Barry Lyon and I just returned from northwest Calfornia where we birded coastal Humboldt and Del Norte counties for a couple days (4/6-7) with emphasis on getting Ruffed Grouse and Barred Owl in the state. Our thanks to David Fix and Rob Hewitt for helpful suggestions about these birds.
We found a drumming Ruffed Grouse along Hennessey Road south of highway 299 above Burnt Ranch. The "town" of Burnt Ranch is about 50 miles or so east of Arcata on highway 299. There are probably grouse in a number of locales after Hennessey Rd. turns to gravel, especially in the vicinity of damp patches of forest. Stop and listen for awhile at strategic places along the road at dawn. Driving the road at dawn we also jumped a pair of Mountain Quail higher up in drier (there is no "dry" forest here) forest. We were impressed by the number of Cassin's Vireos already singing on territory along the lower stretches of this gravel road. The road is in very good condition, but I wouldn't advise driving a luxury sedan on it.
After much work we found a pair of Barred Owls in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park north of Orick in a historic location. Owls or no owls, this place is one of North America's natural history gems!
Arroyo Grande, SLO Co., CA
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