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Oriole madness at the Zoo, ‘yellow’ oriole ID, Hammond’s, misc.

Oriole madness at the Zoo, ‘yellow’ oriole ID, Hammond’s, misc.

By {authorlink} – 12:03 pm

Thought it was time to check on the coral trees bordering the San Diego Zoo parking lot in Balboa Park at dawn this morning (Thurs), and sure enough they are just starting to bloom. Ended up with four species of orioles. Four individuals. All female types. The corals are leafless and currently have just a few blossoms per tree, so when birds are in them, they do provide for good photo opportunities. Certainly the corals will be more heavily blooming in the next few weeks. More individual orioles/tanagers may well be found. By far best to check these trees during the first hour starting at first light on sunny mornings when that edge is receiving the early-morning warming sunshine. When not in these trees, the orioles and tanagers fly into the zoo proper and disappear for much of the day. I arrived today at 6:35 AM, and already by 6:40 I could see two Western Tanagers feeding in the one single, fairly large, blooming blue gum eucalyptus just inside the fence, to the north of the administration building. Within a few minutes, there was also a female-type Orchard Oriole up there, which I saw off and on until 6:55. The birds are sneaky, often hidden behind leaves and flower clumps, and the oriole looks somewhat like the tanagers when seen quickly or when partially hidden. At 7:00 I spotted a female Hooded Oriole (duller greeny-yellow than Orchard, longer bill, “wheet” call) in a coral right in front of the administration building. Then, from 7:05-7;25, there were variously a female Baltimore Oriole, female Bullock’s Oriole, the female Hooded Oriole, and W. Tanager in the northern-most coral tree in the line, which also has the most flowers of any of the trees currently. See photos in my eBird report to see what this Baltimore looks like (blank face, medium-bright orange especially on breast, bold upper wingbar), and which is certainly the SAME, identical-looking, female Baltimore that was present in these same trees at this same time last winter. Be aware that this line of blooming corals runs from the entrance to the zoo north to the tree which had the Baltimore today, which is a distance of about 300 yards, so it definitely helps to have multiple birders spread out to find the various birds. Also 150 Robins present–no surprise!
Elsewhere in Balboa Park, the Hammond’s Flycatcher continues at the Pepper Grove Picnic Area, which is just south of the Fleet Science Center. This bird was first found by Michelle Haglund in early December but hadn’t been reported now in almost a month. It frequents the pepper trees on the edge of the canyon, due west of the bathrooms. Along the north edge of the park, there is a new, but returning, Nashville Warbler at Richmond X Cypress, and two Bullock’s Orioles are in the canyon near Vermont X Cypress.
Yesterday, the 11th, the only bird of interest I could find at North Clairemont Comm. Park was an adult male Bullock’s Oriole. A male Black-thr Gray Warbler in a corporate courtyard in University City has returned for at least its SIXTH winter to the same three tipu trees. When I first found it years ago, it was already an adult male, so it is likely at least 7+ years old. And the female Northern Parula in UTC continues in its favorite single tipu on Executive Drive.
Back on the 7th, Beth Fife found a yellow oriole along the north side of Buddy Todd Park. Her description and single photo seemingly best fit an Orchard Oriole. The bird was re-seen yesterday by at least a couple observers and photo’d, and I’d say those photos look equivocal (Orchard vs. Hooded). So, it would be good if some folks could continue to study and photo this bird for a definite ID. Some duller Orchards look a lot like Hoodeds….
–Paul Lehman, San Diego