Thursday, April 29, 2021

California Great-Horned Owl

I decided to do a survey of the great-horned owl nests today. We drove over to a home a mile or so away and saw the owls nesting in a palm tree. A parent was standing on a palm frond in a tree across the driveway. 

Two young owlets are still in the nest in the palm tree above the driveway. The third owlet that dropped out of the nest a two weeks ago is still in the trees in the back of the yard, but Larry (the home-owner) couldn't find it while we were there. He said he can find it later in the evening when it hoots so that its parents will feed it. 

It appears that there is only one owlet in the nest in our neighbors yard. We see it standing on branches in the large pine tree. That tree is so tall and so full of branches that good looks are not available. 
A parent is always standing in the tree watching. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Mourning Dove

Yesterday as Judy and I walked in Live Oak Canyon we saw and heard a number of mourning doves. It was overcast with dark clouds overhead and the canyon was full of deep color. The mournful calls of the mourning doves were a fitting back-drop. 
I got one of my favorite photos of a mourning dove just a few days ago as we were out on a walk. 
This post is to allow me to provide some of my better mourning dove photos since my only other post on a mourning dove, last summer.


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Swainson's Hawk

I saw two Swainson's hawks last Saturday near the southern end of the Salton Sea (they were separated by a couple of miles but could possibly have been the same bird). It was only the third time I've seen Swainson's hawks. The first time was near Alamosa, Colorado and the second time was outside Bismarck, North Dakota. 

The Swainson's hawk has two morphs: (a) 90% are light morphs with white underparts,  a dark bib on the chest and a white throat and face patch; and (b) 10% are dark morphs which are a dark brown except for a light patch under the tail and they are most common in the far west of its range.  

These bird(s) were light morphs.
This first hawk was on a telephone pole off Forrester Road between Bruchard and Pellett Roads. 

This hawk was on the ground near Lack Road north of Forrester Road, likely feeding on something. It flew and I got one okay photo in flight. 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Eastern Cattle Egret

There is some disagreement among authorities over whether the cattle egret is one species (Bubulvud ibis), with two subspecies, or two species: the western cattle egret (B. i. ibis, the nominate subspecies); and the eastern cattle egret (B. i. coromandus). The eastern cattle egret breeds in South Asia, Eastern Asia and Australasia and the western cattle egret breeds in the rest of the range, including Western Asia, Europe, Africa and North and South America. 
This cattle egret, off Gentry Road near the Salton Sea, is in breeding plumage traditional for the western bird. 

This cattle egret, off Vendel Road, is in non-breeding plumage.
Non-breeding adults look similar. It has white plumage, a yellow bill and gray/yellow legs. In breeding season the western cattle egret develops orange/buff plumes on the back, breast and crown and the bill, legs and irises become bright red for a short time before pairing. 
This cattle egret has eastern plumage and the legs look like they are just starting to turn red. 

Fluffing up its plumage. 
The eastern cattle egret breeding plumage is more extensive, the orange/buff extends to the cheeks and throat and the plumes are more golden. 

All About Birds has a photo of the eastern cattle egret in breeding plumage and it looks very similar to the photo of a cattle egret I took Saturday at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR, unit 1, on Vendel Road. So did I see an eastern cattle egret outside of its range? 

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Western Burrowing Owl

I went out to the Salton Sea looking for burrowing owls again, hoping to see some owlets. None. However, after seeing 12 burrowing owls my the first time,  then 19 the second time, I saw 55 yesterday and got photos of 49 of them. I started on Vendel Road which is the road into the Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR, Unit 1. The first week I saw no burrowing owls on Vendel Road, the second week 1, yesterday I saw 7 of them. 
Owl 1

Owl 2

Owl 3

Owl 4

Owl 5

Owl 6

Owl 7
Driving south on Vendel Road I turned left on to Bannister traveling east, then turned left going north on Baker Road, all the way up to Walker Road. I saw 3 more owls. 
Owl 8

Owl 9

Owl 10
I turned right (east) on to Walker Road then right (south) on Bruchard Road to Bannister. I saw 5 owls along that stretch. 
Owl 11

Owls 12 and 13

Owls 14 and 15
I turned left (east) on to Bannister then left (north) on to Pellett Road all the way to Walker and saw 1 owl. 
Owl 16
Right (east) on Walker, then right (south) on Hoskins Road to Bannister and saw 3 owls.
Owl 17

Owl 18

Owl 19
Left (east) on to Bannister, left (north) on to McNerney Road up to Walker, I saw 2 owls.
Owl 20

Owl 21

Right (east) on to Walker and I saw 3 owls before reaching Lack Road.
Owl 22

Owl 23

Owl 24

Right (south) on to Lack Road to Bannister, I saw 2 owls. 
Owl 25

Owl 26
Left (east) on to Bannister, then left (north) on to Kingsley Road to Walker I saw 2 owls.
Owl 27

Owl 28
Right (east) on to Walker, then right (south) on to Martin Road to Bannister I saw 5 owls.
Owl 29

Owl 30

Owl 31

Owl 32

Owl 33
Left (east) on to Bannister then left (north) on to Forrester up to what would be Walker, but at that point Walker turns into the O'Brien Lateral. I saw 6 owls along Forrester.
Owl 34

Owl 35

Owl 36

Owl 37

Owl 38

Owl 39

At the O'Brien Lateral the road takes a rounded cure right (east) then left (north) on to Gentry Road and Gentry goes quite a few miles to W. Sinclair Road which is where the Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR, Unit 2 is located. Along Gentry I saw 5 owls. 
Owl 40

Owl 41

Owl 42

Owl 43

Owl 44
At Sinclair I turned right (east), the normal route I follow after visiting Unit 2. I'd never seen a burrowing owl along that stretch of road, but saw 5 on this trip. 
Owl 45

Owl 46

Owl 47

Owl 48

Owl 49
There are an incredible number of burrowing owls through that area and I'm really hoping to see some owlets.