Celebrating the Tiny Ones

December 30, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

By Bev-Sue Powers

Did you know there are at least 20 types of warblers, 17 types of sparrows, 15 types of Flycatchers, and 7 types of swallows who call the Ballona Wetlands home at least part of the year?  Here is a mere sampling of some of the tiny neighbors you might or might not have noticed around the Ballona Wetlands.

The first flycatchers I got to know were a pair of Black Phoebes and their babies who nested under the protected eaves of the small, one story building next to where I live. The second (third?) year they returned to the same nest, a big storm destroyed it. The next year they tried to rebuild it, but again it was destroyed. This time I suspect it was by crows raiding the nest for the very tiny white eggs. The pair tried, unsuccessfully, rebuild a couple more times before moving on. I still see them in the courtyard year-round.

Black Phoebe and baby

One of my biggest thrills was to discover last spring, a pair of Rough-Winged Swallows who decided to nest in the runoff pipe above my patio. One of the first clues they were settling in was a long piece of fishing line dangling from the pipe.  I considered it a cosmic irony because at the time, I was busy taking my "Hook, Line, & Sinker" project on the road. . . And because this species does not interact with fish! It took me almost the entire season to get photos of them because they were so quick! After several weeks, I noticed much commotion & longer perching times. I suspected their baby was about to fledged the nest, so got my camera ready, just in case. Sure enough, their baby made its debut (looking more fully formed than baby-ish). Shortly afterwards, the family left for the season. I hope they return next spring for a repeat performance.

Northern Rough-winged Swallow & baby

Tiny Migrants

The Black Phoebes and their larger cousin, the Say’s Phoebe, sometimes visit my patio, offering a nice mini break from working on the computer. Say’s Phoebes typically winter here and travel as far north as Alaskan and the Yukon to breed.

A Say's Phoebe dropped by my patio

The White-Crowned Sparrow also winters here, arriving in October and departing in late March for its northern breeding grounds from central California to as far north as Alaska. When they arrive, you can be sure the Fall migration south is in full swing.

  A White-Crowned Sparrow taking a moment to observe me.

Along the Pacific Flyway, the petit Yellow-rumped Warbler spends spring and summer in Alaska, northern Manitoba, and central Quebec and heads south to spend winter in the south-western states and into the tropics. The Ballona Wetlands are a guaranteed winter destination.

A Yellow-rumped warbler caught during a rare, still moment.

 

 


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