needs.
water. All three cormorant species can
be found, depending on the time of the
year. The Nature Store hours are Monday through Thursday
from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM. We are normally closed on
What's great about bicycling along
the Creek is you do a mental checklist of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. For your shopping conve-
the birds you expect to see. When you nience we will be open Saturday, May 5, 2007 and Sat-
don't see a certain species, you start
thinking, "Where else could they be?"
urday, June 2, 2007 from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
Many times they are either in the Bal-
lona Freshwater Marsh, Ballona Lagoon, Susan and Martha invite you to browse our new online
Del Rey Lagoon or Ballona Saltwater
Marsh, if they are not along the Creek. store. We hope you are pleased that there is yet another
If I feel up to it, I will ride over to those method of accessing the wonderful resources of our
locations to check them out too. This is
my patch. These are my birds. After all
Nature Store.
these years, I feel I know them, each
flock, each group of birds that stay
either a short while during spring or fall
migration, or all summer or winter. I
have gotten used to seeing them, expect-
ing them. I have come to love my patch,
cement-lined and all.
Photo by Mary Freeman
Photo by Lisa Fimiani

Eurasian Wigeon

Ballona Creek

May/June 2007 5
CONSERVATION CONVERSATION
by Garry George
THE MIRACLE OF MIGRATION
he Cedar Waxwing whistles have Brunswick, Canada. Carolina Wrens, She's right, of course. As a result of

T waned; there is White-throated


Swift chatter raining down from
the heavens; the goldfinch peeps are
Eastern Bluebirds, American Robins,
American Crows and Mourning Doves
are all spending winters farther north
Eleanor's question, our mission has
been changed to "promote the enjoy-
ment and protection of birds and other
turning to song; Mr. Wilson has according to Audubon. The American wildlife through recreation, education,
appeared in the lavatera; and where has Bird Conservancy noted last month that conservation and restoration."
my House Wren gone? Migration is on, seven warbler species have shifted more
pulling my attention from comment let- than 65 miles north in a quarter-century. And I've made a promise to myself.
ters on wind farms, housing develop- Changes west of the Rockies are not as This spring, I'll lower my shoulders and
ments, river revitalizations—all large- documented, but I hope they soon will go birding. I'll celebrate the survivors.
scale human endeavors. A large-scale be. What impact might climate change I'll look at the ones that made it through
natural event is happening that also have in Los Angeles County? A one the gauntlet. I'll spend more time on
needs my attention—spring migration, meter rise in sea level and a reduction plumage, courtship, and nesting behav-
the most impressive event in the natural in snow pack size (or the loss of snow iors. I'll enjoy the sounds of nestlings
world in scale and beauty. pack altogether) will have serious and celebrate the new generation, and
implications for LA County’s species the resilience of these adaptive organ-
It boggles my mind that our local popu- and habitat. How will Snowy Plovers isms. I'll look for hopeful studies that
lation of birds swells by at least a hun- and Least Terns adapt? Audubon on the show that they are avoiding the obsta-
dred million birds each spring. national level is now focused on climate cles. I'll remember I'm gathering data as
change with Audubon California's lead. well as birding and enter my sightings
After three years as Conservation Chair As a Board Member of Audubon Cali- in e-bird, and document any unusual
for LA Audubon, I know too well the fornia as Southern California chapter sightings with photographs and descrip-
gauntlet these migrating gems have to representative, I've had a preview of the tions and send them to California Bird
run. Communication towers, wind direction of the planning from Audubon Records Committee. I'm rooting for
farms, cars and trucks, electric trans- California Policy Director Julia Levin. migrating songbirds, I'm working for
mission lines, buildings and feral and Audubon has “borrowed” Julia to plan them, and as importantly, I'm enjoying
domestic outdoor cats endanger the bio- the climate change campaign. The chap- them. Thanks, Eleanor.
mass moving north, south, up, down, or ter effort will include reports and pro-
sideways each spring. Estimates of the jections on potential effects of climate
annual loss of migratory songbirds in change on our local environments in an
North America each year put the num- effort to think globally and act locally.
ber at over a billion birds. That is an Our chapter's effort will be an interest-
extraordinary loss. Eventually some ing project for LA Audubon with our
species may not make it through the oceans, mountains, rivers and urban
gauntlet. density.
Photo by Eleanor Osgood

Climate change has thrown a curveball As I think about spring migration, I am


into spring migration that hasn't yet reminded of one of Eleanor Osgood's
been calculated. The Christmas Bird contributions to our Board. After a few
Counts are starting to reveal some inter- meetings she raised her hand. "Can we
esting data. Unusual sightings this win- add 'enjoyment' to our mission?" she
ter included Tree Swallows in 22 states, asked. "I feel like we only talk about
twice as many states as a decade ago, the emergencies."
and Red-bellied Woodpeckers in New
6 Western Tanager
President ’s letter
by Dexter Kelly
Old Conflicts, New Prospects

t's hard to report on what's been happening behind the scenes in Los Angeles Audubon, as events and issues have been piling on

