Birds of Galileo Hill

 

 

Birds of Galileo Hill

The Townsend's Solitaire is one of many species that stops over at Galileo to refuel during the fall migration.

Photo courtesy of Bob Steele.

 

Since the mid-1980s, 339 species have been recorded at Galileo Hill, a private ranch with an area of just under half a square mile located on the high desert of Kern County, several hours north of Los Angeles. A postage stamp of greenery in an otherwise parched desert, Galileo is an important staging grounds for birds during their fall and spring migrations, and host to a limited number of breeding and wintering species. For the past 30 years birders have flocked to this location in order to observe these migrations and, if lucky, find a species previously unrecorded in the park. The following bird list is arranged according to taxonomy recognized by the American Ornithological Society.

 

Three species reported with convincing details do not appear here: Chimney Swift, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, and Alder Flycatcher. As certain features were not noted in the field, these species are treated as hypothetical.

Bird List

ANATIDAE

Snow Goose

Ross's Goose

Greater White-fronted Goose

Cackling Goose

Canada Goose

Tundra Swan

Wood Duck

Blue-winged Teal

Cinnamon Teal

Northern Shoveler

Gadwall

Eurasian Wigeon

American Wigeon

Mallard

Northern Pintail

Green-winged Teal

Canvasback

Redhead

Ring-necked Duck

Lesser Scaup

Surf Scoter

Bufflehead

Common Goldeneye

Hooded Merganser

Common Merganser

Red-breasted Merganser

Ruddy Duck


ODONTOPHORIDAE

California Quail

Gambel's Quail (I)


PHASIANIDAE

Chukar (I)


PODICIPEDIDAE

Pied-billed Grebe

Eared Grebe

Western Grebe

Clark's Grebe


COLUMBIDAE

Rock Pigeon (I)

Band-tailed Pigeon

Eurasian Collared-Dove (I)

Common Ground-Dove

Ruddy Ground-Dove

White-winged Dove

Mourning Dove


CUCULIDAE

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Greater Roadrunner

Groove-billed Ani


CAPRIMULGIDAE

Lesser Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk

Common Poorwill


APODIDAE

Black Swift

Vaux's Swift

White-throated Swift


TROCHILIDAE

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird

Costa's Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird


RALLIDAE

Virginia Rail

Sora

Common Gallinule

American Coot


GRUIDAE

Sandhill Crane


RECURVIROSTRIDAE

Black-necked Stilt

American Avocet


CHARADRIIDAE

Semipalmated Plover

Killdeer


SCOLOPACIDAE

Upland Sandpiper

Long-billed Curlew

Baird's Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper

Short-billed Dowitcher

Long-billed Dowitcher

Wilson’s Snipe

Spotted Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper

Lesser Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

Wilson's Phalarope

Red-necked Phalarope

Red Phalarope


LARIDAE

Sabine’s Gull

Bonaparte's Gull

Ring-billed Gull

California Gull

Herring Gull

Least Tern

Caspian Tern

Black Tern

Common Tern

Forster's Tern


PHALACROCORACIDAE

Double-crested Cormorant


PELECANIDAE

American White Pelican


ARDEIDAE

American Bittern

Least Bittern

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Cattle Egret

Green Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron


THRESKIORNITHIDAE

White-faced Ibis


CATHARTIDAE

Turkey Vulture


PANDIONIDAE

Osprey


ACCIPITRIDAE

White-tailed Kite

Golden Eagle

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Northern Goshawk

Bald Eagle

Common Black-Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk

Swainson's Hawk

Zone-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk


TYTONIDAE

Barn Owl


STRIGIDAE

Flammulated Owl

Western Screech-Owl

Great Horned Owl

Burrowing Owl

Long-eared Owl

Northern Saw-whet Owl


ALCEDINIDAE

Belted Kingfisher


PICIDAE

Lewis's Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker

Williamson's Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Red-naped Sapsucker

Red-breasted Sapsucker

Downy Woodpecker

Nuttall's Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker


FALCONIDAE

American Kestrel

Merlin

Peregrine Falcon

Prairie Falcon


TYRANNIDAE

Ash-throated Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatcher

Tropical/Couch's Kingbird

Cassin's Kingbird

Western Kingbird

Eastern Kingbird

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Western Wood-Pewee

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Willow Flycatcher

Least Flycatcher

Hammond's Flycatcher

Gray Flycatcher

Dusky Flycatcher

Pacific-slope Flycatcher

Cordilleran Flycatcher

Buff-breasted Flycatcher

Black Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Say's Phoebe

Vermilion Flycatcher


LANIIDAE

Loggerhead Shrike

Northern Shrike


VIREONIDAE

White-eyed Vireo

Bell’s Vireo

Hutton's Vireo

Yellow-throated Vireo

Cassin's Vireo

Blue-headed Vireo

Plumbeous Vireo

Philadelphia Vireo

Warbling Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

Yellow-green Vireo


CORVIDAE

Pinyon Jay

California Scrub-Jay

Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay

Clark's Nutcracker

American Crow

Common Raven


ALAUDIDAE

Horned Lark


HIRUNDINIDAE

Purple Martin

Tree Swallow

Violet-green Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Bank Swallow

Cliff Swallow

Barn Swallow


PARIDAE

Mountain Chickadee

Oak Titmouse


REMIZIDAE

Verdin


AEGITHALIDAE

Bushtit


SITTIDAE

Red-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Pygmy Nuthatch


CERTHIIDAE

Brown Creeper


TROGLODYTIDAE

Rock Wren

House Wren

Pacific Wren

Marsh Wren

Bewick's Wren


POLIOPTILIDAE

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher


REGULIDAE

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet


PHYLLOSCOPIDAE

Arctic/Kamchatka Leaf Warbler


TURDIDAE

Western Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird

Townsend's Solitaire

Veery

Gray-cheeked Thrush

Swainson's Thrush

Hermit Thrush

Wood Thrush

Eyebrowed Thrush

American Robin

Varied Thrush


MIMIDAE

Gray Catbird

Brown Thrasher

LeConte's Thrasher

Sage Thrasher

Northern Mockingbird


STURNIDAE

European Starling (I)


BOMBYCILLIDAE

Cedar Waxwing


PTILIOGONATIDAE

Phainopepla


PASSERIDAE

House Sparrow (I)


MOTACILLIDAE

Red-throated Pipit

American Pipit

Sprague’s Pipit


FRINGILLIDAE

Evening Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch

House Finch

Purple Finch

Cassin's Finch

Red Crossbill

Pine Siskin

Lesser Goldfinch

Lawrence's Goldfinch

American Goldfinch


CALCARIDAE

Lapland Longspur

Chestnut-collared Longspur

Smith's Longspur


EMBERIZIDAE

Green-tailed Towhee

Spotted Towhee

Rufous-crowned Sparrow

American Tree Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow

Brewer's Sparrow

Black-chinned Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Sagebrush Sparrow

Bell’s Sparrow

Lark Bunting

Savannah Sparrow

Grasshopper Sparrow

Nelson's Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Lincoln's Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

Harris's Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco


ICTERIIDAE

Yellow-breasted Chat


ICTERIDAE

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Bobolink

Western Meadowlark

Orchard Oriole

Hooded Oriole

Bullock's Oriole

Baltimore Oriole

Scott’s Oriole

Red-winged Blackbird

Tricolored Blackbird

Bronzed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Rusty Blackbird

Brewer's Blackbird

Common Grackle

Great-tailed Grackle


PARULIDAE

Ovenbird

Worm-eating Warbler

Louisiana Waterthrush

Northern Waterthrush

Golden-winged Warbler

Blue-winged Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

Tennessee Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Lucy's Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Virginia's Warbler

Connecticut Warbler

MacGillivray's Warbler

Mourning Warbler

Kentucky Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Hooded Warbler

American Redstart

Cape May Warbler

Northern Parula

Magnolia Warbler

Bay-breasted Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Palm Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler

Black-throated Gray Warbler

Townsend's Warbler

Hermit Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

Canada Warbler

Wilson's Warbler

Red-faced Warbler

Painted Redstart


CARDINALIDAE

Hepatic Tanager

Summer Tanager

Scarlet Tanager

Western Tanager

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Black-headed Grosbeak

Blue Grosbeak

Lazuli Bunting

Indigo Bunting

Painted Bunting

Dickcissel


I – Introduced Species (6 species)

Thanks to the birders who, over the years, have shared their sightings in one format or another.  The following are just a few of the many who have contributed to the East Kern birding scene:  Liga Auzins, Bob Barnes, David Blue, Mark Chichester, Jon Feenstra, Gary File, Stan Gray, Kelli Heindel, Matt Heindel, Andrew Howe, Vernon Howe, Sandy Koonce, Brenda Kyle, Ken Kyle, Dennis McDonnell, Michael McQuerry, Mike San Miguel, Rick Saval, Ali Sheehey, Bob Steele, Susan Steele, Johnny Wilson, and Tom Wurster.  Thanks to Matt Heindel, author of “Birds of Eastern Kern County,” and David Blue, co-compiler with Heindel of a checklist of the birds of Galileo Hills (1998), the basis for the first version of this website (2006).  A special thanks to Bob Steele for providing the photographs for this website.

Of all the hybrids that have been recorded in the park (most of them sapsuckers), Leonard the drake Mallard x Pintail--who spent multiple winters shuttling between Galileo Hill and California City Central Park with a group of Mallards--was a standout.  Photo courtesy of Bob Steele.

Midnight the Cat, who escorted birders around the grounds for 15+ years. Along with Burrito the Donkey, Midnight is one of only two non-avian animals to be granted honorary bird status, earning the OVT (Order of the Varied Thrush) in 2015.  Photo couresty of Ken Kyle.

Below are a few excellent websites/resources that involve birding in Kern County:

And two non-Kern resources involving oystercatcher identification (frazeri American vs. hybrids)

Copyright 2018

Andrew Howe