Heil Valley Ranch, July 9, 2022–with Stephen Chang

July 9, 2022

Our Saturday walk at Heil Valley Ranch consisted of a good crew of seven. The Cal Wood fire torched the area 2 years ago, killing much of the Ponderosa canopy in the area. Because of this, the vegetation that is coming back is quite weedy, consisting mostly of common mullein and musk thistle. This has led to an explosive growth of some grasshopper and butterfly groups in the valley.

Mourning Dove. Photo by Jamie Simo.

As for the birds, we either heard or saw a total of twenty-seven species, the most abundant of which were Mourning Doves, Lesser Goldfinches, and Lazuli Buntings. Views towards the canyon walls to the east were initially difficult due to the lighting in the morning, but we were able to identify many birds by call or song. We talked about the Western Tanager’s song being like “a robin with a sore throat.” Additionally, after hearing Rock Wrens sing for almost an hour up the hill without good looks, we were finally rewarded when one flew in close and perched on a nearby rock (fittingly).

Rock Wren. Photo by Jamie Simo.

Because of the heat forecasted for the day, we did a short loop around the Lichen Loop trail and called it a little bit early. It was both eerie and hard to see the destruction caused by such a high-intensity fire, but there are still some birds who have taken advantage of the situation and are thriving at Heil Ranch.

Thanks to all those who came!

27 Species observed

3          Wild Turkey

8          Mourning Dove

3          Broad-tailed Hummingbird

2          Northern Flicker

3          Western Wood-Pewee

1          Cordilleran Flycatcher

1          Western Kingbird

1          Warbling Vireo

1          Blue Jay

1          Black-billed Magpie

1          Common Raven

1          Violet-green Swallow

1          White-breasted Nuthatch

5          Rock Wren

1          House Wren

1          American Robin

3          Red Crossbill

3          Pine Siskin

10        Lesser Goldfinch

6          American Goldfinch

3          Spotted Towhee

1          Yellow-breasted Chat

2          Western Meadowlark

1          Western/Eastern Meadowlark

1          Western Tanager

1          Black-headed Grosbeak

4          Blue Grosbeak

10        Lazuli Bunting


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