Western Tanager by Don Hoechlin, Big Morongo Canyon Preserve
Saturday turned out to be the ideal day for birding at Big Morongo. Compared to other years, when the winds have been howling, our count was substantially larger and enabled us to view a total of 56 species. There weren’t any birds we hoped to find but didn’t! Thirteen birders trooped all the way out to the high-desert for our 8:30 start. All these eyes very much helped our search through the thick undergrowth.
We found so many Summer Tanagers (a dozen) that eBird had to question us. That bird is just spectacular in its beautiful solid red coat. The Western Tanager, of which we saw twenty-four, is gorgeous in its own right, but just can’t trump its cousin, the Summer Tanager. A pair of Kestrels were fun to watch as they carried nesting material to their nesting site. Big Morongo did not disappoint with its ability to produce three types of doves: Eurasian, White-winged and Mourning. We had the usual discussions at to whether the woodpeckers we saw were Ladder-back or Nuttall’s, but in the end, we think we got each of the seven right. Big Morongo is one of the few places where both species co-habitat. And then there was the great debate as to whether far in the distance the Olive-sided Flycatcher, with his extremely thick bill, was indeed an Olive-sided Flycatcher (it was). Fortunately, we saw both the Brown-crested Flycatcher and the Ash-throated Flycatcher, so we saved ourselves the usual debate over these two. As usual, the California Thrasher delighted us with his song from his high perch where he was the master of all he surveyed.
For those of who would like the specific details of which species was saw, then I recommend you use the following eBird link: