Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pigeon Guillemot

We're back from the marshes of Pescadero, CA.  Alas, I did not find any avocets, but I saw tons of birds.  I saw at least five kinds of birds that I've never seen before.  Tonight I'll be trying to determine whether I saw different types of terns or one kind with slight variations.  The key to these water birds is in the beak, the tips of the primaries, and the shape of the head.  If you ever have a question about bird identification, you can post a picture on Birdforum.  The members are incredibly nice and very knowledgeable.

Have you ever been to Pescadero?  It's lovely.

Growing up in Massachusetts, I was really quite surprised the first time I saw a California coast.  It's all high bluffs and crumbling rocks here in California. 

Onto the birds!

Pigeon guillemots live along the coast and obtain their food by diving into the water.  Their name is derived from their similarity to pigeons.  I was really surprised to discover that they are not water pigeons.  Just look!

They have awesome bright orange feet.

They are very vocal.  We kept hearing an eee-eee-eee and they'd come flying out of the rock crevices.  

Pigeon guillemots are quite common, especially this time of year, when they're breeding in crevices, caves, or burrows.  This next part is from my field guide and it's so funny that I have to quote directly from the book:  "In their summer courtship rituals, these birds flaunt their scarlet mouths and wave their scarlet feet while peering down the throats of potential mates."  Don't you wish I captured a picture of that?  Instead I can only show you the inside of their mouths.

They were really busy today.  They were searching for food, calling to each other, disappearing inside the rocks.  I suspect that they're raising babies right now.  They feed their babies throughout the day to reduce the time it takes for the babies to fledge.

I wanted to get a really good picture of their feet.  We kept yelling "Show us your feet" but they're stubborn.  

 You see that face?  That's the face of a bird with resolve.  He will not show you his feet.


  1. Very cool; they don't venture down to our part of the coast, unfortunately.T

  2. I'm so surprised! They're so common here. Maybe they prefer the cool weather.


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