Southern California: Summer 2020

Summer 2020: 1 Jun31 July

Guy McCaskie

Kimball L. Garrett

Recommended citation:

McCaskie, G., and K. L. Garrett. 2021. Summer 2020: Southern California. <> North American Birds.

A typical warm and dry summer was somewhat lackluster for rarities, although the bizarre image of a Buller’s Shearwater swimming among wading American Avocets on a shallow pond adjacent to the Salton Sea is one that will surely linger.  A Little Stint returned for a second winter on south San Diego Bay, and a Brown Booby/Blue-footed Booby pair produced a chick on Santa Barbara Island.

Shortly after the end of the period, a series of major fires ravaged portions of the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains as well as some of San Diego County’s back-country. Repercussions of these large-scale habitat alterations will be seen for decades to come.

Cited observers (County coordinators in boldface):

Jim Aichele, Vicki Andersen, Guatom Apte, Ann Baldwin (ABa), Richard Barth, Lainey Bee, Marc Better, Andrew Birch (ABi), Aaron Boone (ABo), Ein Bowen, Brian Browne, Casey Callaham, Kristin Campbell (KCa), Eugene A. Cardiff, Jay C. Carroll, Tom Cassaro (TCa), Nancy Christensen, Kevin Clark (KCl), Paul Clark, David M. Compton (Santa Barbara), Teresa Connell (TCo), Stephen P. Courtney, Eric B. Culbertson, Ron Cyger, Brian E. Daniels, Chris A. Dean, William R. Deppe, Jay Desgrosellier (JDe), Darren Dowell, Konshau Duman, Joseph Dunn (JDu), Tom M. Edell (San Luis Obispo), Merryl Edelstein, Jerri L. Edwards, Herb D. Elliott, Femi Faminu, Thomas F. Fangrow, Jon S. Feenstra, Beth Fife, Ken Fong, Thomas Ford-Hutchinson, Kimball L. Garrett (Los Angeles), Peter A. Ginsburg, Joachim Gonzalez, David Goodward, Matthew A. Grube, Aaron Gyllenhaal, Charity Hagen, Linnea Hall, Liam and Kilian Hampl, Randy Harwood, Shari Hatch, William F. Hatch, Karen Hay, Tom and Jo Heindel (Inyo), Kelli K. Heindel (Kern), Mark A. Holmgren

Cited observers (cont.)

David Holway, Chris and Rosie Howard, Dan Jehl, Mike Jensen, Gabriel Johnson, Logan L. Kahle, Rebecca Kitto, Will Knowlton, Russell D. Kokx, Alexander E. Koonce (San Bernardino), Ken and Brenda Kyle, Paul E. Lehman, Max Leibowitz, Nick A. Lethaby, Christopher Lindsey, Todd Mansur (TMa), Barry Mantell (BMa), Curtis A. Marantz, Eve Martin (EMa), Paul Marvin, Guy McCaskie (San Diego and Imperial), Mike McClintock, Cathy McFadden, Chet McGaugh (Riverside), Debbie McGuire, Robert McKernan, Jimmy McMorran, Susanne Meyer, Thomas Miko (TMi), Bob Miller (BMi), Jeff K. Miller, Eddie Monson (EMo), Oscar O. Moss, Jonathan Nakai, Cathy Nichols, Robert T. Patton, Jim Pawlicki, Dave Pereksta (DPe), Chris Pica, James E. Pike, Dave Povey (DPo), Sandra Remley, Blanche Ramswick (BRam), B. Rayos (BRay), Ken Reichner, William Rockey, Jim S. Royer, Mark Rubke, Brad Rumble (BRu), Nancy Salem (NSal), Florence Sanchez, Mike Sanders (MSa), Brian Sandstrom, Michael J. San Miguel, Larry Sansone (Photo Editor), Naresh Satyan (NSat), Janet Scheel (JSc), Mark Scheel (MSc), Peter T. Schneekloth, Spencer Seale, Adam J. Searcy (Ventura), Dessi E. Sieburth, Brad C. Singer, Alex Single (ASi), Dave Smith, Jeff Spalding (JSp), Mark Stacy (MSt), Justyn T. Stahl (San Clemente Island), Trent R. Stanley, C. K. Staurovsky, Mark and Lucas Stephenson, Caleb Strand, Justin Streit (JSt), Julie Szabo (JSz), Antal Szijj (ASz), Ed Thomas, Luke Tiller, Steve and Janny Tillman, Delaney Trowbridge, Robert Trusela, Manolo Turner, Sharif Uddin, Ann and Patrick Vaughan, Jason W. Wilder, Douglas R. Willick, Ryan S. Winkleman (Orange), Thomas E. Wurster, Kevin J. Zimmer. Many additional observers who could not be individually acknowledged submitted reportsall have our thanks.

