Posted by: atowhee | February 10, 2016


Thomas Nuttall (1786-1859) and his namesake woodpeckers are among my favorites.  Nuttall himself was one of the first naturalists to explore Oregon when it was still dominated by the Hudson’s Bay Company.  His woodpecker is largely confined to California and points south.nutt with ballJust as I was getting back into tyhe car he landed near the base of a cottonwood in a park along the Sacramento River Trail in Redding.  These birds like riparian forests in low elevation parts of California.  The species was named for Nuttall by his protege Dr. William Gambel (1821-1849) who first described the bird for science. nuttwoo upp1 (1280x960)Nuttall and another of his proteges, Dr. John Townsend, were the first naturalists to walk across the North American continent within the U.S.  They made numerous discoveries on that expedition in the 1830s when Oregon was still politically unclaimed and California was part of Mexico. Nuttall also visited Hawaii.

There was a lot of bird life along and in the Sacramento River on a warm winter evening:

buff threee buff trio cogo inrvrBufflehead and Common Goldeneye were the most evident ducks but there were a couple of Mallards and a small float of Common Mergansers.  Below we have male Common Goldeneye and female Barrow’s with her all-yellow beak.cogo paird corm and merg greg shoreA V of Herring Gulls over the river. GULLZ (1280x960)brdg1 brdg2 sunset-aTurkey Vulture low over the water. tv at rivrCormorants and mergansers on gravel bar.corm and mergMockingbird looks mockingly at clumsy biped.  This species would not have been seen this far north a century ago.  LIke the Hooded Oriole it has moved northwward, taking advantage of manmade habitats. mock stareA Nuttall to end on: P2630863 (1280x960)

Sacramento River Trail, Shasta County, California, US
Feb 9, 2016 4:00 PM – 5:15 PM.  21 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  2
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  X
Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)  X
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)  X
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  X
Great Egret (Ardea alba)  1
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  X
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)  X
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  1
Nuttall’s Woodpecker (Picoides nuttallii)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  X
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  X
Oak Titmouse (Baeolophus inornatus)  2
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  X

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