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Monthly Archives: January 2024

Visiting San Diego

5:11 pm

A few years ago I visited San Diego for the first time, as I live on the east coast.  This group was extremely helpful and accommodating, as many people responded to my request for help locating quite a few new birds.  I will be back in the area again with family in about two weeks.   Birding will not be my primary activity, but I am always looking for birds.  I would greatly appreciate any help in at least finding the best places to locate some of the birds I missed last time.  Also, if anyone can share information on taking one of the local boat tours, I’d love to see black-vented shearwaters and/or west coast alcids.  Please feel free to contact me off list.  Some of the missed species are: red-bellied, red-naped and Williamson’s sapsuckers, black oystercatcher, California quail, ladder-backed woodpecker, green-tailed towhee and hepatic tanager.
Steven Weiss
Toms River, NJ

continuing San Elijo rarities (or not) 1-31-24

2:32 pm

The female American redstart, black-and-white warbler, and northern waterthrush along the San Elijo Lagoon nature center loop trail have been reported only sporadically this month (with 2 of the 3 missed on the CBC).  Kathy Knight and I each independently did a couple circuits today, and I was only able to get a very brief glimpse of the redstart as it flew from willows on the S side of the trail to the N side near the SE corner (immediately W of the short trail that heads SSE to the cable-edged environmental ed circle in the willows), foraging briefly on the N side, then disappearing across the duck pond (around 12:45).  No luck with the other two.
One of the male Eurasian wigeon continued in the channel off the SSW portion of the loop trail, and at least two juv yellow-crowned night-herons were visible to the NW in acacias along the N edge of the channel.
Robert Patton
San Diego, CA

What’s Hot and What’s NOT

2:08 pm

First off, a slight correction to some of the high numbers of scarce winter visitors I posted about a few days ago: The Dec-Jan total of Summer Tanagers this season should be 52, and counting, The appreciably lower total I gave earlier was for January only.
As a follow-up, a couple folks asked about what species are notably DOWN this winter. We will all have our picks depending on where we do most of our birding, but I think a few that are in mediocre numbers just about everywhere include Cedar Waxwing, Hermit Thrush, and Fox & Golden-crowned Sparrows. The two species that are WAAAAAAY down when one thinks back to just last year are American Robin and Townsend’s Solitaire. Last year, of course, there were many hundreds and thousands of robins everywhere, but this winter the tiny trickle of one-zies and two-zies are almost entirely made up of our small number of permanent resident birds and pairs that breed here anyway. And last year, Dec-Mar, we set the all-time record of lowland Townsend’s Solitaires, with 20. This year = 0. And there have been well below average numbers in the mountains as well.
A couple other honorable mentions for species that seem disturbingly low to me this winter are Dunlin and dowitchers.
Paul Lehman, San Diego

Crested Caracara report, and miscellanea

10:19 am

I just got a call from Tom Blackman who had gotten a call from Adam Wallyn and friend who had just had at 10:00 a.m. Sunday a Crested Caracara around the margins of the Tijuana estuary but which was seen to fly east inland up the valley some unknown distance. So somewhere in the Tijuana River Valley there is a Crested Caracara!

As for myself, I had a Western Flycatcher at North Clairemont Community Park, where I think a bird was reported back in around November or so, but will need to check. A male Bullocks Oriole in the Villa La Jolla Park area.

Paul Lehman, San Diego

Offshore trip #414 a repeat of last week: 2 masked boobies still present

2:04 pm

Hornblower headed directly south from the harbor. We never got ever 2 feet west of the tip of Pt. Loma.

Headed straight south 4.5 miles where we came across a feeding pod of common dolphins with a lot of birds working the area.
Masses of black-vented shearwaters: I counted 5 for sure, but there may even have been as many as 6!
But both masked boobies were in the flock; one of the SDNHM docents was able to snap a few photos of the subadult.
She said that the boobies had been first sighted almost a month ago and that there are photos from then.
We then head another 3 miles south, to just north of the Mexico/U.S. border, but birds were sparse.
Otherwise, little else. A single sooty shearwater, 1 Cassin’s auklet, 2 more black-vented shearwaters.
We spent the bulk of the trip in that one little area trying to see how slowly the boat could move while we were following whales, so no chance to head out to sea to birdier areas.
In non-bird news: yesterday afternoon, the Privateer trip came across the pod of orcas trying to predate an adult gray whale.
A gazillion photos and videos were taken.
The boat was about 8 miles off of Mission Bay at the time.
We all wish we had been on that trip.
Stan Walens, San Diego
January 27, 2024; 2:00 pm

Ecuador with Buena Vista Audubon Society  [From the Andes to the Amazon] October 2024


