In my opinion, the finest bird in the world— GOLDEN EAGLE. It is my most favorite bird, worldwide. My car license plate is: IOLAIR which is Gaelic for Golden Eagle. These majestic birds are common throughout San Benito County. Is there any buteo more regal than Buteo regalis? Ferruginous Hawks are grassland inhabitants. In olden days, they built their nests on the ground, lining them with buffalo dung.
Below, is a pictorial highlight of three days of San Benito County birding. All images are copyrighted by Don Doolittle. We visited many places throughout the county on January 29, 30 and 31. It rained off and on most of the 30th, making photography very challenging. I hope you will enjoy this collection.
This Ferruginous Hawk has a full crop— ground squirrels, no doubt. Debi's most favorite hawk. I call them, "Buffalo Hawks."
Check out those fully feathered legs!
Ferruginous Hawks tend to become very habitual, returning to the same telephone pole, even. Sometimes, winter after winter, they will do this, from one year to the next. You can find this particular individual on Santa Ana Valley Road near the intersection with Quien Sabe Road.
This Prairie Falcon was on a private ranch. These falcons are not uncommon in the county, breeding at Pinnacles National Monument and in the Diablo Mountains.A Green-winged Teal on a private ranch which I am scoping out for birding.
Buffleheads on the same ranch. Black-crowned Night Herons, Virginia Rail and Sora were also found here.
The California Towhee is often taken for granted. They are very confiding, which leads to their demise in suburban habitats due to cat predation. They mate for life.
One of many Yellow-billed Magpies that we saw. This is a bird of open grasslands and blue oak savannah. Cattle, and or, horses are part of their life history.
A male Phainopepla guards his mistletoe berry stash on a private ranch. We saw a good number of these "Devil Birds."
Say's Phoebe is a bird of the grasslands. They are common throughout most of San Benito County.
In the town of Hollister, we visited the sewer ponds for gulls.
And, hundreds of Northern Shovelers.
At the far southern end of San Benito County, lies Hernandez Reservoir where Tule Elk have been introduced. We saw a herd of about 40 animals.
Shrikes are disappearing, worldwide. So, it is great to see so many Loggerhead Shrikes in San Benito County.
A little bit of a surprise for winter, was this Townsend's Warbler at Vista Park Hill in downtown Hollister. This is a great park for birds anytime of the year. Soon, it will be loaded with migrating orioles, tanagers and grosbeaks.
This Cackling Goose was also on the private ranch.
The ubiquitous Killdeer.
A pair of Cinnamon Teal at a vineyard pond.
Yellow-billed Magpies are nearly endemic to California. Nearly half of the birds in California have died from the West Nile Virus. However, large flocks of up to 30 birds, can be seen on Highway 25, especially south of Pinnacles National Monument, in San Benito County. This county seems to have been spared the virus.
Hope to see you out there,
San Benito County Birding