Abbreviations: N.E.S.S. (north end of the Salton Sea, Riverside); P.M.N.A.S. (Pt. Mugu Naval Air Station, Ventura); P.P. (Piute Ponds on Edwards Air Force Base, northeastern Los Angeles); P.V.E.R. (Palo Verde Ecological Reserve along the Colorado River north of Blythe, Riverside); S.E.S.S. (south end of the Salton Sea, Imperial); S.F.K.R.P. (South Fork Kern River Preserve near Weldon, Kern); S.J.W.A. (San Jacinto Wildlife Area near Lakeview, Riverside); V.A.F.B. (Vandenberg Air Force Base in northwestern Santa Barbara); V.C.G.P. (Ventura County Game Preserve near Pt. Mugu Naval Air Station, Ventura).

Because most rarities in southern California are seen by multiple observers, only the observer(s) initially finding and/or identifying the bird is included.  Documentation for species on the California Bird Records Committee (C.B.R.C.) review list (see is forwarded to the C.B.R.C. and archived at the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology in Camarillo.


Single Brant at Mystic Lake, Riverside Co 1 Jun (CMcG) and at N.E.S.S. (84th Ave.) 6 Jul (WR) were both well inland and likely attempting to summer locally. Six Surf Scoters remained inland at N.E.S.S. (North Shore) through July (RM). A Long-tailed Duck at Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo Co 4 Jan–19 Jul (KF) and another on South San Diego Bay (Sweetwater River mouth) 16–20 Jun (RTP) were clearly attempting to summer locally. A Hooded Merganser, not expected in summer, was at the Sepulveda Basin in Encino, Los Angeles Co 20 Jul (KR). The presence of an adult White-tailed Ptarmigan accompanying a chick at Piute Pass in the high Sierra west of Bishop, Inyo Co 14 Jul (JWW) indicates this introduced game bird persists in this area.

The only White-winged Doves on the immediate coast, where rare, were single birds at widely separated locations in Carlsbad, San Diego Co 21 Jun (BRam) and 22 Jul (MT). Up to five Yellow-billed Cuckoos in a day at P.V.E.R. 5 Jun+ (KD) were at a known breeding location; single birds along San Felipe Creek at Scissors Crossing, San Diego Co 1 Jul (NC); near Santa Paula, Ventura Co 6 Jun (LH) at the Santa Clara River mouth, Ventura Co 1–2 Jul (SS); and along the Mojave River near Helendale, San Bernardino Co 17 Jul (JSt) were in suitable breeding habitat, but well away from any known nesting location. Single birds at the IID Wetlands near Niland, Imperial Co 9–25 Jul (PM, ET); along the Whitewater River in the Coachella Valley, Riverside Co 23 Jul (KCl); and at Billy Lake east of Independence, Inyo Co 15 Jul (RDK) were in marginal habitat, whereas one unable to fly in Santa Ana, Orange Co 17 Jul (VA) (captured for rehabilitation) appeared to be a lost migrant.

Numbers of summering Common Nighthawks in the San Bernardino Mountains appear to be declining as evident by only three to four found in the areas of Green Canyon and near Baldwin Lake through the summer (BCS, EMo, SR). Three Mexican Whip-poor-wills calling at Green Canyon 16 Jul–5 Aug (BB) were likely territorial, although nesting has yet to be documented anywhere in California.

Five Black Swifts at Monkeyface Falls in the San Bernardino Mountains 27 Jul (ABo) were at a known nesting site, and up to four over the Claremont Wilderness Park in the San Gabriel Mountain foothills, Los Angeles Co all summer (TMi) were likely nesting locally. One over S.J.W.A. 6 Jun (CAM) was likely from a nesting location in the nearby San Bernardino or San Jacinto mountains, but six over Oceano, San Luis Obispo Co 8 Jun (M&LS) were late spring migrants. Three Chaetura over Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo Co 29 Jun–6 Jul (L&KH) may have been Chimney Swifts since Vaux’s Swift is not expected in summer, and most Chimney Swifts recorded in Southern California are during June and July. A Broad-billed Hummingbird, a rare straggler to California, was photographed in Blythe, Riverside Co 5 Jul–13 Aug (KD), and another was there 10 Jul (CL).


Sora is not known to have bred in San Diego Co in close to 70 years, so calling individuals at two locations in the Laguna Mountains—Water of the Woods 1 Jul (MM) and West Meadows 9 Jul (MT)—are of note, suggesting the possibility of nesting; one at S.E.S.S. (Garst Rd.) 18 Jul (EB) was an early fall migrant. An American Oystercatcher at White Point on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Los Angeles Co 9–18 Jun (NSal) was the only one reported. A Pacific Golden-Plover at the Santa Ynez River Estuary, Santa Barbara Co 19–31 Jul (NAL) was an early fall migrant. The only Ruddy Turnstone reported inland was an adult at N.E.S.S. 28 Jul (CS). Two Black Turnstones at S.E.S.S. (Rock Hill) 9 Jun (GM) were likely attempting to summer locally; one on south San Diego Bay, San Diego Co 4 Jul (PEL) was the earliest fall migrant reported this year. Single Red Knots inland at S.E.S.S. (Young Rd.) 12 Jul (SU) and another at N.E.S.S. (North Shore) 29 Jul (RM) were the only two fall migrants reported inland. A Surfbird on south San Diego Bay 1 Jun–5 Aug+ (PEL) provides one of few records of this species summering in Southern California; one at Estero Bluffs State Park, San Luis Obispo Co 16 Jul (S&JT) was the earliest of the fall migrants reported this year.

A Ruff returned to the Santa Ana River in Anaheim, Orange Co 21 Jul–22 Sep (RSW) for its seventh winter. A Stilt Sandpiper in basic plumage at S.E.S.S. (Young Rd.) 10 Jul (CAD) was probably summering locally; 10 at S.E.S.S. (Morton Bay) 17 Jul (GM) were the earliest of the fall migrants; and single birds at Lake Elsinore, Riverside Co 22–23 Jul (CH) and in Blythe, Riverside Co 28 Jul (KD) were the only two reported away from S.E.S.S. A Dunlin, remarkably rare in summer, was at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach, Orange Co 26 Jun–1 Aug (DRW, BED). An unprecedented seven adult Baird’s Sandpipers at N.E.S.S. 22 Jul (RM), along with one each on the Los Angeles River in Long Beach 25 Jun (MSc) and south San Diego Bay 20 Jul (PEL), were followed by single juveniles at Owens Lake, Inyo Co 25 Jul (LLK); Camp Pendleton, San Diego Co 26 Jul (PAG); and N.E.S.S. 29 Jul (CAM).

