Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Summer Birds at Mission Hill 2017

I decided to make a bird list for the apartment complex that I moved to. It might be made available in the office for tenants and potential renters. Here it is.

The following is a list of the various species of birds that found themselves on the Mission Hills grounds during this past summer. The list is only what I personally saw or heard so it is only as complete as my observations. The list is in no particular order of species or dates except that it is limited to the summer season. In most cases the birds were seen in the garden and lawn area.
Fox sparrow-a dark brown bird with a mottled breast. It likes the protection of brush and darts out of view very quickly. I usually saw them bathing in the pseudo creek prior to them escaping to the security of local foliage.

Song Sparrow-also a small bird similar to the one above but much lighter back and wing feathers.
House sparrow-perhaps the most common of America’s sparrows. It has a brown back and the wings show a white streak. During the summer the dimorphic males wear a black “beard” or “bib” but once mating season is over it dims noticeably.
House Finch-These were pretty common until about mid-August. During mating season the male has significant red on the head and breast. They probably became scarce when it was time to tend to the brood. They are vociferous and easy to spot by their calls.
Gold Finch-The male is bright yellow, black and white. The female a dull yellow-nearly green in coloration. The gold finch and the house finch can be seen with their mates most of the summer. These ones are also very chatty and with their bright coloration are easy to spot. Also like the house finch, they pretty much were unavailable to view after mid-August.
Anna’s Hummingbird-I watched one feeding on the gnat like flies that are abundant above the creek every morning and only saw more than one of them on three occasions. They hover and dart readily and are nearly silent save for the sound of their rapid wing flaps.
Scrub Jay-A slate blue corvid so it is about the size of a robin and extremely raucous, making a lot of noise. They were not common but if they are like other jays, are likely to be more prevalent during the next 6 months.
Mourning Dove-These are plentiful along the electrical lines on 18th street. I saw them stop into the complex to drink and bathe in the creek. They coo a soft note almost continuously.
Robin-needs no description
American Crow-see robin above
Bohemian Waxwing-I think this is the most beautiful bird I saw this season, It is crested and multi-colored with the tips of its tail appearing as if they dipped it into some bright yellow paint.

Red Tail Hawk-There is a family living in the tall firs just east of the complex and soar over our apartments daily. They are large, and have a splayed reddish tails. During the brooding season the male and female will ride the thermals together. When they are low enough you can hear their calls (which are more like squeals). In late August I began seeing three of them soaring around which means this season’s offspring was now in flight. I am told there is another mating pair off of 18th to the west who also soar over that part of the complex.
Black eyed Junco-this little ground feeding bird is more abundant in the colder months but on three or four occasions I saw them in the water or in one case prancing around the lawn looking for breakfast.
Cliff Swallow-these little darting birds are really beautiful but they speed around low to the ground eating insects early in the morning. They are easy to see but difficult to enjoy for their speed and ability to veer and dart.
White cap sparrow-similar to the house sparrow but with black eye lines and a distinctly white top. I see them mostly when they are bathing or drinking.
Steller Jay- only recently have I seen this spectacular corvid. Its body is an indigo and they wear a black head and neck as if they are clad with a hood. They also are very loud and plaintive and are now banding together. I saw three or four in the large Firs near the main exit just this side of the fencing. In the small but dense copse that is just outside of the boundaries to the northeast, there are countless numbers screaming and yelling high in the canopy.
Chickadee-I haven’t actually seen these so am not sure of the exact species but have heard them on a number of occasions.
I’ll keep looking and photographing and will provide another report when winter occurs.  

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