#521-#522 at La Copita Ranch

Thursday morning we woke up in the bunkhouse and saw that weather was cloudy so we didn’t race too fast to get out to the blind. once we did get moving, the first stop was another set of buildings little ways down the road where we parked our cars before looking for a Barn Owl. However, as soon as we got out of the cars, I heard what I thought was a Red-bellied Woodpecker so I walked behind the buildings check it out. I didn’t initially find the putative Red-bellied woodpecker. Instead, the first woodpecker I saw was a Ladder-backed Woodpecker. Much better, since we have Red-bellied Woodpeckers back in New York, but I’ve never seen a Ladder-backed Woodpecker. Ladder-backed Woodpeckers are mostly mid-country birds that don’t reach either coast. One hung out for a while in Irvine Regional Park when I moved to California in 2008, but life was a little too hectic then to chase it. This one flew off very quickly before I could get a photo, but that still counts as life bird number 521. Update: Turns out it doesn’t. Checking my notes I see I did have a Ladder-backed Woodpecker at Covington Park in Morongo Valley in California in 2008.

But what about that Red-bellied Woodpecker? I heard it again, and then spotted it on the top of a nearby telephone pole. Only when I got a look at it it wasn’t a Red-bellied Woodpecker at all. Instead it was the closely related and very similar sounding Golden-fronted Woodpecker, and I did get a (bad) picture of this bird:

 on top of pole

Eventually we moved on to try to find the Barn Owl, which we didn’t. Then we went back to the blind to shoot some more passerines. Mostly there we found the same birds we found the previous day: Pyrrhuloxia, Northern Cardinal, Green Jay, White-Crowned Sparrow, and so on. But after about an hour at the blind a really colorful yellow and black bird flew in. it was pretty obviously an oriole but not one I recognized. I had to go to the field guide to find it, and there was, number 522, Audubon’s Oriole:

Audubon's Oriole on feeder

This is a primarily Mexican species that occasionally strays northward into South Texas. Within the ABA area it’s arguably the most uncommon bird I found the entire trip, although the following day I would find something considerably rarer.

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