Saturday, March 22

A bird mystery, and spring has come (maybe)

18 March

I took another escarpment walk this afternoon. All kinds of critters emerging and leaving tracks in the sandy trail. I'm pretty sure I saw kangaroo rat tracks, among the usual rabbit, mouse and quail tracks. I also saw a bird that I'd never seen before. About robin size, with white tail feathers he constantly flipped and a slim head, sort of like a loons, that he held pointed up with a long beak, somewhat reminiscent of a blue heron's. He made a low, croaking sound. A mystery.

20 March

It was actually hot, coming down the escarpment today. Saw a hawk tilting his wings,
hunting. Also, I solved the bird mystery: he's an immature meadowlark. The first day I saw him, he could barely sing. It was more a croak. Today he almost sounded like a meadowlark — much more melodious — and his chest feathers had deepened from white to a light yellow. Both times he lifted his long beak high to sing. That's why it was pointed up a couple of days ago, when I first spotted him.

Western meadowlark. Photo courtesy of the US Fish & Wildlife Service

Additional information: Western meadowlark
Average length 9.5 in (20 cm)

Song is a series of bubbling, flute-like notes, accelerating towards the end.