Birds of the Oaks

July 8, 2018 at 6:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife)

Acorn woodpecker female

Since I live in the Central Coast area of California, there are lots of oak trees, mostly blue oak, and there are some very nice stands of large valley oaks as well. The acorn woodpecker is extremely populous here, since there’s a plethora of acorns. You can see how striking they are with their black-and-white plumage topped with a red cap, and white eyes.

Acorn woodpecker granary tree

I’ve always admired their granary trees, where they drill holes in the bark and fit the acorns into them as a way of storing them through the winter. They jealously guard these granary trees, and only allow members of their family group to partake.

Western bluebirds are also abundant, and undoubtedly many woodpecker cavities serve as their own homes.

Fledgling Western Bluebird

They hang out in the oaks and other trees bordering grassy areas, where they catch bugs.

Fledgling western bluebird and parent

There are several bluebird families at the Mission San Antonio de Padua.

Ash-throated flycatcher

The ash-throated flycatchers like those millstones, too.

Red-breasted sapsucker

The red-breasted sapsucker isn’t nearly as common as are the acorn woodpeckers.

Phainopepla male

Frankly, I don’t know if this is the phainopepla’s usual range, but I have seen them several times here. They are more common in the desert areas and feast on mistletoe berries. In that we have tons of oak mistletoe I’m surprised I don’t see more of these birds.

Ruby-crowned kinglet

The ruby-crowned kinglet seems to be all over the country!

Turkey vulture

The turkey vulture is also a ubiquitous bird.

Turkey vulture

This turkey vulture looks positively vulturish.

California scrub jay

The California scrub jay is also quite common in oak country.


Here’s a real surprise for me. The song of the mockingbird is, for me, the Song of the South. I grew up in Louisiana and Texas hearing its melodious song, so seeing how common they are here messes with my mind. I’m so glad!

California quail male

You’ll notice there are a LOT of birds with “California” in their name. Not sure why, but it shows how special we are to lay claim to so many feathered dinosaurs.

California quail female

These birds, however, aren’t too loyal to their namesake state, because they spend the day calling out “Chi-ca-go” to each other.

Song Sparrow

Several sparrows are found here, but they aren’t among the most common birds.

Golden-crowned sparrow

The golden crown isn’t as gold in winter.

Savannah Sparrow

Yellow-billed magpie

Black-billed magpies are common in the West, but the yellow-billed is endemic to central California.

California towhee

The California towhee is in the sparrow family.

Spotted towhee

Its spotted cousin, however, is more handsome. This one is gathering pine needles for its nest.

Spotted towhee

Notice the red eyes.

Anna’s hummingbird male

Anna’s hummingbirds are found here year-round.


You never see just one bushtit.  They travel in small noisy flocks and rarely keep still long enough to take a photograph.

Hooded oriole juvenile male

The orioles leave for the tropics in winter.

Western kingbird

So do the western kingbirds.

Western kingbird

This one shows a little of the orange-red cap that normally stays hidden.

Jolon, California

I’ll end this with a winter landscape typical of the Central Coast.

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

Feel free to reblog or share


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  1. Robert said,

    Hi Cindy:

    Great shots, excellent layout and presentation.

    Stay cool. You’re in my old stomping grounds when I was s kid.

    Best to you,

    Robert Kennebunk, Maine

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Patti said,

    Cindy love your blog and comments on each photo. Your comments give more “character” to the birds in your photos! thanks

  3. Jet Eliot said,

    You did a great job of capturing the birds of the oaks, Cindy–so comprehensive. You even captured the yellow-billed magpie, not a particularly prolific bird right now since its struggle with the West Nile virus. Your commentary and photos are such a joy, thanks so much. As a longtime Calif. resident and a lover of the oak woodlands, I found this post as soothing as balm.

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