Saturday, August 31, 2013

Kurt's Corner

Welcome to our Fall issue! We also welcome Robin Roberts and Phil Parker as new co-editors of
the newsletter. We will be doing three issues per year: a September “fall” issue, a January “winter”
issue, and a May “spring” issue. So watch for that. And if you have anything you’d like to contribute
to the newsletters please feel free to contact any of us. We also have a blogspot where we hope to post the newsletters and any other events that come up in-between issues. It is
You can also connect with us on Facebook. The Desert Cities Bird Club page is maintained by Kyri
Fall migration is already underway, and it’s a great time to be in the cool mountains. The birds
know this too, so watch for warblers to be migrating south along the mountaintops in places like the
Idyllwild Nature Center or the Mt. San Jacinto State Park at the top of the tramway. Shorebirds and
gulls are already being found in good numbers at the Salton Sea, the San Jacinto Wildlife Refuge, and
at Harper Dry Lake near Barstow where a Red-necked Stint recently made a two day stopover (a first
record for San Bernardino County). The Fall is one of the most exciting times to be birding as many
young birds are making their very first southerly migration and have a tendency to “get lost”!
A recent poll ranked the California Condor as the “Most-Wanted Bird” that birders in the U.S. would
like to see in the wild. I’m happy to report that they are relatively easy to see at the South Rim of the
Grand Canyon and don’t seem to mind the tourists either. Another place to see them is along Highway
One near the Pfieffer Burns State Park entrance. Or try mile marker #37. They feed on seals and other
things that wash up on the beach. If you see the lone CHP officer that patrols this stretch of highway,
ask him – he’s a real condor-aficionado!
There is talk of lumping (again) the three species of Rosy-Finches into one species. More on that
later. Meanwhile prepare yourself for two species of Sage Sparrow – they have been split into two
species with two new names. One is called the Bell’s Sparrow (Artemisiospiza belli) and the other
Sagebrush Sparrow (A. nevadensis). During the breeding season Bell’s Sparrow is more coastal and
Sagebrush Sparrow an interior species. The problem is during migration and in the winter they occur
side by side. The bottom line is you need to look at all “Sage–type” sparrows a lot more carefully now.
Consult your National Geographic field guide for details.
Good Birding! Kurt

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