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Bendire's Thrashers in California

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  • Richard J. Norton
    The most difficult to find breeding thrasher in California is the Bendire’s Thrasher. Bendire’s Thrashers are migratory birds that breed in a few spots in
    Message 1 of 4 , Mar 9, 2008
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      The most difficult to find breeding thrasher in California is the
      Bendire’s Thrasher. Bendire’s Thrashers are migratory birds that breed
      in a few spots in dry southeastern California deserts, primarily areas
      with Joshua Trees. You will not see them unless you look at the times of
      the year they are present, which is roughly late March through July.
      I’ve seen them mostly in May and early June. Admittedly, I don’t recall
      looking in April or March. They sing in May, and possibly April as well.
      As with other thrashers, they are easiest to find in early morning or
      late in the day.

      The most reliable places to find them are in the Mojave Desert in the
      areas near Baker, Kelso, and Cima. Baker is a town on Route 15, the
      freeway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. There are motels in Baker to
      facilitate an early morning search.

      From Baker, proceed south on Kelbaker Road about 26 miles to the area
      near Powerline Road, a dirt road that runs along the large power lines.
      Bendire’s Thrashers are on either side of Kelbaker Road in this
      vicinity. Another mile or two to the south, you will find an area with
      distinctly different vegetation (I don’t know what it is, but it will
      stand out) on the east side of the road. A few years ago, Bendire’s
      Thrashers were easy to see in this area. Note that LeConte’s Thrashers
      and Northern Mockingbirds are also present.

      Proceed south to Kelso, and turn left or northeast and continue to Cima.
      At Cima, turn left or north onto Cima Road. I’ve seen Bendire’s
      Thrashers along Cima Road from somewhat north of where Powerline Road
      crosses it, north to where the Joshua Trees end.

      If you make this trip in May, you can fairly reliably also see Gilded
      Flickers and Lucy’s Warblers, another two non-trivial-to-locate
      California species. I’ve found Gilded Flickers easiest to find along
      Cima Road north of Cima and dirt roads just to the southeast of Cima.
      They are also along Powerline Road itself, in the first few miles west
      of Cima Road. Lucy’s Warblers breed in tamarisk trees along the railroad
      tracks east of Kelso. I’ve always enjoyed the May trips, which also
      produce birds like Scott’s Oriole and Black-throated Sparrow. This trip
      can be made using only paved roads, easily permitting use of a regular car.

      Neither Bendire’s Thrashers nor Gilded Flickers are trivial to find. You
      may have to search for a number of hours. One year I found about 6
      Bendire’s Thrashers along Cima Road, late one afternoon. The following
      year, mistakenly thinking I had them figured out, planned on seeing them
      again late in the day. It got dark before I found any, and I left
      without one on that year’s list.

      I’ve also seen Bendire’s Thrashers in Joshua Tree National Monument, but
      can’t remember exactly where.

      Another option is to watch Rare Bird Alerts from coastal Southern
      California during September and October, when a young Bendire’s Thrasher
      will sometimes show up for a while. I’ve seen them in Sycamore Canyon
      and Malibu Creek State Parks, but the last one was in 1999.

      Dick Norton
      Topanga, CA
    • Ken Burton
      I have found Bendire s in May along the northern stretch of Wild Horse Canyon Road between Mid Hills Campground and Black Canyon Road in Mojave NP. The dense,
      Message 2 of 4 , Mar 9, 2008
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        I have found Bendire's in May along the northern stretch of Wild Horse
        Canyon Road between Mid Hills Campground and Black Canyon Road in Mojave
        NP. The dense, higher-elevation scrub there seems unattractive to Le
        Conte's, which seems to prefer areas that have plenty of open ground
        between shrubs.

        Ken Burton
        Arcata
        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Richard J. Norton" <richardjnorton@...>
        To: "CALBIRDS" <CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Sunday, March 09, 2008 3:34 PM
        Subject: [CALBIRDS] Bendire's Thrashers in California


