Yolo Bypass, Adorable Owls, & My 300th Species!

On April 29th me and, of course, Joachim went to Yolo Bypass to look for denizens of the Central Valley such as Blue Grosbeak, Bullocks Oriole, etc. While there I got my lifers Yellow-headed Blackbird, Western Kingbird, Swainsons Hawk, and most excitingly my 300th Species the Bullocks Oriole! However the highlight of the day would’ve had to be the Burrowing Owls just east of Davis with their big eyes and cute expressions. I hope you enjoy the pictures I took and happy reading!

Our first shot from parking lot B is of this beautiful male Yellow-headed Blackbird, our most numerous lifer. A challenge with photographing these birds was that they where distant and often obscured. This guy however was a little closer than the rest allowing for a decent shot. Here’s a fun fact about the males breeding behavior from All About Birds:

The male Yellow-headed Blackbird defends a small territory of prime nesting reeds. He may attract up to eight females to nest within his area. The male helps feed nestlings, but usually only in the first nest established in his territory. The other females have to feed their young all by themselves.

Our last photo from parking lot B is this neat shot of a Marsh Wren singing his heart out. A challenge with photographing these birds was that most where obscured and moved around a lot. However due to the sheer abundance of this bird many opportunities popped up allowing for this great shot. Did you know that for every female a Marsh Wren mates with, he’ll build 6 or more “dummy” nests? We experienced this first hand as we saw many nests that for the most part seemed unoccupied.

Our next shot is of a beautiful White-faced Ibis we photographed from the car near parking lot D. A challenge with photographing these birds was that they where very shy and easily spooked, however since we where snapping shots from the car we where less noticeable and therefore less frightening to the bird.

Only a minute after seeing the Ibis we spotted and photographed this singing Western Meadowlark. Did you know that this species is the state bird of 6 states, these being Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, and Wyoming.

Our first shot from parking lot G is of this Western Kingbird, my second lifer of the day. He was right next to the path when we saw him for the second time although to not scare him I didn’t alert Joachim of the birds presence or make any gestures. This meant he unfortunately didn’t get any shots as the bird soon left and began to chatter away more distantly with his mate. Did you know that despite what we usually see in pictures and illustrations, Kingbirds have a red crown on their head!? It’s however only visible when their trying to warn intruders.

Next up is a Swainsons Hawk we spotted, our third lifer of the day. We’d seen him earlier but weren’t entirely sure what kind of hawk he was up until know. A minor challenge with this photo was that since the bird was in flight it was hard to photograph him, but I was soon able to get a decent shot. Did you know that during migration these birds form large flocks known as “kettles” than can number into the 10,000’s!?

Our next photo is of a VERY special bird, my 300th lifer ever! Funnily enough I only realized this after we saw the bird, and the news was greeted with a high-five from Joachim. The bird, the Bullocks Oriole was found building a nest in its favorite tree, the Cottonwood. A challenge with this picture was that the bird was often hidden in the leaves, thankfully she ended up being visible in my photos. Did you know that both genders sing?

Our last picture from Yolo Bypass is of a White-tailed Kite who we found perched in a tree. Did you know that according to Audubon until the 1940’s this bird was rare in the states and only found at a few places in Texas and California!?

Our last media of the day is our featured image and video of a Burrowing Owl couple we located just east of Davis. They where just about the cutest things EVER with their silly expressions, big eyes, and fluffy looking feathers. It was quite literally too much to handle. Here’s a gross fact about them from All About Birds:

Before laying eggs, Burrowing Owls carpet the entrances to their homes with animal dung, which attracts dung beetles and other insects that the owls then catch.

I’d like to conclude with a scenic picture from parking lot G. Thanks for reading my post! I hope you enjoyed the pictures I took especially of the Ibis, Kingbird, and Owls! Sorry that I’ve getting in my posts so late recently, with homework it’s been hard to find adequate time to work on them. Upcoming posts will feature Mockingbirds, Heron Watch, and Hawks. Again thanks for reading and I’ll see you all next time!

© Nicolas Forestell, if seen elsewhere it has been stolen from https://sfbirdshelter.wordpress.com/

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