Birding Report: April 20

Pyrrhuloxia Male close 04-14-16 N4648 - Edited Northern Cardinal Femail Summer´s 04-15-16 N4749 - Edited  (1)

This past week, we had 12 birders on our Thursday outing which was a pleasant surprise since so many of you have left already. We went to the settlement ponds behind Marina Seca and the Country Club pond. We are seeing a number of Cardinals, Hooded Orioles and Pyrrhuloxia, as well as those pesky flitters, the Warblers. The highlight was a brief view of the Purple Martin, a large and beautiful swallow who, depending on the guide book or application you use, either migrates through here or stays for the summer. We certainly do not see it before mid-April.

For the Bird of the Week, I have chosen the Pyrrhuloxia. This is because I was able to take some really good photos this past week and, also, because they and the Northern Cardinals are very active all around San Carlos right now. Quite often the Pyrrhuloxia (pictured on the left) is mistaken for the Female Northern Cardinal (pictured on the right), and they do look very similar.

Both are large crested Finches. The Pyrrhuloxia has a much more limited range and only ventures into Arizona, New Mexico and Texas in the US. When you are viewing a Pyrrhuloxia/or Cardinal female, look first at the prominent bill. Cardinals have a red/red-orange bill and it is very conical. The Pyrrhuloxia has a yellow bill and it is crooked. It also has a lovely red-tipped gray crest, gray head, back and upperparts, a red-washed face and breast and pale gray underparts. The tail is red. The female Cardinal has the red bill and a beautiful cream-colored breast. The Pyrrhuloxia likes to eat flower spikes, various fruits, berries, seeds, and insects. According to iBird Pro, you can attract it to your feeder with apple slices, suet, millet, peanut kernels and fruit.

The Birding Group will meet as usual on Thursday at 8:00am at the Esterito Cafe. I am thinking about hitting the estuaries this week, but will be scoping sights on Wednesday and our destination is subject to change depending upon what I discover. Bring binoculars, sun protection and folding chairs if you would like.

As always, feel free to contact me at [email protected]
by Mary Tannehill

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