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Twitter 1.0: Dissecting Five Types of Bird “Tweets”

Marsh Wren (Dave Freund)

Most of us are aware that birds frequently vocalize. Some might find the sounds inspiring and soothing (scientific studies have shown that birdsong tends to make humans feel relaxed), or bothersome (a pesky house sparrow that begins bleating outside your bedroom window before dawn). Some sounds are distinctive (most people... more >>


September 2013 | Leave a comment

The Speedy Swifts: Living Up to Their Name

White-throated Swift (Dave Kutilek)

Undoubtedly, the best place in California to view migrating raptors is Hawk Hill. Hoping to view some impressive birds of prey, you grab your binoculars and head up to the hill. While you are scanning the skies for hawks, a cloud of tiny birds zooms into view, filling your binocular... more >>


September 2013 | Leave a comment

The Origins of Feathers

Bluebird

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is a great place to see birds. You can see the largest migration of raptors in western North America in the Marin Headlands, find spotted owls in Muir Woods, or see shorebirds at Lands End (to name just a few).

Arguably, the quintessential part of... more >>


August 2013 | Leave a comment

Owls: Custom-Made for Night Hunting

Great Horned Owl (Don Moseman)

Recently, during a hike on one of northern California’s beautiful trails, I found a tail feather from a Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus). It was a long wing feather—mottled shades of white and brown and covered in fuzz, a signature of many owl species.

The feather was an interesting reminder of... more >>



What Is a Species?

Song Sparrow

On a recent birding trip to Point Reyes, we ran across dozens of song sparrows—small, brown and white birds with a penchant for singing on the tops of bushes and fences. My friend, a decently experienced bird watcher, had trouble identifying them. When told they were song sparrows she said,... more >>


May 2013 | Leave a comment

Un-Discovering SF Bay: Hiking Sweeney Ridge from Sneath Lane

Hummingbird

I want to tell you about one of the last great places to see the Bay Area landscape as it might have looked a few months prior to European discovery in the fall of 1769: shortgrass prairies and coastal scrub, native habitats with very little disturbance.

Ironically, the ridge now known... more >>


April 2013 | Leave a comment

The Elusive, Mystifying Northern Harrier

Northern Harrier

“Harrier!” exclaimed my co-intern, Heather, pointing at a hawk skimming down the hillside.

I looked up as it passed, its long wings carrying it on an unwavering glide. I had no idea how to identify this raptor. “It has that patch of white at the base of its tail, just like... more >>


March 2013 | 5 Comments | Leave a comment

Who Says We Don’t Have Seasons?

Milagra Ridge (Mason Cummings)

Maybe you grew up in Southern California and wonder if you’ve ever truly experienced “autumn.” Palm tree fronds don’t change colors, after all. The truth is that there is a lot more to seasonal change than a palette shift. And although we may not have a white holiday approaching, there... more >>


January 2013 | 1 Comments | Leave a comment

A Hawkwatcher’s View of the New Hawk Hill

Hawk in flight (Walter Kitundu)

I wrote an earlier article on the background of the Hawk Hill restoration issue and its ecological intricacies (December 2011 Park E-ventures article), but here I wanted to address the big question that I heard only a few hundred times this autumn: what happened to the hawks as a... more >>


January 2013 | 1 Comments | Leave a comment

My Friend, the Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

It has been said vultures are cleansers of the environment, or that they are symbols of motherhood for their ability to make life from death. But I say that Turkey Vultures are, above all else, loyal. They are the truest friend, at least to other vultures, because being a Turkey... more >>


December 2012 | 2 Comments | Leave a comment

 

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