Savannah "Large-billed" Sparrow


Salton Sea Birding Festival
13-16 Feb 2004, 45-61 degrees
Narrated by Henry Detwiler

The festival began with sunset tours on Friday evening, and ended on President's Day. 
species on the weekend--160+ seen during the festival

Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized shots.

We started on Saturday morning with four vans on a target tour to search for Ferruginous Hawk and Mountain Plover.  The plovers were easy, in a burned-over field north of Andre Road--we spotted several dozen within half an hour of leaving the fairgrounds.  The hawks, however, were harder to get! 

Burrowing Owl

Northern Shoveler

Our search took us over a few back roads, where one of our sharp-eyed participants spotted this fine little burrowing owl.  Before too long, though, we had our quarry, and we called the other vans.  Alas, only one other van found us while we were on the bird.

From there, it was off to find some of the other specialties of the valley.  Close to Calipatria we homed in on Ruddy Ground-Dove, Common Ground-Dove, and Inca Dove. East of Niland we found White-tailed Kite and Prairie Falcon.  We got fine looks at the geothermal plants--lots of undergound energy for sale!

Geothermal Plant

Sprague's Pipit

Perhaps our best bird for the first day was this Sprague's Pipit, which we "walked" out of a huge bermuda grass field at the corner of Sinclair Road and Hwy 111.

Sun setting over Red Hill Marina and...

Sunset over the Salton Sea

Black Phoebe

At the refuge headquarters we looked for the White-throated Sparrow in vain.  Fortunately, we were able to show a few folks their life Abert's Towhee--and this beautiful Black Phoebe.  Sunday was the Yellow-footed Gull search--Bruce & Vic found 'em for us!

Ferruginous Hawk

On Sunday afternoon it was almost too easy to find this beautiful specimen--especially after the long search on the previous day.

Ferruginous Hawk

On the way home I spent several hours searching for a Roseate Spoonbill that was hanging around the area.  I never found it, but found lots of fine birds along the East Highline Canal, including a "Short-Billed" Curlew (a Long-billed Curlew with a straight bill that was no longer than a couple of inches) and these posing Cattle Egrets.

Cattle Egrets

Cattle Egret

American Kestrel

There were also many raptors in the area--Red-tailed Hawks sitting on the high tension towers, Northern Harriers quartering, and this beautiful male American Kestrel perched on the dredging spoils from an irrigation canal.
Great, Snowy, and Cattle Egrets were everywhere, as were Common Moorhens and a smattering of ducks in the Highline Canal.  It was a fine way to end the weekend!

Snowy Egret along the East Highline Canal

Imperial Valley, 14-15 Feb 2004
# Species
1 Pied-billed Grebe
2 Eared Grebe
3 Western Grebe
4 American White Pelican
5 Double-crested Cormorant
6 Great Blue Heron
7 Great Egret
8 Snowy Egret
9 Cattle Egret
10 Green Heron
11 Black-crowned Night Heron
12 White-faced Ibis
13 Sandhill Crane
14 American Wigeon
15 Mallard
16 Blue-winged Teal
17 Cinnamon Teal
18 Northern Shoveler
19 Northern Pintail
20 Green-winged Teal
21 Redhead
22 Ring-necked Duck
23 Greater Scaup
24 Common Goldeneye
25 Common Merganser
26 Ruddy Duck
27 White-tailed Kite
28 Northern Harrier
29 Sharp-shinned Hawk
30 Cooper's Hawk
31 Red-tailed Hawk
32 Ferruginous Hawk
33 American Kestrel
34 Merlin
35 Prairie Falcon
36 Ring-necked Pheasant
37 Gambel's Quail
38 Sora
39 Common Moorhen
40 American Coot
41 Black-bellied Plover
42 Snowy Plover
43 Semipalmated Plover
44 Killdeer
45 Mountain Plover
46 Black-necked Stilt
47 American Avocet
48 Greater Yellowlegs
49 Lesser Yellowlegs
50 Willet
51 Spotted Sandpiper
52 Long-billed Curlew
53 Marbled Godwit
54 Least Sandpiper
55 Long-billed Dowitcher
56 Turkey Vulture
# Species
57 Bonaparte's Gull
58 Mew Gull
59 Ring-billed Gull
60 California Gull
61 Herring Gull
62 Yellow-footed Gull
63 Forster's Tern
64 Rock Pigeon
65 Mourning Dove
66 Inca Dove
67 Common Ground-Dove
68 Ruddy Ground-Dove
69 Eurasian Collared Dove
70 Greater Roadrunner
71 Burrowing Owl
72 White-throated Swift
73 Anna's Hummingbird
74 Belted Kingfisher
75 Gila Woodpecker
76 Northern Flicker
77 Gray Flycatcher
78 Black Phoebe
79 Say's Phoebe
80 Loggerhead Shrike
81 Common Raven
82 Horned Lark
83 Tree Swallow
84 Northern Rough-winged Swallow
85 Cliff Swallow
86 Barn Swallow
87 Verdin
88 Cactus Wren
89 Marsh Wren
90 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
91 Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
92 Northern Mockingbird
93 European Starling
94 American Pipit
95 Sprague's Pipit
96 Phainopepla
97 Orange-crowned Warbler
98 Yellow-rumped Warbler
99 Abert's Towhee
100 Chipping Sparrow
101 Vesper Sparrow
102 Savannah Sparrow
103 Song Sparrow
104 White-crowned Sparrow
105 Dark-eyed Junco
106 Red-winged Blackbird
107 Western Meadowlark
108 Yellow-headed Blackbird
109 Brewer's Blackbird
110 Great-tailed Grackle
111 House Finch
112 Lesser Goldfinch
113 House Sparrow

Photos Henry D. Detwiler