Jim Beckman requested that I forward this account of the Escondido Christmas Bird
Count, originally written for the San Diego Field Ornithologists. This summary repeats
some of the information provided in an earlier posting to the Palomar Audubon listserve,
but also provides an update on the total number of species recorded and indicates
some of the species that are not particularly likely on the coastal San Diego County
Seventy-one observers participated in the Escondido Christmas Bird Count held on
January 2, the last CBC of the season. Our total of 159 species breaks the previous
high count by three species. Brennan Mulrooney and Matt Farley observed the rarest
bird of the count, a Swamp Sparrow, which was an addition to the list of birds observed
within the count circle. Unfortunately, the sparrow chose to inhabit a spot at the Safari
Park that is not accessible to the public.
Species noted that are listed on the rare bird list for the county include a Yellow-bellied
Sapsucker at Collier Park in Ramona, a Gray Flycatcher at Ramona County Park, a
White-throated Sparrow near Highland Valley Road, and three widely- separated
Vermilion Flycatchers observed in south Escondido, Rangeland Road, and Ramona.
Community Park. Scarce waterbirds noted were two Least Bitterns at Lake Wohlford, a
Eurasian Wigeon at the Vineyard Golf Course in south Escondido, and two Common
Goldeneyes, one at Lake Wohlford and one at the Vineyard Golf Course. Scarce geese
(but fairly regular in this circle) included two Greater White-fronted Geese at the Safari
Park/San Pasqual Valley, three Snow Geese near Rangeland Road, and a total of six
Cackling Geese recorded by teams at the Safari Park, Rangeland Road, and the quarry
pond in Ramona.
A single Black-throated Sparrow observed in the San Pasqual Valley was only
the count’s third record. Two Zone-tailed Hawks, one adult and one juvenile, soared
over the Safari Park. An additional adult Zone-tailed occurred over four miles to the
south near Lake Ramona. Twenty Scaly-breasted Munias, an exotic species, occurred
at three locations in south Escondido.
Escondido is an inland count so it lacks many of the waterbirds and overwintering
songbirds of the coastal counts. It does, though, produce a number of birds that are
infrequently noted on the coast. Some birds, for example, that are not typical of the San
Diego CBC that observers found include (number of individuals in parentheses):
Common Merganser (36), Ferruginous Hawk (17), Bald Eagle (2), Western Screech-
Owl (4), Cattle Egret (65), White-faced Ibis (64), Lewis’s Woodpecker (2), Acorn
Woodpecker (274), Prairie Falcon (4), White-breasted Nuthatch (45), Mountain Bluebird
(77), Purple Finch (27), and Pine Siskin (95).
Thanks to all participants,