Tag Archives: birds

Hawkspotting

I’ve been seeing hawks lately when I’m out walking, which is new. I know partly it’s that I’m actively looking for suburban wildlife, but I’ve been doing that since last June when I started participating in iNaturalist. I started noticing how many squirrels and sparrows and phoebes and finches were around (in addition to the crows and pigeons and seagulls) right away. Maybe it’s seasonal? Maybe it’s the time of day I’ve been looking?

Whatever the reason, I’ve logged four observations over the last month or so. First, two red-shouldered hawks I spotted while hiking.

A hawk with brown feathers surrounded by mostly-bare leaves.

This is the best photo I managed to get of any of them, because it was perched in a relatively short tree at Madrona Marsh Preserve. Maybe only ten feet off the ground, just off the trail and not too far ahead of where I was standing. When I saw it, I stopped and took about five photos. It looked around, no doubt trying to spot some of the zillion tiny frogs I could hear (but not see), and then flew up to a higher tree, presumably for a better view.

A brown hawk perched on the end of a long, bare branch, a few twisted branches nearby, but mostly empty gray sky.

This one’s not as detailed, but I like the way it came out. I saw it from a few hundred feet away in a tall tree at the South Coast Botanic Garden. Yay for zoom lenses! (Though I still cropped the heck out of this shot.) It stayed there for a while, but I decided not to try to get a closer view and just continue hiking.

And then on two occasions I’ve spotted red-tailed hawks up in the same electrical transmission tower while walking along a bike path. In both cases I spotted them from a distance, perched up in the metal struts, not sure what kind of bird I was looking at until I could get closer.

Winter Birds of Madrona Marsh

I went hiking at the marsh preserve this weekend and was astonished at just how many different types of birds I saw. Five species of ducks alone (it is winter, after all) — not just the more common mallards, but shovelers, teals, wigeons, and one I hadn’t heard of before called redheads (for obvious reasons). The usual coots, egrets and Canada geese. Red-winged blackbirds, sparrows, a heron that was standing so still I started to wonder if it was a statue, and a very patient hawk that sat in a tree completely ignoring me and my camera until I was finished and it flew off to another tree.

I also heard frogs all over the place, but couldn’t actually see any of them. I asked about them at the visitor center and apparently the pacific tree frog can be very small, about the size of a quarter, but they can still be very loud when singing in a chorus. Next time I’m there, if the frogs are still in season, I need to at least record the audio.

Today’s Bird: Black Phoebe

Small black bird with a white belly on a red post with a blurry green background.

A Black Phoebe spotted on my walk to lunch a few days ago, near an office building. It perched there, maybe 10 feet away from me, and actually stayed put while I walked around looking for different angles. Then it flew up into a tree.

Hawk or Dove?

Usually, iNaturalist’s AI is pretty good at narrowing down a plant or animal to a genus, but sometimes it can get confused. Like this pigeon sitting on a silk floss tree branch. It was “pretty sure” it was a hawk.

Um, nope!

I can sort of see that with the first image, but the second one makes it blindingly obvious!

Here’s the kicker, though: Pigeons and doves are the same as far as biological classification. Some names might lean toward one or the other, like the mourning dove, but others, like the rock pigeon or rock dove seen here, can be called either.

Which means the AI was literally confusing hawks and doves!