Winter birding field trip, by Kay Loughman

In an amazing vocal performance, three species of owls were heard in Claremont Canyon before dawn on Saturday, December 11.  Led by Dave Quady, an owl expert and aficionado, a dozen participants in a Conservancy birding field trip heard the following:

Great Horned Owl - five or more, vocalizing at the same time, 
Northern Saw-Whet Owl - two (duet), and
Western Screech-Owl - at least one, maybe two


After breakfast the group birded along Claremont Avenue between Gelston St. and Grizzly Peak Blvd., with choice of locations limited by the lingering fog (click here for a slide show).   Highlights included Hutton’s Vireo and Ruby-crowned Kinglet (species often difficult to tell apart) in the same willows, a female Townsend’s Warbler (photo, right), and a dozen or more Dark-eyed Juncos.  In all, 28 bird species were seen or heard.


 Red-shouldered Hawk

 Western Screech-Owl

 Great Horned Owl

 Northern Saw-whet Owl

 Anna's Hummingbird

 Northern Flicker

 Black Phoebe

 Steller's Jay

 Western Scrub-Jay

 Hutton's Vireo

 Cedar Waxwing

 Hermit Thrush

 American Robin

 Bewick's Wren


 Ruby-crowned Kinglet


 Chestnut-backed Chickadee

 Oak Titmouse

 Lesser Goldfinch

 House Finch

 Yellow-rumped Warbler

 Townsend's Warbler

 Fox Sparrow

 Song Sparrow

 Dark-eyed Junco

 Spotted Towhee

 California Towhee


Of natural history interest were inky cap mushrooms (Coprinopsis lagopus, per Debbie Viess), and coyote brush covered with wintering ladybugs (Hippodamia convergens, per Ken Schneider).