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 Harry Fuller Birding Tours


Well, maybe not so much a blog as a collection of San Francisco birders' accounts of particular occasions. They appear in reverse date order. See end of page for links to older entries.

Wednesday 27th December

Today I had a Wilson's Warbler at the zoo by the wild turkey enclosure in the childrens section. It was appeared to be a male and flew away almost the second I looked at it. There was also a Common Yellowthroat in the small reed patch by the reception hall. I was in a meeting so no real time to "dig" but it looked quite birdy.

The street tree-rare warbler phenomenon continued with a bright male Yellow Warbler with Bushtits on Geary at 21st on the eve of Dec 24th. I saw a warbler dart from tree to tree and I happened to have my binocs on. Once I really started looking at it the bird started calling and came out for a brief view before darting away again. The trees are a bottlebrush type tree I think with reduced red flowers and nutlike clusters. This type of tree is found along Geary from 18th to about 22nd ave and abundantly elsewhere in the city as a street tree. There are many other street trees that seem to attract insectivores as well so perhaps folks can take that extra look in their neighborhood trees for the Xmas count. Last Xmas we missed a Chestnut-sided Warbler in Ivan Samuel's yard.

On the topic of yards, I have had a Lincoln's Sparrow coming to my feeder for the last week or so and it looks as though there are now two song sparrows.

The Street Tree-Rare Warbler Theory:

My theory about the street tree-rare warbler phenomenon starts with an observation. Bushtits these days seem disproportionately common in backyards and street trees. I believe these smaller, less competitive insectivores are pushed into more marginal, exposed and urban habitats. Interestingly there is little competition in street trees and many of them have blossoms attracting unseasonal concentrations of insects. I have seen vagrant warblers get "hen pecked" or bullied by chore flock members. Flock compositions are very specific and have evolved over thousands of years to reduce competition between species of a certain region. I believe one reason vagrants are so hard to find is that they are particularly flightly. As "vagrants" their place in the flock composition is tenueous and they are likely to be among the least obvious and most difficult to see in a group. I have noticed of vagrants in winter, they are often the first or the last bird in a flock to move.

A final Xmas count note, Ive found throwing a couple handfuls of seed around one's area for the day or two before the count can yield great sparrow counting. I also just learned that in Scandanavian lore feeding the birds around Christmas helps bring luck for the coming year.

Good birding
Josiah Clark

Thursday 14th December, late afternoon - Golden Gate Park, Chain of Lakes

Notes: Under heavy fog. Personal record for number of Hooded Merganser seen in SF, all on South Lake; first Bufflehead of the season on North Lake

Number of species: 17

Mallard 45
Bufflehead 2
Hooded Merganser 7, four males & 3 females
Pied-billed Grebe 8
Double-crested Cormorant 4
Great Blue Heron 1
American Coot 10
Western Gull 1
Rock Pigeon 50
Belted Kingfisher 3, one on each lake
Black Phoebe 1
American Crow 3
Common Raven 75--settling into evenign roost at North Lake
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 3
American Robin 3
Orange-crowned Warbler 1
Dark-eyed Junco 23

Sunday 10th December 2006, 8am to noon - Sutro Hts / Baths / Land's End

Notes: there had been heavy storm with strong winds blowing onto shore, hence all the loons and the Cassin's Auklet near shore. Eight people on this rainy Audubon Field Trip.

Number of species: 50

Mallard 4
Ring-necked Duck 10
Surf Scoter 50
Red-throated Loon 120
Western Grebe 60
Brown Pelican 200
Brandt's Cormorant 40
Double-crested Cormorant 1
Pelagic Cormorant 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Merlin 1
American Coot 6
Black Oystercatcher 4
Willet 1
Black Turnstone 25
Surfbird 1
Heermann's Gull 16
California Gull 3
Herring Gull 12
Western Gull 500
Glaucous-winged Gull 20
Elegant Tern 4
Common Murre 14
Cassin's Auklet 1
Rock Pigeon 16
Mourning Dove 3
Anna's Hummingbird 2
Downy Woodpecker 1
Black Phoebe 6
Western Scrub-Jay 3
Common Raven 15
Chestnut-backed Chickadee 3
Bushtit 14
Pygmy Nuthatch 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 16
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 10
Hermit Thrush 2
American Robin 6
European Starling 6
Orange-crowned Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 4
Townsend's Warbler 15
California Towhee 6
Song Sparrow 4
White-crowned Sparrow 75
Golden-crowned Sparrow 40
Red-winged Blackbird 12
Brewer's Blackbird 50
House Finch 16

Previous blog entries:

November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
June/July/August 2006


TOWHEE.NET:  Harry Fuller, 820 NW 19th Street, McMinnville, OR 97128