Think of it as going back to a restaurant where you've dined before and where you enjoyed the good food and the ambience each time you've been there. That was the same feeling we had as we visited Eaton Canyon Nature Park in Pasadena. Just like good eating at a favorite restaurant, it is always good birding at Eaton.
And so the very next day after we arrived, jet lag notwithstanding, we started our birding USA at good ol' Eaton Canyon. As we got off our vehicle, we met another bird photographer who told us he was looking for the quails. We wished him luck and we proceeded to the area next to the nature center. Guess what was the first bird we saw. California Quails! A pair of them! Here is the more colorful male.
Aside from the quails, we encountered the usual species that call this park their home. The migrant Audubon's Warblers were still here albeit already in their breeding plumages.
House finches were into nesting mode and this brightly colored male was keeping a wary eye on a lizard with a blue throat. Or vice versa.
House Wrens were even more audacious as they sang just a few feet away from us.
A surprise was a Band-tailed Pigeon. This was the first time we've seen this species here. We suspected that they were also building a nest nearby.
Quite common here in Eaton Canyon is the mysterious Wrentit. It is a species that is only found in western North America - from Oregon to the northern Baja Peninsula. It belongs to its own taxonomical family and despite looking like a Wren and a Tit (hence it's name) it is not scientifically related to either one. Although a skulker, it is also a curious bird and would often pop-up close by to look at human passersby.
Another surprise was when we saw a pair of coyotes walking near the edge of the park boundary. Although Eaton Canyon is quite huge, it also abuts several subdivisions. To see coyotes so close to civilization is intriguing.
Walking back to the parking lot, we were rewarded with good looks at a pair of Red-crowned Parrots checking out a possible nesting site on top of an electrical pole. Natives of northeastern Mexico, there are now several feral populations here in southern California, very likely descendants of escaped caged birds.
It was a relatively short sortie at Eaton Canyon but we were happy that our first birding day was good. Very good.
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