Los Farallones

Dispatches from Point Blue’s field station on the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge

Calm winds bring birds to the Farallones

On Tuesday, October 15th, the anemometer on the island weather station came to a halt under a low cloud ceiling; low winds and extensive cloud cover create ideal conditions for attracting migrant birds to the island.

During Burrowing Owl target-netting early Tuesday morning, the 14th island record of Common Poorwill was captured unexpectedly. These peculiar nocturnal birds are typically found around rocky hillsides and scattered scrub across the interior west.

When day broke, the entire fall crew found themselves outside looking for what might be hiding around the island. A Chestnut-sided Warbler and Blackburnian Warbler were soon found in the trees outside the house. Later in the day, both Short-eared and Long-eared Owls were discovered on the eastern portion of the island.

Chestnut-sided Warbler
Short-eared Owl
Long-eared Owl

Though common at most places on the mainland, our most exciting bird of the day was the Island’s 4th record of Ring-necked Duck, which made an appearance just off of East Landing. Although our photos were not great due to our distance from the duck, it is identifiable by the peak at the rear of the head, the black back contrasting with gray-brown sides, and in flight, by the dark trailing edge to the wing.

Ring-necked Duck sitting on water off East Landing
Ring-necked Duck flying away from the Farallones
A Ring-necked Duck from Stow Lake in San Francisco.

You can see the entire list of birds we saw this day on eBird: