Friday, January 25, 2008

UCLA - BIRDING HOT SPOT!


White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)
I've spied this little feller twice now, both times in the big pine trees on the East side of Royce Hall (one of the two "Trees of 1931" on either side of the stone bench monument). It was walking up and down the trunk and branches of the trees, poking its beak between the bark to find bugs.


White-breasted Nuthatch - Having Lunch!
This is a good representation of its feeding behavior.


Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata)
These birds have been all over campus for a couple of months now. They usually feed in the upper stories of the eucalyptus trees, which seem to be their favorite, but I have also seen them in the Canary Islands Pines. This morning one landed on a bench near where I was stnading and I got a nice close look at it--the photo is exactly the coloration it had, including the yellow stripe on top of its head.


Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulas calendula)
This week was the first time I'd ever seen this bird. I spotted one when I first got to work, flitting around in a small sycamore tree in the law school courtyard. The light was so low from the overcast sky that I had trouble figuring out what it was. It was so small that I took it for a Bushtit at first, then realized that Bushtits always go in a gang, so the Kinglet was the next obvious bird. I knew they could be found on camps based upon recorded sightings by others. I saw one later on at lunch time, in the shrubs on the East side of Royce Hall (the same area where I saw the Nuthatch). I had my binoculars and got a good look at its bright red head patch. It was also singing, which was quite beautiful.


Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli)
These little birds are quite common at all times of the year, preferring the Canary Islands Pines. Yesterday I saw three of them working a tree and the walls of Royce Hall for bugs. I've always been very fond of Chickadees--they seem to be happy, lively little birds.


Dark-eyed (Oregon) Junco (Junco hyemalis)
This photo is of a female; the male's head is black and the plummage darker. These birds are on campus year-round. Last summer I saw a female feeding a juvenile right out in the open. Their trilling little song is always a pleasant surprise when I hear it coming from nearby shrubs, such as this morning in the law school courtyard.


Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)
Waxwings seem to be around all year. I actually saw a small flock of them yesterday up in the big sycamore tree on the North side of the law building. Their high-pitched call is unmistakeable.


Bewick's Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)
Ah, the Bewick's! Next to the Chickadee, another favorite bird. Both birds are quite saucy and have a lot of attitude. I've seen them in nearly every area of campus that has a hedge of shrubs. Their song is very lovely. But they will scold you severely if you get too close to their territory!

American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis)
Although not as brilliantly colored this time of year as the one above, I've seen six of these several days in a row, feeding on the seed pods of a small sycamore tree in the law school courtyard. They are fairly unafraid and I was able to get about eight feet away from where two were feeding by hanging down on some thin branches. Their call is so sad and plaintive that it nearly breaks my heart to hear it.
I’ve been enjoying some banner bird watching here at UCLA all week, in spite of all the rain. They’ve been out feeding like crazy in between down pours to build their energy reserves back up. The variety of birds has been delightful and I even had a first sighting of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

After finally not caring what passersby thought, I started carrying my small binoculars on my walks around campus because I realized that my self-consciousness was depriving me of the pleasure of seeing these birds better, and better able to get positive identifications.

As the seasons unfold, I will no doubt see more and more variety. I always keep my eyes and ears open whenever I happen to be outside—a good practice for all bird watchers!

All the birds on today’s list belong to the order Passeriformes:

“A passerine is a bird of the gigantic order Passeriformes. More than half of all species of birds are passerines. Sometimes known as perching birds or, less accurately, as songbirds, the passerines form one of the most spectacularly diverse terrestrial vertebrate orders: with around 5,400 species, it is roughly twice as diverse as the largest of the mammal orders, the Rodentia.” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passeriformes]

(All photos are in the public domain and downloaded from Wikipedia)

[This post was composed to the music of: Govinda “Echoes of Eden” and Afro Celt “Sound Magic, Vol. 1”]

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