There Are Only 3 Phalarope Species And I Saw All In One Day In Central California!

There Are Only 3 Phalarope Species And I Saw All In One Day In Central California!

There are only 3 species of Phalarope and I saw them one day at the Santa Clara River Estuary in Ventura, California.  It was the first time that I ever saw any of the Phalarope species up close, I was very excited that I was able to watch them foraging for food. These birds are rather small, ranging from 7 to 9 inches, they remind me of sandpipers and yet they don’t…



Red-necked Phalarope 

You can find this delicate beauty migrating both on the ocean and through the interior West. They can form flocks of thousands on ponds and salt lakes. I saw a few hundred one day while I was at the estuary! It picks plankton from the water after swimming lightly around and spinning (probably stirring up the plankton)… Breeds in Alaska and North Canada.


Red Phalarope 

This one is the most pelagic of shorebirds, when they are not at the tundra breeding grounds they are almost always on the open water! Occasionally you will find them coming to shore and even rarely seen inland due to storms. They will forage by picking plankton from the surface. Breeds in Alaska and North Canada.


Wilson’s Phalarope 

This tall phalarope is not pelagic, it is better suited for wading than swimming. They breed in marshy potholes from Southwest Canada south to central California, Great Lakes Region and Great Plains. Mostly they will winter in South America. They will visit estuaries and freshwater habitats to forage.

5 Hummingbirds I Saw In Tucson, Arizona

5 Hummingbirds I Saw In Tucson, Arizona

If you are ever in the Tucson, Arizona area, you really must get over to the Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds! They have multiple hummingbird feeders set up with a seating area for viewing. There is a webcam set up for viewing the hummingbirds online if you can’t get there. I saw a few lifers the day I went there, it certainly is a place that attracts various species of hummingbirds! There are also feeders for other bird species as well as a few water features, so be prepared to see plenty of other birds besides the hummingbirds. I ended up seeing several different species of hummingbirds as well as a few Lesser Goldfinches, a Gila Woodpecker, Black-headed Grosbeak and a Gambel’s Quail.


Black-chinned Hummingbird

It was fun to just sit and watch the hummingbirds buzzing around they yard going from one feeder to the next, some playing nice in the sandbox, while others not so much… 


Magnificent Hummingbird

I’m not sure just which hummingbird is with the Magnificent at the feeder, but take note of the size difference! The Magnificent is a very big hummingbird!


Broad-billed Hummingbird

I found this one to be very colorful, and I actually think that it should have been given a different name, perhaps one based on its wonderful colors and not based on the fact that it has a broad bill!


Anna’s Hummingbird

I love to watch the hummingbirds hover in the air, it’s amazing! This one was coming in for a drink.


Violet-crowned Hummingbird

Oooohhhh! Such a beautiful bird! The colors are so brilliant! If you ever get a chance to see this bird, you’ll know what I mean. The blue is just so vibrant, you just sit there in awe of the sight! I consider myself very lucky to have seen so many wonderful hummingbirds the day I visited the Paton’s Center. Make sure to look them up online to see what birds are at the feeders today.

This Gila Woodpecker Enjoys A Few Seeds In Arizona, US

This Gila Woodpecker Enjoys A Few Seeds In Arizona, US


Gila Woodpecker

This one I found while watching the many hummingbirds at the Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds in Arizona. They have lots of feeders up for the hummingbirds, but they also include other feeders for the various other species of birds that can be found at the center.

Their diet consists of a wide variety of insects, cactus fruit, berries, seeds, earthworms and small lizards. They will often drink sugar-water from the hummingbird feeders.

Forages on cacti and tree trunks or on the ground. In the trees they probe at the surface, hardly ever to they excavate for their food.

In the picture below the Gila Woodpecker is foraging for insects on a small tree.



This Is The First Time I Saw A Red-necked Phalarope Up Close!

This Is The First Time I Saw A Red-necked Phalarope Up Close!


Red-necked Phalarope

This tiny shorebird is at home along the shore as well as out in the open ocean. The females are brighter than males (it’s about time!)

The breeding birds are blue-gray with reddish wash on the neck. The females get into crazy fights over the males that they want to mate with, then they do absolutely nothing when it comes to raising the you. Often they will fight over another male and lay more eggs, then leave again!

The Phalarope forage mostly while swimming. They will often spin in circles in the shallow water stirring things up, helping to bring food closer to the surface. Then they will pick their prey from the water’s surface or just below it.

Their diet consists mostly of insects, mollusks and crusteaceans. During migration when they stop at lakes they may eat brine shrimp.


