© Callyn Yorke


                  Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) Placerita Canyon Park, Los Angeles County CA  17 April 2014


                                                                             © 2014 Callyn Yorke



Index to Bird Surveys

April 30, 2016

April 26 2014

April 17 2014

December 17 2009




April 30, 2016 (48 Species)



             UCLA EXTENSION BIRDS OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA class at Placerita Canyon, Los Angeles County CA  30 April 2016


                                                                          © 2016 Yvonne Burch-Hartley




Weather: Partly cloudy; 52F to 70F; wind WNW 0- 2 mph.

Time: 0738 - 1227 hrs.

Observers: UCLA Extension Birds of Southern California class (10 students) and I.

Area Covered:  1) The parking area of the Placerita Canyon Nature Center(elevation about 1,700 ft.). Prior to the beginning of the class (0830), several of us birded the oak-riparian area adjacent to the Nature Center. There were already dozens of cars in the parking area (a special event separate from our class), with a steady flow of new arrivals.


The most disturbance to the area, however, was a park maintenance individual using a gasoline-powered leaf-blower around the entry way of the Nature Center. This produced constant loud noises and a large volume of dust and debris, that appeared to significantly reduce bird activity (and detectability). A few minutes spent sweeping the entrance of the Nature Center would have been sufficient and much less disruptive than the use of a leaf-blower (0738-0830 hrs.). 


2) We used three vehicles to shuttle the entire class up to the Canyon Trail junction with Placerita Canyon Rd.(elev. about 2,000 ft.). The class walked slowly back to the Nature Center (about 1.5 mi.), including a brief exploration of the Waterfall Trail, observing birds in grassland (Bromus spp. Avena sp.), hillside chaparral (many shrubs in flower, e.g. Eriodictyon, Ceanothus, Sambucus, Ribes), oak woodland (Quercus agrifolia) and riparian (Plantanus, Salix, Baccharis); those formations merging together in the canyon. There was no water visible in the main streambed along the Canyon Trail. Many hikers (some with dogs- all leashed) were on the trail with us during the survey (0830-1200 hrs.).





Turkey Vulture  2    individuals soaring above the canyon, 2.

Cooper's Hawk  1   flying over the canyon about 150 ft. agl, 2.

Red-tailed Hawk  2 (ad) individuals soaring over the canyon and adjacent hillsides, about 300 ft. agl., 2.

Mourning Dove  2  flying around the Nature Center, 1;  1-2 vocal;  flying down the canyon, 2.

Anna's Hummingbird   3 (m)  perched on exposed limbs of tall shrubs along the trail, 2.

Allen's Hummingbird  1-2 (m) hovering above and alighting in the canopy of a dead sycamore, 2.

Selasphorus sp.  1-2 (m) perched on a tall shrub, 2.

Acorn Woodpecker   10  vocal; individuals and pairs active in mature trees throughout.

Nuttall's Woodpecker   2  vocal;  in oaks and sycamores, 2.

Western Wood Pewee  2 vocal; one sallying from exposed, dead limbs of a mature eucalyptus, 2 (photo).


Western Wood Pewee (Contopus sordidulus) Placerita Canyon LACO CA 30 April 2016


                                                                             © 2016 Callyn Yorke



Dusky Flycatcher ?  1-2 (ID: relatively pale gray upperparts; eyering complete but less distinct than PSFL;  foraging low in shrubs and trees, 2

Hammond's Flycatcher  1 (ID: slightly asymmetrical eyering and relatively small bill)  active in lower branches of oaks and mature shrubs, 2.

Pacific-slope Flycatcher   2  (ID: relatively dark olive green upperparts; conspicuously asymmetrical eyerring); active in lower to mid-levels of oaks and shrubs, 2.

Empidonax sp. c.f. Willow Flycatcher  1 (ID: lacking a conspicuous eyering; medium dark gray upperparts); active in lower branches of oaks and shrubs, 2.

Ash-throated Flycatcher   4  vocal; individuals and pairs; active in middle to upper canopies of oaks and sycamores, 1, 2.

Western Kingbird  2  vocal; active in sycamores, 1.

