Río Embudo Birds

Signs of Spring

For birds, the beginning of Spring is the Winter Solstice. From that point on the days are getting longer. As the length of the day increases and the amount of energy from the sun increases, birds begin their breeding activities.

The following list gives dates and descriptions of first observations of Spring activities for 2007. This includes singing, courting and nest building activities.

2007 Signs of Spring:

Arrivals of Summer residents and Spring migrants are shown in white.

To hear the sound, click on the English Name and then follow the Sound link. (From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.)

Click on the Latin Name for more information from the USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter .

  • Apr 19: Arrival of another summer resident, the Common Grackle Quiscalus quiscula.

  • Apr 21: This Western Bluebird Sialia mexicana flew across the Dixon Co-operative Market parking lot carrying nesting material.

  • Apr 23: I do regular bird surveys in a part of Cachanillas (South of Lyden). There were three different Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris in the reeds around a small pond.

  • Apr 24: The Lesser Goldfinch Carduelis psaltria is a Summer resident in our area. During the winter, when it moves further south, it is replaced here by the American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis. Both of the Goldfinches are here for a couple of weeks before the Americans move further North to their summer breeding grounds.

  • Apr 24: The Virginia’s Warbler Vermivora virginiae is usually associated with Scrub Oak trees. They can usually be found in the upper reaches of arroyos in the Dixon area. Find the oak and you will find the warbler.

  • Apr 24: This very noisy and conspicuous bird, the Bullock's Oriole Icterus bullockii is the species that makes those long hanging nests.

  • Apr 24: I usually see the Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia only once or twice a year. It passes through here in migration to its breeding grounds in the northern US and Canada. This beauty was up in the 1st Arroyo in Dixon.

  • Apr 24: I have seen six different empidonax genus flycatchers in three different locations so far. The most famous of these flycatchers is the endangered species the Willow Flycatcher Empidonax traillii. I suspect that a couple of these were indeed Willows, but without hearing its characteristic "fits-bew" I can't be sure. Three of them, seen up on the Rio Ojo Sarco, were probably Gray Flycatcher Empidonax wrightii because of the kind of rough sounding two-part "kee-lip" they were making. There are experts on the empidonax "complex" that could probably have firmly identified each of these birds, but my experience with the "empids" is fairly limited. If you look at both birds' pictures, you will see why it is so hard to tell them apart.

  • Apr 25: The N. Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis is usually seen in small groups of 5 to 10 birds flying low over streams. Unlike all the other Swallows in our area, it has a plain brown back.

  • Apr 25: I stepped out of my front door and was greeted by the loud, cheerful, clear Chi-BEER Chi-BEER of the Cassin's Kingbird Tyrannus vociferans. Keep a watch out on power poles in the area. This bird loves to build its nest near power transformers. Sometimes the nest is built right in between the transformer's terminals. It must provide some protection from larger predator birds who would come in contact with the terminals trying to get at the Kingbird eggs.

  • Apr 28: I was out of town from April 27th to May 5th. While I was away, Nancy & Cathy and Dan & Barbara Pollock reported by email, the arrival of the Black-headed Grosbeak Pheucticus melanocephalus.

  • Apr 28: The Pollocks also reported seeing the Black-chinned Hummingbird Archilochus alexandri.

  • The morning after I returned to Dixon, I got up early and saw the following new arrivals on the El Bosque road:

  • Western Tanager
    Dixon, May 8, 2007
    May 6: Western Tanager Piranga ludoviciana (See photo at right.)

  • May 6: Yellow-breasted Chat Icteria virens

  • May 6: Orange-crowned Warbler Vermivora celata

  • May 6: Lazuli Bunting Passerina amoena

  • May 6: Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater

  • May 6: Bullock's Oriole Icterus bullockii

  • May 6: Ash-throated Flycatcher Myiarchus cinerascens

  • On May 9th, I did a bird count on the Rio Ojo Sarco below the waterfall. I recorded these new arrivals:

  • May 9: Western Wood-Pewee Contopus sordidulus

  • May 9: White-throated Swift Aeronautes saxatalis

  • On May 12th, Dan & Barbara Pollock, Linda Rigsby and I did an all day bird count, the North American Migration Count. We counted birds on the Rio Grande, Rio Embudo, Rio Ojo Sarco and on the Las Trampas Trail above El Valle. We observed these new arrivals:

  • May 12: Indigo Bunting Passerina cyanea , Osprey Pandion haliaetus , Blue-winged Teal Anas discors , Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius , Band-tailed Pigeon Patagioenas fasciata , Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus , Gray Flycatcher Empidonax wrightii , Western Kingbird Tyrannus verticalis , Plumbeous Vireo Vireo plumbeus , Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia , MacGillivray’s Warbler Oporornis tolmiei , Lark Sparrow Chondestes grammacus , Black-throated Sparrow Amphispiza bilineata , Brewer’s Blackbird Euphagus cyanocephalus

  • On May 14th I did a bird count in Cachanillas, just down river from Lyden. I recorded these new arrivals:

  • May 14: Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis , Blue Grosbeak Passerina caerulea , Killdeer Charadrius vociferus , Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax

  • May 16: During a count on the Rio Ojo Sarco, I observed four Warbling Vireo Vireo gilvus in the bosque below the waterfall.

  • If you see other bird signs of Spring, let me know.


    1. Brown, C. R., Knott, A. M., and E. J. Damrose. 1992. Violet-green Swallow. In The Birds of North America, No. 14 (A. Poole, P. Stettenheim, and F. Gill, Eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, DC: The American Ornithologists’ Union.

    2. Lanyon, W. E. 1994. Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta). In The Birds of North America, No. 104 (A. Poole and F. Gill, Eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, D.C.: The American Ornithologists’ Union.

    3. Verbeek, N. A. M., and C. Caffrey. 2002. American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos). In The Birds of North America, No. 647 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

    4. Romagosa, C. M. 2002. Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto). In The Birds of North America, No. 630 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

    5. Brown, C. R., and M. B. Brown. 1999. Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica). In The Birds of North America, No. 452 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

    6. Hunt, P. D., and D. J. Flaspohler. 1998. Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata). In The Birds of North America, No. 376 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.