I so fast that any news here will soon be obsolete. But you can always get the latest news from our website at
www.laaudubon.org. Visit the site frequently for the latest announcements of trips, meetings, volunteer opportunities, and other
activities. The site also includes the latest conservation news.
Los Angeles Audubon has been reacting to challenges and threats on the conservation front. We are certainly the conservation
leader among all Audubon chapters in the Los Angeles County area, due, in most part, to a lot of hard work by a few dedicated
members.
Our environment is under attack. The heron roosts in Marina del Rey are still threatened, and both herons and endangered Cali-
fornia Least Terns—along with other bird species—may be harmed if a monofilament line "eruv" is strung across their flight paths.
David De Lange and Lisa Fimiani have been advocating for the birds in the Marina, with backup from Garry George, making up
LAAS's Urban Wildlife Task Force. They have been indefatigable in attending meetings, writing letters, and getting in the face of
those empowered to protect our coastal wildlife. Lisa and Garry have also kept up the heat on the "Terngate" issue. Partly in
response to their prodding, the Long Beach District Attorney is prosecuting those who destroyed colonies of Caspian and Elegant
Terns on barges in Long Beach Harbor.
Los Angeles Audubon took the lead role in a 15 page comment letter on the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the
Newhall Ranch project in Santa Clarita in partnership with Audubon California, San Fernando Audubon and Ventura Audubon, and
Garry and Lisa made public statements at the February 28 hearing at the Los Angeles County Planning Commission. Garry and Lisa
continue to advocate for thorough studies on thirteen bird species not adequately represented in the draft EIR.
But the biggest environmental fight for the last two years has been over the Department of Water and Power Pine Tree Wind
Farm Project, and over wind farms in general. We're not trying to shut down the wind farms; we just want them to take migratory
birds into account when planning them. LAAS sued the DWP under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to compel
inclusion of migratory bird studies in their EIR for the Pine Tree project, which is located in the upper reaches of Jawbone Canyon,
not far from Butterbredt Springs, a migrant hotspot. After losing the first round to a judge who barely glanced at our brief, we
appealed. In the current political and judicial climate, we have a good chance of success, provided that our brief is read and assessed
by the court. By the time of this publication, the outcome may be known. In the meantime, we do have some good news: the wind
turbines at Pine Tree will not be turning before the summer at the earliest, so the spring migration will be spared the threat of mas-
sacre by propellers. Meanwhile, thanks to Garry's participation in workshops and meetings with wind developers and wildlife agen-
cies at the California Energy Commission in Sacramento, our advocacy for studies of migratory songbirds have paid off in the just
released draft of California Energy Commission and California Fish & Game guidelines for siting of wind farms.
All this time-and-energy-consuming environmental combat has not kept us from other efforts in education and outreach. This
year the greatest progress has been made on the adult front. Eleanor Osgood and Jenny Jones have offered beginning birding classes
at local community colleges (LA City and West LA), and Pat Heirs and Lisa Fimiani led a series of birding walks in the parks of
Beverly Hills during the Backyard Bird Count weekend. And we continue to offer monthly bird walks in Baldwin Hills and Debs
parks, in addition to our great schedule of field and pelagic trips. In this way, we began to reach out to our neighbors in our area,
especially those in the center of the LA Basin. We're turning grownups onto birds!
The situation with elementary schools is somewhat frustrating. We've had to turn down some requests for classroom visitations,
because of the lack of available volunteers. Our few active members can't cover all bases! But we continue to support school pro-
grams at Ballona and Sepulveda Basin, and the program in the Baldwin Hills should be under way by the end of the year. And as we
build our volunteer base, we hope to get into more classrooms on an ad-hoc basis.
In the meantime, the Snowy Plover monitoring project in partnership with Santa Monica Bay Audubon and with a grant from
Audubon California has been launched to count and map birds on LA County beaches in the winter, and under the direction of vol-
unteer coordinator Jenny Jones, we hope to find the first breeding record since 1947. Endangered species project intern Stacey
Vigallon has been hired by LA Audubon, thanks to a grant from California Fish & Game Commission, to coordinate volunteers for
the Least Tern colony at Venice Beach again in partnership with Santa Monica Bay. Stacey is also a superb artist, with a beautiful
book on Sri Lankan wildlife to her credit. We hope to have her do our "Audubon at Home" guide, which will be in a graphic narra-
tive format—an environmental comic book!
You might hear more from us in the future, through snail and e-mail. Jason Stuck, our membership chair, will be using new spe-
cialized software to manage our membership data and Susan Castor, our membership administrator, will let you know if your mem-
bership is about to expire or has expired. You may get more volunteer requests and conservation alerts from us. We have to reach our
members more directly, to activate them and get them more engaged in Audubon activities, and to
recruit more members, which we need for both moral and financial support. Eventually, we will
Cont’d. on pg 18
develop a point system, to award members for such actions as field trip attendance, wildlife monitor-
May/June 2007 7
NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
The Nominating Committee 2007 Schreiber Grant
Recipients
The Nominating Committee announced the slate of Board candidates for 2006-2007:
Grant committee chair Walt Sakai submit-
Mary Freeman, President: As a child in Los Angeles, Mary learned the Spanish nick-
ted his recommendations for recipients of
names her mother gave the neighborhood birds, and then learned their proper names after
the Ralph Schreiber grants for 2007 to the
opening her first bird book in elementary school. Her passion for birding ignited, her
Board. The Board selected the following
father took her birdwatching in local areas such as Elysian Hills, the Los Angeles River
based on their local conservation impor-
and Ferndell Canyon in Griffith Park. Her high school teacher recommended she
tance. Three of the grant recipients
become a member of LA Audubon. Her first LAAS field trip in the mid-70s was led by
received grants last year as well, and
Jean Brandt. Bob and Roberta Shanman recommended her for leading LAAS fieldtrips—
these grants will allow them to continue
her first being to Orcas Park near Tujunga Wash. She has a degree in art, preferring
their research. Thank you to Walt and his
birds as her subject, and also designs jewelry. She continues to lead trips for LAAS as
committee for their fine work in soliciting
well as occasional bird festivals. She is currently working towards her banding permit to
and reviewing the grants. The Schreiber
help further her knowledge of the Northern Saw-whet Owl in our local mountains.
grants were initiated by LAAS in memo-
ry of ornithologist Ralph Schreiber who
Jason Stuck, 1st VP: Jason was raised in rural Nebraska where he learned to appreciate
was the Curator of Birds of the Los
and respect the many things that Mother Nature had to offer. After graduating from high
Angeles Count Museum of Natural Histo-
school, he traded in open space for big city lights and pavement and moved to Holly-
ry and whose work on California Brown
wood to pursue a career in film. Many years later, Jason now designs websites for a
Pelican ultimately led to the conservation
mutual fund company in Santa Monica to support his birding and photography habits.
of that species. Contributions to LAAS
Understanding the many pressures that face the environment today, Jason is using pho-
with the memo "Schreiber grants" will
tography and other means to help preserve and restore habitat, and to bring attention to
keep this research funding program alive.
wildlife and the other splendid wonders of nature.
Jessica Dooley (Biology, California
David De Lange, 2nd VP: David De Lange has been an active birder with Los Angeles
State University, Northridge): To study
Audubon over the past 10 years and currently serves on its Urban Wildlife Taskforce. As
spatial and temporal variation in Bald
executive director and former president of the Coalition to Save the Marina in Marina
Eagle diets and foraging habitat use on
del Rey, he has worked to protect heron and other habitat in the Ballona Valley water-
the California Channel Islands, using a
shed. He makes most of his living as a psychotherapist in Marina del Rey and also
combined approach of GPS, GIS and sta-
works as a consultant in the media reform movement.
ble isotopes.
Jenny Jones, Executive Secretary: An environmental scientist, Jenny has worked to
Joelle Fournier (Biology, San Diego
help clean up some of the most contaminated areas of Los Angeles. She would rather go
State University): To perform a Califor-
birding, and has become active in LAAS as volunteer coordinator for the Snowy Plover
nia Least Tern assessment: What factors
and Least Tern conservation projects. She occasionally leads bird walks at Debs Park
control population trends?
near her home in Los Angeles.
Loren Merrill (Ecology, Evolution, and
Eleanor Osgood, Recording Secretary: Eleanor has been a birder for 20 years and a
Marine Biology, University of Califor-
member of LAAS for as long. During the five years of the Los Angeles Breeding Bird
nia at Santa Barbara): To study the
Atlas, she was the Regional Coordinator for the Los Angeles Basin and a "block leader."
untold costs of brood parasitism: Is high
Recently retired from the public schools as a speech pathologist and special education
egg production responsible for low
teacher, she now has more time to commit to LAAS Audubon and conservation issues.
immune response in female Brown-head-
ed Cowbirds?
Lisa Fimiani, Treasurer: Lisa became an avid bird-watcher while growing up in Buffa-
lo, New York. In 1986 she moved to Los Angeles, where she joined the Domestic Televi-
James Rivers (Ecology, Evolution, and
sion Sales division of Paramount Pictures. In her last position at Paramount she served as
Marine Biology, University of Califor-
vice president of sales administration and program lineups, and after 18 years with the
nia at Santa Barbara): To determine the
company recently left to form her own consulting firm. She has been a member of the
extent to which nestmate relatedness
National Audubon Society since living in Buffalo. In addition to her role at LAAS, Lisa
influences the begging intensity of a gen-
served six years on the Audubon California Board before joining the Board of LAAS.
eralist food parasite.
She serves as a Docent at the Ballona Freshwater Marsh and a member of the Friends of
Ballona Wetlands.
Bethany Williams (Biological Sciences,
California State University, Fullerton):
The Membership will vote YES or NO on the slate in the May meeting. If any member
To study the function of song in Costa's
wants to run in any office, there is a provision for that in the By-laws which are on the
Hummingbirds.
website under MAIN MENU "About Us" under ELECTIONS.

8 Western Tanager
membership
Welcome and thank you to new and renewed members and donors!

RENEWED MEMBERS
NEW MEMBERS THANK YOU! Larry Allen
Karen Arnold
DONORS
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Joyce & Burt Kaiser trusts, annuities, real estate exchanges and Library
other complicated forms of giving. When you Mary Anne Lower
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are planning your legacy, we hope you'll act Elizabeth L Marsh
Richard Kleinberg locally and support the next one hundred Michael McLaughlin
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donor of LA Audubon contact Peggy Jo Ogata
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Annual Report Janet E Sporleder
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Geoffry White The 2006 Los Angeles Audubon Richard Sutton
Society Annual Report is now avail- John Thomlinson
able. Please email Garry George at Donna Timlin
Garrygeorge@laaudubon.org if you Harry A & Mrs Tow
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would like to receive a PDF copy by
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email. Stanley G Weise

May/June 2007 9
birds of the season
by Jon Fisher
he winter of 2006-2007 was For now though, let's look at what Bald Eagles were at Bonelli

T an unusual one. In January,


we had a cold spell that was
record breaking both in duration
happened over the last two
months.
Regional Park in San Dimas on
January 21 (Monte Taylor) with
one of them still being reported
and intensity. As is usual, a num- A Snow Goose was along the San through March 14. Another sub-
ber of fronts passed through during Gabriel River near South El Monte adult Bald Eagle was seen flying
the period, but none of these pro- below the Valley crossing on Janu- past Malibu Lagoon on February
duced much rain. This left us with ary 29 (Ron Cyger). This was the 10 (Jon Fisher).
the driest "rainy season" ever only one reported aside from the
recorded. Obviously these events two continuing with a hybrid White-tailed Kites were on the
will have significant effects on Snow x Ross's at Malibu Lagoon. verge of disappearing in California
birds and other animals. For one, Also at the San Gabriel River loca- before the middle of the last centu-
water levels on the lower Los tion was a 'Eurasian' Green- ry, but they have recovered fairly
Angeles River remained low leav- winged Teal present from 27 Jan- well. A concentration of roosting
ing it suitable for a wide variety of uary-10 March and a Eurasian kites in Claremont eventually
waterbirds that would otherwise Wigeon from January 27-February topped 100 birds on March 12
have been displaced. So much for 25 (both Jon Feenstra). (Tom Miko). While such concen-
any good news. Elsewhere the lack trations are not atypical for these
of rainfall was all too evident. Reports of Common Goldeneye, kites, that's a pretty good number
Green vegetation and flowering regular but scarce, included four at for urbanized LA County.
plants were noticeably much Quail Lake on January 24 (Bobby
reduced. Perennial and seasonal Walsh) and another four upstream Very rare in winter was an adult
streams will also suffer the effects from the Ballona Creek mouth on Broad-winged Hawk reported
as we head into summer. The next January 26 (Richard Barth). near Valyermo on January 25
few months will reveal the impact Unusual but not unexpected away (Keith Condon). Another very
on migrants and breeding birds in from the coast was a Surf Scoter unusual raptor was a Swainson's
the region. at Castaic Lagoon on February 21 Hawk observed over South
(Jeff Davis). Pasadena on January 15 (Steve
By January most wintering Mlodinow). It seems likely that
vagrants have been discovered, so Very unusual was a Manx Shear- this bird wintered in the area. Two
new reports were fewer in number. water seen from Point Dume on more Swainson's Hawks at Santa
Even so, a few good rarities were March 3 (Kimball Garrett). Fewer Fe Dam on February 27 (Andrew
found and a number of previously than ten records exist for southern Lee) were almost certainly early
discovered birds continued California, though sightings are migrants.
through the period. Aside from the increasing. The difficulty of find-
masses of swallows which arrive ing them among many thousands Prairie Falcons are not often
early, we've already had Western of Black-vented Shearwaters is encountered in the greater LA
Kingbirds, Wilson's Warblers and problematic and undoubtedly Basin, but one briefly visited Peck
Bullock's Orioles begin to show up masks their true numbers. Pit in Arcadia on January 15 (Jon
as of this writing, the mid-point of Fisher) and the same bird or a sec-
March. There were several interesting ond one was along the San Gabriel
reports of raptors. Two sub-adult River near Valley Blvd. on January

