RECAPPING THE 2019 BREEDING BIRD BLITZ
By Conservation Science Director C. Ellery Mayence
Photos by Docent Naturalist Chris Gardner
The Conservancy would like to sincerely thank Senior Docents Chris Gardner, Steve Justus, and Lou Tucker for single-handedly (or would it be triple-handedly?) canvasing both sides of the Ranch as part of the 2019 Breeding Bird Blitz. These gentlemen not only arrived at the Ranch pre-dawn, but traversed many miles of Ranch roads on back-to-back days in early June to document whatever birds were willing to be seen (and counted).
Photo: Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
To be completely up-front about what they observed, these two days were not all that birdy, as species counts can easily be double what they were. For novice birders, the number of species observed is, in part, a function of the number of observers, the weather conditions immediately prior to and during the survey, as well as the number of habitats birded.
Photo: Cactus wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus)
As previous birders of Tejon would anticipate, the Antelope Valley side was most diverse (37 species compared to 26 for the San Joaquin), though the San Joaquin side produced perhaps the most interesting sighting as of late—an osprey. The reason for this difference largely has to do with habitat complexity (or diversity); grassland, oak woodland, riparian, Joshua tree, chaparral, and piñon pine-juniper habitats all occur in relatively close proximity to one another (or in some locations overlap) on the Antelope Valley side. The San Joaquin Valley side, in comparison, is dominated by a mix of grassland and oak woodland, as well as riparian habitat.
Photo: Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
Going back to the osprey sighting, some may be asking why would an osprey be hanging around on Tejon Ranch and where would it be foraging? Well, in addition to the California Aqueduct, which crosses the Ranch and supports populations of fish, there are two reservoirs on Tejon, one of which has resident fish. So, for a maundering or migrating fish hawk, food can be found.
Photo: Western bluebird (Sialia mexicana)
Once again, many thanks to Chris, Steve, and Lou for their assistance, perseverance, and hard work! The figures that follow show breakdowns of which species were observed on each day, noting these data represent species sighted on three or more occasions.
Photo: Tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor)