Wednesday, April 14, 2010


So here it was, the 10th of April, and there was still snow in the high country! This time last year it was already warm everywhere, so this was a real treat. I went up to Mt. Pinos to look for nuthatches and woodpeckers--and I was not disappointed. This is one of the best areas ever to see large numbers of these species.

As is evident from this photo, snow is indeed still abundant from around 3,000' up to the summit. (We had some more rain and snow the day after these photos were taken, so it is likely there is even deeper snow now!) The air was clean and fresh, and it was quite warm in the sun. This in turn warmed the wet needles on the forest floor and sent a delicious pine perfume wafting in the air. The breeze was strong at times, makeing music in the pines.

The sun also make lacey carpets of shadows on the snow.

I found a little pullout off the road at about 7,000' and hiked into the forest. I found a 'sit-spot' and set up an observation post for my target birds. And it didn't take long to spot them! This photo shows a White-breasted Nuthatch. Nuthatches are among my favorite species of bird. I have numerous photos and have done several watercolor paintings of them.

A different one, playing peek-a-boo with me around a tree trunk...

The little bird kept going behind the tree, then coming back out as if trying to see if I was still there.

Look closely among the branches near the trunk of the tree and you will see a White-headed Woodpecker. This one is a male, marked by a red cap at the rear of his head. They are busy birds, flying back and forth from one tree to the next, gleaning insects from between the crevices of the bark.

There were also numerous Western Bluebirds, that, like this little fellow, flew down to the snow to pick through the debris for fallen insects and small seeds.

I spent about three hours observing birds. Here is a complete list from the immediate area of my observation spot:
Western Bluebird (6)
White-breasted Nuthatch (4)
Pygmy Nuthatch (6)
White-headed Woodpecker (4)
Hairy Woodpecker (1)
Brown Creeper (1)
Dark-eyed Junco (1)
Mountain Chickadee (6)
Evening Grosbeak (1)
Stellar's Jay (1)
Common Raven (1)
I also saw a Merriam's Chipmunk--they are soo cute! Poor little think was being chased by the Pygmy Nuthatches, who were claiming a certain area on the ground for foraging. In fact, the White-headed Woodpecker, all three species of nuthatch, bluebirds, and the chickadees were foraging a lot on the ground quite a bit.
It was a wonderully relaxing and enjoyable way to spend part of the day. I plan go up there more often now, as my 'home forest' was almost completely destroyed last year by fire (Angeles National Forest). The abundant woodpeckers and nuthatches are a real draw as well!

1 comment:

donna said...

Thanks for sharing - I live in Pine Mountain and love my birds but have a hard time identifying as I am color blind - anyway have all of these in my yard but add hummingbirds - several types - and for the first year they have been here all year long - anyway thanks again enjoyed your post.

Add California Quail as well to my list.

Scratch that have not seen a brown creeper yet but keeping an eye out.