Christmas Bird Count in Victorville, CA – Part 2

December 30, 2014 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife)

Male Bushtit

Male Bushtit

One of my favorite birds from the CBC in Victorville this weekend was the bushtit.  I’d only seen this chubby little bird once, in Big Bend National Park, Texas, but it was cold and foggy and they didn’t stay long.


This time I got to spend a little time observing their antics.  At first I thought they were gnatcatchers, but there was still something that didn’t fit about their looks and behavior.  Steve said “bushtits.”  Ooooohhhhhh.


They were much more visible than gnatcatchers usually are.  Generally there are only one or two gnatcatchers in any one spot, and they like to stay somewhat hidden.  Here were about ten of these little acrobats, dangling on the tips of branches for tidbits.


As you can tell, they are rather drab, but it’s their little chattering calls and their fearlessness about calling attention to themselves that make them memorable.

Bushtit female

Bushtit female

The females have whitish eyes, while the males have dark eyes.  I wonder what the evolutionary purpose of that is?

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon's variety

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s variety

Yellow-rumped warblers, or “butterbutts” as they are affectionately known, seem to be common winter birds wherever I go.  However, I am used to the darker Myrtle variety of the South, and most of these Audubon’s subspecies out West are much lighter and have a different “chip” note.  However, there were a few that seemed to have some of their breeding colors to show off – including the bright yellow side patches and throat, in addition to the bright yellow “butt” patch.

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

We found six handsome lark sparrows…

Brewer's Blackbird, male

Brewer’s Blackbird, male

…and a flock of Brewer’s blackbirds.  Steve knew just there they’d be.

Nashville Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Steve was excited to find a Nashville warbler, which is usually wintering in southern Mexico by now.  They resemble the orange-crowned warblers, which oddly enough rarely show orange crowns, and which were plentiful.  However, notice the Nashville is more yellow than olive, and has a distinct eye-ring, unlike the orange-crowned which has a broken eye-ring and a faint dark stripe through the eye.

Orange-crowned Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Orange-crowned warbler exiting the scene

Orange-crowned warbler exiting the scene

In all it was a highly productive day for this annual census of the birds.  Next:  The CBC in Joshua Tree National Park and Twentynine Palms, CA.

Text and photographs copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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  1. Alli Farkas said,

    The bushtit photos are outstanding. Here’s my (facetious) take on why the female has a whitish eye: so the male can find her in the dark!

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