10 Western Tanager
29 (Ron Cyger). A Crested tional reports.
Caracara was a big surprise at The only Brown Thrasher pre-
Hansen Dam from January 29 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers con- sent this winter was at Harbor Park
through February 3 (Jim Hard- tinued to be found, with three new in Wilmington and it was reported
esty). They are extremely rare in birds turning up after December. through January 15 (Oscar John-
the county, though coastal reports One was at the Village Green Con- son). Very few Winter Wrens
in California have been on the rise. dominiums in Los Angeles from were in the region this winter, with
The possibility that this bird was January 29-March 17 (Don Ster- just two birds reported. The most
an escapee should be mentioned, ba), another was at Ed Vincent recent one was at Rose Hills in
as it showed excessive primary Park in Inglewood from February Whittier on January 17 (Jeff Web-
wear which may point to a captive 6-25 and a third was found at Pol- ster).
origin. liwog Park in Manhattan Beach on
February 16 (both Richard Barth). It was already a decent year for
The only shorebird news of note Varied Thrushes, and they con-
was the Rock Sandpiper, first The Williamson's Sapsucker at tinued to turn up here and there. A
found in late November on the jet- Vina Vieja Park in Pasadena was single bird was in the Ferndell area
ties at Marina del Rey, continuing reported through January 21 of Griffith Park on January 12
through February 6. (Monte Taylor). A Hairy Wood- (Richard Barth), several were at
pecker, rare in the lowlands, con- Sand Dune Park in Manhattan
An adult Little Gull was along tinued through the period at Beach from January 15 to Febru-
Ballona Creek upstream from the Bonelli Regional Park (Rod Hig- ary 28 (Tom Miko) and another
Lincoln Ave. crossing on March 3 bie). four were at Descanso Gardens on
(Kevin Larson). The bird was pre- February 13 (Will & Lois Fulmer).
sent for a short time and was last The Thick-billed Kingbird
seen flying toward the beach. spending its second winter at Ban- A Nashville Warbler was at the
Interesting is the fact that another ning Park in Wilmington was Claremont Colleges on February
Little Gull—or possibly the same reported through March 9. In addi- 17 (Cathy McFadden, Paul
bird—was seen briefly at the Bal- tion, two previously discovered Clarke). The Northern Parula
lona Creek mouth last winter. A Tropical Kingbirds spent the continued at Charles Wilson Park
gull that was probably a Glaucous winter locally; one at Lincoln Park in Torrance through January 6 and
x Glaucous-winged Gull hybrid in East Los Angeles and the other a Tennessee Warbler was still at
was found at Echo Park on January at El Dorado Park in Long Beach. Heartwell Park Long Beach on the
25-February 10 (Kimball Garrett). same date.
A Black-legged Kittiwake was Other flycatchers of note included
present on the jetty at Marina del an Ash-throated Flycatcher at El Just one Palm Warbler was
Rey on February 23 (Barbara Dorado Park in Long Beach on reported, that a continuing bird on
Johnson) for only the second February 3 (Andrew Lee) and an February 18 at King's Harbor
report this winter. Eastern Phoebe at Peck Park in Redondo Beach (Tom Miko). The
San Pedro from January 7-13 female Black-throated Blue
Spotted Doves, while having (David Ellsworth). Gray Fly- Warbler in Pasadena was seen
declined greatly in many parts of catchers continued to be scarce through January 25 (Susan Frank).
the Los Angeles Basin and sur- this winter with one seen from A Hermit Warbler, regular but
rounding areas, apparently are still February 8-March 8 at Oak Park scarce in winter, was at Loyola
thriving in some areas. The pres- Cemetery Claremont (Tom Miko) Marymount University in Westch-
ence of over two dozen at Salt and a continuing bird at Hansen ester on March 1 (Richard Barth)
Lake Park in Huntington Park on Dam reported through January 29
March 6 was evidence of this (Sue Horton). The Vermilion Fly- Several Black-and-White War-
(Richard Barth). catcher back for its second winter blers were found during the period
in South El Monte was present with one at Peck Park in San Pedro
A Burrowing Owl continued through the period as expected on January 7 (Kevin Larson),
through at least January 11 at (Jeff Webster). another at Hahamongna Watershed
Playa del Rey and a Short-eared Park in Pasadena on January 6
Owl nearby at the Ballona Fresh- First identified back in November, (Ron Cyger), one at Ed Vincent
water Marsh continued through LA County's first 'Eastern' Bell's Park Inglewood on February 6
January 24 (Jonathan Coffin). Vireo remained in Pasadena (Richard Barth), and the last at
Increased coverage of this area at through the end of February (John Legg Lake in South El Monte on
dusk would likely turn up addi- Garrett). February 3 (Ed Stonick).
May/June 2007 11
Orioles between January 28-Feb-
Three Painted Redstarts return- ruary 11 (Don Sterba). Rare away WESTERN TANAGER
Published by
ing for their second winter contin- from the deserts was a Scott's Ori- Los Angeles Audubon Society,
a chapter of
ued through the period. These ole at Bonelli Regional Park in San National Audubon Society.
birds were at Elysian Park's Solano Dimas from February 1-19 (Rod
Canyon area, at Big Dalton Higbie). A female Orchard Oriole EDITOR: Ben Loehnen
LAYOUT: Susan Castor
Canyon above Glendora, and at continued to be seen at the South CONSERVATION: Garry George
Bonelli Regional Park in San Coast Botanic Gardens through FIELD TRIPS: Nick Freeman
Dimas. March 18 (Oscar Johnson). PELAGIC TRIPS: Phil Sayre
PROGRAMS: Mary Freeman
ORNITHOLOGY CONSULTANT:
Two new reports of Summer Tan- Spring migration will be in full Kimball Garrett
agers followed multiples from ear- swing by the time this issue of the PRINTING: G2 Graphics Services, Inc.
lier this winter. The new birds Western Tanager comes out, with Opinions expressed in articles or letters
were in El Dorado Park's Nature northbound birds moving across herein do not necessarily express the
Center area on January 27 (Brad the region in large numbers. The position of this publication or of
Los Angeles Audubon Society.
Dawson) and at Ed Vincent Park in desert hotspots hold a lot of appeal
Inglewood on February 19 and are great fun to bird in both PRESIDENT:
Dexter Kelly
(Richard Barth). spring and fall. Oases typically 1st VICE PRESIDENT:
host many birds in April and early Pat Heirs
2nd VICE PRESIDENT:
Two Green-tailed Towhees, May, followed by decreasing num- Jason Stuck
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY:
always scarce away from the bers and increasing chance for Jenny Jones
deserts and higher San Gabriels, vagrants. But closer to home for RECORDING SECRETARY:
Eleanor Osgood
were found. One was at Malibu most of us are dozens of local TREASURER:
Lisa Fimiani
Creek Sate Park on March 1 (Bob parks and other productive patches EXECUTIVE PAST PRESIDENT:
Pann) and another was at Hansen from the sea to the mountains. Ray Schep
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR:
Dam from February 10-25 (Kim- Coastal birding spots, exceptional- Garry George
ball Garrett). ly well covered from July through Membership in Los Angeles Audubon Soci-
October, are well worth birding in ety is $25 Individual, $35 Couple, $50 Fam-
ily, $100 Donor or $250 Donor per year.
Reports of no fewer than five spring for the potential oddity, the Members receive the Western Tanager
'Red' Fox Sparrows came in possibility of pelagics wandering newsletter and other benefits. Donations
between January 7 and March 1. close to shore, and shorebirds in and memberships can be made online at
www.laaudubon.org
One was in Altadena on January 7 alternate plumage. The oaks in our
(Nick & Mary Freeman), another foothill canyons are often rife with Make check payable to Los Angeles
Audubon Society.
was at Descanso Gardens on Feb- migrating songbirds and more
ruary 12 (Pam Dong). Others were intense coverage would almost Los Angeles Audubon Society
Headquarters, Library
at Hahamongna Watershed Park in certainly turn up a handful of and Bookstore are open to the public
Pasadena on February 21 (Jon vagrants. Higher up in the San Monday – Thursday
Feenstra), the Huntington Gardens Gabriels many migrants can be 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM
in San Marino on March 1 (Will & found, as well as a variety of com- Plummer Park
Lois Fulmer) and at Sand Dune mon to rare breeding birds. Aside 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90046-6694
Park in Manhattan Beach on from all the traditional birding
March 3 (Jo McKenzie). localities, several areas of the (323) 876-0202 – office
county could benefit from more (323) 876-7609 – fax
(323) 874-1318 – bird tape
A Harris's Sparrow at El Dorado exploration. Many parts of the San
Park in Long Beach, the only one Gabriel and Santa Monica Moun- WesternTanager@LAAudubon.org – e-mail
reported this winter, was last seen tains receive little to no coverage LAAS@LAAudubon.org – e-mail
www.LAAudubon.org – website
on March 15 (Kimball Garrett). as do most areas in the northwest
The returning Swamp Sparrow at county. There's certainly no short- Printed on Recycled Paper
Bonelli Regional Park in San age of places to go birding and
Dimas was seen through February there's still plenty to be discovered.
1 (Rod Higbie).

West LA College hosted a female


type Baltimore Oriole from Janu-
ary 8-28 and up to three Hooded
12 Western Tanager
pelagic tripS 2007
SATURDAY, JUNE 9 mot; Common Murre; Xantus’s and campers on Santa Cruz Island, we will
Land on Santa Cruz Island for the Craveri's murrelets; Cassin's Auklet. have the boat to ourselves and cruise
Island Scrub Jay, and then out to sea. Leaders: Dave Compton, Jon Feenstra, around Santa Cruz Island to the Santa
This 8 hour trip departs from the Island Kimball Garrett, Todd McGrath, David Cruz passage by Santa Rosa Island and
Pereksta and Wes Fritz. $198 If there is along the Santa Rosa Flats to the deeper
Packer dock in the Oxnard Harbor at 8:00
insufficient response 35 days prior to the water near San Nicolas Island. We will
a.m. on the m/v Vanguard. We will land at
departure, the trip will be cancelled. return by Arch Rock at Anacapa Island.
Prisoner's Cove where the endemic Island
There is a complete galley that serves Birds seen on prior trips: Northern Ful-
Scrub-Jay is easily seen. Then we will breakfast, lunch and dinner. mar; Sooty, Pink-footed and Black-vented
cruise out to sea for pelagic birding, shearwaters; Leach's, Least and Ashy
returning by Anacapa Island. Birds seen SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 8 storm-petrels; cormorants (3); Parasitic
on prior trips: Northern Fulmar; Sooty A deep water trip to Cherry, Tanner and Pomarine jaegers; Sabine's Gull;
and Pink-footed shearwaters; South Polar and Cortez Banks. This trip departs rocky shorebirds (up to 5); Common
Skua; Parasitic and Pomarine jaegers; from the Santa Barbara Harbor at 7:00 Murre, Xantus’s Murrelet; Cassin's Auk-
Sabine's Gull; rocky shorebirds (up to 5); a.m. on the fast catamaran Condor let. Rarities: Buller's and Flesh-footed
Pigeon Guillemot; Xantus’s Murrelet. Express, and returns approximately at shearwaters; South Polar Skua; Long-
Rarities: Flesh-footed Shearwater. A Tuft- 8:00 p.m. This is our Red-billed Trop- tailed Jaeger. In 2002 a Streaked Shear-
ed Puffin was seen in 2002. water, and in 2003 a Brown Booby and 2
icbird trip. We are far offshore in 3 coun-
Manx Shearwaters were seen. Blue, Fin
Leaders: Jon Feenstra, Todd McGrath ties: Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los
and Humpback whales have been seen on
and David Pereksta. $96 A box lunch Angeles. Birds expected: Black, Least,
this trip.
and breakfast can be ordered from the Ashy and Leach's storm-petrels; South Leaders: Jon Feenstra, Todd McGrath
adjoining dock-side deli, or bring a picnic Polar Skua; Parasitic, Pomarine and and David Pereksta. $120 There is a
lunch and drinks. Long-tailed jaegers; Sabine's Gull; Arctic snack galley with beverages, bring your
Tern. Rarities: Black-footed Albatross; own lunch.
SATURDAY, JULY 21 Buller's Shearwater; Craveri's Murrelet.
A deep water trip towards the San Juan Blue, Fin and Minke whales as well as Save $5.00 with an early sign-up
Seamount. This trip departs from the 60 days prior to the trip departure.
several species of dolphins are usually
Santa Barbara Harbor on the fast catama-
seen. Leaders: Jon Feenstra, Kimball
ran Condor Express at 7:00 a.m. and will
Garrett, Todd McGrath, David Pereksta
return approximately by 8:00 p.m. We
and Wes Fritz. $198 The trip will be can- REFUND POLICY FOR
will cruise along the deep water shelf by PELAGIC TRIPS
the San Juan Seamount. This time of year celled if there is insufficient response 35
If a participant cancels 31 days or more prior to de-
Cook's Petrels and Red-billed Tropicbirds days prior to departure. There is a com- parture, a $4 service charge will be deducted from
plete galley that serves breakfast, lunch the refund. There is no participant refund if re-
are seen in this area, and this is an ideal quested fewer than 30 days before departure, unless
time to look for mega-rarities such as and dinner. there is a paid replacement available. Call LAAS
for a possible replacement. Please do not offer the
Dark-rumped and Stejneger's petrels; as trip to a friend as it would be unfair to those on the
well as Wedge-rumped Storm-petrel. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20 waiting list.

