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.

Mockingbird

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.

Bushtit

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

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

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Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com

 

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Camp Parks – Wildlife Oasis, part 4

June 19, 2018 at 6:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) ()

Great egret with mouse

This great egret finds the grasslands of the Parks Reserve Forces Training Center, aka Camp Parks, to be an excellent hunting ground. Its bill was already quite bloodied before it caught the mouse. Read the rest of this entry »

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Camp Parks – Wildlife Oasis, part 3

June 18, 2018 at 6:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) ()

Turkey families were abundant at the Parks Reserve Center Training Area, also known as Camp Parks, in the Bay Area of California.

Two hens and about 20 chicks were in this group. Read the rest of this entry »

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Camp Parks – A Wildlife Oasis in Bay Area – part 1

June 16, 2018 at 9:52 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography) ()

Female northern harrier

An Army Reserve training installation in the San Francisco Bay area is small, but when it comes to wildlife, it is a powerhouse. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bald Eagles

January 23, 2018 at 6:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography) ()

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Juvenile Bald Eagle

A family of bald eagles lives in Lockwood, California, not far from Fort Hunter Liggett.

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I saw this adult, and then a few minutes later saw two juveniles. One had caught a ground squirrel and landed in an oak tree to eat it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pretty Pintails

January 22, 2018 at 7:06 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Photography)

Northern pintail drake

Several northern pintail ducks at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge near Sacramento, California were at the pond at the beginning of the auto tour. The soft light brought out the subtle colors and designs in their plumage.

Between snoozing, preening, swimming and feeding, the pintails deserve a post of their own. Read the rest of this entry »

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Colusa NWR Birds

January 21, 2018 at 9:13 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Photography)

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Black-necked stilt

It was another foggy day at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, but it didn’t seem to bother the birds much at the Colusa NWR to the south. Read the rest of this entry »

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Morro Bay Birds

January 16, 2018 at 8:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife)

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Morro Rock

Morro Bay and the coastline to the north and south of it is my favorite part of the California Coast. It is also the most picturesque and interesting from my point of view. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sacramento NWR in the Fog – Day 2

January 15, 2018 at 7:06 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife)

Tundra Swans

Even though the thick fog kept me inside until noon and persisted all day, it lent a beautiful background with muted palette to the photographs. There were perhaps thousands of tundra swans in the wet fields enroute to the Llano Seco unit northwest of the main refuge, and the above image is by far my favorite of the day. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge – Day 1

January 14, 2018 at 11:16 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography)

Snow Goose

A lot has happened since my last post (moving to California for one), so I have some catching up to do. But first I’ll share the most recent images of my travels. Three-day weekends give an opportunity for mini-expeditions, and I chose the Sacramento NWR for its winter birdlife.

Northern Shrike

This is the first time I’ve seen a northern shrike up close, and it caught the waning light of the afternoon before the sun dipped behind the clouds on the horizon. Read the rest of this entry »

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