This Darling Starling Was Watching The Waves At The Beach In California

This Darling Starling Was Watching The Waves At The Beach In California



The Starling was brought to North America in 1890 and it spread out to occupy most of continent. In the fall and winter they gaterher in huge flocks. I’ve seen flocks of hundreds of Starlings in my lawn, foraging aroun on almost every inch so that I couldn’t see any grass!

Their diet consists mostly of insects, seeds and berries. They especially enjoy grasshoppers, beetles, flies and caterpillars. In the fall and winter they will switch over to eating seeds, fruits and berries because they are more widely available.

They will usually forage on the ground in wide open areas. Often they will probe the soil with their bill to find insects. You will usually find them foraging in flocks.

This one was originally foraging around in a small park on the side of the ocean, but I got a bit too close and scared him up into the tree, ooops! I do love the spots on them, gives them a bit more character…


You Have To Respect The Hard Working Turkey Vulture

You Have To Respect The Hard Working Turkey Vulture


Turkey Vulture

Okay, so they’re not the prettiest birds on the planet, but they actually do a lot of good work! You can find them from Canada all the way down through South America.

Their diet consists almost exclusively on carrion (dead animals). They use their keen eye and great sense of smell to find the food. Flying low, they can detect the gasses produced by the process of decay in the dead animals. This is why they are so good to have around, I mean really, who wants to look at road kill. These birds will find it and clean it all up in no time!

They live in a variety of habitats such as, pastures, deserts, subtropical forests and shrub lands. You will usually see them flying high overhead with their wings in a slight V formation.

Because their bald red head resembled that of a male wild turkey they were given the name Turkey Vulture.

Bath Time For The Elegant Terns And 1 Whimbrel

Bath Time For The Elegant Terns And 1 Whimbrel

Walking along the beach in California, I came across these Elegant Terns taking a bath! They were fun to watch as they dipped down, got water on themselves, shaking it off and then fluffing themselves out…


Elegant Terns taking a bath.


Elegant turns and a Whimbrel taking a bath. Look closely and you can see the immature Elegant Tern with the yellow bill. The Whimbrel in the background just seems to be watching them kinda like he’s too good to be part of their group!


I really did enjoy watching these birds taking their bath. It is the little things in life that can make it a good day, so make sure to always take the time to enjoy the little things!

8 Birds I Found While Birding At Ventura Settling Ponds In Ventura, California

8 Birds I Found While Birding At Ventura Settling Ponds In Ventura, California

Another great place to go if you are ever in Southern California would be the Ventura Settling Ponds, in Ventura. They are actually the water treatment plant wildlife ponds and birders are welcome! With varied habitats such as, ponds, coastal dunes, willows and reeds, there are always plenty of birds to see!




Allen’s Hummingbird

I saw this Hummingbird buzzing around my head as I walked along the dirt pathway. She then stopped to take a rest and that is when I was able to get a good look at her.



Pied-billed Grebe

I spotted several Pied-billed Grebes foraging in the ponds, I even saw a young one diving in the water. After walking along the path, I came to the last pond and found this one sitting on its nest, unfortunately it was so grown up along the ponds edge that I couldn’t get the best photo.



Pacific-slope Flycatcher

I saw this cutie flying around the reeds and grasses on the edge of the ponds. This flycatcher eats mostly insects and will catch them by watching from a perch then flying out and catching its prey in midair. These birds can be found along the Pacific coasts from Canada down through Mexico.



Cliff Swallow

OMG! So as I was walking along the path around the first pond, all of the sudden these birds were darting around me! Flying high, low, weaving around my head and the trees and bushes nearby. I don’t know if it was a nesting area, it probably was, but they definitely were extremely active! They will constantly be vocal with their squeaky twittering and chattering…



American White Pelican

This bird was floating all alone in one of the ponds. They are one of the largest birds in North America, their wingspan can be up to 9 feet across! Unlike the similar Brown Pelican, the American White Pelican does not dive from the air for fish. It will forage in shallow lakes for mostly fish.



Black-crowned Night Heron

There is one pond off to the side, kinda away from the other ponds, that is where I found this Heron. These birds spend most of the day hunched on branches at the water’s edge, just like this one. In the evening and at dusk they will do most of their feeding. I didn’t stay watching this one too long, since it was close to the path and I didn’t want to disturb it.



Great Blue Heron

This one was on the side of the pond preening itself. There actually was several Great Blue Herons scattered around in one big tree on an island in the middle of one of the ponds. They were fun to watch and far enough away that they were not disturbed by my presence.



American Coot

I found several  of these birds swimming around the ponds. The American Coot does not have webbed feet, they resemble a chicken more than a duck. It was estimated that in Back Bay, Virginia, USA, the local coot population ate 216 tons of vegetation per winter! That’s a lot of food!!!