Birds expected: Pink-footed and Sooty A trip around the Northern Channel All pelagic trips
must be filled 35 days prior to sailing.
shearwaters; Leach's, Ashy and Black Islands Monument. This 8 hour trip Please reserve early.
storm-petrels; Cormorants (3); Red- departs from the Island Packer's dock in
NOTE: Destinations may be changed in order to maxi-
necked and Red phalaropes; South Polar the Ventura Harbor at 8:00 a.m. on the fast mize bird sightings, or minimize rough seas. In order to
catamaran Islander. After dropping off meet unexpected increases in fuel costs, there can be a
Skua; Pomarine Jaeger; Pigeon Guille- $5 to $10 energy surcharge per person.

May/June 2007 13
field trip reports
Southeast Arizona in Winter crowned Sparrows were prevalent.
on a Well-Seasoned Shoestring Here we were also able to study a
Gilded Flicker, and few could resist
February 17-20, 2007 the allure of the birding gift shop.
by Nick Freeman The Patton's house in Patago-
nia produced little new for the trip,
On this field trip, Los Angeles but the Gambell's Quail, and Lazuli
Audubon's first to Arizona in winter, the Buntings both put on quite a show.
weather was often breezy, but as the On to the San Rafael Grasslands
weatherman had hinted at two days of east of Patagonia, it was nothing
rain for our four days in the field, we but tromp, tromp, tromp! Lots of
could hardly complain. Lake Cochise tromping through rolling hills of
(aka Willcox Playa) provided us with our grass, with only Savannah and Ves-
first of many Brewer's Sparrows and per Sparrows to show for it. Bog
Lark Buntings, and some distant, Hole looked to have migrant poten-
chortling Sandhill Cranes. The Kansas

Photo by Mary Freeman


tial, but only one White-tailed Kite
Settlement agricultural fields and sur- showed for us.
rounding mesquite scrub were more pro- Late in the day, after seeing
ductive, with lots of Ferruginous Hawks only two small flocks of longspurs
and Mountain Bluebirds, and scope flying overhead all day, we hap-
views of two cooperative Crissal Thrash- pened across two cooperative
ers, three Sage Thrashers, six Pyrrhuloxi- Chestnut-collared Longspurs on a
as and a Green-tailed Towhee. Down the Southeast Arizona
wire, allowing everyone scope
road a bit, we added our first Curve- views of a male and a female. That On our last day, we visited a quiet
billed Thrasher. find added some momentum to a long, Montosa Canyon, then found a few birds
Further south at Whitewater Draw, blustery afternoon. As evening set, we at de Anza Trail out of Tubac, including
the more notable birds were Long-eared, transected the grasslands much like our Lawrence's Goldfinch and Lark Spar-
Barn and Great-horned Owls roosting target, the Short-eared Owl. We drove rows, then cut our losses and had an
(!!!), five Vermilion Flycatchers, our first around quite a bit, and just as we were upscale last meal in Tubac, a revitalized
oriantha race of White-crowned Spar- preparing to turn around, a large bird yuppie shopping haven. Here we had a
row, and a conservative estimate of flushed off of a fence pole, and two cars pair of Greater Roadrunners so tame they
4,000 ‘Lesser’ Sandhill Cranes! They were close enough to confirm our target were difficult to count! But we did any-
were loafing and preening perhaps 30 before it flew into the night. Shortly after way.
yards away, across a thin finger of water. we turned to head out of the valley, Some had early flights out; the rest
Amazing looks! On the way out, and another (or the same) bird was standing continued on to Continental and Madera
down on Double Adobe Road, we saw in the middle of the road, allowing us to Canyon, where Rufous-winged and
another Sage Thrasher, and a couple of get out and scope it—a new bird for Black-throated sparrows were seen
distant Crissal Thrashers. A large flock many! On to pizza at the Velvet Elvis in amongst gobs of Brewer's Sparrows.
of blackbirds, with over 100 Yellow- Patagonia, and off to bed in Nogales. Santa Rita Lodge generated a few mid-
headed Blackbirds among them, wrapped Day three. Lake Patagonia was dle-elevation birds such as Townsend's
up the first day. Eurasian Collared-Doves pleasant, and netted a few excellent Warbler and Mexican Jay. A third Green-
were numerous not only here, but in a birds, including Red-naped Sapsucker, tailed Towhee for the trip ushered us out
number of small towns we visited. At another Vermilion Flycatcher, Neotropic of the canyon, as the last of us split up to
twilight we augmented the delicious food and Double-crested Cormorants (both keep a date with Southwest Airlines.
at Café Roca in Bisbee with ample help- regular here), a pair of Blue-gray Gnat-
ings of reflection and anticipation. We catchers that we all tried mightily to The Carrizo Plain—
headed off to sleep in Sierra Vista. morph into Black-capped, and the hands- Where Eagles Still Soar
At the outset of day two, we found down best bird of the trip—a sedentary
Chihuahuan Ravens dumpster diving in
February 24 & 25, 2007
male Elegant Trogon! Truly one of the
Sierra Vista. At the San Pedro House, most beautiful and colorful birds of the
by Nick Freeman
near the river, we saw at least 20 White- United States. Kino Springs produced
winged Doves, which we also saw two Hooded Mergansers in two ponds, and Upon meeting the LAAS group in
other places. They should be rare and on our way back to Nogales, we saw Maricopa on Hwy 133, Mary Freeman
local at this time!?! Cardinals, Pyrrhu- Black Vultures, which are regular in attempted to charm an unusually interest-
loxias, and oriantha and gambelii White- Nogales in winter too. ed CHP officer into joining us on our

