Also see the PHOTO GALLERY

following the summary of the 2014 MBWeek.



August 9 - 18, 2014

Our first day may have included a delayed flight, a three-hour vigil at Hertz, and some consequently long waits by others at various places, but things progressed pretty smoothly after this slow start. True, California has had severe drought conditions that seemed to leave some areas relatively birdless, but at least there were no fires where we went. Despite one afternoon with 100+ temperatures, the weather was generally pleasant. And, except for the snail's pace on Highway 1 to and from Big Sur, we even managed to avoid California's legendary traffic jams.    

But more importantly, after a seven-year hiatus since our last MBW here, our updated itinerary (which I wasn't entirely sure would work) included plenty of productive birding sites, and we came up with nearly 200 species. I consider our official total to be 197 (and, yes, this does include the condor!), and there were 6 additional birds that I listed below parenthetically. True, some were only seen by one or two of us, and others that provided less-than-ideal views (e.g., Ashy Storm-Petrel, Craveri's Murrelet, Cassin's Auklet, Pacific Wren, California Thrasher, Phainopepla, MacGillivray's Warbler, Bullock's Oriole, Red Crossbill), but I'd say these pale in comparison with all that we did see well. Note that 200 species, give or take a few, equals this MBW's best previous total in 2006; our first MBWeek here in 2005 had a more modest 172 species, and in 2007 our total was 185.

Everyone will remember their own personal MBWeek highlights, but I'd assume that the top of all our lists of most-memorable birds would include Mountain Quail (no fewer than 5 sightings of a notoriously elusive species!), California Condor (non-countable, perhaps, but we had 4 sightings of this spectacular bird), Black Rail (heard-only, but so what?), White-headed Woodpecker (at 3 places), and Lawrence's Goldfinch (unexpectedly easy at Pinnacles).

Some of my other favorites would include the rocky shorebirds (oystercatchers, a tattler, turnstones, and Surfbirds), the mass of Elegant Terns at Moss Landing, the Barn Owls still at the Tremont Cemetery, the nice mix of Vaux's Swifts and Violet-green Swallows over Downieville, Lewis's Woodpeckers and Red-breasted Sapsuckers, colorful Yellow-billed Magpies, some good waves of warblers and other migrants at Yuba Gap, and Bell's Sparrows along with the goldfinches at a La Gloria Rd waterhole.   

Of course, the two pelagic trips also provided some pretty special highlights, including impressive albatrosses along side both boats, lots of shearwaters (almost too many to count on the Monterey trip), nice looks at Wilson's and Black storm-petrels and a cooperative skua out of Half Moon Bay, numerous father-and-chick murre families, a spectacularly breaching Humpback Whale in Monterey Bay along with Risso's Dolphins and other marine animals – and even a wayward baby cowbird hitching a ride with us in Half Moon Bay.

Finally, thanks to all of you for your help with finding all those birds and for making this MBWeek something that I'll want to do again soon (I won't wait another seven years). And, of course, special thanks to Dick is due from all of us for all his driving services, and I thank Pat Bacchetti and Bill McGouirk as well for their help with rides on the first and last days.  


August 9 - After hours of delays on Delta and at Hertz, we finally found everyone with enough time for the Palo Alto Baylands in late afternoon; dinner at Kabul's and night at Hotel San Carlos.

August 10 - Sycamore Valley Park in Danville, Martinez Regional Shoreline, Benicia S.P., Davis (Perdick Rd and Tremont Cemetery), and Yolo Bypass wetlands; dinner at Lorenzo's and first of 3 nights at Rocklin Days Inn.

August 11 - Yuba Gap area, Rucker & Fuller lakes, and abbreviated drive up Mosquito Ridge Rd (in 103º); dinner at Lucille's.

August 12 - Return to Yuba Gap, Donner Memorial S.P., Donner Camp, Loyalton & Smithneck Rd, Yuba Pass, Bassett's feeders, Sierra Vista dipper, and return drive on Hwy 49 via Downieville's swifts & swallows.

August 13 - Rocklin church woodlands, Burrowing Owl-less area on W Elkhorn Blvd, Cosumnes River, and Mines Rd/Mt Hamilton road en route to first of 3 nights at Gilroy Days Inn; dinner at Chili's.   

August 14 - Elkhorn Slough/Kirby Park, Big Sur (mostly J.P. Burns and Andrew Molera state parks), and Point Lobos.

August 15 - Monterey Bay pelagic trip and Moss Landing; dinner at Black Bear Diner.

