A Few Good Birds of Mojave National Preserve

April 20, 2015 at 12:01 pm (Bird photography, Birds - California, National Parks, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Southwest Birds, Wildlife) ()

Zone-tailed hawk

Zone-tailed hawk

Going birding with an expert familiar with which bird will be found where is usually an excellent way to “meet” new species, and the zone-tailed hawk was the highlight for me on a trip last week to Mojave National Preserve, California.

Zone-tailed hawk

Zone-tailed hawk

This is #446 on my life list, with the Bendire’s thrasher #445.  The photos of the thrasher are soft focus record shots, unfortunately.  The zone-tailed hawk looks very similar to a common ole turkey vulture because of its dark color and tendency to soar with its wings in a “V” shape, sometimes even joining the vultures in the thermals to disguise its predator status to rodents below.

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

A short time later I flushed a flock of ravens from a jackrabbit carcass alongside the road, and this turkey vulture came by for a better look.  I’d never seen such a whitish glow on a vulture’s wings and tail as I did this time – the sun must have hit the feathers at just the right angle.

Swainson's Hawk, dark form

Swainson’s Hawk, dark form

The Swainson’s Hawk and several red-tailed hawks were seen in the Joshua tree forest along Cima Road.

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

The Brewer’s sparrow is often difficult to get a good look at because it’s quite shy.  But there were several flocks of them, with many of the males singing their little hearts out.  Apparently they aren’t breeding yet, as songs denote territory and competition for a mate.  But they do tend to sing in a sweet, buzzy chorus during winter and prior to setting up serious housekeeping.

Brewer's sparrow

Brewer’s sparrow

Brewer's Sparrow

Brewer’s Sparrow

We saw a few Scott’s orioles, but I was only able to photograph the sole hooded oriole I saw.

Hooded oriole male

Hooded oriole male

In the Mid-Hills campground the next morning, I was able to “call in” a juniper titmouse and one of the bushtit flock that was noisily grazing.

Juniper titmouse

Juniper titmouse



The Bewick’s wrens, however, ignored my attempts to trick them, and continued their gleaning and singing as their way of shunning me.

Male Audubon's warbler (yellow-rumped)

Male Audubon’s warbler (yellow-rumped)

Other birds seen:  Crissal’s thrashers, ruby-crowned kinglet, black-throated sparrows, western kingbird, ash-throated flycatcher, dark-eyed (Oregon) junco.  Below is the ash-throated flycatcher.


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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

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Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com


  1. mbkircus said,

    I’m envious – still haven’t seen a zone-tailed hawk.

  2. Kaiser61 said,

    Woodpeckers? Was at the MNP this last weekend and saw two woodpeckers. Not sure which variety.

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