This fancy adult Cooper’s Hawk gave the little birds fits when it came up off the trail in Jericho Park Tuesday morning–but they lost interest when they saw that it was carrying a fat brown mammal.

Even for a Cooper’s Hawk, this one was unusually bold, dining on his branch just a few feet above the dogs and baby strollers and birders beneath. I never did see exactly what he was eating, but it must have been good.


Jericho in the Sunshine

I arrived at Jericho Park way too late on this beautiful autumn morning, but in spite of my tardiness, there were still birds waiting for me. The bright sun had wakened insects all over the park, and so the flocks were not as concentrated as they had been yesterday, but I still ran across a nice batch or two of migrant parulids, including Black-throated Gray, Yellow, and Orange-crowned Warblers. I’ve been interested these past few days to see just how gray-headed most of the orange-crowns are; I assume that even the most obviously hooded birds are “just” of one the western races, as I think celata moves pretty strongly east on its southward journey.

Sparrows seem to be building, too, with Lincoln’s Sparrow far the commonest today. And a chuckle and a flash of yellow revealed a female Western Tanager trying to hide in a flock of White-crowned Sparrows. Tomorrow may be another exciting day–for those who can get there early, at least!


A Bad Day to Be a Worm

It finally stopped raining, so after Gellert’s quick swim at Acadia Beach (complete with Pileated Woodpecker), we headed back to Jericho to see if anything was astir at that birdiest of Vancouver parks.

The first pond has been let down for some reason, so the abundant Mallards of dubious provenance were shoving themselves through the muck like feathered icebreakers on a suddenly thawed sea: not a pretty sight. Two Belted Kingfishers rattled their disapproval from the pond-side willows before flashing off to find deeper fish-filled waters elsewhere.

Once those noisy visitors were gone, I could start to listen in earnest–and immediately there were chips and lisps coming down from the trees. Black-capped Chickadees and Bushtits were the most abundant members of the flock, as expected at just about any time of year in the park, but they were joined by Western Warbling-Vireos, a Hammond’s Flycatcher, a couple of Western Wood-Pewees, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and Wilson’s, Yellow, Orange-crowned, and a good eight or ten Black-throated Gray Warblers.

Migration! And it was like that all along all three of the ponds, Warbling Vireos and Yellow Warblers almost never out of sight, small gangs of Spotted Towhees and Lincoln’s and White-crowned Sparrows popping in and out of the brambles, Anna’s Hummingbirds buzzing through the remaining flowers. Will it be like this again tomorrow?


Some Upcoming Opportunities

I’ll be leading a few field trips over the next couple of months, and hope that those of you who are in the area will join us.

Southwest Wings, August 4-5: California Gulch for Five-striped Sparrows and other “Arizona specialties.”

Tucson Audubon, August 11: Puerto PeƱasco for shorebirds and seabirds.

Nature Vancouver, September 6: Iona for shorebirds.

Nature Vancouver, October 2: Iona for shorebirds.

Nature Vancouver, October 6: Jericho Beach for migrants and wintering birds.

Nature Vancouver, October 22: Jericho Beach for migrants and wintering birds.


The Conscience of a Birder

Well, rats.

As the breathless tone of yesterday’s entry reveals, I was excited yesterday morning at Jericho Park to find the bird above, which I gleefully ticked off as a Western Gull–or something very, very close to it.

As I pondered, though, the pale eye and, especially, the orange tint to the orbital ring started to worry me. I sent the photos off to a couple of friends with massively more expertise and experience than I’ll ever have with these birds, and the answers came in: Steve said he would have called it a hybrid “but who can really tell,” and Guy agreed, noting among other things that the mantle was too pale even for northern occidentalis.

So this one goes down as a dark hybrid or introgressant, and my search for a pure Western Gull in British Columbia continues.

I now read a different meaning into the bird’s posture.