Tule Ponds at Tyson

Mourning Dove
Zenaida macroura

This common dove is gray-brown with a black spot on its cheeks.  It has a slim body, small head, pinkish feet, and a long pointed tail.  The wings produce a whistling sound as the dove takes flight and the white tips of the outer tail feathers are visible.  Small flocks are often found feeding on the ground or perched on wires or tree branches.  Its flight is swift and direct without coasting.  Its call is a series of mournful coos.  It lays 2 white eggs in nests in trees, shrubs, or on the ground. 12 in.

Black Phoebe
Sayornis nigricans

The black phoebe is a solitary flycatcher that feeds almost entirely on flying insects.  It  perches in the open near water, wagging and spreading its tail. It makes short flights to catch insects, and returns to its perch. The top of its body, including the breast, is black; the belly is white. Its 4-syllable song is a thin, rising pee-wee, followed by a descending pee-wee.  Its calls include a loud tsee and a sharper tsip.  It lays 3-6 white eggs in a cup nest of mud and grass built beneath an overhanging cliff or eave. 6-7 in.

Cliff Swallow
Hirundo pyrrhonota  

Swallows have streamlined slender bodies and long pointed angled wings.  They often perch in rows on wires and dart over water to catch insects in their wide gaping beaks.  The square tail and buffy rump distinguish the cliff swallow from all others.  Cliff swallows gather mud from the edge of the Lagoon that they use to build colonies of gourd-shaped nests under the eaves of nearby houses.  On March 19th each year (St. Joseph’s Day), the return of cliff swallows from their wintering grounds in South America is celebrated in San Juan Capistrano.

Barn Swallow
Hirundo rustica

The Barn Swallow can be told from all swallows by its deeply forked tail. Length is about 6 inches and has a dark orange forehead and throat. With pale orange underparts.  Will nest communally in mud nests under bridges, in barns and caves.

Common Yellowthroat
Geothlypis trichas

This small wren-like warbler has olive-colored upper parts and yellow under parts.  The male has a black mask, bordered above by white, that wraps across the top of its bill and around the front of the head.  The yellowthroat is often found on or near the ground in dense patches of tules and cattails in marsh habitats.  Its song, witchity, witchity, witchity, witch, is repeated several times.  It lays 3-5 spotted eggs in a loose grass cup.  5 in.

Song Sparrow
Melospiza melodia

The song sparrow is brown with a heavily streaked breast and a central dark “stickpin”. Its legs and feet are pinkish.  It pumps its long, rounded tail in flight. It inhabits dense streamside thickets and moist wood margins. Its song is a series of variable musical and buzzy notes: sweet, sweet, sweet.  Its call note is a hollow chimp. It lays 3-5 spotted eggs in a grass cup on the ground or in a bush.  6 in.

Red-winged Blackbird
Agelaius phoeniceus

Blackbirds are found year round.  The shiny black males have bright red yellow-margined shoulder patches that are hidden when feeding or resting and are only seen during flight.  Females are brown with dark stripes.  Males and females form separate colonies except during the breeding season.

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