Larus glaucoides kumlieni. Omnivore. A large gull that breeds in arctic Canada. considered a subspecies of Iceland gull by the American Ornithologists' Union
Phalaropus tricolor. Needle-beaked dirvishes (whirling dancer) of the central pond in high summer. Gender reversal; the males are more dully marked in breeding plumage and hatch the eggs.
Bonaparte's Gull, adult breeding
Chroiocephalus philadelphia. Lovely and tern like. In breeding plumage, it has a slaty black hood, which it loses in non-breeding plumage. Usually some in winter in the oxidation ponds.
Blue-winged Teal pair
Anas discors. Long distance migrants. Seem to have changed range and are no longer reliable wintering birds here. Both sexes have sky-blue wing coverts (feathers over feathers to help flight), a green speculum (patch nears posterior of wing), and yellow legs. A dabbling duck.
Calidris minutilla. Our most abundant shorebird. The world's smallest sandpiper.
Melospiza melodia. Year-round sparrow, with three-part song, thrive in human habitat. The songs are very crisp, clear, and precise, making them easily distinguishable by human ears. We have a particularly dark race endemic to San Pablo Bay pickleweed marshes. Adult song sparrows have brown upperparts with dark streaks on the back and are white underneath with dark streaking and a dark brown spot in the middle of the breast.
Sturnus vulgaris. Great tornado like flocks dubbed "murmurations" occur over vineyards in fall. Our most invasive alien species. Damages vegetable and tree crops. Smaller than a robin. Long pointed bill, yellow in summer.
Mimus polyglottos. True mimics, hear them imitate cell phone ringtones and car alarms. Curious, and with an attitude!
Egretta thula. Small egret with black bill, black legs, and yellow feet. Golden slipper" and usually black legs. Nests in colonies, sometimes with herons. A bird arriving at a nest to relieve its mate must perform an elaborate greeting ceremony to avoid being attacked as an intruder.
Bombycilla cedrorum. With a good look, a humbling beauty. Those red appendages of Cedar Waxwings increase in number and size as a bird ages: 0-5 waxy tips are presumable immature birds,, 9+ waxy tips are thought to be older. Wandering frugivores (fruit eater). Often with robins in winter.
Turdus migratorius. Red to orange breast. One of the most common land songbirds in backyards. Ours mostly depart in spring. Its diet consists of invertebrates (such as beetle grubs, earthworms, and caterpillars), fruits, and berries.
Barrow's Goldeneye male
Bucephala islandica. Regular at Bahia in Novato, occasional locally. These diving birds forage underwater eating aquatic insects, crustaceans and pond vegetation.
Spinus tristis. Common, smaller than sparrow. Most moisture loving of 3 California goldfinches. Migrate in compact flocks.
Corvus corax. Cautious and playful. Sounds like a crow with a throat problem. Occurs in mated pairs, and as roving bands of adolescent terrorists; fun to watch.
Tringa solitaria. Another eastern sandpiper occasional in migration.
Great horned Owl
Bubo virginianus. Common and dominant nocturnal predator. An apex predator. Nobody preys on it!
Mallard Duck, male in front
Anas platyrhynchos. Wild and domestic Mallards both occur in the wetlands. The residents start nesting in February. The male birds (drakes) have a glossy green head and are grey on wings and belly, while the females (hens or ducks) have mainly brown-speckled plumage. The mallard is omnivorous and very flexible in its foods choice. Feeds by dabbling for plant food or grazing.
A carrion-eating raptor. A carrion-eating raptor Sometimes seen perched on a fencepost with its wings held outspread. This may serve to dry its wings, warm its body and kill bacteria it picks up from eating dead stuff. Usually sleeps in until warm thermal breezes provide lift. seen soaring high overhead in the wetlands. It doesn't have a smooth steady flight like a hawk; instead it teeters back and forth. In Baja California, it's nicknamed The Undertaker because it deals with dead bodies!
Charadrius semipalmatus. Looks similar to common Killdeer, but with only one breast-band.
Aythya americana. These seem to have shifted wintering range and are now very scarce on the coast; easier to find east of us. Male has copper colored head and bright blue bill during the breeding season.
Hirundo rustica. Probably the world's most cosmopolitan passerine (perching songbird).
Myiarchus cinerascens. Likeliest in late summer. Breeds in upland forest. Lives in the hottest, driest parts of the West, but also found in open, dry, shady woodland. They launch their pursuit of insect food from upper branches of mature trees.
Cistothorus palustris. Male builds multiple nests in cattails, to give female choice. Each male has slightly different song.
Podilymbus podiceps. "Pied" for two-colored bill during breeding season. "Pied" for two-colored bill during breeding season.
Falco columbarius. A jay sized falcon best identified by its sudden absence - it is swift and aggressive. Feeds on smaller birds and follows migrations. Also called "Pigeon Hawk".
Limosa fedoa. Larger shorebird with long up-curving bill. They mainly eat insects and crustaceans, but also eat parts of aquatic plants.
Red-shouldered Hawk adult
Buteo lineatus. Watch for banded tail. Smaller than Red-tailed Hawk. Hear a loud scream? Look overhead or in the high branches of a eucalyptus. Often nests April-June in eucalyptus tree at Ellis Creek
Larus canus. Dainty wintering gulls. Usually some in the shallow vernal pond between the sewer plant and Lakeville Highway.
Sayornis saya. Coastal only in winter, moves inland to breed. Prefers insects for food like all flycatchers, but can also eat berries, esp. during cold winters.
Anthus rubescens. Small songbird common in winter, easily overlooked due to "anybird" plumage. Terrestrial, closely allied to wagtails. Runs on the ground.
Butorides virescens. Smallest of herons with darker colors. Preys on wide variety of insects, frogs, and small fish. Solitary nester.
Euphagus cyanocephalus. Male is solid black with irridecent purpleish-blue head. Look for the male's bright yellow eye. A social species and mixes with other black birds.
Melanitta perspicillata. Prefers coastal bays - here only by accident or bad storm.
Pandion haliaetus. Large predator with wide wing span. The osprey dives, feet-first, to catch a fish, then adjusts the fish head first. Populations increasing, similar to the eagles. Decline in 1960's was due to early pesticides that are now banned.
Sialia mexicana. Cavity nester outcompeted by Tree Swallow. Has nested in box near road to Ellis Creek headquarters.
Thryomanes bewickii. Likes coyote bush along adobe creek. Mascot of Madrone Audubon Society.
Eurasian Wigeon male (right) with American Wigeon female (left)
Anas penelope. A dabbling duck searching for plant food. Increasing in our area, but still scarce. Hybrids with American Wigeon occur.
Cinnamon Teal male
Anas cyanoptera. A dabbling duck. The adult male has a rich cinnamon or copper-colored head, side and breast.
Phalacrocorax auritus. Dives for fish, so must have deep water, nests by Lakeville Holding Ponds. Nests in oxidation pond eucalyptus.
Porzana carolina. Seldom flies, retreats to safety of reeds, has call like horse's whinny. Secretive and stealthy. Winter only, lots in Ellis Creek finishing ponds.
Molothrus ater. Obligate nest parasites, sneaking around riparian areas in spring. Listen for water gurgling call of male in spring.
Passerculus sandwichensis. Mostly a wintering species, one race breeds at pickleweed/uplands interface. Typically sparrow-like dark-streaked brown back, and whitish underparts.
Actitis macularius. Pretty scarce now, mostly in late spring migration. These are not gregarious birds and are seldom seen in flocks.
Killdeer with freshly-hatched chick
Charadrius vociferus. Likes to nest in shallow depression sometimes on trail -be careful!
Northern Harrier male
Circus cyaneus. Fomerly called Marsh Hawk. Common in winter, a few stay to nest. Watch for the harrier flying low to the ground. They hunt by sound as well as sight. Adult male is nicknamed the "Gray Ghost".for its silvery color.
Common Merganser pair, male to the right
Mergus merganser. "River Merg", likeliest in oxidation ponds in winter. Diving duck that eats fish and nests in holes in trees. Bills have serrated edges to help them grip their prey, so they are often known as "sawbills.
Haemorhous mexicanus. Males have small amount of bright red on crown, breast, and rump. Widespread and common and can be an agricultural pest. Omnivorous, feeds mainly on insects and seeds.
Chen rossii. Tiny geese, not much larger than many ducks.
Botaurus lentiginosus. Always present, rarely seen because of its camouflage. Boldest in early spring. Listen for "dry pumping" of male in spring. King Henry VIII loved to eat them.
Callipepla californica. State bird of California.. Listen for its call: "Chi-ca-go!". These do best with an abundance of cover and shortage of cats.
White-faced Ibis, winter plumage
Plegadis chihi. Nine spent the winter of 2015-16 at Ellis Creek, to everyone's delight. Expanding population in Central Valley spills over locally sometimes.
Dunlin (adult plumage)
Calidris alpina. Hardy, dumpy northern wintering shorebirds.
Regulus calendula. Usually solitary, small insectivore. Red crown often not raised.
Ruddy Duck, male above
Oxyura jamaicensis. In winter the male's plumage is drab, but in spring, his breeding plumage is a rich copper color, and he sports a blue bill. This diving duck often holds its tail upright ending in a sharp point. Male slaps his bill forcefully on water surface to attract female.
Pelecanus occidentalis. Feeds by diving. Post-breeding summer sojourner locally from Sea of Cortez breeding site.
Passerella iliaca. Watch for a dark sparrow, hopping and scratching in the underbrush to uncover food.
Zenaida macroura. Now being bullied by larger Eurasian Collared-Dove. Low, mournful coo. Common in rural and suburban areas.
Baeolophus inornatus. Soft gray color. Perky little crest on top of its head. Formerly called Plain Titmouse.
Bufflehead male, female, juvenile
Bucephala albeola. A diving duck--now you see it now you don't. Our smallest waterfowl. A 10 on the cuteness scale.
Tyrannus verticalis. Has nested in eucalyptus at Ellis Creek.
Long-billed Curlew, behind
Numenius americanus. Largest American shorebird with long sickle shaped bill. Sociable birds found in groups when feeding, roosting, and migrating. A species of concern since it was hunted as a delicacy, but is now protected.
Greater Scaup, male and four female
Aythya marila. Large numbers winter in the Bay Area