A Good Birding Day

January 11, 2015 at 7:42 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) (, , )

Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk

All this time we thought we were looking at a rather pale red-tailed hawk.  Turns out it was a ferruginous!  Several, in fact.

Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk

I now know what to look for in these handsome birds.  Pale undersides.  Two-toned wings with a pale crescent toward the upper edge.

Ferruginous Hawk with rust pantaloons

Ferruginous Hawk with rust pantaloons

And a nice pair of rust pantaloons.  Hence the “ferruginous” – meaning rust-colored.  (Remember your high school chemistry?  Iron = Fe, from the Latin “ferrum.”  Rust is ferric oxide.  End of lesson.)

Ferruginous Hawk showing leg band

Ferruginous Hawk showing leg band

When I edit, I enlarge the image to judge sharpness.  It was then that I noticed this bird had been banded.

Closeup of leg band

Closeup of leg band

Unfortunately the details are unreadable, but if they were we would know who banded it, and when and where.  I was worried about these birds, since their prey consists of rabbits, ground squirrels, and prairie dogs.  Last month we had seen a farmer in an alfalfa field putting poison down the ground squirrel holes where the hawks were perched on irrigation sprinklers.  Poisoned rodents mean poisoned raptors.  It should be illegal.

Ferruginous Hawk preparing for liftoff

Ferruginous Hawk preparing for liftoff

This birding trip began on the 9-hole golf course at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Barstow, California, and then re-visited agriculture fields and wetlands in Newberry Springs where I had first seen the ferruginous, albeit at a great distance.

Northern Shovelers

Northern Shovelers

A large flock of Northern Shovelers was seen on the base wastewater treatment pond.  There was also a pair of coyotes joined in wedded bliss at the far end of the next pond.  They had beautiful winter coats and looked quite healthy, unlike some lean coyotes I’ve seen elsewhere.

Male Vermillion Flycatcher

Male Vermillion Flycatcher

A vivid male vermillion flycatcher patrolled the golf course, and we saw a hybrid red-naped x red-bellied sapsucker on one of the imported pines.  The red-naped doesn’t have red on the breast, and the red-bellied has a clear red head.  This one had characteristics of both.

_D604733In a newly plowed field in Newberry Springs, we saw about a hundred neon blue mountain bluebirds – mostly males, and hundreds more horned larks.  In another field there were hundreds of American pipits.  Yet another field had hundreds more bluebirds and yellow-rumped warblers.

Prairie Falcon

Prairie Falcon

The prairie falcon was at the field with the pipits.  A community of man-made oval lakes built for water-skiing races provided many ducks:  ruddy, bufflehead, three common mergansers. Two Ross’s geese swam with them and the dozens of Canada geese, and another male vermillion flycatcher entertained us.

Varied Thrush

Male Varied Thrush

At the Barstow Community College we saw several varied thrushes.  When I saw the red breast on a female, I mistook it for a robin.  Apparently there’s an “irruption” of varied thrushes this year, meaning they will be seen beyond their usual winter range, and in greater numbers.  This was a good find.

View from Newberry Springs toward the west

View from Newberry Springs toward the west and I-40

We finished the day with a loop along Lenwood Road.  That’s where we saw the ferruginous up close.  By the time we were done birding, the first raindrops began to fall.  Rain in the desert.  A good sign for spring wildflowers.  And more birds.

Text and photographs copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

Feel free to reblog or share

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

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Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com




  1. Bella Remy Photography said,

    Wow, what a great collection of birds you found on this outing. I am so very jealous, but can at least bird vicariously through you. Great captures Cindy!

  2. DesertAbba said,

    Again, you’ve got great pics! Today we watched a young Sharp Shinned try to turn our bird feeders into a smorgasbord for his sustenance. All he did was clumsily chase away all the larger servings. He sat amidst the tangles of the ‘High Bush Cranberry’ twisting his head nearly off his body trying to catch a glimpse of the Chicadee and Downy Woodpecker male who taunted him from 2-3 feet away; either they did not see him sitting so quietly or they knew they were safe behind the ‘screen’ of small limbs. Finally the neighbor’s car drove into their driveway and the Sharpie flew to conifers two neighbors away, hungrier but not much wiser. A couple of years ago we watched another young Sharpie worry a dove to death by chasing the wounded dove around the yard hopping from cover to cover until the dove finally gave up, probably laughing all the way to its demise.

    • Cindy McIntyre said,

      I know we have mixed feelings when we see a raptor go after “our” feeder birds. But hey, feeding birds is feeding birds, right?

  3. Katrina W said,

    Beautiful images! I particularly like the first two, but my favorite has to be the vermilion flycatcher. Not just a gorgeous bird, but the whole image is outstanding!!

    • Cindy McIntyre said,

      Some day I’ll actually get close enough to a vermillion to fill the frame and see every feather. Someday!

      • Katrina W said,

        I can relate completely. But this view really stands out as well!

  4. Judy Bell said,

    I never took chemistry in school, so I appreciate the lesson. 😉

    • Cindy McIntyre said,

      Judy – your comment reminded me I’d been away from your blog for a few months. Marilyn posts hers on Facebook and it makes it easy to remember. I love Arizona in the winter – if you are able, visit Ramsey Canyon near Fort Huachuca. http://www.ramseycanyoninn.com/BIRDING.html
      Also there’s a place I visited several years ago but can’t remember where in AZ it was – he had a lovely hummingbird habitat with benches under shade – you can camp there, too. I think it was Beatty’s. Try this: http://www.hummingbirds.net/havens.html

      If you make it to S Calif let me know. I’m expecting a fabulous spring wildflower show with all the rain we’ve had lately. Oh, and I love the bobcat photo in one of your blogs. Happy birding!

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