Santa Barbara County Birding

SBCOBIRDING is a discussion group devoted to sharing information about the birds of Santa Barbara County CA, it's nearshore waters and the Channel Islands within the county area.  Topics may include rare bird sightings, early and late migration dates, status, distribution, and ID issues.  Brief announcements of upcoming meetings, hikes, and pelagic trips are also permitted.  To learn more about local birding - where to go, find bird lists, county listing stats, and breeding bird data, visit the sbcobirding website link in the Group Information section below.

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Discuss only the birds of Santa Barbara County 
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05/23/2018 06:10 PM
Some Santa Ynez Valley notables
Last week at the Sedgwick Reserve (restricted access), we had a Prairie Falcon and a Peregrine Falcon engage in a dynamic aerial display that included lots of vocalizations and a moment when the 2 birds locked talons. Today at Sedgwick, there was a Virginia Rail continuing at the main pond and a very late Lewis’s Woodpecker.

Guy Tingos
Santa Barbara

Guy Tingos
Santa Barbara

05/23/2018 05:01 PM
Purple Martins in and around Nojoqui Park
This morning Adrian O’loghlen and I made the rounds to check on the progress of Purple Martins in the known nesting sites in Santa Barbara County.

At Nojoqui Falls Park we saw at least 5 Purple Martins. There was one female in a cavity near Alisal Road. (There was also a recently fledged American Kestrel at the park)

In the large Sycamore tree in the center of the field on the N side of Alisal Rd, approx .3 miles east of the park, we saw at least 10 Martins, with four or more cavities being visited.

At the entrance to Alisal Ranch, we saw at least 4 Purple Martins, all airborne.

Glenn Kincaid
Santa Barbara

05/22/2018 01:49 PM
Possible nesting Bell’s Sparrow
George and I walked one of the brushy steep canyons on the ranch today and had a male Bells Sparrow singing and acting like on territory. He joined a female and then went to a new perch singing again. This was in a location that I have seen Bells Sparrow before but assumed it was a migrant.

Cruz Phillips
Las Cruzitas ranch
Santa Ynez

05/21/2018 08:03 PM
more black swifts
Thanks to Dave Compton and Dave Pereksta (in Ventura County) I was motivated to spend some time looking for Black Swifts. Over about 1/2 an hour this evening between 7:20 and 7:50 PM I saw four separate individuals flying W. over Mission Canyon. 

Good birding,
Steven Gaulin 

05/21/2018 03:48 PM
Colson Canyon

I birded Colson Canyon this morning.  It was overcast, cold and somewhat windy.  Forty two species were logged.  Nothing atypical was noted but it was a fruitful day.  A couple of decent pix are included.  I saw a very young Bobcat but was unable to get a pic before it dove into the underbrush.  I've seen Bobcats the last 3 or 4 times I birded Colson Canyon.  Too cold and windy for insects.  I didn't see a single butterfly despite the abundance of wildflowers.

John Deacon

05/20/2018 06:48 PM
Black Swift
A lone Black Swift flew over my apartment at about 6:20pm. It was pretty breezy at the time, but the wind has subsided since then.

Dave Compton
Santa Barbara

05/20/2018 12:02 PM
Black-chinned Sparrow, Tresspass Trail, Gaviota Area
Took a nice hike out Trespass Trail and it was fairly birdy the entire length. It was largely expected birds including Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Lazuli Buntings, Phainopepla, Canyon Wren and more.  A couple of Back-chinned Sparrows and an Olive-sided Flycatcher were a nice surprise.

A look at one of the Black-chinned here:

Full list at:

Peter Schneekloth

05/19/2018 10:43 AM
Re: Fulvous Whistling-Duck?
The Goleta Water treatment plant is closed on the weekends. During working days you have to check in at the front desk before you can go birding. 

Wim van Dam
Solvang CA

Sent from a phone

Wim van Dam 
Solvang, CA
SBCO #376+2: Pine Warbler

05/19/2018 10:12 AM
Fulvous Whistling-Duck?
Hi all,

I haven't seen a report since 5/14. Is this bird still at the Goleta Sewer Ponds? Is the plant open on Sundays? TIA.