14 Western Tanager
jolly jaunt. She and co-leader Larry Carrizo Plain, mostly along Hwy 58, We opepla, as we continued our eagle cru-
Allen told of the many wonders that started to see more Ferruginous Hawks sade. And there was another, number 14!
awaited those who made the trek. But, and Prairie Falcons, and we saw a few At this point, we took Hwy 46 east a
alas, our police escort across the Carrizo more Golden Eagles—somewhat better mile to a diner that memorializes James
Plain was not to be. than on Saturday. We also saw a large Dean who died nearby. The restaurant
One of our first stops on Saturday number of Long-billed Curlews. By this pleased everyone, as it was still cold and
was on Hwy 166 around the agricultural time, the wind was already blowing breezy, and restrooms are sparse in these
fields of Cuyama Valley, to the west of strong. As we approached our next stop, parts. After lunch, we drove east half of
Maricopa. We tallied perhaps a dozen scanning open fields, trees and power a mile, and headed south on Davis Road.
Ferruginous Hawks here, with a number poles for large raptors, we saw a mas- After a few false alarms (Red-tails), we
of Red-taileds, but only got a truly excel- sive, mottled mass of a bird come into were elated to find two, then a third
lent look at a nice adult Fergie as we view atop a telephone pole. It was clear- Golden Eagle soaring and calling over
were just about to leave the area. The ly an eagle, but less obviously a subadult the ridge and overhead! 17! We had tied
bold rust and white pattern and the large Bald Eagle—a much less common the record!
yellow gape of this powerful raptor make occurrence on the Plain. I have seen only Eventually, Davis Road joined back
Fergies perennial crowd pleasers. two others in about 15 trips in as many up with Bitterwater Road, where we saw
Saturday was a beautiful, warm day as years! It had secured a ground squirrel, yet another eagle, but even though this
we drove up the Plain from Maricopa, and a pair of Common Ravens pestered eagle may have provided the best look
but birds did not come easily. We had it, tugging at the eagle's feathers and we'd had all weekend, it was not to be a
perhaps seven (wintering? early dodging its massive, yellow beak. As a record-breaker, as we had already cov-
migrant?) Sage Thrashers in the atriplex young Fergie soon joined in and a raven ered this ground (sigh). Perhaps as bird-
scrub about half way up the Plain. We eventually tugged the eagle off balance, ing consolation, a dark-morph Ferrugi-
also had good views of a number of sky- it flew to the next field, where it decided nous Hawk chose this bittersweet
blue Mountain Bluebirds hover-feeding to eat on the ground. moment on Bitterwater Road to disrupt
at this location and others over the week- We also added a couple more Gold- our combined fields of view, as we
end. en Eagles to our list here. As we headed watched the eagle on the nearby hillside.
In the afternoon, we pressed on to over miles of rolling, grassy hills on Bit- This morph represents 3-5% of birds.
"Roughie Road"—our nickname for the terwater Road, it soon became apparent The Fergie was almost as dark brown as
westward extension of 7-Mile Road. We as we added Golden Eagles 8, 9, 10 and the eagle, except for bright white tail and
saw two herds of elk along this stretch of 11 that we had a chance of passing our under-flight-feathers, and showed a rusty
road, including a herd of stags at the incredible weekend record of 17 Golden wash to the brown. It soared a bit, then
road's end. Much to our chagrin, we Eagles set four years ago. Three or four dove over the road onto an open field,
were unable to turn up a Rough-legged is much more typical. Surging on where it proceeded to mantle and feed.
Hawk, despite a number of past success- through the wind, we instead stumbled Quite a show!
es here. We did find a pair of Greater upon a second Bald Eagle, an adult this Well, we never did break our record
Roadrunners, some Tricolored Black- time! The striking brown and white of 17 Golden Eagles, but we did set a
birds mixed in with the Red-winged plumage of these huge birds is stunning. record of 19 eagles, making up the dif-
Blackbirds and ubiquitous Eurasian Star- Then, a couple more Golden Eagles! ference with the much rarer Bald
lings. And raptors did make a memorable And then, we looked up to ask, Eagle on the greater Carrizo Plain.
showing, with many Red-tailed Hawks "What was that large raptor that just flew
here, along with Northern Harriers, a over the car sporting a tail band and big,
couple of Prairie Falcons—including one dark carpal patches?? Rough-legged
circling lazily overhead—and two Gold- Hawk! Everyone out
en Eagles flying at a distance. Little did of the cars!" The bird
we know . . . sailed away, but not
The next morning, heading back on before everyone got a
to the plain from Buttonwillow, our first diagnostic view.
stop was on Hwy 58 just west of the Once more common,
Hwy 33 split. This habitat was deemed but never reliable,
appropriate for LeConte's Thrasher by Roughies are now a
Mary (as our primary and back-up spots real gem on any
had failed to produce), and we were southern California
rewarded with not one but four thrashers, raptor trip. There was
Photo by Jason Stuck

two of which were extremely coopera- hardly room in our


tive, showing off the darker coloration of binoculars for Yel-
the Temblor Range subspecies which is low-billed Magpie
only slightly darker in the tail than on (one of only two
the back. endemics in the
As we worked our way onto the state), and a Phain- Golden Eagle

May/June 2007 15
Field Trips & bird walks
Before setting out on any field trip, Ave. 52, and follow it across the free- turn left into Trippet Ranch parking lot.
please call the LAAS bird tape, (323) way to where it becomes Griffin Ave. From PCH, take Topanga Cyn. Blvd. 5
874-1318 (Events & Announcements, The driveway is a quarter mile on the miles to Entrada Rd. Parking $5.
#4). Special instructions or possible left.
cancellations that may have occurred Saturday, May 12
by the Thursday before the trip will be Sunday, May 6 Field Trip: Galileo Hills and Butter-
announced at that number. Field Trip: Big Morongo Wildlife bredt Springs
Bird walks are geared for beginning Preserve Leader: Nick Freeman
and intermediate birders looking for an Leader: Dexter Kelly Meeting time: 7:00 AM (finish by 4ish)
introduction or a less strenuous excur- Meeting time: 7:00 AM (Covington These are two of the best spring migrant
sion. Field trips often require more Park), moving next door to the Moron- traps in the state. Western warblers and
time or effort, and leaders often delve go preserve at 8:00 AM. Breeding flycatchers should headline. Reptiles
more deeply into identification, natural desert and oasis birds such as Brown- may be encountered! Take Hwy 14
histories and behavior observed in the crested and Vermilion Flycatchers, about 4 miles past Mojave, then turn
field. That said, bird walks never Summer Tanager, Scott's and Hooded right on California City Blvd. Drive
require a sign up; some field trips do. Orioles, Yellow-breasted Chat and through town about a mile past the
All are welcome on either type of trip. migrating Empidonax flycatchers. To shops, turn left past the golf course on
get there, take the 10 Fwy E about 17 Randsburg-Mojave Rd., and veer right
miles past Banning to Hwy 62 N. Pass on 20 Mule Team Rd. Turn left at the
Saturday, May 5
through the town of Morongo Valley, Galileo Hills sign before the hill, take
Field Trip: Santa Anita Canyon
your first paved right, your first right
Leader: Mary Freeman. take a right on East Dr., then a left into
again, into the Silver Saddle Country
Meeting time: 7:30 AM. the preserve. Bring lunch, water and
Club, followed by two paved lefts into
Take the 210 Fwy toward Arcadia, and sun block. Desert Hot Springs offers
the lot. Park by the first pond. About 2
take Santa Anita Avenue N to the park- the nearest accommodations, or camp
hrs driving time from los Angeles.
ing lot at the end of the road. Meet at at Joshua Tree NP. No sign up.
LAAS phone sign-up mandatory. 12
the trailhead at the bottom of the lot. max. Bring lunch, sun block.
Four mile roundtrip moderately strenu- Sunday, May 6
ous walk through oak and chaparral Bird Walk: Topanga State Park Saturday, May 19
canyons. Good selection of breeding Leaders: Ken Wheeland & Chris Tos- Bird Walk: Kenneth Hahn State
and migrating birds, including war- devin Recreation Area
blers, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Band- Meeting time: 8:00 AM Leader: Eleanor Osgood
tailed Pigeon, three hummers and Dip- A walk through beautiful and diverse Meeting time: 8:00 AM
per possible. Pack in a lunch and water. coastal mountain area, ideal for a This trip, covering landscaped parkland
beginning birder or someone new in the and natural coastal scrub habitats, is
Saturday, May 5 area. From Ventura Blvd., take Topanga paced for beginning birders and mem-
Bird Walk: Debs Park Audubon Center Canyon Blvd. 7 miles S, turn E uphill bers of the Baldwin Hills community.
Leader: Jenny Jones on Entrada Rd. Follow the signs and
Meeting time: 9:00 AM.
A leisurely morning walk through the
diverse natural areas that surround the
Audubon Center at Debs Park. A wide
variety of birds of riparian, walnut
woodland, and chapparal habitats can
be found, including raptors. The Center
is located on Griffin Avenue on the
west side of the park. From the south,
take the Pasadena Fwy north to the
Avenue 43 exit. Bear right on Ave. 43
up the hill to Griffin Ave. Turn left on
Griffin Ave., and go about a quarter
mile to the Center's driveway, which
goes steeply uphill on the right. From
the north, exit the Pasadena Freeway
southbound at Avenue 52. Turn left on Cactus Wren by Mary Freeman
16 Western Tanager
Field Trips & bird walks
The park entrance is off of La Cienega More details next newsletter. No sign- "A" Street. We will carpool from the
Blvd. between Rodeo Rd. and Stocker up, no fee. meeting site. High clearance vehicles
St. After passing the entrance kiosk ($4 are required; bring one if you have one,
parking fee), turn left (leading to the Sunday, June 3 and check the spare. These roads are
"Olympic Forest") and park in the first Bird Walk: Topanga State Park not for the timid! Five car limit. Some
available spaces. Leaders: Ken Wheeland & Chris Tos- of us usually eat in town afterwards.
devin Alternate viewing plans if the roads are
Sunday, May 20 Meeting time: 8:00 AM. inaccessible or the USFWS deems our
Bird Walk: Ballona Wetlands See May 6 listing for details. presence a detriment to the birds on
Leader: Bob Shanman this day. Reserve your place with
Meeting time: 8:00 AM (finish by 11:00 Saturday, June 9 LAAS by phone, stating phone # and
AM) LA Audubon Annual Picnic: email address, whether you have a high
A walk to our nearest wetland and adja- Chilao Campground clearance vehicle that can accommo-
cent rocky jetty. Migrating shorebirds Sodas, water, bird and butterfly walks, date at least 4 people total (priority) or
and terns should be coming through. and tall tales of birding adventures pro- you plan to ride with someone else.
Meet at the Del Rey Lagoon parking lot. vided. The first bird walk will start at Wait for confirmation. No fee, but
Take the Marina Fwy (90W) to Culver
8:00 AM, and another will follow donations encouraged to the Condor
Blvd. and turn left for a mile, turn right
around 10:00 AM for late-comers. Survival Fund.
on Pacific Ave. The lot is on the right.
Later, we will poke around for butter-
Lot or street parking is usually not a
flies as well. Lunch around noon with Saturday, June 16
problem. Scopes helpful.
possible birding options elsewhere Bird Walk: Kenneth Hahn State
later. Take the 210 Fwy to Angeles Recreation Area
Saturday, May 26
Crest Hwy (Hwy 2) in La Canada, and Leader: Dick Barth
Bird Walk: Whittier Narrows
head up the hill for about 30 miles. It's Meeting time: 8:00 AM.
Leader: Ray Jillson
on the left. The biker bar is too far. A $4 entry fee. See May 19 listing for
Meeting time: 8:15 AM
Forest Service Adventure Pass is neces- details.
View resident and migrating birds, pos-
sary.
sibly including the introduced Northern
Sunday, June 17
Cardinal. Take Peck Dr. off the 60 Fwy
Saturday, June 16 Bird Walk: Ballona Wetlands
in South El Monte (just west of the 605
Field Trip: Hopper Mountain NWR Leader: Bob Shanman
Fwy). Take the ramp onto Durfee Ave.
and Condor Sanctuary, Fillmore Meeting time: 8:00 AM.
heading W (right) and turn left into the
Leader: Jesse Grantham See May 20 listing for details.
Nature Center, 1000 Durfee Ave.
Meeting time: 8:00 AM
Jesse Grantham, California Condor Saturday, June 23
Saturday, June 2
Coordinator and team leader for the Bird Walk: Whittier Narrows
Bird Walk: Debs Park Audubon Cen-
Condor Field Program in southern Cali- Leader: Ray Jillson
ter
fornia with the US Fish and Wildlife Meeting time: 8:15 AM.
Leader: Dexter Kelly
Service (USFWS) (and formerly a biol- See May 26 listing for details.
Meeting time: 9:00 AM
ogist with National Audubon for 24
A leisurely morning walk through the
years), will lead this trip to view the Friday through Monday, June 22-25
diverse natural areas that surround the
results of the California Condor reintro- Field Trip: Southern Sierras Extend-
Audubon Center at Debs Park. For
duction program. This program has ed Weekend
details, see May 5 listing.
multiple private and agency partners, Leader: Bob Barnes
including the Los Angeles Zoo and San High deserts to High Sierra. The most
Sunday, June 3
Diego Wild Animal Park. Biologists diverse region in the state. Likely:
Field Trip: Eastern San Bernardinos
will give us an overview of the pro- Goshawk, Yellow-billed Cuckoo,
Leaders: Sandra Remley and Mary
gram, show us how radio telemetry and Pileated Woodpecker and owls. 150
Freeman
GPS tracking units are helping to save species possible in 4 days. Numbers
Meeting time: 9:00 AM
the bird, and talk about future concerns. limited. To reserve, and receive trip
Meet in the parking area outside of
Take Interstate 5 North to the #126 information, send SASE with e-mail,
Hart Bar Campground, and bird all day.
West (in Castaic Junction) to Fillmore. phone number and $15 for each day
Local birder Sandy Remley will be
Meet in the front parking lot of the attended ($60 for 4 days). Reserve
guiding and hosting us on our first trip
Super A grocery store which will be on rooms in Kernville early (listed in
to Aspen Grove, Mission Springs, and
the right, immediately after the light at flyer). Lots of driving, so bring a
the S. Fork of the Santa Ana River.
May/June 2007 17
Field Trips & bird walks
friend. Message from the President (Cont’d. from pg 7)

