What are the 26 new species I’ve found recently in my Thoreauvian Big Year? What spring birds can you see now in Novato? What reasonably common birds did I finally nail down after months of unreasonable elusiveness on their parts? And where are the special hotspots of our area that hide the uncommon, range-restricted, habitat-specialist birds that most casual birdwatchers don’t know about? Let me tell you.
… they chatter like blackbirds; the fire bursts forth on their backs when they lift their wings.
Here in Novato, and in the Bay Area at large, we have two species of orioles: the hooded oriole and the Bullock’s oriole. Both are well worth knowing.
By the end of February, my Big Year bird count had climbed to 142 species. Some Big Years might expect to have seen more birds by this time, but this is not one of those Other Big Years—this is my Thoreauvian Big Year, a count of the birds I encounter in 2018 within a 10 […]
If you want to learn about the natural history of a place, there are several traditional sources of knowledge: individual local experts, more or less formal classes and guided walks, books and printed field guides of varying geographic precision, and the hard-earned knowledge of patient experience. If you are particular interested in birds and live […]
In part one of our guide to local hawks, I covered the “neighborhood raptors” – the daytime birds of prey you are most likely to see around your yard and typical residential areas. And those birds – the red-tailed hawk, red-shouldered hawk, Cooper’s hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, and turkey vulture – are among our more common […]
For many, hawks are our most striking birds: large, imposing, often associated with visions of noble soaring through the aether with a magisterial gaze cast down on the crawling world below. He clasps the crag with crooked hands; Close to the sun in lonely lands, Ring’d with the azure world, he stands. The wrinkled sea […]
What birds do we have here? The following list contains birds that can be regularly found in Novato. Some are more abundant than others and some can be more easily found in other parts of the county. Uncommon and locally rare species are excluded from this list. What constitutes “rarity” is of course subject to […]
Why Birds Sing: Birds make many sounds to communicate. Often they will have different sounds to stay in contact, beg for food, or sound an alarm, for example. But most well known is the phenomenon of song: these longer, more complex, sometimes musical series of notes are the center of spring’s soundtrack. As temperatures warm […]
Big Year #2: Three Week Update Earlier this month, I introduced my undertaking of a “Thoreauvian Big Year,” an attempt to see as many bird species as possible this year within a ~10 mile radius of my home in southern Novato, while transporting myself only by feet and bike rather than big gas-powered machines. On January […]
The varied thrush is the second of our two larger thrushes, along with the American robin (some outdated names include “winter robin” and “mountain robin”). But where the robin is familiar, the varied thrush is mysterious. While everyone knows robins, to most people in our latitudes the varied thrush is as practically nonexistent as the […]