Belize & Guatemala with Buena Vista Audubon Society  [Maya Ruins, incl. Tikal, and Birds]  October 2025


tanager glut & some new all-time record totals for scarce winter passerines

11:47 am

Continuing the tanager theme this morning, 27 Jan, I ended up with FOUR different Summer Tanagers in s. La Jolla, with the splotchy male at Via del Norte Park, an adult male just a hundred or so feet south of Starkey Mini Park in the grove of pink-flowered eucalyptus along the wide, paved walking/biking path, and two separate female types in the Muirlands neighborhood. Also a flock of 3 Western Tanagers in Muirlands.
The winter-season (Dec-Jan) totals for the county of a bunch of scarce passerines is running high this year, BUT they probably do not at all reflect population
increases or improved habitat, but rather simply better observer coverage of
preferred wintering areas
. A few non-record totals include 5 Tropical Kingbirds, 4 Cassin’s and 12 Plumbeous Vireos, 24 Green-tailed Towhees, 13 Nashville Warblers, and 29 Summer Tanagers. New all-time record totals have already been set for the 12 Western Flycatchers (previous season record 10), 37 Yellow Warblers (previous record 34), 48 Black-throated Gray Warblers (previous record 44), and 82 Western Tanagers (previous record 73). And there is still a full month remaining of the winter season to add to these totals, although typically February produces only a small trickle of new individuals. Also, as is often the case, a fair percent of these birds are never seen again after the first half of December.
–Paul Lehman, San Diego

La Jolla Orchard Oriole and Summer Tanager

7:09 am

Saturday morning right at dawn in southern La Jolla at small Via del Norte Park, just north of the United Methodist Church, there’s a continuing young male Summer Tanager and a young male Orchard Oriole. I had both birds here as well back in early December. They seem quite reliable already a few minutes before 7:00 a.m., mostly in the pink flowered eucalyptus trees right above the swing sets, and also in the pepper. The tanager can be quite photogenic and it’s now about 2/3 red.
On Thursday, at “marginal” Colina del Sol Park not far from SDSU, there’s a male “Slate colored” Junco and a Bullocks Oriole.
Paul Lehman, San Diego

Los Penasquitos Lagoon parking closed this weekend

10:42 pm

Just to let folks know the lower parking at Los Penasquitos Lagoon (North Beach Parking Lot) is closed for a private event this weekend – golf – so the only parking is on the street which was pretty busy today. I think it is only closed from 7am to 7pm but not totally sure.

Alison Hiers
Carlsbad, CA

[LACoBirds] LA Birders Webinar: Bell’s and Sagebrush Sparrows Status, Distribution & ID in CA, 1/30

1:17 pm

Relevant to San Diego birders as well.
Justyn Stahl
North Park 

———- Forwarded message ———
From: <rebecca.fenning@…>
Date: Fri, Jan 26, 2024 at 1:01 PM
Subject: [LACoBirds] LA Birders Webinar: Bell’s and Sagebrush Sparrows Status, Distribution & ID in CA, 1/30
To: <>, <>

Dear Birders,

You are invited to the next LA Birders webinar:

Wintering Artemisiospiza Sparrows: Status, Distribution and Identification of Bell’s and Sagebrush Sparrows in the Mohave and Sonoran Deserts

With Chris McCreedy

Tuesday, January 30 at 7pm – on YouTube

Both Sagebrush and Bell’s Sparrows winter in southeastern California and western Arizona. Species-specific wintering habitat preferences and the degree to which the two species segregate or interact on their wintering grounds nonetheless remained largely undescribed until recently. This knowledge gap was due to the species’ apparent niche overlap during the nonbreeding season, the difficulty of separating the two species in the field, and to the very recent taxonomic separation of Artemisiospiza belli canescens and A. nevadensis into separate species. Chris has conducted research to shed light on the identification, distribution, and habitat questions of Bell’s and Sagebrush Sparrows.

Kimball Garrett will join Chris during the webinar to give a recap of the Great Sagebrush Sparrow Hunt in the Antelope Valley of Los Angeles County during the winter of 2019–2020.

Join Chris and Kimball for an enlightening webinar on a challenging topic of the status of Sagebrush and Bell’s Sparrows in the deserts of California.

This webinar will be livestreamed on our YouTube channel and will also be recorded for later viewing. Please use the YouTube link above (alternatively: which will take you directly to LAB’s main page, where the live webinar should be visible once it begins at 7pm.

Become a LAB Member! Though our webinars will always remain free and available to all, members of Los Angeles Birders have access to live webinars via Zoom, invitations to special LAB-only field trips, priority sign-up on LAB field trips & events, and discounts on paid LAB programs. To learn more about membership, please see our website! 

Looking for a past webinar? Don’t forget that a list of all of our previously recorded webinars is available on our website – which might come in handy if you want to study up before a field trip, or if you’re looking to build your birding skills from home! Just scroll all the way down, past our upcoming and most recent online programs and you’ll find a list of webinars sorted by category. These recordings are all viewable via our YouTube page.

Upcoming Programs

2/4 Sundays at the Huntington with Katy Mann (members only field trip)

2/20 How to Study and Memorize Bird Songs (and just about anything else) with Tom Stephenson (webinar)

2/24-2/25 Salton Sea Weekend with Ron Cyger and Chris Dean (field trip) FULL!

Good birding,

Rebecca Marschall for Los Angeles Birders


Rebecca Fenning Marschall