Report & Photos by Doug Cooper
Things perked up, bird-wise, in September at the sanctuary. Southward migration began with species such as Western Tanagers, Lincoln’s and Golden-crowned Sparrows once again showing up. Warblers also became more common, as did waterfowl. Drake Mallards and Wood Ducks began to come out of their eclipse plumages.
This Orange-crowned Warbler belongs to one of the two “Gray-headed” subspecies, either orestera (“Interior Montane”) or celata (“Taiga”). When I first spotted this individual its greyish head and broken eye rings made me think it was a faded MacGillivray’s Warbler. Only when I posted it to iNaturalist (a terrific natural history website, by the way) did I learn of its true identify.
This identification was easier to make on the spot. The owl was sitting out in plain sight late in September. I waited around for ten or fifteen minutes until someone came along so I could point out the owl. A man went by walking a dog, but his head was down, he had his earbuds in and he went by without even looking at me, much less the owl. Finally, two women came by who seemed properly thrilled to have seen the owl.
Although technically this Peregrine Falcon was on a tree in Callister Park, it is not far from the sanctuary, as the falcon flies. The park squirrels were fleeing in terror from its gaze.
The bird in the photo above belongs to one of my bugbear bird groups, that of silent empids (Empidonax flycatchers). iNaturalist suggested it was a Hammond’s Flycatcher but the colour of the bill seemed at odds with what my field guides told me. I sent the photos to Melissa Hafting and this is what she replied: “Lovely shot. This is indeed a Hammond’s Flycatcher. Some of them have orange bills. Note the small bill long primaries and low contrast face and there is a black tip to the lower mandible which is fine for juvenile.” Melissa is such a helpful asset to the local birding community.
This Western Tanager was feeding late in the month on Pacific Crab-apples, along with American Robins and Cedar Waxwings. Pacific Crab-apple trees are an important food source to fruit-eating birds in the fall and winter.
Happy Birding! If you are out in Hastings Park Sanctuary, please report your sightings to eBird.