Topics in Field Ornithology (Fall 2018)

If you miss a class, please check this page and study the listed topics in your field guide. Click here for last semester's calendar.

Note: Please park in the Hayes Street Parking lot. All spaces are available except disabled and reserved drop off for the child care center. If the lot is full and you park in the Grove Street lot you will likely get a parking ticket unless you display the temporary parking passes which are available to all registered students. These passes must be stamped by the John Adams office which closes at 7:30pm!

Note: We will be using the new 7th edition of the National Geographic Guide.
Class notes by Elisabeth Koster are
here. (Plumage and molt terminology here. )
Please register at
eBird and email me your eBird ID. I can then offer to share field trip lists with you.

"Diversity and Evolution of Hummingbirds" - My CCSF Lecture (YouTube Video).

"Subspecies for Birders" presented to Marin Audubon on 13 October. Audio Recording and PDF here
My article on Ridgway's Rail being imperiled by Spartina removal is here.

The new SFBIRD email list is here.
Acorn Woodpecker cooperative breeding information is
here and here.

Article on the effects of smoke on raptors here.


March 13, 2019
We plan to complete and review the woodpeckers on pages 316-318.

Click here for a photo of an American Three-toed Woodpecker in Alaska.
Click here for my photo of a Northern Flicker from California and here for one from Cuba with discussion. Northern Flicker intergrades are here, here and here.
Gilded Flickers may be distinguished from intergrade Yellow-shafted x Red-shafted flickers by the Gilded's more extensive black on the underside of the tail, more oblong ventral spots, paler coloration and overall smaller size.
An article on the Ivory-billed Woodpecker by Sibley et al. in the journal Science is here. Rebuttal is here. Perspective by Jerome Jackson published in the Auk is here.
My Pileated Woodpecker photo from Florida. Photos of a Pileated Woodpecker at Lake Solano Park are here.

Recommended Reading:


December 12, 2018
We completed and reviewed the woodpeckers on page 314. Class Recording Expires 1/11/2019

Review of Interspecific Social Dominance Mimicry in Birds.
Attempts to explain visual similarity in Downy & Hairy Woodpeckers.

Downy/Hairy ID tips are here. Sibley's illustrated essay on eyespots on the Downy Woodpecker is here.
My Hairy Woodpecker photos here, here, here, and here. Additional Hairy Woodpecker with yellow outer tail-feathers.
My Downy Woodpecker photos here, here, here, here, and here.
Hairy & Downy Woodpeckers at North Lake.
My Great Spotted Woodpecker photos.

Note: This was be the last class for Part B. EA110 will start March 13, 2019. Please register if you plan to continue.


December 5, 2018
We completed and reviewed the woodpeckers on page 312. Class Recording Expires 1/4/2019

Note: All the Picoides woodpeckers on pages 312-314 have been moved to the new genus Dryobates according to the 59th AOS supplement. See above.

Click here, here, here, here, and here for my photos of Nuttall's Woodpeckers. Additional photo by Peter Seubert.
Click here for photo and discussion of a dark female Ladder-backed Woodpecker superficially resembling Nuttall's Woodpecker. Click here for my photo of a more typical female Ladder-backed Woodpecker in Texas - [18 January 2006 - Salineno, Texas. This was the last day of our recent Texas trip. We visited the DeWind's feeders at Salineno along the Rio Grande River. The DeWind's welcome birders to their yard and have plenty of folding chairs for guests. It is very popular with bird tours and photographers. The last time we visited, about five years ago, we met the famous wildlife photographer and author, Leonard Lee Rue. This female Ladder-backed Woodpecker was attracted to a mixture of peanut butter, cornmeal and lard pasted onto the tree trunk. The race P. s. cactophilus is resident in the United States portion of the bird's range. It is the largest subspecies and has the most white on the back. Other subspecies in the tropics are smaller and darker. Olympus D-550z / Nikon FieldScope 3 / 30XWA (hand-held - no adapter).]


November 28, 2018
We completed and reviewed the sapsuckers on page 310. Class Recording Expires 12/28/2018

Click here for a photo of a Red-breasted Sapsucker (S. r. ruber) in San Francisco. My photo of a Red-breasted Sapsucker at North Lake is here and Coyote Point is here.
Click here for my photo of an immature Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in Tilden Park, and here for a photo of an adult Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Inverness, Marin County. Additional Yellow-bellied Sapsucker photos are here, here, here here here here and here.
Female Red-naped Sapsucker in Pacifica here and here. My photo of a Red-naped Sapsucker at Ione, Amadore County, California is here. Detailed discussion and photos of a Red-naped Sapsucker in San Francisco with extra red on its face, and an apparent female Red-naped Sapsucker without visible white on its throat are here. Also a photo of an apparent hybrid is included. An additional Red-naped Sapsucker photo is here. Click here for additional photos of an apparent hybrid between Red-breasted Sapsucker and Red-naped Sapsucker in Milpitas. Click here for photos of the mystery sapsucker from Strybing Arboretum. I agree that it appears to be a hybrid Red-breasted X Red-naped Sapsucker. Click here for an article with a sapsucker hybrid index. This bird scores between 3 and 5. Additional article on identifying hybrid sapsuckers.


November 21, 2018

NO CLASS! Due to hazardous air quality conditions in San Francisco, all classes have been cancelled and the District will remain closed all week.