Hutton's Vireo  1  vocal; active in lower, interior canopy of oaks, 2.

Warbling Vireo  1  active in outer canopy of oaks, 2.

Steller's Jay  2  vocal; active on a fallen limb in a ravine; picnic area, 2.

Western Scrub-Jay   8  vocal, ubiquitous; individuals and pairs active in a variety of vegetation types and on the ground.

Common Raven   2 vocal;  soaring above the canyon; flying low around the Nature Center 1, 2.

Northern Rough-winged Swallow  3  flying together, 2-30 ft. agl, back and forth over the grassland near the trail head, 2.


Oak Titmouse  20   vocal, ubiquitous in oak woodland; often in pairs; active in a variety of adjacent vegetation; one bringing food to a nest hole cavity about 3 ft. agl in a sycamore next to the parking area, 1 (photo B). Two fledglings perched together on an exterior oak limb, 1 (photo A); Other highly vocal adults apparently nesting in oak cavities in a closed-canopy oak woodland at the upper end of the trail, 2 (photos).


                      Oak Titmouse (Baeolophus inornatus) fledglings (A) and adult at nest (B), Placerita Canyon, LACO CA  30 April 2016


                                      (A)                                               © 2016 Callyn Yorke                  (B)




Bushtit  1  flying over the top of a chaparral hillside, 2.

White-breasted Nuthatch  1 active on the trunk and in lower and middle-level limbs of a mature oak, 2.

Bewick's Wren  1  repeated song from an elevated snag perch in hillside chaparral, 2.

House Wren  20  vocal; ubiquitous; one individual flushed from trail-side grass, flying toa well-concealed nest cavity in a fallen log; apparently the same nest site observed by the class in 2014 (see previous survey field notes), 2.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  2   initially one individual observed foraging in a clump of shrubbery near the creek bed; subsequently, two individuals flying together in the same area, alighting in the canopy of sycamore, 2.

Wrentit    4  repeated song from individuals spaced 50 - 100 yards apart in hillside chaparral. One bird responded immediately to a playback recording of a Wrentit song, disappearing quickly into dense shrubbery without reappearing. Another individual further down the trail made a brief appearance, followed by its vocalizations,for some members of our class, 2.

Western Bluebird  4 (m,f) pairs active on and near the ground; also in lower branches of oaks and on picnic tables, 1, 2 (photo).


Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana) male, Placerita Canyon, LACO CA 30 April 2016

                                                                                               © 2016 Callyn Yorke





Northern Mockingbird  1  vocal;  ruderal edge of roadway at trail head (1227 hrs.).

European Starling   3  vocal; active on ground an in oaks and sycamores, 2.

Phainopepla   5  (m,f) vocal; individuals and pairs; one pair perched together, interacting and flying together in emergent dead snags and canopy of sycamores, 1, 2 (photo).


Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens) male, Placerita Canyon, LACO CA 30 April 2016


                                                                           © 2016 Callyn Yorke




Nashville Warbler ?  1 (ID olive green upperparts, gray head; eyering not seen clearly)  low in Ribes/ Baccharis clump next to upper trail; flew into oak canopy, 2.

Yellow Warbler  1(m)   active in lower to mid-level willows in stream bed, 2.

Yellow-rumped Warbler  1 (f) active on ground beneath oaks, 2.

MacGillivray's Warbler  1    secretive, silent; flushed from dense grass and shrubs near trail; actively foraging in low in grasses and willow riparian patch along streambed; did not respond to any of the playback recordings of MAWA songs.

Wilson's Warbler  1 (seen by BK and MD), 2.

Spotted Towhee   10  vocal; singing incessantly from exposed limbs in hillside chaparral; active in dense riparian and chaparral undergrowth, 2.

California Towhee   8  vocal, ubiquitous; active in a variety of vegetation types; often on the ground.

Song Sparrow  1  called once from moist grass and shrubs adjacent to streambed, 2.

Dark-eyed Junco  2 vocal;  on ground in oak picnic area.

Western Tanager  2 (m) one male with relatively bright orange head; both birds active in canopy and subcanopy of nearby oaks and sycamores with mistletoe, 2 (photo).


Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana) male, Placerita Canyon LACO CA 30 April 2016




Black-headed Grosbeak  8 (m,f) vocal; repeated song from exposed perch in hillside chaparral and sycamores, 2.

Lazuli Bunting 1 (m) alighted briefly on emergent snag of a mature shrub in hillside chaparral near trail head, 2.

Bullock's Oriole  3 (m,f) in canopy and lower limbs of sycamores, 1, 2.

House Finch  20  (m,f) vocal, gregarious, ubiquitous.

Lesser Goldfinch  2  (m,f) vocal; active in canopy of sycamores, 1.































April 26, 2014 (34 Species)

Weather: Partly cloudy; 48F to 65F; wind WSW 2 -5 mph; a cold front moving through, brought scattered light rain to the region last night and early this morning. No sign of significant precipitation in Placerita Canyon.

Time: 0750-1220 hrs.

Observers:  UCLA Extension Birds of Southern California class and I.

Area Covered: We used three of our vehicles to shuttle the class from the Nature Center (NC: Elev. about 1,500 ft.) to the Walker Ranch trail head, 1.5 mi. south of the main park entrance on Placerita Canyon Rd. Elev. about 1,900 ft.). We walked slowly back to the nature center on the Canyon Trail (CT), surveying birds in grassland (abandoned pastureland of Walker Ranch), chaparral, coast live oak woodland and riparian habitats. A total of about 200 acres was surveyed. Dozens of other people were on the trail during our survey. A scout troop was camped in the picnic area at the old WR homestead site. Conditions were generally good for finding and identifying birds.  Flowering annuals and perennials were well represented along the CT.  Although riparian areas were moist along the CT with the majority of woody plants fully leaved and blooming, very little surface water was present in Placerita Creek.  Mature chaparral vegetation (much of that also blooming) was interspersed with burned snags from a major fire several years earlier.


California Quail  calls (unseen)  lower CT (CY)..

Turkey Vulture  5    two pair soaring together on thermals about 500 ft. agl, CT.

Red-tailed Hawk   2  (ad) one flying just above the oak canopy; another soaring above the canyon walls, CT; an injured bird in captivity, NC.

Mourning Dove  2  flying fast, s over the canyon, lower CT.

Black-chinned Hummingbird  1 (f) initially seen flying to nest about 15 ft agl in a sycamore; flying away and returning to nest, lower CT.

Anna's Hummingbird 4  vocal; males on conspicuous perches in chaparral-riparian edge, CT.

Allen's Hummingbird   2 (m) fly, call; NC.

Acorn Woodpecker  8  vocal, ubiquitous; pairs and trios staying together in sycamores and oaks; I extracted an acorn from a post granary that was infested with insect larvae. An abandoned granaries were nearby in dead sycamores.

Dusky Flycatcher  1 (silent): ID based on narrow, symmetrical eye ring; moderately long bill; short wing projection; dusky olive-brown mantle; sallying from low perch in same shrub where a PSFL was moments earlier, upper CT.

Pacific Slope Flycatcher  2 (calls from one): ID based on conspicuous, asymmetrical eye ring; orangish lower mandible. Sallying from low perch on dead shrub and adjacent elderberry; replaced moments later by a DUFL, upper CT. Another individual giving repeated calls (unseen)  in riparian area over creek, lower CT.

Ash-throated Flycatcher  2  calls; conspicous perches on snags, hillside chaparral, middle CT.

Western Scrub-jay  8  calls;  ubiquitous; one pair flushed near a pair of STJA at the edge of a closed-canopy oak woodland in the picnic area, upper CT.

Steller's Jay  2 (vocal; immitation of RTHA given twice);   a pair (possbily nesting) moving together through oaks in picnic area, upper CT.

Common Raven  5    pairs soaring and diving above canyon, 100-400 ft. agl. CT; one calling repeatedly on roadside utility pole at the trail head, upper CT.

Oak Titmouse  8  ubiquitous; repeated calls, oak woodland, riparian edge, CT.

Bushtit  12   small, vocal flocks in oaks and other vegegation along the trail, CT; NC.

White-breasted Nuthatch  1 (silent) foraging on the trunk of a large oak; repeatedly probing into a cavity at the base of two main branches, closed canopy oak woodland in picnic area, upper CT.

House Wren  10 (conserv. est.) a pair evidetnly was nesting in a fallen oak trunk, cut into sections. One individual was calling repeatedly and displaying by wing-fluttering near a small, well-concealed cavity near the ground on one of the cut trunk sections; another individual was flushed from this cavity as I approached. Other individuals were singing repeatedly along the entire length of the trail, CT.

Western Bluebird 4  two pair; calls; on ground and in low branches of oaks;  edge of picnic area, upper CT.

Wrentit  repeated song (unseen) hillside chaparral, NC (CY 0800 hrs.).

European Starling  2  flying over tree canopy, lower CT.

Phainopepla  3  (f) on outer branch of sycamore, middle CT; a vocal pair (m,f) in oaks around parking area, NC (CY 0810 hrs.).

Orange-crowned Warbler  4  repeated song in oaks, NC, CT.

Black-throated Gray Warbler  1 (m) foraging in subcanopy of oaks; TOWA nearby in same tree, middle CT.

Townsend's Warbler  2  (m) foraging in subcanopy of oaks, upper and middle CT.

Wilson's Warbler   6 (m,f) calls; foraging in canopy of oaks, sycamores and willows, CT.

Spotted Towhee  8  vocal; chaparral and edge of riparian, CT.

California Towhee  12  vocal; ubiquitous, CT; NC.

Song Sparrow  3  repeated song; riparian patches in creek, CT.

Dark-eyed Junco   4   calls; two pair (m,f); foraging together on ground beneath oaks; flushed to lower branches, picnic area, upper CT.

Black-headed Grosbeak  4  (m,f)  one pair in canopy of oaks near trail head, upper CT; another calling (unseen) upper, CT.

Bullock's Oriole  1  calls; active in sycamores in parking area, NC (CY 1220 hrs.).

House Finch  20 (m,f)  two pair nesting under eaves of information sign (at opposite ends), picnic area, upper CT. Nests partially concealed; possibly with eggs.

Lesser Goldfinch  8 (m,f)   vocal; active in canopy of oaks and sycamores, CT.











April 17, 2014 (50 Species)

Weather: Partly cloudy; 57F to 76F; wind SSW 2 - 5 mph.

Time: 0720- 1328 hrs.   

Areas Covered: 1) Placerita Canyon Park Nature Center and surrounding habitat (NC): I walked around the parking area and adjacent dry stream bed, surveying birds in riparian, oak woodland and the edge of hillside chaparral.  2) Continuing south on foot, I hiked the Canyon Trail about 1.5 miles to the clearing and picnic area adjacent to Walker Ranch; The well-maintained trail has a gradual slope, becoming steeper after about 1 mile (CT). The trail traverses a canyon and streambed (mostly dry with a few scattered puddles of stagnant water), riparian (cottonwood, willow, sycamore), mature coast live oak woodland (closed canopy in places), hillside chaparral and patches of grassland, gaining about 300 ft. in elevation at 1.5 mi. from the nature center. Much of the birdlife was concentrated in riparian patches around small pockets of standing water. About twenty people were on the trail, including some with leashed dogs. Returning the same route, I met two other birders, Amy and Jane (LA Audubon members),and the three of us continued birding together until we reached the nature center. I had a snack in the car and drove to the Walker Ranch Trailhead, located about 1.5 miles south of the Placerita Nature Center on Placerita Canyon Road (WR). I surveyed grassland, chaparral, oak woodland (closed canopy), and riparian (along a dry streambed); this is the southern, terminal segment of the Canyon Trail I had not surveyed earlier today. I was specifically searching this area for Calliope and Costa's Hummingbird, Hairy Woodpecker and Hermit Warbler, which Amy and Jane had reported finding here this morning. I had no luck finding any of those species. However, I added four more bird species to my Placerita Canyon day-list: Northern Flicker, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Chipping Sparrow and Lincoln's Sparrow.

Birds Noted

California Quail  calls (unseen) , NC, CT.

Red-tailed Hawk   2  soaring above the park and adjacent hillsides, CT.

Mourning Dove    6  calls; pairs flying over riparian areas, NC, CT.

Anna's Hummingbird  10 ubiquitous; one female on nest; about 10 ft. agl in an oak, CT.

Allen's Hummingbird  1 (m) hovering over flowering shrubs at trailside, CT.

Acorn Woodpecker  20  (m,f)  vocal, ubiquitous; one entering a nest cavity about 15 ft. agl in an oak, WR.

Nuttall's Woodpecker   5  vocal; foraging in oaks, NC, CT, WR.

Northern (RS) Flicker  1  fly, call, WR.

Pacific Slope Flycatcher    4  sallying from low branches, riparian and oak woodland edge, CT, WR.

Ash-throated Flycatcher    6  vocal; conspicuous perches on snags, CT, WR.

Warbling Vireo   2  foraging in willows and oaks, CT.

Hutton's Vireo  1 seen and heard briefly in subcanopy of a large oak with CAVI, NC.

Cassin's Vireo  1  foraging in oaks, NC (photo).

Cassin's Vireo (Vireo cassinii) Placerita Canyon LACO CA 17 April 2014


                                                             © 2014 Callyn Yorke


Western Scrub-jay  10  vocal, ubiquitous, though less numerous around Walker Ranch than elsewhere; curious and relatively tame, though apparently avoiding interactions with Stellar's Jay (photo).

Western Scrub-jay (Aphelocoma californica) Placerita Canyon, Los Angeles County CA  17 April 2014


                                                                                               © 2014 Callyn Yorke


Steller's Jay    4  in the oaks and on the ground in the picnic area; vocal (one gave a Red-tailed Hawk call) curious and relatively tame, WR (photo).

Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) Placerita Canyon, LACO CA 17 April 2014

                                                          © 2014 Callyn Yorke


Common Raven   6   one on large stick nest in subcanopy of a mature oak, several other similar nests in the closed canopy oak woodland, appearing older and unoccupied, NC; three others vocalizing and soaring together above the canyon, CT.

Oak Titmouse   16  vocal, ubiquitous in oaks and adjacent riparian-chaparral.

Bushtit    10  small, vocal flocks in riparian and oak woodland, NC, CT.

White-breasted Nuthatch  4  vocal; in oaks; one on adjacent canyon wall, NC, CT.

Bewick's Wren   10  vocal, ubiquitous, though much less numerous than HOWR.

House Wren  25  vocal, ubiquitous; many engaged in territorial song from exposed perches.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1  foraging in outer canopy of a mature oak, WR.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  1  in flowering yerba santa, trailside dry wash, lower CT.

Hermit Thrush  1 (unseen by me) calls; fly; in shady, dry stream bed (Jane), CT.

Wrentit    6 (unseen) repeated song from adjacent hillside chaparral, NC, CT.

Western Bluebird   6 (m,f)    calls;  active on low perches in oaks and sycamores, NC; picnic area, WR (photo).

Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana) Placerita Canyon, Los Angeles County CA  17 April 2014


                                                                                                                      © 2014 Callyn Yorke


California Thrasher   2  repeated song in adjacent hillside chaparral, CT.

European Starling  6  in and around sycamores, CT, NC.

Phainopepla   2  calls (unseen) NC; one (m) in willows overhanging streambed, WR.

Orange-crowned Warbler    6  vocal, ubiquitous; foraging in a variety of vegetation at multiple heights.

Nashville Warbler 1  moving quickly through streamside cottonwoods and willows overhanging surface water, CT.

Black-throated Gray Warbler  4  (m,f)  individuals foraging in the canopy of cottonwoods and oaks, CT (photo).

Black-throated Gray Warbler (Setophaga nigrescens) female  Placerita Canyon Park, Los Angeles County CA  17 April 2014


                                                                                                                  © 2014 Callyn Yorke


MacGillivray's Warbler  2  (m) moving quickly in a variety of shrubs (e.g. mulefat) and trees (e.g. sycamore) in riparian woodland with surface water, CT (photo).

MacGillivray's Warbler (Oporornis tolmiei) Placerita Canyon, Los Angeles County CA  17 April 2014

                                                                                © 2014 Callyn Yorke


Wilson's Warbler    6 (m,f) foraging quickly in a variety of shrubs (e.g. mulefat) and trees (e.g. willows and oaks), CT, WR.

Yellow-breasted Chat  1  silent and shy; seen briefly about 0800 hrs. in low in flowering yerba santa in a dry wash alongside the lower section of CT.

Spotted Towhee  12  vocal, ubiquitous; relatively tame at WR (photo),

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) Placerita Canyon, Los Angeles County CA  17 April 2014

                                                                                             © 2014 Callyn Yorke


California Towhee   26  vocal, ubiquitous; often in pairs and habituated to people (unaccompanied by dogs); common on trails, parking lots and picnic areas (photo).

California Towhee (Melozone crissalis) Placerita Canyon, Los Angeles County CA  17 April 2014

                                                                                                       © 2014 Callyn Yorke


Chipping Sparrow  1 (unseen) repeated calls from trailside grassy area beneath oaks, WR.

Song Sparrow  5  vocal; confined mostly to riparian patches with surface water, CT.

Lincoln's Sparrow   (unseen) repeated calls from wet grassy-riparian area next to stream, WR.

White-crowned Sparrow  4  one pair on ground in wet area next to surface water, CT; 2 in picnic area, WR.

Golden-crowned Sparrow  1  (imm) with WCSP in riparian patch with surface water, CT (photo).

Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla) immature  Placerita Canyon LACO CA 17 April 2014


                                                                           © 2014 Callyn Yorke


Dark-eyed (Oregon) Junco  1  flushed from ground and into an oak in the picnic area, WR.

Black-headed Grosbeak  14 (m,f) vocal, ubiquitous; one male foraging for several minutes on willow catkins.

Red-winged Blackbird  song (unseen) NC.

Brown-headed Cowbird   vocal (unseen) sycamore-oak picnic area, NC.

Bullock's Oriole  4  vocal, ubiquitous in riparian areas.

House Finch  14  vocal, ubiquitous; several interacting on information sign with possible nesting under eaves, WR.

Lesser Goldfinch  10 vocal, gregarious and ubiquitous in riparian areas.

American Goldfinch  2 (m,f) pair intermixing with LEGO, riparian area with surface water, lower CT.
















Rick Brammer with a captive Harris' Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus) at Placerita Canyon Nature Center, CA 17 December 2009

© 2009 Callyn Yorke


DECEMBER 17, 2009 Placerita Canyon Nature Center (14 Species)


Weather: fair 55F; winds WNW 0-3 mph.

Time: 0830-0930 hrs.

Observers: Merissa Mendez and I.

Area Covered: Parking lot, visitor's center, bridge over dry creek, oak woodland, grassland and chapparal. We walked slowly on the trail system at the park entrance, using binoculars and a DSLR camera. Met Rick Brammer, a falconer with a Harris' Hawk (photo above), who is also a docent at the park. Viewed the caged Great Horned Owl (with only one wing) and a Red-tailed Hawk. The Visitor Center recently reopened after being closed for about three years. A good trail system has been developed throughout the park, traversing all habitats.

White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) in Placerita Canyon Park, December 17, 2009.

                                                                                                                                                               © 2009 Callyn Yorke


Nuttall's Woodpecker 1 (f) in upper level of mature Coast Live Oak.

Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker 2 fly, call.

Acorn Woodpecker 2 in dead CLO and Sycamore; calls.

Anna's Hummingbird 1 (m) in Sycamore.

Western Bluebird 5 drinking in puddle near parkinglot; foraging in lot covered with wood chips.

Western Scrub Jay 2 fly, call.

White-breasted Nuthatch 1 foraging in subcanopy of CLO.

Oak Titmouse 2 active in shrubs and oaks.

Black Phoebe 1 open field, low perch.

California Towhee 1 brushy area at edge of parking lot.

Spotted Towhee 1 SW side of stream bed; calls.

White-throated Sparrow 1 foraging in grass; flushed to tall shrubs; calls (photo above).

13) House Finch 2 in oaks; calls.

14) Dark-eyed Junco 10 on ground and in shrubs around oaks.