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Re: Early Selasphorus hummingbird arrivals
Mon, 12 Jan 2004 15:13:58 -0800
From: Johan Langewis

I live near Shepherd Canyon (1,100 feet elevation) and since 1992 the earliest Allen's Hummingbird that has appeared in my yard is January 19 in 2002. Typical is late January to early February.

Johan Langewis

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Yellow-bellied Sapsucker continues in Tilden Nature Area
Mon, 12 Jan 2004 15:19:02 -0800
From: Jennifer Rycenga

This morning I refound the juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Tilden Nature Area (Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley Hills). It was located to the east of the visitor center, in the tree (so well-described by Dave Quady last month) as just north of the concrete pads holding manure, hay, and similar bulky farming accoutrements. The bird was so high, and so directly over my head, that it gave me a bad case of warbler-neck! After getting my fill of the sapsucker (it afforded great looks - I saw all the markings), I then took the boardwalk trail to Jewel Lake and back. Nothing that unusual, except for one chase call that sounded like a Selasphorus hummingbird. I stayed in that area for quite a while (the eastward bend in the boardwalk where the stream is wider, and you can catch a first glimpse of the lake), but never saw the bird, though I heard one more call that I think was a Selasphorus. The female Common Goldeneye was still hanging out with the Bufflehead pair in the lake.

Jennifer Rycenga
Half Moon Bay

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Re: Great Horned Owl versus Long-eared Owl
Mon, 12 Jan 2004 16:54:58 PST
From: Bill Gilbert

I used to see Long-eared Owls fairly frequently during winter back in central Ohio (commoner than in the Bay Area, and more commonly encountered in winter back there than the Great Horned Owl). One further identification feature not mentioned is their flight patterns. The Long-eared Owl tends to have a jerky, erratic, almost moth-like flight. The Great Horned Owl tends to flap, flap and glide, with wings held straight out to the sides. Perhaps these patterns would vary in a bird that had just been flushed, and was in a panic. But when flying with no apparent stress, these patterns seem to hold true. Of course, for the conscientious birder, deliberately flushing a roosting owl to get a further field mark might be out of the question.

Bill Gilbert

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Re: Great Horned Owl versus Long-eared Owl
Mon, 12 Jan 2004 17:35:53 -0800
From: Joseph Morlan

David Armstrong wrote:

This bird's ears were close set - i.e. they stuck up from the middle of the head, not the edge as on Great Horned Owl. In reviewing the field guides again as well as various photos, this pattern seems to be confirmed. I also feel that the Long-eared Owl has a unique facial "expression" but this of course is subjective as well.
Would appreciate feedback on whether others have observed the same thing and agree or disagree.

I believe that the apparent closeness of the ears is another area where it is easy to misinterpret what one sees. The length and posture of the ear tufts vary dramatically, both individually, and as someone suggested earlier, by the context. I've watched the ear tufts of a Great Horned Owl seem to grow longer and closer together as a female on the nest raised them in alarm.

In Akira's excellent photo at
the long ear tufts emerge from directly above the eyes. On my "mystery" photo (which is actually a Long-eared Owl), the same is true:
I don't see a huge difference in the location of the ear tufts on either of these birds.

A less subjective difference for me (when you can't see the belly) is the shape of the facial disk. On Great Horned Owl, the facial disk is about twice as wide as it is high. On Long-eared Owl the facial disk is actually slightly higher than it is wide, giving the bird a square-faced look. This appearance is accentuated by the vertical dark eye-stripes which extend down below the eye in Long-eared Owl (see above photo).

So this Long-eared Owl walks into a bar. He goes up to the bartender and orders a beer. The bartender says, "Hey, buddy, why the long face?"

Joseph Morlan, Pacifica, CA

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Re: Great Horned Owl versus Long-eared Owl
Mon, 12 Jan 2004 17:57:34 -0800 (PST)
From: David Armstrong

Thanks, Joe, for the helpful hints. We still feel good about the Long-eared Owl identification - in my Christmas Bird Count write-up I described the face as "narrow" which would be in accordance with the "long-faced" appearance you describe.


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Martinez Regional Shoreline
Mon, 12 Jan 2004 18:03:29 -0800
From: Larry Tunstall

I am forwarding the following message to the list for Nathan Crawford:

Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2004 17:30:07 -0800


Sunday at the Martinez Regional Shoreline In Contra Costa County I had some birds of local interest. In the water near a huge raft of scaup I had 12 Surf Scoter (unusual for this area). Also in the area was a single Spotted Sandpiper. I also had an Osprey fly overhead and out over the water. I don't know how it could fish in the ultra-murky brackish water. Also of interest were a male and female Common Yellowthroat. This area can be quite exciting if you have the patience and time. Especially since they reclaimed the local marsh and built a 400-foot causeway over it! Great close-up views of many shorebirds can be had here.

Posted to EBB by Larry Tunstall

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