Saturday, June 30 ing, Christmas counting, classroom visits, and other activities. Your rewards will pay
Field Trip: Night Owling off at the bookstore, on paid trips, and other perks to be determined.
Leader: Raymond Schep Speaking of the bookstore, it's about to go online, which will make shopping there
Departure time: 5:30 PM (sharp) much easier. Again, check the website to find it! But you should also visit Audubon
Target birds include Northern Pygmy House soon to update your birding gear for the spring season or to sign up for any of
Owl, Flammulated Owl, Northern Saw- the great field and pelagic trips we continue to offer. Martha, the resident expert, is
whet Owl, Western Screech-owl (easi- ready to help enhance your birding experience.
er), and Common Poorwill (easy to Ultimately, all of this growth and activity—the conservation, the outreach, the
hear). Until dark we will bird for education—would not be possible without your support, so consider increasing the
mountain specialties such as Cassin's amount you give to LA Audubon to help us fund these important programs.
Finch and White-headed Woodpecker. Finally, some great news about our new Board of Directors. As I retire from the
We will take a gentle hike down into a presidency to pontificate from the sidelines as executive past president, some fresh tal-
canyon to try to hear and see Spotted ent is coming on board. David De Lange, veteran of the Marina heronry battles, is our
Owl. Meet where the 210 Fwy and new second vice president. Eleanor Osgood is staying on as recording secretary, while
Angeles Crest Highway (Hwy 2) inter- continuing to give birding classes and recruit volunteers. Jenny Jones will continue as
sect in La Canada. Exit the 210 at executive secretary, while lending her scientific expertise to various projects. Lisa
Angeles Crest Highway heading north. Fimiani will keep up her great hard work as treasurer, while continuing to fight on the
About one block up is a frontage road beaches and estuaries, as a Friends of Ballona board member. Jason Stuck, our chief
on the right, where we will park and "techie," will expand and galvanize our membership as first vice president.
carpool. Finish around midnight. Bring And as for president… After recruiting most of our Board members over the years,
a warm jacket, a full stomach, snacks, and after having attracted dozens of new members through her great meeting programs
and a Forest Service Adventure Pass. and (with husband Nick) field trips, Mary Freeman has finally climbed on Board. I
To sign up, send $5, phone number, e- can't think of anyone better suited to the job, especially at this time, when we need so
mail address and a SASE. Limit 10. much expertise and energy on the Board. Mary has been an L.A. Audubon since she
was in high school, giving her time and talent to us ever since. No one knows more
Saturday, July 14 about our mission and our members, if only because she has brought so many people
Field Trip: Mount Abel Area into our society over the years. (And she's a great birder, a dedicated researcher, and a
Leader: Jean Brandt Spanish speaker!) Under her leadership, Los Angeles Audubon will grow and prosper,
Meeting time: 7:00 AM and reach our centennial birthday with our biggest and most active membership ever.
We will start the morning near the I hope more of you will volunteer to work with Mary and her great team during the
“Shirley's Seep,” watching as birds and next three years. If you find working with Los Angeles Audubon as rewarding as I
mammals visit a nearby spring. Bring a have, it will enrich your life considerably.
chair, snacks, thermos of hot drinks. And in the meantime… if it's not too late when you read this article, I hope to
Possible birds include Calliope Hum- see you at Morongo Valley on Sunday, May 6. - Dexter
mingbird and White-headed Wood- RESERVATION AND FEE EVENTS
(Limited Participation)
pecker. Later on, we will bird our way Policy and Procedure
up to Mount Abel. Picnic lunch near Reservations will be accepted ONLY if ALL the following information is supplied:
the top of Mt. Abel. Cancelled, if rain.
1) Trip desired
Anticipate inclement weather, and 2) Names of people in your party
bring a lunch and a Forest Service 3) Phone numbers:
(a) usual and
Adventure Pass. Meet at Denny's park- (b) evening before event,(in
ing lot off Roxford and I405 in Sylmar case of cancellation)
(c) email address (if used)
for carpooling. 4) Separate check (no cash please) to
LAAS for exact amount for each trip
5) Self-addressed stamped envelope for
Sunday, August 5 confirmation and associated trip information
Field Trip: Big Bear Lake Vicinity Send to:
LAAS Reservations
Leaders: Nick and Mary Freeman P.O. Box 931057
Meeting time: 7:30 AM. Meet in the Los Angeles, CA 90093-1057
Aspen Glen Picnic Area parking lot in If there is insufficient response, the trip will be cancelled two Wednesdays prior to the scheduled date
Big Bear to bird all day. More details (four weeks for pelagics). You will be so notified and your fee returned. Your cancellation after that time
will bring a refund only if there is a paid replacement. Millie Newton is available at Audubon House on
next newsletter. No sign-up. Wednesdays from noon to 4:00 PM to answer questions about field trips. Our office staff is also available Mon-
day through Thursday for most reservation services.

18 Western Tanager
international birding tours
KENYA BIRDING & WILDLIFE SAFARI
November 2-14, 2007
Post-Extension Eastern Kenya:
November 13-21, 2007
Photo by Herb Clarke

Kenya, one of the great birding and wildlife destinations in the world,
offers an opportunity for you to experience much of East Africa within
a short period of time. Over 1,100 bird species have been recorded in
Kenya, and many are easily seen. Besides its incredible birdlife, Kenya
has become synonymous with the historic great wildlife of Africa, and
Kenya may be the very best place to see large numbers of wildlife,
namely the "Big Five", elephant, rhinoceros, leopard, lion and buffalo.
In addition, the variety of wildlife, often at the same time you are view-
ing fascinating birds, is difficult to believe. From Nairobi to Samburu,
the slopes of Mt. Kenya, Lake Nakuru, and the great plains of the Masai
Mara, this is sure to be your African trip of a lifetime.
Hippo
On the extension, we plan to travel from Nairobi to the Tsavo West
National Park and Mzima Springs, with views of Mount Kilimanjaro. Then we are on to Shimba Hills National
Reserve, just a short distance from the Indian Ocean, and the last remaining breeding population in Kenya of the
indigenous Sable Antelope. Birding stops will be made along the way. Experience for yourself the wonders of
East Africa on this Los Angeles Audubon Safari. Space is limited.
For information and itinerary, contact:
Olga Clarke - Travel Director
Los Angeles Audubon Society
2027 El Arbolita Dr.
Glendale, CA 91208
THE BEST OF COSTA RICA Ph/Fax: 818-249-9511
February 5-17, 2008 e-mail: oclarketravel@earthlink.net

Costa Rica, with its well deserved reputation as a country sincerely interested in conserving its natural resources,
is one that is invariably on all birder's lists to visit. Its tropical forests harbor howler
monkeys, Resplendent Quetzals, poison-dart frogs, giant morpho butterflies, over
830 species of birds, and the beauty of thousands of plant species. We will visit six
of the major locations that are distinctive, each offering a marvelous profusion of
tropical birds.
Photo by Herb Clarke

Habitats encountered will range from semiarid ranch land, to misty cloud forest,
the transition zone between the dry and moist forests of the Pacific lowlands, the
treeless paramo, and what may well be the highlight of our trip, a visit to La Selva,
a lowland rainforest where nearly 400 birds have been recorded. As part of a small
group, enjoy some of the best tropical birding in Costa Rica., where you will be
accompanied by outstanding leaders throughout. Space is limited.

Resplendent Quetzal

May/June 2007 19
programs & evening meetings
Meet at 7:30 at Audubon House in Plummer Park
7377 Santa Monica Blvd (at Martel between La Brea and Fairfax)
323-876-0202

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


Tom Kaminski presents:
Hooked on Galapagos

* Swim with Galapagos Penguins as they slice through their prey...


* See a Frigatebird drag a Blue-footed Booby through the air...
* Join a Lava Heron—unique to the Galapagos Islands—as it sneaks up on a Sally Light-
foot Crab…
* Observe Storm Petrels walking on water…
* Watch a Galapagos Hawk devour its prey, then sneeze…
* Be introduced to the Flightless Cormorant, "Darwin's Finches," and many, many other
bird species…

Come and see Tom's video magic at work.

Tom Kaminski
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Cin-Ty Lee and Andrew Birch present:
Dowitcher Identification -
A Review of New Advances and Potential Pitfalls

All birders know that identifying silent dowitchers in the field can be an incredible
Photo by Ted Eubanks

challenge. In the first half of the talk, Lee and Birch will synthesize all of the known
field marks of the two dowitcher species to generate an easy-to-use guide for field
identification. In particular they will show how gestalt-based field marks can be
quantified and used effectively in the field. In the second half of the presentation, a
series of quiz photos will be presented and audience participation will be encour-
aged. The audience is also welcome to bring in a few of their own images of
Long-billed Dowitcher unknown (or known) dowitchers.

Los Angeles Audubon Society


P.O. Box 931057 DATED MATERIAL
Los Angeles, CA 90093-1057 Please Expedite