Last night I left my kitchen window open slightly by accident and this morning I was awaken at 5:30 by the beautiful song of a Hermit Thrush. He had suddenly appeared at my appartment complex the day before. He sang frequently for about 15-20 minutes, after which the year-round resident Bewick's Wren began his song. The sequence of birds continued with Chestnut-backed Chickadees vocalizing next and then finally Dark-eyed Juncos. Occasionally, all four species could be heard singing simultaneously. Some time later, the neighborhood Nuttall's Woodpecker could be heard drumming loudly, presumably working on a nest, or just establishing his territory. Normally I don't get up until about 8:00 and would hate to be awaken so early, but today was different, and happily so. I think I'll leave my window open again tonight...


I went to the small pond behind Gunn Highschool to get photos of the Hooded Mergansers, of which there were six, and found some other interesting birds as well. There were many Selasphorus hummingbirds around. I expect most of them were Allen's Hummingbirds as I mentioned earlier today, but the first bird I got a good look at turned out to be a beautiful Rufous Hummingbird with a completely rusty back and flaming orange gorget. I tried to get a look at some of the other hummers buzzing around the eucalyptus trees, and found at least two Allen's, and many Anna's. There were two Northern Rough-winged Swallows foraging over the pond, and an Orange-crowned Warbler in the willows near the bridge.


Those of you who were on today's field trip know that we had a good look at a female Merlin at the Don Edwards Nature Refuge on the East Bay. The bird was a little far a way, but quite clearly identified.

There is a small group of Hooded Mergansers, both male and female, in a small pond behind Gunn Highschool in Palo Alto. A classmember alerted me to these birds, which seem to have settled on this area as a repeat wintering ground. They should provide a nice photo opportunity if they remain here.

I've also noticed increased breeding behavior in my own neighborhood, with the Dark-eyed Juncos gathering nest materials and the Bewick's Wren singing almost constantly in my back yard. After my alarm goes off in the morning, the wren is the first sound I am conscious of... With the approach of spring, lots of birds are making their annual appearance in our area. For example, I've been noticing a few Allen's Hummingbirds in the area, making their distictive "wing-trill" as they feed.