        > The most difficult to find breeding thrasher in California is the
        > Bendire’s Thrasher. Bendire’s Thrashers are migratory birds that breed
        > in a few spots in dry southeastern California deserts, primarily areas
        > with Joshua Trees. You will not see them unless you look at the times
        > of
        > the year they are present, which is roughly late March through July.
        > I’ve seen them mostly in May and early June. Admittedly, I don’t
        > recall
        > looking in April or March. They sing in May, and possibly April as
        > well.
        > As with other thrashers, they are easiest to find in early morning or
        > late in the day.
        >
        > The most reliable places to find them are in the Mojave Desert in the
        > areas near Baker, Kelso, and Cima. Baker is a town on Route 15, the
        > freeway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. There are motels in Baker
        > to
        > facilitate an early morning search.
        >
        > From Baker, proceed south on Kelbaker Road about 26 miles to the area
        > near Powerline Road, a dirt road that runs along the large power
        > lines.
        > Bendire’s Thrashers are on either side of Kelbaker Road in this
        > vicinity. Another mile or two to the south, you will find an area with
        > distinctly different vegetation (I don’t know what it is, but it will
        > stand out) on the east side of the road. A few years ago, Bendire’s
        > Thrashers were easy to see in this area. Note that LeConte’s Thrashers
        > and Northern Mockingbirds are also present.
        >
        > Proceed south to Kelso, and turn left or northeast and continue to
        > Cima.
        > At Cima, turn left or north onto Cima Road. I’ve seen Bendire’s
        > Thrashers along Cima Road from somewhat north of where Powerline Road
        > crosses it, north to where the Joshua Trees end.
        >
        > If you make this trip in May, you can fairly reliably also see Gilded
        > Flickers and Lucy’s Warblers, another two non-trivial-to-locate
        > California species. I’ve found Gilded Flickers easiest to find along
        > Cima Road north of Cima and dirt roads just to the southeast of Cima.
        > They are also along Powerline Road itself, in the first few miles west
        > of Cima Road. Lucy’s Warblers breed in tamarisk trees along the
        > railroad
        > tracks east of Kelso. I’ve always enjoyed the May trips, which also
        > produce birds like Scott’s Oriole and Black-throated Sparrow. This
        > trip
        > can be made using only paved roads, easily permitting use of a regular
        > car.
        >
        > Neither Bendire’s Thrashers nor Gilded Flickers are trivial to find.
        > You
        > may have to search for a number of hours. One year I found about 6
        > Bendire’s Thrashers along Cima Road, late one afternoon. The following
        > year, mistakenly thinking I had them figured out, planned on seeing
        > them
        > again late in the day. It got dark before I found any, and I left
        > without one on that year’s list.
        >
        > I’ve also seen Bendire’s Thrashers in Joshua Tree National Monument,
        > but
        > can’t remember exactly where.
        >
        > Another option is to watch Rare Bird Alerts from coastal Southern
        > California during September and October, when a young Bendire’s
        > Thrasher
        > will sometimes show up for a while. I’ve seen them in Sycamore Canyon
        > and Malibu Creek State Parks, but the last one was in 1999.
        >
        > Dick Norton
        > Topanga, CA
        >
        >
        >
        >
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      • Steve Sosensky
        Last year at the end of March, Bruce and Greg Aird and I saw 5 species of mimid - Bendire s, Crissal, Le Conte s, and Sage Thrashers and Northern Mockingbird
        Message 3 of 4 , Mar 9, 2008
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          Last year at the end of March, Bruce and Greg Aird and I saw 5
          species of mimid - Bendire's, Crissal, Le Conte's, and Sage Thrashers
          and Northern Mockingbird in the sage scrub southwest of the
          intersection of Black Canyon Road and Wild Horse Road, which is just
          south of Hole-In-The-Wall campground. I'll be leading a trip there on
          the first weekend in April for Sea and Sage Audubon. See the
          Wandering Tattler on the Sea and Sage website for details.

          We will also hit Cima Road and Mid Hills Campground. Mid Hills is
          often good for Pinyon Jays and Juniper Titmouse.

          At 05:54 PM 2008-03-09, Ken Burton wrote:
          >I have found Bendire's in May along the northern stretch of Wild Horse
          >Canyon Road between Mid Hills Campground and Black Canyon Road in Mojave
          >NP. The dense, higher-elevation scrub there seems unattractive to Le
          >Conte's, which seems to prefer areas that have plenty of open ground
          >between shrubs.


          Good birding,

          Steve Sosensky,
          SoCA Bird Guides <steve at sosensky.com> www.sosensky.com/guides
          Nature Photos www.sosensky.com/nature_photos.htm
          Optics4Birding <steve at optics4birding.com> www.optics4birding.com
          Aliso Viejo, CA 92656 949-269-2161 33.56485 N, 117.72205 W
        • Lance Benner
          Greetings All, I d like to mention some places in the east Mojave for Crissal and Bendire s Thrasher that haven t appeared in the previous emails. Kathi
          Message 4 of 4 , Mar 9, 2008
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            Greetings All,

            I'd like to mention some places in the east Mojave for Crissal and Bendire's Thrasher that haven't appeared in the previous emails.

            Kathi Ellsworth and I have had Bendire's Thrasher along Cedar Canyon Road and Ivanpah Road in Joshua Trees south of the New York Mountains. Both are dirt roads accessible without four-wheel drive. We also get Crissal Thrasher and along the roads into Keystone and Carruthers Canyons in the New York Mountains. The roads into those canyons have deteriorated in recent years so we recommend using a high-clearance vehicle.

            Regards,

            Lance Benner
            Altadena, CA
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