Joan Lentz and I hiked up the closed road to the Pino Alto Picnic Area yesterday and then continued on to the peak. It was a lovely morning and there was a lot of bird activity. However, it was from mostly Chaparral and oak woodland birds, with the exception of numerous Steller's Jays. We saw 25 species, which was pretty good for the conditions (and the fact that one of us left her binoculars at home).
The bird population observed reflects the drastic change in habitat that has occurred here in the last couple of years. I'd estimate more than half of the Ponderosa pine forest is gone, lying in felled remnants and cut-up logs on the forest floor, and there are still many dead trees standing. Consequently, the kind of habitat that would be attractive to mountain birds is just not there for the most part.
As I mentioned, the exception were Steller's Jays, which seemed to everywhere. Along with their even more abundant cousins, the California Scrub Jays, they kept us hopping. We found only White-breasted Nuthatches (no Pygmy or Red-breasted), and no montane woodpeckers, including no Hairy Woodpeckers. We almost missed out on Mountain Chickadees, but finally found two on the back side of the peak. Ruby-crowned Kinglets were also abundant and fortunately we checked them all out, because one turned out to be a Golden-crowned Kinglet, our best find of the day. Joan (the one who DIDN'T forget her binoculars) was able to determine that it was a male.
Joan has posted the list for the day to e-bird.
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