The Birds of Mount Davidson

  |   Hikes in the City, Urban Wildlife   |   2 Comments

The Birds of Mount Davidson [photo by Jerry Liguori]
Sharp shinned hawk; photo by Jerry Liguori

Last Sunday I took my first steps out of the birder closet. I don’t know where this leads, but I seem to have entered into a vibrant community with a love of bold colors and exaggerated mating behaviors. And, of course, they love to watch. More after the jump…

I had a sad old pair of binoculars, no field guide, and absolutely zero knowledge of the birds we were looking for, but it wasn’t a big deal. Utter pro Dominik Mosur led our group, organized by Nature in the City‘s Iris Clearwater, to the highest point in San Francisco to check out some of the migrant birds (though some were year-round residents) using the peak as a waystation for feeding.

The forest whose cover and food they enjoy is populated with non-native trees like Australian eucalyptus and cypress. They’ve had to adapt to this habitat over the last several decades since the natural state of the hill was scrub, and no trees at all.

The Migrating Birds of Mount Davidson

It was a pretty good day, despite the lack of easterly winds (they blow migrating birds off their flight path and into the city). The more vocal birders in the group instantly began recognizing the slightest bird songs, and then spotting them in dense cover and pointing them out. I was in awe of this superpower.

Here are some of the birds we saw (in addition to the hawk shown above) that those in the group who knew what they were looking at seemed to get extra excited about:

Lazuli Bunting

Lazuli Bunting
Public domain image

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Olive-sided_Flycatcher_DonnerPark [photo by Martin Meyers]
Photo by Martin Meyers

Wilson’s Warbler

Wilson's Warbler [photo by Terry Sohl]
Photo by Terry Sohl

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing [photo by John Old]
Photo by John Old

Other birds sighted included:

  • Band-tail Pigeon
  • Winter Wren
  • Song Sparrow
  • Anna’s/Allen’s/Rufous Hummingbirds
  • White-crowned Sparrow
  • Golden-crowned Sparrow
  • Red-shouldered Hawk
  • Orange-crowned Warbler
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Jonah Saltas | Apr 29, 2010 at 11:18 am

    That Sharp-shinned Hawk photo is brilliant….

  • Daphne | Apr 29, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    I was in awe of the super-birders on the walk, too! But I learned a lot and maybe I will be able to see some of those elusive ones in the thickets on my own someday.