August 16 - Highway 25, Pinnacles Nat'l Monument, La Gloria Rd, Moss Landing, and Sunset Beach; first of 2 nights at Hotel San Carlos and dinner at Kabul's.

August 17 - Half Moon Bay pelagic trip; dinner at Ketch Joanne's.

August 18 - Return to Palo Alto Baylands before return flights home.

Bird List

(boldfaced species = "non-Minnesota" birds: i.e., Casual/Accidental/absent in MN)

Canada Goose


(Blue-winged Teal / possibly at Yolo Bypass Wetlands?)

Cinnamon Teal (best at Palo Alto Baylands)

Northern Shoveler

Green-winged Teal

Surf Scoter (3 on Shoreline Lake on Monday)

Common Merganser

Ruddy Duck

Mountain Quail (no fewer than 5 sightings; best at Yuba Pass)

California Quail

(Ring-necked Pheasant / bird of dubious origin at Palo Alto)

Wild Turkey

Red-throated Loon (both loons seen by some on Half Moon Bay - hereafter, HMB - pelagic)

Pacific Loon

Pied-billed Grebe

Western Grebe (HMBay)

Black-footed Albatross (several close views on both pelagics)

Northern Fulmar (HMB pelagic)

Pink-footed Shearwater (several on both pelagics) 

(Buller's Shearwater / only seen distantly by others on HMB pelagic?)

Sooty Shearwater (both pelagics, mostly Monterey; also visible from Big Sur)

Black-vented Shearwater (ditto!)

Wilson's Storm-Petrel (good views on HMB pelagic)

Ashy Storm-Petrel (only seen briefly by a few MBWers on HMB pelagic)

Black Storm-Petrel (also good views on HMB pelagic) 

Brandt's Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

Pelagic Cormorant (best at Point Lobos)

American White Pelican

Brown Pelican

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Green Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron

White-faced Ibis

Turkey Vulture

California Condor (4 locations, 5 total individuals!)


White-tailed Kite

Bald Eagle

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Swainson's Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Golden Eagle (incl 3 soaring with condors)

Black Rail (at least 3 heard well at Martinez Regional Shoreline!)

Clapper/Ridgeway's Rail (heard-only at Palo Alto Baylands)

Sora (heard-only)

American Coot

Black-necked Stilt

American Avocet

Black Oystercatcher (Point Lobos and Half Moon Bay jetty)

Black-bellied Plover

Semipalmated Plover


Wandering Tattler (Point Lobos)

Greater Yellowlegs


Lesser Yellowlegs


Long-billed Curlew

Marbled Godwit

Black Turnstone (jetties on both pelagics)

Surfbird (Half Moon Bay jetty)


Least Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper

Short-billed Dowitcher

Long-billed Dowitcher

Wilson's Phalarope

Red-necked Phalarope

South Polar Skua (both pelagic trips; much better on HMB)

Parasitic Jaeger (HMB pelagic)

Common Murre

Pigeon Guillemot

Craveri's Murrelet (seen briefly by some on Monterey pelagic)

Cassin's Auklet (seen briefly by some on HMB pelagic)

Rhinoceros Auklet (both pelagic trips)

(Tufted Puffin / possibly on HMB pelagic?)

Sabine's Gull (Monterey pelagic)

Heermann's Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Western Gull

California Gull

Glaucous-winged Gull (Half Moon Bay jetty)

Caspian Tern

Common/Arctic Tern (HMB pelagic)

Forster's Tern

Elegant Tern (1000s at Moss Landing!)

Rock Pigeon

Band-tailed Pigeon (best at Point Lobos)

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Mourning Dove

Greater Roadrunner (only 1; near Pinnacles)

Barn Owl (still at Tremont Cemetery)

Common Nighthawk

Vaux's Swift (Downieville)

Anna's Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird (most of the rusty ones were Rufous)

Allen's Hummingbird (2 adult males were identifiable)

Calliope Hummingbird (female at Bassett's feeders)

Belted Kingfisher

Lewis's Woodpecker (2 on Smithneck Rd near Loyalton)

Acorn Woodpecker

Red-breasted Sapsucker (best at Donner Memorial S.P.)

Nuttall's Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

White-headed Woodpecker (Yuba Gap, Rucker Lake, and Yuba Pass)

Northern Flicker

American Kestrel

Peregrine Falcon

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Western Wood-Pewee

Pacific-slope Flycatcher (IDed finally at Andrew Molera S.P.)

