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Nazca Booby and Spotted Towhee

Dear friends,

Evidently the Nazca Booby from Coronado was brought to Project Wildlife
yesterday, and then today was transferred to Sea World, which takes care of
rehabilitation of seabirds these days. Today Kimberly Peterson of Sea World
sent me two pictures that show a bird in subadult plumage but with a
remarkably bright nearly uniformly orange bill. She says it's very thin but
she has high hopes it will be fine. No need to rush it to a ventilator!

While many of us are at home doing our civic duty to flatten the curve, I'm
sure we are noticing birds in our yards and neighborhoods more intently than
in the past. It's an opportunity to learn something about urban adaptation,
a frontier in biology. One species of interest to me is the Spotted Towhee.
This morning one was singing from the top of a pine tree across the street
from me in Hillcrest, first time I have seen one from my house where I have
lived since 1995. For the past few years one or two have been in the canyon
one block to the north of me, but that itself was a recent recolonization.
Jim Determan and I were talking about the Spotted Towhee recently, and he
told me that it now occurs well away from natural habitat around his
mother's house in San Marino, Los Angeles County. I have other observations
suggesting the Spotted Towhee is recolonizing small canyons in San Diego,
after being one of the 8 "chaparral-requiring" species addressed by Michael
Soulé et al. in their landmark study of the effect of fragmentation of
native scrub habitats in San Diego. Another one of those 8
"chaparral-requiring" birds was Bewick's Wren, which has increased
astonishingly as an urban adapter over the last 15 years or so. Two days ago
I found a Bewick's Wren nest with young among the sawed-off leaf bases of a
palm tree down the street from my house. The California Gnatcatcher
recolonized Point Loma around 2006. So while we are stuck at home, please
think about and share stories of any new urban adaptation you may be noting
in your neighborhood.

Thanks much, and stay well!

Philip Unitt
San Diego
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports