Urban birds

City dwellers often complain that they don’t see many birds, but in one area of Oakland, California, the raptors are permanent “residents”.

I thought this was an owl perched on a billboard in the early morning hours.

I thought this was a Great Horned Owl perched on a billboard in the early morning hours.

Nope, just a wooden facsimile.  Something had removed the right eye of the wooden owl.

Nope, after a closer look, it turned out to be  just a wooden facsimile. Something had removed the right eye of the wooden owl though.

Walking along Temescal Creek in Oakland, kids can look for models of wildlife that might live there.  This wooden Cooper's Hawk is about the size of a Sharp-shinned Hawk but has the characteristic square tail of the Cooper's.

Walking along Temescal Creek in Oakland, I found this wooden replica of a Cooper’s Hawk.  From a distance, it looks like the real thing.

However, one can find a surprising number of bird species, even in densely populated urban areas, given the right sort of vegetative cover.  In one Oakland backyard, a wide-spreading live oak and a tall sycamore covered with seedpods attracted a variety of bird species you might expect to find only in parks or natural areas.

Chesnut-backed Chickadees explored the nooks in the sycamore seedpods for insects hiding there.

Chesnut-backed Chickadees explored the nooks in the sycamore seedpods for insects hiding there.

Lesser Goldfinches ripped into the seedpods to harvest the seeds.

A female Lesser Goldfinch ripped into the seedpods to harvest the seeds.

anna Hummingbirds used the lower branches of the sycamore as resting or singing perches.

Anna Hummingbirds used the lower branches of the sycamore as resting or singing perches.

Ruby-crowned Kinglets flitted between branchlets and house walls checking for spiders or insects.  These tiny birds moved around even faster than the chickadees did as they searched for prey.

Ruby-crowned Kinglets flitted between branchlets and house walls checking for spiders or insects. These tiny birds moved around even faster than the chickadees did as they searched for prey.

There were other birds in the trees too, but walking to the farmer’s market with my grandson took precedence on this day.

dragon balloon

6 thoughts on “Urban birds

  1. After your first few shots, I was concerned that you had not found any live birds, but those concerns disappeared when I continued on and saw your beautiful shots of birds that we don’t have on the east coast (or probably in Minnesota). My favorite shot, though, is your last one–your priorities for the day were well justified.

    • I think you might have Ruby-crowned Kinglets in your area, but they are a) hard to see because they are so small, and b) VERY quick-moving and hard to photograph. I am continually amazed at how rich in diversity cities can be. Animals seem to adapt well to all the introduced plants, and California is certainly rich in that area.

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