Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Last Look at the Western Kingbirds on the Tuolumne River

Oh, it's nothing bad that's going to happen to the birds, it's just that in the next few weeks they will all disappear from the area and migrate to their winter homes in Mexico and Central America. The Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis) is fairly abundant in our area from March to late August or September. They breed across the western States and into southern Canada.
These are spunky little birds. They don't hesitate to harass and chase away Kestrels and Red-tailed Hawks if they feel threatened. They are also one of the few species that recognize the eggs of parasitic Cowbirds in their nests. The two that I photographed today could care less that I was hanging out. They had other things to do.
I've seen the Kingbirds at all my normal haunts, the pasture, the Tuolumne Bluffs (the future park), my campus "mini-wilderness" and others. Today was a new spot, only because I've started walking there in the last week. It's the Tuolumne River Parkway, a new river trail that will eventually follow the Tuolumne from one end of my town to the other. It's right at the boundary between the Sierra Nevada foothills and the floor of the Great Valley. The trail is still under construction, but parts are already accessible. It's where I saw the Black-chinned Hummingbird the other day, and the Gray Fox.
I'm looking forward to the completion of the trail. It will make a nice 3 mile walking loop with a half mile through the riparian environment. I've seen quite a few birds in the area already.

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