Southern California: Summer 2021

Summer 2021: 1 Jun–31 Jul

Guy McCaskie 

Kimball L. Garrett 

Recommended citation:

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

Record heat and lingering drought characterized the region through the summer. Climate change, with warming marine waters, has clearly played a role in the northward push of several subtropical species, including Neotropic Cormorant, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, and Reddish Egret. The summer season also saw a now almost-expected five species of boobies, and the first U.S. nesting of Blue-footed Booby on Sutil Rock off Santa Barbara Island. Charlie Wright’s presence on board a research vessel far off Santa Barbara and Ventura counties added to our knowledge about pelagic birds over these distant waters, with a highlight this year being exceptional numbers of Craveri’s Murrelets. A juvenile Short-tailed Albatross spent several days just off the coast of Los Angeles and Orange counties. Notable landbirds included a Great Crested Flycatcher at the south end of the Salton Sea, an Alder Flycatcher at a migrant trap in Kern Co, and a Pyrrhuloxia in the Coachella Valley.

Sub-regional Compilers 

David M. Compton (Santa Barbara Co), Tom M. Edell (San Luis Obispo Co), Kimball L. Garrett (Los Angeles Co), Kelli K. Heindel (Kern Co), Chris & Rosie Howard (Inyo Co), Alexander E. Koonce (San Bernardino Co), Guy McCaskie (San Diego Co and Imperial Co), Chet McGaugh (Riverside Co), Larry Sansone (photo editor), Adam J. Searcy (Ventura Co), Justyn T. Stahl (San Clemente Island), Ryan S. Winkleman (Orange Co).


N.E.S.S. (north end of the Salton Sea, 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 Co).  Museum collections abbreviated in the text are: LACM (Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County).

Because most rarities in southern California are seen by multiple observers, only the observer(s) initially finding and/or identifying the bird are 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.

Waterfowl through Swifts

A Brant at the S.E.S.S. (Morton Bay) 31 Jul+ (Guy McCaskie) had spent the summer locally and was still present on 3 Oct (Guy McCaskie). A Northern Pintail with six ducklings at the N.E.S.S. (81st Ave) 28 Jul+ (Robert L. McKernan) likely represented the first documented record of successful nesting at the Salton Sink. A pair of Hooded Mergansers that hatched 11 young on the Salinas River at Las Pilitas Road in May provides the first breeding record for San Luis Obispo Co (Jackie Knowlton, Tom M. Edell); elsewhere, individuals in the Atascadero, San Luis Obispo Co 26 Jul (Tom M. Edell) and in the Riverside Co portion of the Prado Basin 1 Jul (James E. Pike) were both likely summering locally. A Common Merganser at Yucaipa Regional Park, San Bernardino Co 5 Jul (Victor Rivera) was unexpected.

A Horned Grebe at Puddingstone Reservoir, Los Angeles Co 2–5 Jun (Keith Condon) was well inland and exceptionally late for a spring migrant, and one on Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo Co 5 Jul (Tom M. Edell) was likely summering locally.

White-winged Doves have long been considered summer visitors to the southeastern part of California, with some remaining through the winter at such locations as Borrego Springs in eastern San Diego Co. Small numbers regularly strayed west of the mountains to the coast in fall and spring. Now White-winged Doves appear to be expanding their breeding range westward, with two or three pairs at the Wilderness Gardens County Preserve in the coastal lowlands of San Diego County (Kenneth Weaver).

Up to three Yellow-billed Cuckoos at the Palo Verde Ecological Preserve, Riverside Co 9–26 Jun (Ethan Monk, Sage Bylin) were at a known nesting location. Another along San Felipe Creek near Scissors Crossing, San Diego Co 26 Jun (Trent R. Stanley) was in suitable breeding habitat; but single birds at Primm Valley, San Bernardino Co 5 Jun (Thomas A. Benson), Playa del Rey, Los Angeles Co 16 Jun (Walter Lamb), and near Escondido, San Diego Co 30 Jun (Max Leibowitz) were all believed to be migrants.

