The closest stop sign is over a mile away and the first traffic light is 5+ miles down the road. A visit to the grocery store is almost 30 miles round trip. It's quiet here; just the sound of toads and coyotes at night. It seems very still, but when you look close there's always something happening. Read on about a few things we've noticed over the past few years.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Phainopeplas in the hood

Last week I noticed a new bird.  I ID'd him as a Phainopeplas - aka the "silky flycatcher".  He was parked in a pine tree and watched me by tilting his head like a parrot.  Occassionally I'd see him swoop out to catch a bug and then return to his perch in the tree.  A day or two later I noticed a female was with him.  The female is grey with the same red eyes. 

This is what I found when I read up on them.  They are from the Baja peninsula where they have an early spring breeding then they fly to a more mild climate (like Gavilan Hills for instance) for a second breeding season.  They stay for about a month.  Two weeks is spent by the couple keeping the eggs in their nest warm (yes, I spotted their nest at the top of the pine tree) and the next 19 days are spent raising the young.  Then they eventually migrate back to the Baja peninsula. 

They mainly eat bugs and berries but unlike other birds, they have a second stomach that digests the "shell" of the berries, while the inside of the berry goes to the first stomach.  Also, while this bird is known for being kind of quiet, it can imitate some other bird calls including the red-tail hawk's call. 

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