Good birding,
Steve Sosensky

05/19/2018 09:27 AM
Bohnett Park
I was surprised at the number of migrants/potential nesters in Bohnett Park this
morning (Westside, Santa Barbara): Western Tanager (1), Pacific-slope Flycatcher
(2), Wilson's Warbler (2), Townsend's Warbler (1), Yellow Warbler (many),
Warbling Vireo (2).

Hugh Ranson
Santa Barbara

05/18/2018 10:17 PM
Banded Caspian Terns
On 4/19/2018 I posted to SBCoBirding a large, mixed aggregation of terns and Bonaparte's Gulls at Goleta Beach, and mentioned that four of the Caspian Terns had readable leg bands. Today I heard back from the researcher who's tracking these extremely widely distributed birds.

One was banded as a chick on Crescent Island in the Columbia River near Pasco WA in 2012.
The remaining three birds were all banded on East Sand Island, also in the Columbia River, near Astoria OR, two of them as chicks in 2008 and 2004, and one as an adult in 2009.

The researcher, Yasuko Suzuki ( would be pleased to have additional reports of any banded terns in the county.

Good birding,
Steven Gaulin
Santa Barbara

05/17/2018 10:26 AM
Goleta Beach and Sewage Plant
Thursday, 5/17, 8:330 - 10:00 am

Goleta Sewage Treatment Plant was not very productive. Three Cinnamon Teal
(1 male) and lots of Gadwall. Two Bonaparte's Gull and one immature
Glaucous-winged. Observed a Great Blue Heron bathing, don't recall seeing
that before. Cliff and Rough-winged but no other swallow.

Goleta Beach had a Peregrine Falcon in its usual spot (high in bare
Eucalyptus branches opposite east parking lot). Heron/Egret/Cormorant nests
well attended. Saw no hatchlings but suspect they are not far away. Fair
raft of Western Grebe in bay. No northward bird movement offshore so I
suspect that time of the season is past. No Little Blue Heron so it is
probably up channel if still around. Otherwise, this spot was also rather

Oh well,
Rob Lindsay

05/16/2018 05:29 PM
Chipping Sparrow - Stow Grove Park
Visited Stow Grove at lunch and had an adult Chipping Sparrow moving about. I milled around for most of the my hour lunch hoping for it or others to reappear but no luck. It was seen near area 3 if anyone else happens to be in the area.

One for the record:

Peter Schneekloth


05/15/2018 09:47 PM
Osprey at Goleta Slough
I had a seasonally uncommon Osprey perched in the large dead tree across the slough from the restaurant at Goleta Beach about 4:15 PM today.

The Little Blue Heron was also present and foraging actively a bit farther East.

Steven Gaulin
Santa Barbara

05/15/2018 09:29 PM
Summer Tanager on VAFB
Julie Howar with Point Blue passed along the information that a male SUMMER TANAGER has been hanging out near Purisima Point on north VAFB. The bird was found yesterday and seen again today. Julie managed a few cell phone/scope photos. Two are at the Rare Birds of SB Flickr pool:

Jamie M. Chavez
Santa Maria, CA

05/15/2018 08:35 PM
Olive-sided, and dragonfly book
There was an Olive-sided Flycatcher at Crane School, Montecito, on Sunday. Now
I've got the birds out of the way, here's a message from Stuart Wilson:

Nick Lethaby has finished The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Santa Barbara
County, California. Nick will be attending our next Santa Barbara
Entomologists meeting on May 25, and after Ida Naughton’s program on Argentine
Ants (at Farran Hall, SBMNH), he will talk briefly about the new book. Nick
will be available to sign copies (get yours ahead of time at the link below)
when we move to the Collections Building. He'll have a couple of copies on hand
for you to peruse. In the meantime, the book is available here:

Below is a review I wrote for his Amazon listing:

by Nick Lethaby (Author),‎ Hugh Ranson (Photographer),‎ Peter Gaede
This is a handy field reference to the odonates of Santa Barbara County, which
lies at the cusp of Northern and Southern California, covering a region of
great diversity. Plants and animals, including the odonates, mingle from both
areas. Nick Lethaby has carefully compiled reported sightings from multiple
sources giving the reader up to date information on all species found in the
area. Consideration is given to climatic factors that affect migrant and
vagrant reportings. Habitats most likely to contain odonates are illustrated.
For a person wishing to observe odonates, many locations are noted that include
coordinates. Each species of dragonfly and damselfly is given a page including
locality and date information with a close-up photograph. This will be helpful
for identification, though some species can only be keyed through detailed
study beyond the scope of the book. In all, 53 species are included in a
checklist with more listed as potential additions from neighboring or distant
areas. Included in the Appendix is a table listing all species found on each of
the four northern Channel Islands.

