Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ratty Towhee (et autres jeunes oiseaux)

"Don't you miss birding?" my wife asked as I was driving her to work. "The last time we did was in Arizona - and that was a week-and-a-half ago."

I gave her all sorts of excuses - it's too hot, high gas prices, plain old laziness. But when I got home, I thought, what the heck, why not give Eaton Canyon a visit today.

I got there around 8:30 am and right away the absence of the Nutmeg Mannikins by the parking lot was noticeable. So I hit the trail by the ampitheater and saw a young Black Phoebe jumping at insects.

Not too far from it another young bird, a Bewick's Wren was itself hunting for food.

That sort of set the trend for my morning's birding. Most of the birds I saw were young, probably just recently fledged. They were generally unkempt-looking, feathers sticking out at odd places, attesting to the fact that they were beginning their molt into adult plumages. Like this ratty California Towhee:

a California Thrasher

and Wrentits - the scraggly looking young one below and the more svelte adult above it.

Other than these young ones, the few species that I saw were just the usual suspects of Lesser Goldfinches, House Finches and Mourning Doves. At 10 am, I called it a day to seek some shelter from the sweltering heat.

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