November 14, 2018
We completed and reviewed the woodpeckers on page 308. Class Recording Expires 12/14/2018

Golden-fronted Woodpecker in Texas: 18 January 2006 - Salineno, Texas. This was a common and conspicuous woodpecker throughout our trip. It gets its name from the gold colored nasal tufts and forehead. This is a male. Females lack the red patch on the crown.
Red-bellied Woodpecker in Florida with comments.
Gila Woodpecker in Arizona with annotations. Also Baja California.
Male Williamson's Sapsuckers in Pescadero and San Francisco, and a female Williamson's Sapsucker in San Jose.


November 7, 2018
We completed and reviewed the woodpeckers on page 306. Class Recording Expires 12/07/2018

Click here for details and photos of the first Red-headed Woodpecker in California and here for my photos from Montana.
Click here for a description of cooperative breeding by Acorn Woodpeckers. Click here for photos and discussion of a family of Acorn Woodpeckers in California. Click here for my photo of an Acorn Woodpecker in Arizona and here for another photo of Acorn Woodpecker from California with a discussion of geographic variation.
Click here for my Lewis's Woodpecker photos at the Filoli Estate. Click here for my photo of a Lewis's Woodpecker at Brentwood. Click here and here (PenBirds membership may be required) for my photos of Lewis's Woodpecker at Alpine Lake, San Mateo Co.

Click here for an article on skull morphology explaining how woodpeckers avoid headaches.


October 24 & 31, 2018

NO CLASSES!


October 17 2018 Class Recording Expires 11/16/2018
We completed and reviewed the hummingbirds on page 104 and the kingfishers on page 304.

Click here for a photo of Violet-crowned Hummingbird in Humboldt County. My photo and notes of a Violet-crowned Hummingbird in Arizona are here.
Belted Kingfisher photos here, here and here
Ringed Kingfisher in belize and in Brazil here, here and here.
Green Kingfisher in Belize and Texas. Panama here, here and here. Brazil here and here.
Amazon Kingfisher in Panama and in Brazil here.

Note: This was the last class for Part A. EA115 will start November 7th. Please register if you plan to continue.


October 10 2018 Class Recording Expires 11/09/2018
We plan complete and review the hummingbirds on page 102.

A photo and discussion of a male Selasphorus thought to be Rufous is here.
Click here, here, and here for my photos of Allen's Hummingbirds. Additional photos of Allen's Hummingbirds are here & here.
Many Rufous Hummingbirds have green backs and are indistinguishable from Allen's Hummingbirds. Allen's is restricted to coastal California and is generally absent from Northern California after the end of August. Identification of either species outside normal season or range is not advised unless the bird is in hand. .


October 3 2018 - Class Recording Expires 11/02/2018
We plan complete and review the hummingbirds on page 100.

My Calliope Hummingbird photos from Arizona here and here.
My Broad-tailed Hummingbird photo from Arizona. Click here for photos of a female Broad-tailed Hummingbird from Oklahoma.


September 26, 2018

NO CLASS


September 19, 2018 - Class Recording Expires 10/19/2018
We completed the hummingbirds on page 98.

Click here for a controversial photo of an Anna's Hummingbird thought by some to be a Costa's.
My photos of Anna's Hummingbird are here, here, here, here, here, and here.
My photos and notes on a Broad-billed Hummingbird in Santa Cruz. Click here for my account and photos of a male Broad-billed Hummingbird in Sonoma, here for my notes on a Broad-billed Hummingbird in Goleta, and here for a photo of a Broad-billed Hummingbird at Weldon, California. Additional California Broad-billed Hummingbirds are here, here and here. Arizona photo and notes here.


September 12, 2018 - Class Recording Expires 10/12/2018
We completed and reviewed the hummingbirds on page 96.

Click here for my detailed account and photos of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird in Nevada City, California. Click here for my photos and analysis of a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird at Bolinas. Click here, here, here, here, here and here for photos of more Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in California.
Black-chinned Hummingbird in Arizona here, here and here. Click here for a photo and discussion of a mystery hummingbird (probably Black-chinned).
A photo and discussion of a mystery Calypte sp. (possibly Costa's) at Pinnacles is here.

Female Archilochus hummingbirds do not show the white supraloral stripe evident in female Calypte hummingbirds. Female Ruby-throats have a shorter bill, greener crown and narrower outer primaries compared to female Black-chinned. Female Costa's are grayer above, whiter below and longer-billed than female Anna's. Calypte is the only hummingbird genus in which the birds habitually sing from a perch.


September 5, 2018 - Class Recording Expires 10/5/2018
We completed and reviewed the hummingbirds on pages 92-94.

Terrible photo of a Mexican Violetear in California is here. Click here and here for my photos of Lesser Violetear (split from Green Violetear) in Costa Rica.
My photos of Green-breasted Mango from Costa Rica are here and here.
Rivoli's Hummingbird (split from Magnificent) from Arizona photo here. Click here for details and photo of California's first Rivoli's Hummingbird and here for photos of a Rivoli's Hummingbird in Eureka, California. My photos of male and female Talamanca Hummingbird (now split from Magnificent in Costa Rica are here and here.
Photos originally thought to show a Blue-throated Hummingbird are here. The bird is actaully a Black-chinned Hummingbird. A detailed discussion of size illusian in birds is available here.
Click here or here for my photos of a Plain-capped Starthroat at Ash Canyon, Arizona 20 July 2003.

Class notes by E. Koster