A Little Stint at south San Diego Bay 4 Jul (PEL) was believed to be the same one present last winter. An adult Pectoral Sandpiper at the V.C.G.P. 26 Jul (LS) was the only one reported. A Semipalmated Sandpiper at south San Diego Bay 1 Jun (PEL) was a late spring migrant; single birds on the Los Angeles River in Long Beach 30 Jun (RB) and 5 Jul (CAD) were the only adults reported; and one at P.P. 22 Jul (JSF) was the earliest of 12 along the coast and three more inland by the end of July. A flock of 50 Western Sandpipers at S.E.S.S. 24 Jun (GM) documents just how early southbound migrants can arrive in Southern California. Since adult Short-billed Dowitchers are rare inland in fall, one at the Kern NWR 23 Jun (K&BK), two together at S.E.S.S. (Young Rd.) 22 Jul (CAM), and another nearby (Unit 1) 22–26 Jul (CAM, GM) were of note. A Solitary Sandpiper at Desert Center, Riverside Co 9 Jul (BS) and two at Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains 18 Jul (BCS) were the earliest of the fall migrants, with about 10more reported from various locations within this region by the end of July. A Wilson’s Snipe at Laguna Niguel, Orange Co 26 Jul (TFF) was an early fall migrant. The first of the southbound migrant Wilson’s Phalaropes were six on the Los Angeles River in Long Beach 14 Jun (RB).


The only South Polar Skua reported was one far south of Santa Cruz Island 12 Jul (DPe). Single Pigeon Guillemots at Point La Jolla in La Jolla, San Diego Co 13 and 16 Jun (JDe, ML) and off Point Loma, San Diego Co 19 Jul (DPo) were at the southern extreme of the species’ range. Four Craveri’s Murrelets off San Diego 11 Jun (PEL) were the earliest this year.

A Sabine’s Gull east-southeast of San Clemente Island 27 Jul (DPo) was either an exceptionally early fall migrant or, more likely, summered locally. A Laughing Gull at Dockweiler State Beach, Los Angeles Co 1 Jul (CAD) was the only one reported on the coast, and two at S.E.S.S. 9 Jun (GM) were the earliest of the post-breeding birds that move northward into the Salton Sink each year, but with numbers far below expected this year. Single Franklin’s Gulls at Bataquitos Lagoon, San Diego Co 2 Jun (NC) and at South San Diego Bay 9 Jun (PEL) were late spring migrants. A Heermann’s Gull associating with nesting California Gulls near Calipatria, Imperial Co 3 May–10 Jul (EAC, GM) was likely the same bird as here last summer, and five together on Fig Lagoon near Seeley, Imperial Co 8 Jul (GM) was an exceptionally large number for an inland location. A Mew Gull in Goleta, Santa Barbara Co 18–19 Jun (SM) was evidently over-summering locally. A Yellow-footed Gull at S.E.S.S. 30 May (GM) was the earliest of the post-breeders to reach the Salton Sink this year, but the number following was far below expected.

Up to six Least Terns at S.E.S.S. (Pound and Davis Rds.) 13 Jun–11 Jul (LB, GM) were the only ones reported inland. A Common Tern at N.E.S.S. (Salt Creek) 1 Jul (RM) was evidently an early fall migrant. A Black Skimmer at the Kern Co portion of the Tulare Lake Drainage District evaporation ponds 18 Jul (MSt) and two at Mystic Lake, Riverside Co 26 Jul (DG) were the only ones reported inland away from the Salton Sink.

A Red-throated Loon in alternate plumage on Lake Perris, Riverside Co 16 Jun (CMcG) was certainly unexpected. A Pacific Loon at S.E.S.S. (Obsidian Butte) 20 Jun (MSa) was either a late spring migrant or more likely attempting to summer locally; one on Lake Perris 23 Jun–1 Jul (CMcG) was clearly attempting to summer locally. A basic-plumage Common Loon on Ramer Lake, Imperial Co 9 Jun (GM) and another at N.E.S.S. 24 Jun (CMcG) were probably unusually late spring migrants, and an adult in alternate plumage on the California Aqueduct south of Lost Hills, Kern Co 1 Jul (ASi) was clearly lost.


A Leach’s Storm-Petrel at N.E.S.S. (North Shore) 17 Jun (RM) was only the third record on the Salton Sea. The only Cook’s Petrels reported were 32 counted 28–33 miles west of Point Loma in San Diego and Los Angeles Cos 27 Jun (PEL and DPo). A Buller’s Shearwater at S.E.S.S. (Morton Bay) 17 Jun (GM) was only the second ever found at the Salton Sea and the first in Imperial Co; one far south of Santa Cruz Island 12 Jul (DPe) was the only one reported from offshore.

A Wood Stork in Riverside Co near Perris 20 Jul–9 Aug (JSz) then at Lake Elsinore 15 Aug–9 Sep (CH) is suspected to be the same individual that was near Escondido, San Diego Co 13–15 May 2020, wandering around part of Southern California. Immature Magnificent Frigatebirds, rare wanderers to the coast of Southern California, 1–2 miles off Point Loma 15 Jun (CC), 1–2 miles off San Clemente, Orange Co 13 and 16 Jun (MJ and CP), and 2miles off Laguna Beach, Orange Co 16 Jun (DT) may have involved only one or two individuals. One photographed well inland over Hahamongna Watershed Park in Pasadena, Los Angeles Co 4 Aug (TCa) was totally unexpected. Two Nazca Boobies were reported, with one off southern Orange Co 3 Jul (TMa) and the other at Anacapa Island 15 Jul (TCo). Single immature Masked/Nazca Boobies were at La Jolla 21 Jul (PEL) and off Newport Beach, Orange Co 25 Jun (KCa). Totally unexpected was a Blue-footed Booby paired with a female Brown Booby at a nest with one chick on Santa Barbara Island 27 Jun–12 Jul (DPo). Neotropic Cormorants continue to be found west and north of the species’ now established range at the Salton Sink, with two in Bonita, San Diego Co 28–31 Jul (JSp); up to four on the coastal slope of Los Angeles Co 23 Jun+ (ME, BRu); and one in Goleta 3 Jul (DMC). Fifteen Brown Pelicans at S.E.S.S. 30 May (GM) were the earliest of the post-breeding birds to arrive at the Salton Sea from the Gulf of California.

“Booming” American Bitterns at Unit 1 and the IID Wetlands May through July suggest breeding, but nesting at the Salton Sink has yet to be proven. A Tricolored Heron, a rare wanderer to coastal Southern California, was on Mission Bay, San Diego Co 5–7 Jun (SH). A Reddish Egret at N.E.S.S. (North Shore) 22–29 Jul (RM) was the only one reported well inland; this egret is now rare in small numbers along the coast to Santa Barbara and even San Luis Obispo counties, but one was also slightly inland along the Los Angeles River near downtown Los Angeles 22–25 Jul (BF). The presence of a pair of Yellow-crowned Night-Herons attending young in a nest at the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve in Newport Beach during July (DM) provides the first breeding record for Orange Co. An adult Glossy Ibis near Escondido 22 Jun–11 Jul (NC) was believed to be the same bird photographed here on 7 Mar 2019 (ABa), establishing the first record for San Diego Co; an adult in the Riverside Co portion of the Prado Basin 13 Jul (JEP) was the only other reported. The immature Roseate Spoonbill first seen at S.E.S.S. (Unit 1) 3 Apr remained through July (GM).

Since Cooper’s Hawks were not known to nest in the Imperial Valley 5years ago, the fact that at least three pairs nested in residential Brawley (BMi, GM) is noteworthy. An adult Northern Goshawk, rare in this region, was at the Schulman Grove in the White Mountains, Inyo Co 2 Jul (OOM). An adult Mississippi Kite, a rare to casual vagrant to California, was at the Mojave Narrows Regional Park, San Bernardino Co 13–14 Jun (MAG). A flock of 74 Swainson’s Hawks near Wasco, Kern Co 6–8 Jul (K&BK) presumably represented non-breeding birds summering locally; two near Shandon, San Luis Obispo Co 18 Jun (TME) were in an area where nesting occurred in the past; and the presence of two hatch-year birds along with the adults near Ventucopa, Santa Barbara Co 15 Jul (SPC) confirmed successful nesting at that location. An immature Zone-tailed Hawk in the Laguna Mountains of San Diego Co 25 Jun (JP) and another at Lake Arrowhead in the San Bernardino Mountains 27 Jun (BCS) were both far from any known nesting location. An adult over Altadena, Los Angeles Co 28 Jul (LT) and over nearby Monrovia 1 Aug (RC) was likely the same bird present in this area, mainly in winter, for about 2years; a molting immature remained at the P.V.E.R. 9 Jun–24 Jul (KD).


A Brown-crested Flycatcher at Chino Canyon in Palm Springs, Riverside Co through the season (BMa) was at the northwest edge of the species’ breeding range. Eastern Kingbirds, whose “spring” vagrancy period is mainly in June, were noted at Apollo Park near Lancaster, Los Angeles Co 6 Jun (RK); Montana de Oro State Park, San Luis Obispo Co 11 Jun (M&LS); and the Sepulveda Basin in Encino, Los Angeles Co 15 Jul (BRay). A Cassin’s Kingbird in Big Pine, Inyo Co 11 Jun (T&JH) was unexpected on the Owens Valley floor. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers appeared in Ontario, San Bernardino Co 10 Jun (KH); Blythe 27 Jun (GA); and S.J.W.A. 28 Jun (CMcG). A Willow Flycatcher along the Santa Ynez River near Buellton, Santa Barbara Co 9–22 Jul (PTS) was near where one summered in 2019; the breeding subspecies extimus is highly endangered in the region. The ongoing increase of Vermilion Flycatchers in the region was evident this summer with a high count of 12 at P.M.N.A.S. 24 Jun (4 adult males, 3 adult females, and five recently fledged young) (AJS); their occurrence at 14 sites in Los Angeles Co (11 on the coastal slope, three in the Antelope Valley, with young fledged at half these sites); and the confirmation of nesting at four or five sites in Orange Co (RSW).

Two Loggerhead Shrikes were found in San Luis Obispo Co west of the Santa Lucia Mountains, where considered rare in the breeding season: one along Turri Rd. in Baywood Park 4–10 Jun (JKM) and one at Laguna Lake from 14 Jun into July (JLE). A White-eyed Vireo at Goleta 3–4 Jul (MAH) augmented the two recorded in the region in late May. A Yellow-throated Vireo was at Mission Trails Regional Park, San Diego Co 5–6 Jun (MT).  Plumbeous Vireos were found at two locations along Desert View Rd. in the Laguna Mountains 12 May–26 Jun, with recently fledged young observed being fed on the last date (NC); this represents the first proven breeding record for San Diego Co. Ten Red-eyed Vireos augmented the eight noted in the Spring report: singles were at Pismo State Beach Oceano Campground, San Luis Obispo Co 10 Jun (M&LS); Montana de Oro State Park 11–12 Jun (M&LS); Refugio Creek Canyon, Santa Barbara Co 14 Jun (NAL); Arroyo Verde Park in Ventura 16 Jun (MB); Upper Winter Creek Trail near Mt. Wilson, Los Angeles Co 19 Jun (DD); Vincent Gulch Trail in the San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles Co 20 Jun (NSat); San Diego (University City area) 21 Jun (DH); Los Osos, San Luis Obispo Co 30 Jun–6 Jul (JSR); near Isla Vista (UCSB campus), Santa Barbara Co 8 Jul (FS); and Rolling Hills, Los Angeles Co 4 Aug (RT, JN).