A Common Nighthawk in Ventura, Ventura Co 3 Jul (Rajan Rao) was on the coast where the species is unexpected. In addition, up to three Common Nighthawks were reported from three widely separated locations in the higher parts of the San Bernardino Mountains in July (Eugene A. Cardiff, Brad C. Singer, Will Sweet), indicating the species is still present at this southernmost breeding area in California. A calling Mexican Whip-poor-will was once again present at Green Canyon in the San Bernardino Mountains through 5 Jun (Jan Wilson).

Ten Black Swifts over the Waste Water Treatment Plant in Ventura 7 Jun (Kirill Shtengel), and another over San Elijo Lagoon, San Diego Co 10 Jun (Max Leibowitz) were unusually late migrants. One over the North Fork of the San Jacinto River in the San Jacinto Mountains, Riverside Co 15 Jun (Charity Hagen) was in an area where the species was previously known to nest; up to 10 at Monkeyface Falls in the San Bernardino Mountains, San Bernardino Co 4 Jun (Jules Agnew) were at a known nesting site; and two to three reported at Claremont Wilderness Park, Los Angeles Co throughout the summer (Thomas Miko) were likely nesting locally. Up to four Vaux’s Swifts along the Salinas R. around Atascadero, San Luis Obispo Co 9 Jun–30 Jul (m. ob.) may have been nesting locally.

Rails through Terns

Since Sora is absent from all but a few wet meadows in the higher mountains of Southern California in summer, one at Piute Ponds, Los Angeles Co 26 Jul (Becky Turley) was clearly an early fall migrant. 

Oystercatchers closely matching “pure” American Oystercatcher were in Long Beach, Los Angeles Co 5 Jul (Becky Turley) and La Jolla, San Diego Co 9–26 Jul (John Dumlao); however, most black and white oystercatchers along the Southern California coast are best treated as hybrids. A Pacific Golden-Plover at the Santa Rosa Creek mouth, San Luis Obispo Co 31 Jul (Nick L. Belardes) was an early fall migrant.

Five Black Turnstones in Cambria, San Luis Obispo Co 28 Jun (Loren Naidoo) and one at Estero Bluffs SP the same day (Maggie L. Smith) were early fall migrants. Five Surfbirds had returned to the known wintering location on the jetties at the entrance to Mission Bay, San Diego Co on the early date of 27 Jul (Jane Mygatt). An adult Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, one of a very few adults known in California in fall, was on south San Diego Bay 27–28 Jul (Matt Sadowski). Three Stilt Sandpipers at the S.E.S.S. (Morton Bay) 14 Jul (Guy McCaskie) were the earliest this fall, and two at Mystic Lake, Riverside Co 24 Jul (Anthony Metcalf) were the only ones reported away from the S.E.S.S. Single Baird’s Sandpipers at Huntington Beach, Orange Co 18–23 Jul (Brian E. Daniels) and at Mystic Lake 25 Jul (Anthony Metcalf) were the earliest reported this fall. Single Semipalmated Sandpipers on south San Diego Bay 27 Jul (Matt Sadowski) and at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine, Orange Co 28 Jul (Lucas Stephenson) were the first of the juveniles reported this fall. Single Solitary Sandpipers in Irvine 17 Jul (Bettina E. Eastman) and Corona, Riverside Co 18 Jul (Bob Packard) were the earliest of the ten fall migrants reported by 31 July. A Wandering Tattler in alternate plumage at La Jolla, San Diego Co 30 Jun–2 Jul (Sara Mayers) was an exceptionally early fall migrant.

Single South Polar Skuas, scarce in Southern California waters, were 50 km west of San Diego 11 Jul (Paul E. Lehman) and over the western Santa Cruz Basin south of Santa Cruz Island 31 Jul (Dave Pereksta). Single one-year-old Long-tailed Jaegers off San Diego 17 Jul (Dave Povey) and 24 Jul (Matt Sadowski) were early for fall migrants.

The presence of one or two Common Murres at Point La Jolla in La Jolla after 10 Jun (Paul E. Lehman) suggests possible failed breeding to the north. Single Pigeon Guillemots at Point La Jolla, San Diego Co 3 and 9 Jul (Alison Davies and Adam Cunningham) were at the extreme southern limit of this species’s range, and four reported in Orange Co between 2 Jul and 3 Aug (Brian E. Daniels, Shirley A. Reynolds, Becky Turley, Derek J. Hameister) were more than expected. Two Marbled Murrelets off San Simeon Creek mouth, San Luis Obispo Co 29 Jul (Tom M. Edell) were at the southern extreme of this species’s summer range. A Guadalupe Murrelet, scarce in small numbers well offshore after nesting to the south, was near Santa Barbara Island 31 Jul (Dave Pereksta) and two more were 190 km west southwest of Point Arguello, Santa Barbara Co the same day (Charlie Wright). Craveri’s Murrelets were present offshore through the summer, with 68 off San Diego 17 Jul (Paul E. Lehman) being the highest single-day count, and one 90 km southwest of San Miguel Island 28 Jul (Charlie Wright) being the northernmost. An Ancient Murrelet at Newport Beach, Orange Co 23 Jul (Edana L. Salsbury) was unexpected, particularly considering the time of the year.

A Black-legged Kittiwake in Malibu, Los Angeles Co 26 Jun (Ira Blitz) was unexpected, especially so following a winter with very few in Southern California waters. A Laughing Gull on the coast in Huntington Beach 9 Jul (Shirley A. Reynolds) and two at Mystic Lake 12 Jul (Anthony Metcalf) were the only ones reported away from the Salton Sink, where the species occurs annually post-breeding. An adult Franklin’s Gull near Calipatria, Imperial Co 6 Jun (Guy McCaskie) was evidently a late spring migrant. One of the two adult Heermann’s Gulls with nesting California Gulls near Calipatria on 31 May was last reported 4 Aug (Guy McCaskie); in addition, an adult was well inland on Fig Lagoon near Seeley, Imperial Co 26 Jun (Guy McCaskie), and two more were there 6 Jul (Guy McCaskie). A hatch-year Heermann’s Gull near North Shore, Riverside Co 721 Jul (Robert L. McKernan), along with another nearby 14 Jul (Robert L. McKernan), confirm that nesting was successful in breeding areas to the south. A Ring-billed Gull at San Clemente Island 3 Jun (Justyn T. Stahl) was the first there since 2013, well illustrating the status of this gull offshore. A first-summer Lesser Black-backed Gull at Owens Lake, Inyo Co 7 Jun (Jon L. Dunn) and another at the S.E.S.S. (Obsidian Butte) 8 Jun (Lucas Stephenson) were both likely attempting to summer locally.

Up to two Least Terns around the S.E.S.S. 1 Jun–6 Jul (Dan Cooper, Guy McCaskie) were the only ones reported well inland. Gull-billed Terns nested at only two locations in California. Some 90 pairs successfully fledged up to 50 young at the S.E.S.S. (Rock Hill) (Razia Shafique, Kathy C. Molina), the highest number there in over ten years, but the declining number on south San Diego Bay managed to fledge only one chick, with most of the adults gone by early July (Robert T. Patton). An Elegant Tern was well inland with nesting Caspian Terns at the Rock Hill colony, S.E.S.S. 1 Jul (Kathy C. Molina).

Tropicbirds through Herons

The only Red-billed Tropicbird reported was one 95 km south southwest of San Nicolas Island 20 Jul (Charlie Wright).

Single Pacific Loons inland on Fig Lagoon near Seeley, 6 Jun (Guy McCaskie) and the N.E.S.S. (Ave 84) 9 Jun (Curtis A. Marantz) were late spring migrants.

Single Laysan Albatrosses, exceptionally rare in San Diego Co waters, were about 50 km west of San Diego 6 Jun and 18 Jul (Paul E. Lehman and Gary Nunn). A Short-tailed Albatross 8-10 km off San Pedro/Huntington Beach, Los Angeles/Orange Cos 5–11 Jun (Bernardo Alps) had been banded at Torishima Island as a nestling on 29 Feb 2020. Two or three Townsend’s Storm-Petrels were about 50 km off San Diego 24 Jul (Jim Pawlicki, Gary Nunn) and at least fifteen seen 80-180 km southwest of San Miguel Island between 20 and 30 Jul (Charlie Wright) were near the northern limit of this species’s known pelagic range. A Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel was photographed about 320 km west southwest of Point Conception, Santa Barbara Co 31 Jul (Charlie Wright). Only three Least Storm-Petrels were reported, all over the 30-Mile Bank off San Diego, where there was one on 10 Jul (Gary Nunn) and two on 24 Jul (Matt Sadowski). 

A Hawaiian Petrel, rarely reported in Southern California’s pelagic waters, was 210 km southwest of San Nicolas Island 23 Jul (Charlie Wright). Cook’s Petrels appeared more numerous and closer to shore off San Diego than expected, with at least 45 seen during July. Eight Cook’s Petrels on 11 Jul (Paul E. Lehman) were the first, with most about 50 km from shore, but one found only 22 km west of Point Loma 24 Jul (Paul E. Lehman) was the closest to shore. In addition, about 200 over the ocean waters well southwest of Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel Islands between 20 and 31 Jul (Charlie Wright and Dave Pereksta) were far off Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, where the species is probably regular at this time of year. Single Buller’s Shearwaters, rare over extreme southern California waters, were off San Diego 6 and 18 Jul (David Povey, Gary Nunn). A Manx Shearwater, exceptionally rare in summer off Southern California, was photographed over the 30-Mile Bank 11 Jul (Curtis A. Marantz).

A Wood Stork appeared at Lake Elsinore, Riverside Co 1 Jul (Charity Hagen), and was seen subsequently in the Riverside Co portion of the Prado Basin 15 Jul (P. J. Falatek). It is believed to be the same bird that was present at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park near Escondido 4 May–28 Jun (Fatima Lujan).

Single Magnificent Frigatebirds were off Redondo Beach, Los Angeles Co 11 Jul (fide Bernardo Alps), over Mission Beach, San Diego Co 13 Jul (Ross Christie), and over Carlsbad, San Diego Co 25 Jul (Johnathan Pope). Reports of this species have been declining in California.

Single Masked Boobies were on San Clemente Island 3 Jun (Justyn T. Stahl), 13 km off Long Beach 13 Jun (Andrew Birch), on the beach at Cambria 22 Jun (Connie Blair and Jesse Pilkerton), and 6 km off Border Field SP, San Diego Co 31 Jul (Dave Povey). Single Nazca Boobies, now more numerous than Masked Boobies in Southern California, were off Long Beach 6 Jun (Brian E. Daniels), about 50 km off San Diego 18 Jul (Jim Pawlicki), and 180 km south southwest of San Nicolas Island 20 Jul (Charlie Wright). A second-year Nazca Booby dead at Bolsa Chica State Beach, Orange Co 23 Jul had been banded in 2020 on Espanola Island in the Galapagos Islands (Jonathan Ramos). In addition an immature Masked/Nazca Booby flew past Point La Jolla 18 Jun (Matt Sadowski). Two Blue-footed Boobies were found among 63 Brown Boobies on Sutil Rock at Santa Barbara Island 31 Jul (Dave Pereksta), and were well photographed feeding a large chick, documenting the first nesting of this species in the United States. A Red-footed Booby was on Platform Edith off Orange Co 12 Jun (Bruce A. Aird), then at Point Fermin, Los Angeles Co 22 Jun (Jess Morton), and a second was about 7 km off Point Loma, San Diego Co 20 Jun (Trent R. Stanley).

A Neotropic Cormorant at Pleasant Valley Reservoir 10 Jun-5 Jul (Keith K. Condon) provided the first record for Inyo Co; one at Ormond Beach, Ventura Co 26 Jul-7 Aug (Sangeet Khasla) and another in Santa Barbara 22 Jun-9 Aug (Wendy Beers) were the northernmost on the coast, and one at Quail Lake, Los Angeles Co 20 Jun (Brad Rumble) was at an unexpected high desert location.

Reddish Egrets are now resident in small numbers in coastal San Diego and Orange Cos, but at least two were along the coast of Santa Barbara County after 17 Jul, with one at the Santa Ynez River Estuary 18–20 Jul (PTS) providing the northernmost record this summer. Yellow-crowned Night-Herons are now regular in limited numbers along the coast to Goleta, Santa Barbara County. However, a pair at Alamitos Bay in July (Robert A. Hamilton) provided the first nesting record for Los Angeles Co, and one at Castaic Lagoon, Los Angeles Co 16 Jul (Naresh Satyan) was unexpectedly far inland.

Hawks through Vireos

A first-summer Mississippi Kite, a rare vagrant to California, was in the Tijuana River Valley 19 Jun (David Trissel). A Harris’s Hawk, a sporadic stray to California, was at Scissors Crossing in Anza-Borrego Desert SP 3 Jun (Wendy Miller), and another was at Desert Hot Springs, Riverside Co 11-13 Jun (John McCallister). A pair of Swainson’s Hawks that again nested adjacent to the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base, Orange Co successfully fledged three young at the end of July (Benjamin R. Newhouse). Up to two immature Swainson’s Hawks near Niland, Imperial Co 12–20 Jun (Scott Paladichuk, Guy McCaskie) were evidently summering locally, but an adult near Westmorland, Imperial Co 21 Jul (Guy McCaskie) was believed to be an early fall migrant. A molting first-summer Zone-tailed Hawk remained near Escondido 27 May–31 Jul+ (Max Leibowitz); in addition, single adults were at Lake Arrowhead in the San Bernardino Mountains 18 Jun (Brad C. Singer) and over the Palo Verde Ecological Preserve, Riverside Co 28 Jun (Jason Sigismondi).

A juvenile Northern Saw-whet Owl photographed in the high desert at Apple Valley, San Bernardino Co 4 Jul (fide Dana Armstrong) and another juvenile photographed there 15–20 Jul (fide Martin Estacio) were both far from suitable breeding habitat. 

A Black-backed Woodpecker at Sunday Peak in the Greenhorn Mtns., Kern Co 20 Jun (William L. Rocky) was at the extreme southern limit of this species’s range.

Unexpected for the date and location was a Great Crested Flycatcher at the Imperial Irrigation District Wetlands near Niland, where it was a first for Imperial Co on 23 Jun (CAM, TEW, GMcC); most regional records of this species are from fall. A Brown-crested Flycatcher at Fort Cady, near Newberry Springs, San Bernardino Co 27 Jun (Gary and Janet Leavens) was near the northwestern limit of the species’s breeding range. Cassin’s Kingbirds are penetrating farther into the Antelope Valley of Los Angeles Co, where the species was previously absent; one was at Sorensen Park in Lake Los Angeles 8 Jun (Kimball L. Garrett) and several were in the Valyermo/Crystalaire area at the northern base of the San Gabriel Mountains 13 Jun–18 Jul (Kimball L. Garrett, Ruth Gravance). Eastern Kingbirds reported during the period included both late spring and early fall vagrants; reports came from Primm Valley Golf Course, San Bernardino Co (near the Nevada border) 5 Jun (Brittany O’Connor); Mason Regional Park in Irvine, Orange Co 11 Jun (Rhonda L. Howard); Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park near San Pedro, Los Angeles Co 9 Jul (John Ivanov); Fawnskin in the Big Bear Valley, San Bernardino Mtns. 15 Jul (Alla Shumko); Los Osos, San Luis Obispo Co 25–26 Jul (Petra and Jack Clayton); and Piute Ponds, Los Angeles Co 25–26 Jul (Femi Faminu). A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at Newport Beach, Orange Co 27 Jun (Larry Cahill) was the first for Orange Co since 2013. An Alder Flycatcher at Butterbredt Spring, Kern Co 6 Jun (Ryan S. Terrill et al.) follows one found in late May in eastern San Bernardino Co. Early fall migrant Willow Flycatchers were at Ontario, San Bernardino Co 20 Jul (Deborah House) and Piute Ponds 24 Jul (Kimball L. Garrett). A Hammond’s Flycatcher at Coronado 5 Jun (Paul E. Lehman) was the latest ever in spring in San Diego Co. 

A Red-eyed Vireo in a residential yard in Huntington Beach 15 Jun (Roger A. Schoedl) was presumed to be the same late spring migrant individual that was at the same locality in 2020; others were at Butterbredt Spring, Kern Co 6 Jun (Ryan S. Terrill), Piute Ponds 13 June (Kimball L. Garrett), and S.F.K.R.P. 11 Jul (Jason Newton).

Chickadees through Sparrows

A Mountain Chickadee at Lancaster City Park on the floor of the Antelope Valley, Los Angeles Co 5 Jun (Kimball L. Garrett) was unexpected in summer on the desert lowlands. 

The only known Bank Swallow breeding colony in Inyo Co, at the Nik and Nik sand piles north of Bishop), is no longer extant (Chris and Rosie Howard), so the species appears to be extirpated as a breeder in that county and, thus, in the entire region. Barn Swallows were observed to be breeding at Mojave Narrows Regional Park, San Bernardino Co, with a maximum of 12 birds on 23 Jul (William R. Deppe). 

Swinhoe’s White-eyes continue to explode in numbers and expand their range in the southern coastal counties; a flock of 20 at Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica, Los Angeles 25 Jul (Kathleen Waldron) established the first double-digit count that far up the coast. 

Ruby-crowned Kinglets are exceptionally rare in summer in the region’s montane coniferous forests, so two singing birds at Mt. Wilson, Los Angeles Co 7–8 Jun, with one continuing to 12 Jun (Norm Vargas) were of note, as was another singing bird along Blue Ridge Road in the same San Gabriel Mtns. 12 Jun (James E. Pike). 

A singing Pacific Wren along Pine Creek, Inyo Co 28 Jun–5 Jul (Ron and Nancy Overholtz) was at the southeastern limit of the species’s breeding range.

A Gray Catbird was at Canebrake in Anza-Borrego Desert SP 16 Jun (Karyn Sauber), and another at Goleta 1 Jul (Mark A. Holmgren) was the first in summer in Santa Barbara Co; one was present at Edwards Field in Lone Pine, Inyo Co 20 Jul–11 Aug (Russell D. Kokx). Swainson’s Thrushes are in serious decline as breeding birds in the southern part of the region, with only two reported in or near suitable breeding habitat in Los Angeles Co this summer, and only one in potential breeding habitat in Orange Co, at Lake Forest 9 Jun (Shirley A. Reynolds). 

Lingering Cedar Waxwings well into June included 22 in Vandenberg Village, Santa Barbara Co 12 Jun (Michael Christie), six in San Luis Obispo 14 Jun (Nick L. Belardes), and two in Goleta, Santa Barbara Co 15 Jun (David Blue). 

An incursion of White-breasted Nuthatches into lowland habitats away from known breeding areas commenced in late June. Reports came from the West San Gabriel River Parkway Nature Trail in Lakewood, Los Angeles Co 23 Jun (Joyce Brady); Exposition Park, Los Angeles Co, where there was a window kill on 24 Jun (Kimball L. Garrett; *LACM); Batiquitos Lagoon, San Diego Co 24 Jun–21 Jul (Julian Jones, Gavin Aquila); the Lower Los Angeles River in Long Beach 8–17 Jul (Kimball L. Garrett); Carlsbad, San Diego Co 10 Jul (Blanche Ramswick); the Tijuana River Valley, San Diego Co 12–29 Jul (Marther Wild); El Dorado Regional Park in Long Beach 13 Jul (Nancy Salem); Huntington Beach, Orange Co 21 Jul+ (Richard A. Cabe, Jasmine C. Kay); and La Jolla, San Diego Co 29 Jul (Hank Ingersoll).

A juvenile Red Crossbill at Pearblossom Park, Los Angeles Co 3 Jul (Kimball L. Garrett) suggested possible local breeding in planted pines at this desert locality; also well away from breeding habitat was one at Butterbredt Spring, Kern Co 19 Jun (Peter Gordon). Late Pine Siskins included one on Santa Cruz Island 2 Jun (Holly Merker) and three in Santa Barbara 8 Jun (Steve Gaulin); one at Wilson Cove, San Clemente Island 11 Jun (Nicole J. Desnoyers) was the second latest ever for that island. An American Goldfinch in Lone Pine, Inyo Co 19 Jul (Russell D. Kokx) was unexpected in that area in summer.

Two family groups of Black-throated Sparrows were on the coastal slope in the Santa Ana River wash, San Bernardino Co 22–23 Jun (Mikael Romich). A Chipping Sparrow in Niland 28 Jul (Guy McCaskie) was the earliest fall migrant of that species ever in the Salton Sink. An unseasonal Clay-colored Sparrow was at San Timoteo Canyon in Redlands, San Bernardino Co 3 Jul (Matthew A. Grube). Breeding Dark-eyed (Oregon) Juncos have spread as far as they can through urban coastal Orange Co, with breeding documented on the immediate coast at Balboa Island, Newport Beach 12 Jun (Ryan S. Winkleman); now nesting throughout the county, it is one of the most common bird species on the University of California Irvine campus (Ryan S. Winkleman). An unseasonal Dark-eyed (Gray-headed) Junco was in Los Berros Canyon south of Arroyo Grande, San Luis Obispo Co 7 Jun (Adam J. Searcy). A White-crowned Sparrow (subspecies gambelii) at the Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary near Santee, San Diego Co 25 Jul (Alison Davies) was apparently summering locally. Fairly intensive coverage of canescens Bell’s Sparrow breeding habitat in the Antelope Valley, Los Angeles Co through the late spring and summer yielded virtually no juvenile birds, suggesting a large-scale breeding failure due to extreme drought conditions. A Green-tailed Towhee on the low desert in Palm Springs, Riverside Co was found on the odd late date of 9 Jun (Brian E. Daniels); similarly, a Spotted Towhee at Sorensen Park in Lake Los Angeles 8 Jun (Kimball L. Garrett) was very late for a desert migrant.

Icterids through Buntings

Yellow-headed Blackbirds are casual in summer at San Luis Obispo Co, so a male in San Luis Obispo 15 Jun (Marlin Harms) and a male and female at Morro Bay 20–26 Jun (Lisa Gattuso, Jan Bugge, Tom M. Edell) were of note. The late May presence of Bobolinks at F.C.R. extended to 4 Jun (m. ob.). There appeared to be no active Tricolored Blackbird breeding colonies in Los Angeles Co this year, with several sites used in recent years lacking any water or dense annual growth; no details were available for other counties where this rapidly declining species is expected to breed. A Bronzed Cowbird at the PGA West golf course in La Quinta, Riverside Co 6 Jun (Anne Cheung) was in the Coachella Valley where the species is scarce.

An Ovenbird was in Afton Canyon on the Mojave Desert, San Bernardino Co 3 Jun (Matt Brady, Ryan Terrill). Not noted in the Spring report was a Northern Waterthrush at F.C.R. 1 Jun (Andrew W. Howe). Black-and-white Warblers were at Montana de Oro SP, San Luis Obispo Co 4 Jun (Jay C. Carroll) and Doane Pond near Mt. Palomar, San Diego Co 17 Jul (Sally Veach); another was present 23 Jul–1 Aug at Matilija Lake, Ventura Co, a site with an amazing concentration of records of eastern North American warblers and vireos in the past couple of years (Rick Contantino, Jerry Maryniuk). A Tennessee Warbler at Point Loma 6 Jun (Jim Pawlicki) followed several May records for the region. Scarce in the Imperial Valley, Lucy’s Warblers included an adult in Niland 30 Jun (Curtis A Marantz), an immature there 21 Jul (Guy McCaskie), and an immature near El Centro 29–31 Jul (Kenneth Z. Kurland). MacGillivray’s Warblers at Montana de Oro SP 1–5 Jun at Islay Creek (Jeff K. Miller) and at Coon Creek 25 Jun (Jim S. Royer) were rare for summer in San Luis Obispo Co. An American Redstart found at Pismo State Beach Oceano Campground, San Luis Obispo Co 26 May remained to 15 Jul (Tom M. Edell); others were at F.C.R. 1–4 Jun (Emmet Iverson), Shoshone, Inyo Co 18 Jun (Russell D. Kokx), and Butterbredt Spring, Kern Co 6–7 Jun (Ryan S. Terrill). The only Northern Parulas reported during the period were at Barstow, San Bernardino Co 3 Jun (Matt Brady, Ryan Terrill) and Butterbredt Spring 7 Jun (Ethan Monk).  A late spring vagrant Blackpoll Warbler was at Baker, San Bernardino Co 7 Jun (Lynette Williams); a male at Carmel Valley, San Diego Co 5 Aug (Barbara Swanson) was probably a summer wanderer that never made it to the breeding grounds; there is one previous mid-summer (mid-July) record for San Diego Co. Unseasonably late was a Townsend’s Warbler at Bluff Lake in the San Bernardino Mtns., San Bernardino Co 19 Jun (Gary McLarty).

A vagrant female Hepatic Tanager was at Point Loma 10 Jun (Alex Abela), and up to three birds were around traditional nesting sites east of Baldwin Lake in the San Bernardino Mtns. 12 Jun (Lucas and Mark Stephenson). A scattering of Summer Tanagers away from breeding sites through the season included singles at Sorensen Park in Lake Los Angeles, Los Angeles Co 8 Jun (Kimball L. Garrett); Piute Ponds 13–15 Jun (Kimball L. Garrett) and 8 Jul (Chris Dean); Niland 23 Jun and 30 Jun–6 Jul (Curtis A. Marantz); Lower Deep Creek in the San Bernardino Mtns. 25 Jul (Eric Tipton); Tollhouse Spring, Inyo Co 28 Jul (m. ob.); and Big Bear, San Bernardino Co 31 Jul (Steve Eckberg). A Pyrrhuloxia at Palm Springs 8 Jun (Barry Mantell) extended the known stay of a bird first found by a local resident 19 Mar; it was only about the 25th to be found in California. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks post-dating the May and early June sightings noted in the spring report were at the Palo Verde Ecological Reserve 1 Jun (Jared Swackhamer); Montana de Oro SP, San Luis Obispo Co 2 Jun (2 singing males; Jeff K. Miller); Goleta, Santa Barbara Co 6 Jun (Noah L. Gaines); the Santa Ynez Mountain foothills near Santa Barbara 12 Jun (Lucy London); Arroyo Grande, San Luis Obispo Co 19 Jun (adult male; Bill A. Bouton); Pacific Beach, San Diego Co 18–19 Jun (Matt Silvia); near El Centro 27–28 Jun (Kenneth Z. Kurland); and Rancho Jurupa Park in Riverside 9 Jul (Denise Moulton). Indigo Buntings summering on the coastal slope included up to three (two males, one female) at the Bird and Butterfly Garden in the Tijuana River Valley through the period (Andrew Newmark), and an adult male at Whittier Narrows Dam, Los Angeles Co 30 Jul+ (Darren Dowell); a hybrid Lazuli x Indigo Bunting was at the latter locality 31 Jul–2 Aug (Mark and Janet Scheel). Up to four Indigos were at F.C.R. 1–13 Jun (Adam Panto et al.), along with two in Shoshone, Inyo Co 6 Jun (Emmett Iverson) and singles at Desert Center, Riverside Co 6 Jun (Lucas and Mark Stephenson), Palo Verde Ecological Reserve 11 Jun (Juli Chamberlin), Round Valley, Inyo Co 28 Jun (Ron and Nancy Overholtz), and Niland 30 Jun (Curtis A. Marantz).

Report processed by Amy Davis, 15 Oct 2021.

Photos–Southern California: Summer 2021

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