Date: 2/2/19 12:30 am
From: Randy Wardle <wrwardle...>
Subject: [MBBIRDS] February birding email
For those interested, it's time for the February Birding email for Santa Cruz County. It has a few minor edits from last years email thanks to Alex Rinkert. I hope the info will enhance your birding experiences this month.

February 2019

February has arrived and there is an abundance of bird activity throughout Santa Cruz County. Anna's Hummingbirds and Bushtits are nesting now, and the first Dark-eyed Juncos and other cavity nesters may begin nest building this month as well. Allen's Hummingbird numbers continue to grow and Rufous begin to arrive. Brandt's Cormorants are showing breeding plumes now and are starting nests at places like the Cement Ship. Also look for white flank patches on Pelagic Cormorants as they too may start gathering nesting material for nests along the cliff faces of the north coast.

Tree and Violet-green Swallows are the first to arrive on their breeding grounds and Northern Rough-winged, Cliff, and Barn are not too far behind.

Among warblers, in February Black-and-White Warblers and Palm Warblers have been found fairly regularly in places like Bethany Curve Park and along the railroad tracks to the north of the Homeless Garden. All of the rarer wintering warblers—Black-throated Gray, Nashville, Tennessee, American Redstart, Yellow, and Hermit to name a few—are still possible this month. While Yellow-rumped and Townsend's are still common, Orange-crowneds will continue to be sparse in the lowlands until numbers increase toward the end of the month with the arrival of spring migrants.

While some species are arriving and others linger, some species may begin leaving this month. Varied Thrush are still locally abundant in some areas of the Santa Cruz Mountains, but they may begin to thin out by the end of the month. Loggerhead Shrikes seem to be scarcer after February. There are almost no sightings of Ferruginous Hawks after February until fall migrants begin passing through in September. But keep an eye out for a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker; definitely not common but there are more sightings in February than any other month.

While there may be fewer sightings of Snow and Ross’s Geese this month, more Brants will be seen flying along the coast, and there’s still a chance for a Tundra Swan in places like College lake or the fields near Pajaro Dunes.

Offshore, Marbled Murrelets and Rhinoceros Auklets can be spotted, and there is still a chance for all three scoters. Along north coast beaches and river mouths like Aptos Creek, there are often good numbers of Herring and Iceland Gulls and a storm may blow in a Black-legged Kittiwake or two.

February can sometimes be a stormy month so continue to watch the weather forecast and be ready to search for any rarities that might get blown ashore. This is also a good time to clean your feeders to help prevent the spread of diseases among bird species.

I hope you will be able to get out in the field often this month to see many of the great species this county offers. Good Birding!

Randy Wardle
Aptos

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