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Balboa Park: 2 Hooded Orioles, 10+ Western Tanagers, mystery warbler

This morning (Dec 3rd) in Balboa Park there was a new, female-type Hooded Oriole in several heavily blooming bottlebrush trees along the path adjoining the "Art Studios" located between the main entrance to the Zoo and the Natural History Museum (just south of the miniature loop railroad). A Western Tanager was in the Zoro Gardens on the south side of the museum. A Red-breasted Sapsucker was in the Japanese Gardens. But the mother-lode of tanagers was on the west side of the park bordering the lawn bowling (and to the south) with a single flock of TEN Western Tanagers (one missing its tail). This is the largest winter flock of tanagers I've ever seen in the state, with my previous best being six birds. A young male Hooded Oriole was here as well, and had been seen by others a couple times previously.  Smaller numbers of tanagers had been seen previously in this area by Nathan French and others, who hinted that the count of birds would likely be appreciably higher. There is always a winter group of WETAs in this part of the park, although the past several years their numbers have been more like 2-3 birds. They roost most years at night down in the little canyon bottom on the south side of El Prado/Laurel and which runs along the edge of the fenced dog run (very close to where the Greater Pewee was two years ago). At the top end of the canyon there are currently a couple fairly large eucalyptus with lots and lots of fine white flowers that tanagers and orioles like to feed in early in the morning, although I only saw a few of the Westerns there, but then saw all ten together on the north side of El Prado/Laurel in various blooming trees close to the lawn bowling, where the HOOR also was.

Elsewhere in the park, in the canyon that runs between the International Cottages and the archery range, not too far from the Spreckels Organ Pavillion, there's an off-looking warbler feeding in the lush ground vegetation on the steep slope. I guess it's a hybrid involving a Yellow-rumped and something else. I took a bunch of photos of it and sent them to a number of folks for comment. Will let you know of anything semi-definitive. If anyone would like to see the photos, let me know.

In other news, Barbara Carlson saw the continuing Northern Parula at Santee Lakes this morning. Same spot as before.

–Paul Lehman, San Diego
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports