David McDonald Photography
June 27, 2008
Bulletin #44 –Sierra Mountains, California #2
I did a birding/photography trip to the Sierras between Reno NV and Sacramento CA recently. Once more I used a guide to find the birds for me so that I could photograph them.
My guide here was, once again, Rick Fournier of Monterey Birding Adventures. This is another area of California where he leads tours. His web site is Monterey Birding Adventures.
I photographed 5 species of Flycatchers. It was wonderful having a great guide as there were 3 species of empids. The empids are small (5-6”) flycatchers that are generally drab gray to green with an eye-ring and wing bars. Their best ID is the song. There are a total of 11 in the ABA area. Once Rick Fournier had IDed them by song, he pointed out some plumage, shape, wing length differences to me that helped me to learn these birds. The first 2 are found at Yuba pass, the third down in Sierra Valley.
The Hammond’s Flycatcher (Empidonax hammondii) is found high up in conifer trees. He has a slight crest on the back of head so he appears flat-headed. He also has long primary wing projections that extend most of the way down the tail.
The Dusky Flycatcher (Empidonax oberholseri) is found in the same habitat, but he prefers low trees and brush. His head is rounded and he appears long tailed as the wing projections don’t extend down the tail.
The last one, Gray Flaycatcher (Empidonax wrightii) lives in sagebrush and similar arid, brushy habitat. He is the largest empid at 6” and is just a dull gray bird. Here are 2 photos.
http://www.pbase.com/davidmcd/image/99325740 click ‘next’ once
The other 2 flycatchers belong to the genus Contopus that includes the pewees.
The first is the Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus) He is a little larger than the empids above at 6.25”, but differs in having no eye-ring, just the wing bars.
The other is the Olive-sided Flycatcher (Contopus cooperi). He is a larger (7.5”) bird with a dark ‘gray vest’.
http://www.pbase.com/davidmcd/image/99325745 click ‘next’ once
The next 3 birds are all finches.
The Evening Grosbeak (Coccithraustes vespertinus) has been a favorite bird of mine since childhood in Ottawa Canada. Huge flocks in winter would descend on our feeders and literally vacuum up massive quantities of sunflower seeds. They are large at 8”, and somewhat resemble a big American Goldfinch. The male is yellow, black and white with the large bill. The female is gray, black and white. Here are 2 photos of the male and a single photo of the female.
http://www.pbase.com/davidmcd/image/99325752 click ‘next’ twice
The Pine Siskin (Carduela pinus) is a small finch related to the goldfinches. It is mostly brown with a streaked breast, but the male has some yellowish wing patches. The female is similar without the yellow patch. Here are 2 photos of a male.
http://www.pbase.com/davidmcd/image/99325760 click ‘next’ once
The last bird is the Cassin’s Finch (Carpodacus cassinii). This bird is closely related to House and Purple Finches. It has less color than a Purple Finch and the male has an unstreaked breast, unlike the House Finch. The top of the head is bright red and the rest is pinkish. This was a life bird for me.
Here are 2 photos of the male and the plain brown female. Notice she has a streaked breast unlike the male!
http://www.pbase.com/davidmcd/image/99325763 click ‘next’ twice
All comments and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.
Happy birding and photography,
photos copyright 2006 - 2008 David McDonald