A Little Birding on Easter, 04-17-22

I went out for a short walk at the American River Bend Park and put a little gas in my car. I was only at the park for about 90 minutes so I didn’t get very far walking. I did get to see several different bird species, however, including Western Bluebirds, Acorn Woodpeckers, House Wrens and Audubon’s Warblers.

I also saw some Turkey Vultures on the ground – where they usually are only when feeding. At first, I could just see their heads and shoulders, but knew they had found something to chew on, so I got closer. They had a dead rattlesnake and were carefully pulling its guts out and trying to shake it out of its skin. I could smell it, even from a distance; and it was the smell that had attracted the vultures.

“…Turkey vultures have an extraordinary sense of smell. They have been known to be able to smell carrion from over a mile away, which is very unique in the bird world. The turkey vulture has the largest olfactory (smelling) system of all birds…”

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

The most surprising bird, though, was a “lifer” bird for me: a Chipping Sparrow in its breeding plumage. “…[A] rufous to chestnut brown crown, distinct white superciliary line, black lores and eye-stripe, gray rump, unstreaked gray breast and flanks blending into dull white belly, and black bill (frequently pale brown at base of lower mandible, extending to full lower mandible as breeding wanes)…” None of the photos I got of it were super clear because it was across the road on a wire, but they were good enough to make identification easy.

Along one spot on the road, there was a trio of male Wild Turkeys, strutting for a female, snoods down, tails fanned, the whole thing. And the female was impressed enough to sit down on the road, inviting a male to mount her.  But… apparently, the guys were more interested in showing off to one another than they were in the female at that moment and missed their cue for mating. D’oh! Hah!

There were a lot of Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies and caterpillars everywhere, and I also got to see a small Funereal Duskywing butterfly, with brown painted forewings and a white rim along the bottom edges of the hindwings. Lovely.

Species List:

  1. Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
  2. Audubon’s Warbler, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
  3. Black Blow Fly, Phormia regina [dark blue sheen]
  4. Brown Grass Bug, Irbisia californica
  5. California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
  6. California Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
  7. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  8. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  9. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis [flyby]
  10. Chipping Sparrow, Spizella passerine
  11. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
  12. Funereal Duskywing Butterfly, Erynnis funeralis
  13. Live Oak Folded Leaf Aphid, Stegophylla essigi [in live oaks, folds the leaf over itself; sometimes the leaf turns red/reddish]
  14. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  15. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  16. Northern Pacific Rattlesnake, Crotalus oreganus oreganus [dead]
  17. Oak Titmouse, Baeolophus inornatus
  18. Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  19. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  20. Red-Shouldered Hawk, California Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus elegans [heard]
  21. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  22. Swallow, Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor
  23. Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus [heard]
  24. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  25. Two-Horned Gall Wasp, unisexual gall, summer generation,  Dryocosmus dubiosus [small, green or mottled, on back of leaf along the midvein]
  26. Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana
  27. White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
  28. Wren, House Wren, Troglodytes aedon

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