The increase of breeding Barn Swallows in San Bernardino Co was evidenced by up to 15 at Mojave Narrows Regional Park 5 Jul (WRD), up to six at Silver Lakes 17 Jun+ (JM), and a family group of eight at Glen Helen Regional Park 19 Jun (DG). Red-breasted Nuthatches along the San Luis Obispo Co coast, where unexpected in summer, were at Los Osos 14–18 Jul (JSR) and along Toro Creek Road near Cayucos 19 Jul (A&PV); two at Silver Lakes, San Bernardino Co 29 Jul (JM) were in the desert far from breeding habitat. A Brown Creeper on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Los Angeles Co 27 Jul (JA, CN) was also well away from breeding habitat.

White-eyes, presumed to be Zosterops simplex (Swinhoe’s White-eye), continue to explode in numbers and range in coastal Orange and southern Los Angeles counties but have not penetrated very far inland; thus, one well inland at Pomona, Los Angeles Co 15 Jun (MJS) was of interest. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet at Throop Peak above Dawson Saddle in the high San Gabriel Mountains 21 Jun (MSc, JSc) was one of the few recorded in recent years in potential breeding habitat in Los Angeles Co. Injured Hermit Thrushes lingering in the lowlands were at Apollo Park near Lancaster 11–12 Jun (CAD) and Hahamongna Watershed Park, Pasadena 21 Jun (DD). Up to six singing birds were in the shaded woodlands of the east slope of Mt. Wilson, Los Angeles Co 19 Jun (DD), a recently discovered breeding habitat that, unfortunately, largely burned subsequently in the September 2020 “Bobcat” fire. Spring vagrant Gray Catbirds were near Big Pine, Inyo Co 12 Jun (C&RH) and at Jawbone Canyon, eastern Kern Co 21 Jun (DES).


A Lawrence’s Goldfinch in Wyman Canyon in the White Mountains, Inyo Co 14 Jun (RO, NJO) was outside the species’ normal range. An unseasonal Golden-crowned Sparrow at Malibu Creek State Park, Los Angeles Co 21 Jun (FF) appeared to have an injured wing. The pattern of post-breeding upslope dispersal of Mojave Desert-breeding Bell’s Sparrows of the subspecies canescens was striking this year, with small flocks found widely on the north slope of the San Gabriel Mountains, even at altitudes of  >8000 ft., such as 20 near Throop Peak 28 Jun (PC, CMcF) and 15 at Blue Ridge Campground 24 Jul (LT). A Lincoln’s Sparrow at Big Pine 30 Jun (T&JH) was unexpected on the Owens Valley floor in summer. A Yellow-breasted Chat singing along Los Osos Creek in the upper Morro Bay Estuary, San Luis Obispo Co 27 Jun was along the coast where unexpected in the breeding season (JKM).

A male Black-and-white Warbler at Islay Creek Campground, Montana de Oro State Park 12 Jun is presumed to be the same bird reported there on 27 May (KJZ); others were at Buckhorn Campground in the San Gabriel Mountains 9 Jun (DES) and Camp Pendleton 15 Jun (PAG). A Prothonotary Warbler was at north V.A.F.B. 24 Jun (WK). Tennessee Warblers were in Los Osos 18 Jun (JSR) and in the high Sierra Nevada at Glacier Lodge, Inyo Co 29 Jun (ASz). A juvenile Lucy’s Warbler at P.P. 29 Jul (JSF) was a bit outside the known breeding range; early fall vagrants were in Orange Co at Huntington Central Park in Huntington Beach 23 Jul (TEW) and Mile Square Regional Park in  Fountain Valley 3–6 Aug (with two there 3–4 Aug) (TEW). Following the five Hooded Warblers recorded in May, a singing bird was in Malibu Canyon near Calabasas, Los Angeles Co 24–28 Jun (KLG). Four American Redstarts were in the coastal counties 8–12 Jun, with others at P.V.E.R. 3 Jun (GA) and San Clemente Island 12 Jun (NJD, JTS), along with a summering immature male in Los Osos 4 Jul–7 Aug (JSR). The spring push of Northern Parulas continued into June, with birds in Claremont, Los Angeles Co 3 Jun (DS); Littlerock, Los Angeles Co 5 Jun (KLG); Balboa Park in San Diego 6 Jun (TRS); Mission Trails Regional Park near San Diego 6 Jun (TF-H); and Mile Square Regional Park in Fountain Valley 29 Jun–3 Jul (TEW). A male at Nojoqui Falls County Park, Santa Barbara Co 8 Jun–25 Jul was joined by a female 9 Jun–13 Jul (PTS); a male in Soledad Canyon near Santa Clarita, Los Angeles Co 5–7 Jun (NSat) was joined by a second male 6–7 Jun (ABi); and breeding was confirmed on the Palos Verdes Peninsula when a male found 16 Jun was joined by a female 20–28 Jun and two juveniles were observed 28–31 Jul (MR, JN).