Black Phoebe

Ash-throated Flycatcher

(Cassin's Kingbird / 2 possible sightings near Davis)

Western Kingbird

Loggerhead Shrike

Cassin's Vireo (best at Yuba Gap)

Hutton's Vireo (also at Andrew Molera S.P. – finally)

Warbling Vireo

Steller's Jay

Western Scrub-Jay

Black-billed Magpie

Yellow-billed Magpie (best photo-ops on W Elkhorn Blvd and La Gloria Rd)

American Crow

Common Raven

Tree Swallow

Violet-green Swallow (best at Downieville)

Bank Swallow

Cliff Swallow

Barn Swallow

Mountain Chickadee

Chestnut-backed Chickadee (best at Kirby Park)

Oak Titmouse


Red-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Pygmy Nuthatch

Brown Creeper

House Wren

Pacific Wren (uncooperative; only seen briefly by some)

Marsh Wren

Bewick's Wren

American Dipper (Sierra City)

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Wrentit (best at Cosumnes River and Andrew Molera S.P.)

Western Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird (en route to the Lewis's)

(Townsend's Solitaire / possibly at Yuba Gap?)

American Robin

California Thrasher (only a few; mostly uncooperative)

Northern Mockingbird

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing

Phainopepla (only 2 sightings?)

Orange-crowned Warbler

Nashville Warbler

MacGillivray's Warbler (Yuba Gap)

Common Yellowthroat

Yellow Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Black-throated Gray Warbler

Townsend's Warbler (only at Yuba Gap?)

Hermit Warbler (several sightings)

Wilson's Warbler

Green-tailed Towhee (Yuba Gap)

Spotted Towhee

California Towhee

Chipping Sparrow

Brewer's Sparrow (best at Yuba Gap)

Lark Sparrow

Bell's Sparrow (La Gloria Rd; former name Sage Sparrow)

Savannah Sparrow

Fox Sparrow (seen by a few at Yuba Gap)

Song Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Western Tanager

Black-headed Grosbeak (seen by Linda at Pinnacles)

Lazuli Bunting (briefly at Fuller Lake and Yuba Pass)

Red-winged Blackbird

Tricolored Blackbird (Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area)

Western Meadowlark

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Brewer's Blackbird

Great-tailed Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird (incl 1 hitchhiking on Half Moon Bay pelagic)

Bullock's Oriole (brief fly-by on La Gloria Rd)

House Finch

Red Crossbill (fly-over bird calling at Donner Camp)

Lesser Goldfinch

Lawrence's Goldfinch (large flock at Pinnacles!; also on La Gloria Rd)

American Goldfinch

Evening Grosbeak (Donner Memorial S.P.)

House Sparrow

Significant Others (a partial list) 

Desert Cottontail

Black-tailed Jackrabbit

Western Gray Squirrel

Fox Squirrel

Douglas's Squirrel (Chickaree)

Mirriam's Chipmunk

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel

California Ground Squirrel


Sea Otter


Mule (Black-tailed) Deer

California Sea Lion

Harbor Seal

Bottlenose Dolphin

Harbor Porpoise

Risso's Dolphin

Humpback Whale

Mola (Ocean Sunfish)


Mountain Quail, Yuba Pass

(Jerry Pruett photo)

Black-footed Albatross, Half Moon Bay pelagic trip

(KRE photo)

California Condor, near Pinnacles National Monument

(Jerry Pruett photo)

Northern Fulmar, Half Moon Bay pelagic trip

(KRE photo)

South Polar Skua, Half Moon Bay pelagic trip

(KRE photo)

Elegant Terns, Moss Landing

(KRE photo)

Band-tailed Pigeon, Point Lobos

(KRE photo)

Red-breasted Sapsucker, Donner Visitors Center

(Jerry Pruett photo) 

White-headed Woodpecker, Rucker Lake

(Jerry Pruett photo)

Yellow-billed Magpie, La Gloria Road

(KRE photo)

Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Kirby Park

(Jerry Pruett photo)

American Dipper, Sierra City

(Jerry Pruett photo)

Bell's Sparrow, La Gloria Road

(Jerry Pruett photo)

Lawrence's Goldfinch, Pinnacles National Monument

(KRE photo)

Sea Otter, Point Lobos

(Jerry Pruett photo)

California Sea Lion, Half Moon Bay

(KRE photo)

breaching Risso's Dolphin, Monterey Bay

(Jerry Pruett photo)

breaching Humpback Whale, Monterey Bay

(Jerry Pruett photo)