Monday, October 1, 2012

Tin Tub Rubber Ducks

Aside from the aqua-bears, a bunch o' birdies also visited the tin tub.

Ground birds that sipped at the puddles, and perching birds that drank from the rim.

Apologies for the low quality, btw - this Moultrie, like most trail cams, struggles with motion-blur, color consistency, dark shadows, bright spots, small subjects, focal range, etc., etc.

Now, on to our 7 species of wannabe rubber ducks.

contestant #1 - Valley Quail
Valley Quail came often to drink from the overflow puddle. Sources such as this can be critical to them during drought summers, when creeks are dry and they can't get all the water they need from the forbs and seeds they eat. Not sure why they aren't drinking from the nearby guzzler, though. Perhaps there's a queue. May have to try a cam on one some time to see.

cal quail

Interesting tidbit: being collection points, water holes are a common location for the seasonally-separated "nuclear" quail families to re-connect with other families, introduce the kids, and start reforming the communal covey for fall/winter.

cal quail

contestant #2 - Chukar
Chukar haven't been spotted on the property for a few years, so it was a surprise to see this group show up in the shots. An introduced Eurasian bird, Chukar are most common in the arid, rocky canyons of Eastern CA and the Great Basin.


Btw - Chukar differ in their family behavior from Valley Quail. The males don't generally hang with the ladies and raise the kids after breeding, but collect in small gangs and roam separately until fall. I think this group might be such a gang o' males.


contestant #3 - Screech Owl?
A small owl dropped in one night for a drink at the puddles. By size, shape and known species, maybe a Western Screech Owl.

screech owl?

screech owl?

contestant #4 - Mourning Doves
Mourning Doves were the most common bird visitors, and drank from the ground and the rim.

mourning doves

contestant #5 - Crows
Curious Crows perched on the tub to drink too.


contestant #6 - House Finches?
And this pair of small birds stopped once. Hmmmm... thick bill and a long tail with a slight notch. Seem finchy - maybe House Finches with a yellow-variant male?

house finches?

contestant #7 - Scott's Oriole
The winner of the rubber duck award was quite easy to ID. Gotta love birds with distinct colors and markings. I give you Scott's Oriole - both male and female:

scott's oriole

scott's oriole

scott's oriole

scott's oriole

Scott's Orioles are a species of the southwest deserts that range up into the juniper and yucca scrub of the Tehachapi Mountains. Yet another example of how much wildlife crossover occurs in the area. And also a new species for the ranch bird list (now at 91 species).

Hopefully I'll see Scott's in person one day.

Oh - for those bathers that prefer squeaky frogs to rubber ducks, there were 2 of those in the tub as well. A pair of chorus frogs (aka tree frogs) clung to the side several times.

chorus frogs

Water troughs and holes - always great fodder for summer camera trap surveys.



  1. Scott's oriole? That's a keeper for the list.

  2. Are snakes drinking out of the water cooler next? (I have snakes on the brain.)

    1. Hmmmm... Snakes on the Brain. Isn't that a Samuel Jackson sequel coming out next summer?

      No snakes this round. But like the tree frogs, there were a few shots with lizards on the logs. In both cases cattle in the background triggered the cam. I just cropped them out in the frog shot.

  3. Nice quails and chukkar's....never seen either species. It's really interesting to see what shows up for water. I wish I could do that (here in NY), I think it's too wet now though to be effective. Maybe next summer!

  4. Lovely series. You got your owl! Hopefully the little guy will turn around next time.


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