Archive for March, 2018

#224. Mountain Bluebird Besides Prairie Falcon (which I ended…

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

#224. Mountain Bluebird

Besides Prairie Falcon (which I ended up not seeing on this trip), Mountain Bluebird was the other species I was really hoping to see in the Cuyama Valley. It’s hard to find them anywhere else in the county, but small numbers of them winter there. Paul Lehman’s essential book Birds of Santa Barbara County says they have “mostly departed by mid-March”, but a user in eBird had reported a number of them on Wasioja Road a few days before, so I was hopeful.

I pulled onto the road in mid-morning, found a spot with bluebirds and started checking them out, but they were all Westerns. Nothing wrong with that, though; I’ll watch Western Bluebirds any chance I get. So I watched them, and the Horned Larks that were around (they were everywhere), and a few early migrant swallows that were swooping overhead, when I heard a bluebird calling from a nearby fence post, and there it was: my fifth and final county year bird of the day: Mountain Bluebird.

After working so hard to try to turn the Western Bluebirds into one it was exciting to see a bird with all the distinguishing features: pale blue and gray without a hint of red, narrower beak, and an overall longer, thinner profile with longer tail and wings.

Such a stylish bird.

Reposted from

sleg: Tricolored Blackbirds – 2015 #223. Mine weren’t this…

Sunday, March 25th, 2018


Tricolored Blackbirds – 2015

#223. Mine weren’t this easy; they were mixed in with the Red-winged Blackbirds and Brewer’s Blackbirds at a couple of my Cuyama Valley stops. But eventually I managed to pick out a few “trikes”. A nice lady came out from her house along State Highway 33 to ask if I needed anything after I’d spent about 20 minutes walking up and down the road in front of her house looking at the blackbirds in her trees and in the fields on either side. She didn’t mind me birdwatching, but apparently I was making her Jack Russell’s bark constantly, so I moved further away from the house.

Reposted from

#222. A juvenile bird was perched in a distant cottonwood, and I…

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

#222. A juvenile bird was perched in a distant cottonwood, and I spent a long time trying to make it be a Prairie Falcon (which is one of the species I really wanted to see on my Cuyama trip). The bird had relatively long wings and tail; not falcon-long, maybe, but longer than the buteos I’m used to.

Fortunately it eventually flew off, letting me see it soaring as it headed north and allowing even my sketchy raptor-identification skills to kick in. Swainson’s Hawks are rare in Santa Barbara County; it felt special to see it.

Reposted from

debunkshy: Sage Thrasher (documentary)Santa Cruz Flats, AZ,…

Sunday, March 25th, 2018


Sage Thrasher (documentary)

Santa Cruz Flats, AZ, 1-16-17

#221. I was excited to see a Sage Thrasher on my Cuyama trip; they’re easier to find up there than in the south county, but they’re not necessarily easy.

Reposted from

birdsandbirds: Horned Lark Pawnee National Grassland, CO #220. I…

Sunday, March 25th, 2018


Horned Lark

Pawnee National Grassland, CO

#220. I got tired of trying and failing to see Horned Larks in the Santa Ynez Valley, so I said screw it; I’m going to Cuyama, the wide-expanses cattle-grazing valley in the northeast corner of Santa Barbara County. Set the alarm for 4 a.m., got to Cottonwood Canyon Road just as it was getting light, and boom! First birds I saw were a pair of Horned Larks that flitted up to check me out (as some curious cows were already).

Reposted from