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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Partial to pines

A movement caught my eye this morning and I looked up from my desk to see a Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) foraging along the edge of my office window.  I didn't have my camera at the time, but later I encountered another nuthatch searching for food (e.g., insects or spiders) along a crevice in a vertical wall on a nearby building. 


Note the dark crown, white eyebrow stripe, and dark eyeline.  Below you can see the contrast between the black crown and the gray back, indicating that this is a male (females have gray crowns).


After work I stopped at Owl Canyon briefly and found one foraging in the pines. 


The next picture illustrates the nuthatch's climbing technique.  Unlike creepers and woodpeckers, it doesn't use its tail as a prop against the tree trunk.  Instead, nuthatches have very long claws that grip the bark.  This allows them to walk in both directions (up and down) along the trunk (or along any surface at any orientation!).

Red-breasted Nuthatches are uncommon migrants on Bodega Head.  Two other species of nuthatches have been recorded, but are considered rare migrants.  Do you know which ones?  (Answer at bottom of page.)

 
It was relatively quiet bird-wise in Owl Canyon, but I heard a loud chip note and turned to see this immature female Hermit Warbler (Setophaga occidentalis).  Note the bright yellow face, darker crown and ear patch, and mostly white underparts with very few streaks.


Red-breasted Nuthatches and Hermit Warblers both prefer conifers.  In other areas they can be found in Douglas-firs, true firs, and spruce, but on Bodega Head you're more likely to spot them in pines.


[Answer to nuthatch question:  The other two nuthatches include Pygmy Nuthatch and White-breasted Nuthatch.]


ADDENDUM (26 September 2012): 

For anyone wondering about the location of Owl Canyon:  Owl Canyon is along Westshore Road just before you get to Campbell Cove. Watch for the tall pines and eucalyptus. There's a large dirt pull-off along the side of the road where you can park (on the opposite side from Bodega Harbor).

Madrone Audubon has a map showing Owl Canyon.  And Colin Talcroft has provided an aerial view with a written description.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

where is owl canyon ????? canexisa 37

Jackie Sones said...

Owl Canyon is along Westshore Road just before you get to Campbell Cove. Watch for the tall pines and eucalyptus. There's a large dirt pull-off along the side of the road where you can park (on the opposite side from Bodega Harbor).

Madrone Audubon has a map showing Owl Canyon here:

http://www.audubon.sonoma.net/birding/bodega_bay.html

Let me know if you need more details!