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Sutro Bird Watcher: Changing Seasons

Updated: Jan 20, 2021

Whitney Grover is a trip leader with Golden Gate Audubon Society, you can catch her leading a monthly bird walks on Mount Sutro, with fellow birder Pat Greene. Join their next walk on September 7!

Young American Robin,

photo by Nina Bai

Spring has come to a close, and the birds on Mount Sutro are winding down their breeding season. The speckled young American Robins hop around the trails, following their brightly colored parents in the search for food. As you approach, they test their new flying skills and flee to a nearby tree, safely out of reach from the trail. Young Dark-eyed Juncos, members of the Sparrow family, hop out of the underbrush. They can be difficult to identify at first, their streaking coloration so different than the bold chocolate

brown and black of their parents. But when they spread their wings to fly, the characteristic white tail stripes give them away.

Adult American Robin, photo by Alex Smolyanskaya

When you near the summit you may come across the family of Olive-sided Flycatchers. All spring the loud “Mar-tee-nee” call of the male could be heard around the East Ridge and Fairy Gates Trails. His persistence paid off, and a female joined him, nesting high in a Eucalyptus tree at the summit. They now have at least two young fledglings following them around, still begging for food.

Olive-sided Flycatcher, photo by Keith Maley

Soon, all these young birds will be fending for themselves, and molted into their adult plumage. As Spring and Summer move into Fall, new arrivals will be taking up residence on the Mountain. Townsend’s Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and Fox Sparrows will be returning from their breeding grounds and settling in for the Winter. San Francisco weather can make it easy to forget the passing of the seasons, but the changing bird life can be a great way to stay connected.

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