Hugh Ranson
Santa Barbara

05/14/2018 04:50 PM
[CALBIRDS] CBRC News: Two new species accepted to CA list
Breaking news: according to the California Bird Records Committee SBCO can not add Hawfinch to its list.

Wim van Dam
Solvang, CA 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Kimball Garrett kgarrett@... [CALBIRDS] <CALBIRDS-noreply@...>
Date: Mon, May 14, 2018 at 2:56 PM
Subject: [CALBIRDS] CBRC News: Two new species accepted to CA list




The California Bird Records Committee has accepted records of two species new to the California state list:


Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma castro) at SE Farallon Island, San Francisco Co., 10-11 Nov 2017 (2017-130); and

Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola) at Yolo Bypass, Yolo Co., 15-16 Dec 2017 (2017-160)


Note that each of these species comes with taxonomic uncertainties.  “Band-rumped Storm-Petrel” may represent a complex of several species; there are perhaps four distinct populations within the Pacific Ocean alone, and each of these differs from the up-to-five distinct taxa in the Atlantic Ocean (see Petrels, Albatrosses and Storm-Petrels of North America by S. N. G. Howell, Princeton Univ. Press, 2012).  Citrine Wagtail and Eastern/Western Yellow Wagtails form another confusing complex (see Pipits and Wagtails by P. Alstrom and K. Mild, Princeton Univ. Press, 2003); mtDNA work had suggested that the two clades of Citrine Wagtail were each more closely related to different Yellow Wagtail clades than to each other, but nuclear DNA work appears to confirm the distinctness, and monophyly, of Citrine Wagtail.


Another potential state first, a Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes) aboard a ship offshore of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, 17 May 2016 (2016-150), was not accepted due to questionable natural occurrence.


The addition of the storm-petrel and wagtail brings the California state list to 671 species. Thanks to Joe Morlan, the CBRC web site has already been updated with this information:


Kimball L. Garrett

[CBRC Spokesperson]

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

900 Exposition Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90007 USA




Posted by: Kimball Garrett <kgarrett@...>
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Wim van Dam 
Solvang, CA
SBCO #376+2: Pine Warbler

05/13/2018 11:55 PM
Good movement of Black Swifts
Hi All,

This afternoon from the Franklin Trail I had quite a few swifts pass between about 2:20 - 5pm. From around mile three I had a minimum 25 BLACK SWIFT although that total may be short by five or even ten birds. I had complete cloud cover high up for part of the time with a steady WNW wind revealing blue skies (and some great looks at swifts) later in the day. I also had an huge group of at least 44 raven flying west together over this area. An additional four raven hung out together nearby while I watched for swifts. Lazuli Bunting were also everywhere in the area of the burn.

Eric Culbertson 

05/13/2018 03:23 PM
Re: Phainopeplas

A few pictures here…


I just looked outside.  They’ve stripped a lot of flower petals,  not many left. 

05/13/2018 02:26 PM
There's a small flock of Phainopeplas in our neighborhood north of Lake Los Carneros.  They've found the pineapple guavas in our yards.  Most plants are in back yards but mine is in the front.   I'll post bird pictures later but the sightings have been usually 6 and as a large as 10.  About half are adult males.  The others are (subject to expert confirmation) 2 juvenile males molting from the shoulders down, a few female/juveniles, one with faint yellow forehead and crest usually down. There's at least one adult female.  You're welcome to view them from my yard.  Best time is afternoon as the sun is good, from the driveway.  It's easy to see them in a Mimosa tree just above.  
My address is 6570 Camino Venturoso off Covington Way.  No need to knock first.  It can be a lively show, sometimes it's like Cirque de Phainopepla
Adam Lewis