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RE: [CALBIRDS] Lawrence's Goldfinches--what's going on?

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  • Robert McKernan
    John, Yes, for unknown reasons eruptions of LAGO have been intriguing over many decades. In the 70s and early 80s the mountain front canyons along the San
    Message 1 of 9 , Apr 17, 2012
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      John,

      Yes, for unknown reasons eruptions of LAGO have been intriguing over many decades. In the 70s and early 80s the mountain front canyons along the San Bernardino and San Jacinto would have a fair number, flocks of 25-40 during early spring feeding on a variety of annuals. Although, 2011 rainfall and the post influence was astounding in recent memory, in the interior coastal valleys fallow fields with uniform stands of fiddleneck were attaching 100-125 LAGO. This spring (12), early to mid March estimates in fallow fields of fiddleneck in Redlands and San Bernardino were harboring 100-400 LAGO and >200 LEGO, concentrations that were amazing, to me... So, the temporal patterns of rainfall (late?) seems to produce extended growth of fiddleneck (interior coastal valleys), and produce a feast and amazing concentrations of LAGO. However, I'm still preplexed regarding their year-to-year habitat affinties for breeding in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.

      Thanks,

      Bob McKernan
      SBCM



      CC: CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com
      To: heraldpetrel@...
      From: jsterling@...
      Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2012 16:14:48 -0700
      Subject: Re: [CALBIRDS] Lawrence's Goldfinches--what's going on?





      This has happened multiple times in the past four decades that I have been birding so it is not all that unusual (depending on your timeframe). It would be interesting to investigate the causes of these patterns, tied to fiddle neck abundance and/or rainfall patterns on the coast or inland?

      Sent from my iPad

      John Sterling
      530 908-3836
      26 Palm Ave
      Woodland, CA. 95695

      On Apr 17, 2012, at 2:19 PM, Brian Sullivan <heraldpetrel@...> wrote:

      > Hi Calbirders
      >
      > I've noticed Lawrence's Goldfinches in recent weeks much closer to the
      > coast than normal here in Monterey County. I don't normally see them here
      > in Carmel Valley village, about 11 miles inland. But this year I'm seeing
      > them every day, and on some days much closer to the coast. I checked eBird
      > data and it looks like more are being seen in coastal areas this spring
      > than in previous years, but the differences are pretty subtle--at least on
      > those maps (*http://tinyurl.com/7ah8l5m)*. I'm wondering if others are
      > seeing Lawrence's this spring in unusual places?
      >
      > Thanks
      >
      > Brian
      >
      > --
      > ===========
      > *Brian L. Sullivan
      >
      > eBird/AKN Project Leader *
      > www.ebird.org
      > www.avianknowledge.net
      >
      > *Photo Editor*
      > Birds of North America Online
      > http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/BNA
      > North American Birds
      > www.americanbirding.org
      > -------------------------------
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • dan_cooper_90042
      Just to weigh in late on a crowded topic... Yes, this past winter I had small numbers of LAGOs coastward (near downtown Los Angeles, vic. Chinatown) where I
      Message 2 of 9 , Apr 17, 2012
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        Just to weigh in late on a crowded topic...

        Yes, this past winter I had small numbers of LAGOs coastward (near downtown Los Angeles, vic. Chinatown) where I wouldn't have expected them, in mixed flocks with the two other goldfinches. (I have yet to figure out what makes a site in the L.A. area a consistent spring locale for them, probably since they're pretty nomadic. I've definitely gone looking at "classic" spots for them only to be skunked.)

        Just a word about fiddleneck - it's nearly extirpated on the urban floor of the basin (like a lot of native annuals), so "our" birds aren't necessarily feeding on it when they get here. Since it goes to seed so early, it coincides with the height of the nesting season (unlike a lot of asters, for ex.), but I don't know that its availability affects spring distribution that much, since birds are probably trying to load up on insect prey more than seeds in spring (obviously, they'll gorge on it if it's around - they're birds, after all). I'm just not sure it's a "pull", rather than a "push" scenario.

        As Bob McKernan mentioned, spring 2011 was incredible for lowland and foothill annuals, so maybe LAGOs just got really common here starting last summer, and the big numbers are resulting in a bit wider distribution now (including coastward). Incidentally, 2012 has been basically a bust for annuals in the hills around L.A. So maybe this bird gets more widespread the year after big wildflower blooms?

        Then again (assuming you're still reading), maybe there *is* a coastal shift going on with spring migration this year (see my earlier LACoBirds post about Rufous Hummingbirds on the coast, Violet-green Swallows in big numbers here too, and maybe a few more coastal Swainson's Hawks?). I have to think a lot of April Lawrence's Goldfinches are still in transit, esp. up in Monterey, so might follow traditional migratory paths of other birds.

        Interesting stuff.

        Dan Cooper
        Oak Park (Ventura Co.)

        --- In CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com, Brian Sullivan <heraldpetrel@...> wrote:
        >
        > Hi Calbirders
        >
        > I've noticed Lawrence's Goldfinches in recent weeks much closer to the
        > coast than normal here in Monterey County. I don't normally see them here
        > in Carmel Valley village, about 11 miles inland. But this year I'm seeing
        > them every day, and on some days much closer to the coast. I checked eBird
        > data and it looks like more are being seen in coastal areas this spring
        > than in previous years, but the differences are pretty subtle--at least on
        > those maps (*http://tinyurl.com/7ah8l5m)*. I'm wondering if others are
        > seeing Lawrence's this spring in unusual places?
        >
        > Thanks
        >
        > Brian
        >
        > --
        > ===========
        > *Brian L. Sullivan
        >
        > eBird/AKN Project Leader *
        > www.ebird.org
        > www.avianknowledge.net
        >
        > *Photo Editor*
        > Birds of North America Online
        > http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/BNA
        > North American Birds
        > www.americanbirding.org
        > -------------------------------
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
      • Nick & Mary Freeman
        Hi Birders When Nick and I were first granted a permit by the USFS to survey owls in the San Gabriel mountains above Los Angeles post-Station Fire in 2010,
        Message 3 of 9 , Apr 17, 2012
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          Hi Birders

          When Nick and I were first granted a permit by the USFS to survey
          owls in the San Gabriel mountains above Los Angeles post-Station Fire
          in 2010, every daytime visit we made that spring into summer,
          Lawrence's Goldfinches were one of the most commonly encountered
          species on the Angeles Crest. We were allowed to survey sites closed
          off to the public. Hillsides were covered in a riot of wildflower
          display. On some of the slopes that weren't burned into oblivion,
          fiddleneck was a common plant species. At those sites, Larry's golds
          were omnipresent. We'd encounter small flocks of Larry's flying over
          the highway during that summer. But 15 years back, I remember the few
          reports of Larry's Golds making news on Bird Box. Now, Lawrence's
          Goldfinches are pretty reliable in favorable habitat that yield
          patches of fiddleneck.

          Good Birding!

          Mary Freeman
          Glendale, CA
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