A Chestnut-sided Warbler was at Carpinteria, Santa Barbara Co 13 Jul (EBC). A good showing of four Magnolia Warblers included birds in Encinitas, San Diego Co 2 Jun (NC); east of Lancaster, Los Angeles Co 9 Jun (JDu); and San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine, Orange Co 17 Jun (WFH), plus one at the Doane Valley Trailhead on Mt. Palomar, San Diego Co 25 Jul (EMa) that may have been summering locally. A Yellow-throated Warbler made a brief appearance in a Pasadena yard 18 Jun (DD). A spring vagrant Yellow-rumped (“Myrtle”) Warbler was at Laguna Lake near San Luis Obispo 24 Jun (HDE); an “Audubon’s” in Los Osos 3 Jul was unseasonal for the coastal lowlands (JCC). The Grace’s Warbler found at Charlton Flat in the San Gabriel Mountains in the spring was seen regularly to 12 Jun, and again on 24 Jul (RH). A Black-throated Gray Warbler in Brawley 26 Jul (GM) established the earliest fall record ever for the Salton Sink. Wilson’s Warblers are now very local as breeders away from the north coastal part of the region; in Los Angeles Co they breed in the high San Gabriel Mountains, though there were no reports this summer; one was singing in Malibu Canyon in Calabasas 24–26 Jun (KLG), and in Orange Co three males summered at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine. Several early fall migrant Wilson’s were noted in Los Angeles Co after 27 Jul, but a bird at Scissors Crossing in Anza Borrego State Park 26 Jun (AG) was unseasonal.

Hepatic Tanagers were found at the usual breeding sites east of Baldwin Lake, San Bernardino Co, with a high count of five on 17 Jul (JG); the species went undetected there last summer. Four Summer Tanagers were found in San Luis Obispo Co 30 Jun–16 Aug; among those scattered elsewhere in the region were up to four at Mile Square Regional Park in Fountain Valley, Orange Co 29 Jun–1 Jul (TEW) and two males in Lone Pine, Inyo Co 7 Jun (RDK). Fifteen Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were found in the coastal counties 2 Jun–3 Aug, with another along Cima Rd. in the eastern Mojave Desert of San Bernardino Co 14 Jun (GJ). Four Indigo Buntings were on the San Luis Obispo Co coast 1 Jun–28 Jul; up to four plus fledged young were in the Tijuana River Valley, San Diego Co 16 Jun–1 Jul (DJ); and a bird at Paso Picacho in Cuyamaca State Park, San Diego Co was back for its third summer 27 May–16 Jun (CKS); two males were at the regular summering locality of S.F.K.R.P. 23 Jun and 11 Jul. An apparent Blue Grosbeak x Lazuli(?) Bunting at Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, San Bernardino Co 6–29 Jun (MAG) was likely the same bird found there in 2019.

Photos–Southern California: Summer 2020

Hover or click on each image to read the caption.