There were 8 inches of new, untrammeled snow up Alum
Canyon early yesterday morning. the temptation to check
out the birds was a powerful pull. Their motivation to stay
under cover was apparently a power too. I only saw
very few of the regulars:
1 Red Tailed Hawk
1, and only 1, California Quail
Red Shafted Northern Flicker
Black Billed Magpie
The Red Tailed Hawk provided a little show. All of the tall
pine trees carried a heavy load of fresh, damp new snow,
top to bottom. This hawk landed on the crown of a tree
75 feet high, kicked loose a large clump of snow which
cascaded to the ground clearing the whole side of the tree
in a couple of seconds.
And, the one, lone female Valley Quail lent a little comedy
to the morning. Perhaps from inexperience. it under shot
its intended runway in the clearing beneath a Mahogany
bush, landing in about 8 inches of fresh snow. Its feet were
useless; it sunk to its body in the snow. It tried to fly but,
getting no airlift from the downstroke in the snow, was
momentarily stuck. But in a quick learning curve it took
to slow wing strokes that made it look like it was swimming
a breast stroke to freedom a couple of feet away.
Then today, Spring broke out in the canyon. All of the same
kinds birds were there plus a couple of Spotted Towhee.
But they were acting different. There was a lot of activity
out in the open which included the following signs of spring:
There was one Brown Billed Magpie that was really a
Black Billed Magpie with a gob of mud in its beak about
the size of a walnut which it carried directly to a large nest
that I have been walking past for a couple of years and had
not seen before. Then on the way down the canyon it
was carrying a big twig to the nest.
And, on the highest twig of a large Mahogany bush was a
Bewicks Wren singing away like an opera singer in audition.
1 heard bird, but I, not having the best of hearing was only
able to determine that its tonal quality lay somewhere between
the call of a distant Jay and a Chickadee.
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