Welcome to my Bird Blog: Stories from a Lifelong Birder

Welcome to my Bird Blog: Stories from a Lifelong Birder

My Bird Blog is a series of “then and now” stories that combine my experiences as a juvenile birdwatcher in Britain during the 1950s and 1960s with my knowledge of the same species in California today. Each month I publish the details of a bird 

Cory’s Shearwater and Birds of the Portuguese Azores and Madeira

Cory’s Shearwater and Birds of the Portuguese Azores and Madeira

Cory’s Shearwater off the coast of Madeira, Portugal Photo Credit – Author   Cory’s Shearwater is a large, heavy bird and a member of the seabird family Procelleridae. It breeds primarily in the Portuguese islands of the Azores and Madeira and the Canary Islands, Spain.  

To See a Mockingbird

To See a Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird Photo Credit – the Author    Amidst a cacophony of mid-morning birdsong, a medium-sized bird, approximately 10 inches (25 cm) in length, caught my eye. Its tail, as long as its body, was a striking feature. The bird’s plumage was a mix of 

Scaup, A Confusion of Ducks and Geese

Scaup, A Confusion of Ducks and Geese

Greater Scaup (male with the white plumage) Photo Credit – Cornell Lab: All About Birds   California winter visitors, the Greater Scaup, have recently left the coastal creek near my home and returned to their breeding grounds along the West Coast up to Alaska. Previously, 

American Kestrel, Small Falcon with a Large Appetite

American Kestrel, Small Falcon with a Large Appetite

Eurasian or Common Kestrel: Photo Credit – Wikipedia   American Kestrel Photo Credit – Cornell Lab of Ornithology   Thank you, Sonoma Land Trust, for connecting me with the beautiful American Kestrel, the smallest raptor in North America, during a recent visit to the Sonoma 

Hummingbirds That Live In California

Hummingbirds That Live In California

Humming-bird Hawk-moth Photo Credit – Graeham Mounteney, Butterfly Conservation   Hummingbirds are small, often migratory birds that inhabit the Americas. They have compact bodies, long, narrow beaks, and relatively long blade-like wings. The latter allows them to fly in every direction and to hover. Typically, 

Belted Kingfisher: What You Need To Know

Belted Kingfisher: What You Need To Know

Belted Kingfisher Photo Credit – I-naturalist (Birds of San Diego County)   I usually hear the Belted Kingfisher rather than see one when walking alongside the Corte Madera Creek near San Francisco. Occasionally, you might observe one perched above the water or hovering on rapidly 

Eurasian Collared Doves – Invaders or Colonizers?

Eurasian Collared Doves – Invaders or Colonizers?

Eurasian Collared Doves Photo Credit – Cornell Lab of Ornithology   Recently, I was walking alongside my local creek-side in Northern California when I heard the purring sound of goo-Goo-goo, and strove to find out what it was. I discovered a pair of Eurasian Collared 

Western Bluebirds, an Example of Natal Philopatry

Western Bluebirds, an Example of Natal Philopatry

Western Bluebirds Male & Female Photo Credit – National Geographic   The number of Western Bluebirds fluttering and dropping to the ground in search of insects appears to have dramatically increased this fall around the golf course I use here in northern California. What is 

Backyard Tales of a Black-headed Grosbeak and a Western Tanager

Backyard Tales of a Black-headed Grosbeak and a Western Tanager

Black-Headed Grosbeak Photo Credit – Author   The fall migration is underway. There are birds appearing in my Northern California backyard which I have not identified before. First there was the Black-Headed Grosbeak, a member of the Cardinal family, inspecting my bird feeder, probably looking 

The Success of the Bald Eagle

The Success of the Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle in Marin County (Photo Credit – Elyse Omernick, Marin Living Magazine)   A friend of mine recently sighted a Bald Eagle near Fairfax, CA. an event that was inconceivable a few years ago. The Bald Eagle returned to Marin County, CA. in 2008 

Owls of Marin

Owls of Marin

Barn Owls Photo Credit – Birds and Blooms   Someone from San Anselmo recently asked me about Owls in Marin, and expressed interest in installing an Owl Box. I believe Owl Boxes are available as part of the Hungry Owls Project sponsored by the WildCare 

Linnet Versus The American House Finch

Linnet Versus The American House Finch

I was first introduced during the late 1950s to the small songbird, a member of the finch family, called the Linnet or Common Linnet, when I was associated with the Bootham School Natural History Club in York, England. Founded in 1834, the society was one 

Black-throated Gray Warbler in Yosemite Valley

Black-throated Gray Warbler in Yosemite Valley

Male Black-throated Gray Warbler (Photo Credit eBird)   During May this year, the Black-throated Gray Warbler made its way onto my birding “life list” as a result of a visit to Yosemite Valley. Not that these birds are rare in California ,but I had never 

The Legendary Hoopoe: A Pretty Bird with Poor Personal Hygiene

The Legendary Hoopoe: A Pretty Bird with Poor Personal Hygiene

Eurasian Hoopoe (Photo Credit eBird)   I have just returned from a trip to Israel, a country that adopted the Hoopoe as its national bird in May 2008. I was fortunate enough to see one hunting for food on the lawns of HaPisga Gardens in 

As Thin As A Ridgway’s Rail

As Thin As A Ridgway’s Rail

Ridgway’s Rail (Photo Credit eBird)   Some people hold the opinion that the saying “As Thin as a Rail” derives from a comparison with the skinny and slender shape of birds known as Rails, including the Ridgway’s Rail. Many of these species have laterally compressed