HomeSandpiper SelectsCHS campus hosts wide variety of bird species

CHS campus hosts wide variety of bird species

Amidst this overdeveloped world, one may still find gems of nature interspersed throughout our daily lives, even at our own little school.

When people hear the word bird, images of the most conspicuous, lunch-scrounging birds pop into their heads, namely the western gull, American crow, Brewer’s blackbird and western scrub-jay.

However, if you look closer, you can start to see past these white and black masses into the lives of some of the more interesting, year-long avian residents of CHS.

In the main quad, flocks of flashy house finches roost in the trees, the males of which show off a brilliant red head and breast.

A male Anna's hummingbird sings on the ceanothus bush behind Schrier's room while showing off its iridescent pink throat.

A male Anna’s hummingbird sings on the ceanothus bush behind Schrier’s room while showing off its iridescent pink throat.

By the small amphitheater in the freshman quad, one may often see a black phoebe — the so-called “tuxedo” bird — always dressed for the occasion with a sleek black body and white breast while perching on a rock, waiting to strike at passing flies.

One of the more productive birding habitats is the stand of pine trees on the east border of campus.

Here, one can regularly spot a red-shouldered hawk in one of the perches, and sometimes even a great-horned owl at dusk. Flocks of chestnut-backed chickadees and dark-eyed juncos flit from tree to tree in this grove, while a family of cackling acorn woodpeckers makes its home in a small hole in a Monterey pine snag.

Another great campus hotspot is the slope between the auto shop and the adjacent bathrooms.

This little bank of shrubbery is the perfect place for a patient birdwatcher to glimpse some of the more secretive critters at school: the large brown California towhee, small pods of white-crowned sparrows and the especially discreet Bewick’s wren, a small brown bird with a thick white eyebrow and a constantly flitting tail. Feeding on the white sage bush, one can find lesser goldfinches, little yellow-green birds with black caps and whispery, melodious songs.

It might seem to the casual observer like nature is hibernating for the winter; however, winter brings with it a whole host of seasonal species coming home for the holidays.

One of these festive birds is the Anna’s hummingbird, the males of which often show off their iridescent pink throats while letting out a distinctive grumbly chatter; they can be seen in winter in abundance on the lavender bush behind Schrier’s room or hiding in the tops of trees around campus.

A female Townsend's warbler; also on the ceanothus behind Schrier's room, a handsome yellow and black winter visitor.

A female Townsend’s warbler; also on the ceanothus behind Schrier’s room, a handsome yellow and black winter visitor.

Next to this lavender bush is a giant complex of ceanothus bushes commonly used as shelter by another seasonal visitor, the Townsend’s warbler, a striking yellow and gray bird with a bold black mask over its eyes. The yellow-rumped warbler, a dull gray bird with a yellow rump and throat, is another winter warbler that can be seen around campus.

The tiny, introvertive ruby-crowned kinglet is yet another winter migrant to CHS, an unassuming yellow-green ball of a bird with a white eye ring and a bright red crest, which can be seen on the males when they get aggravated.

Don’t forget to look up every once and a while, as mourning doves can be seen speeding overhead with frantic wing beats and even the occasional surveying Cooper’s hawk, which can be distinguished in flight from the red-shouldered hawk by its long, thin tail.

Just remember that birds do much more for us than making obnoxious noises, stealing our lunches and pooping wherever they please. They supply balance to the ecosystem that is increasingly run over by humans, and they give us pleasant eye candy amongst it all.

Appreciating birds is the least you can do in return.
-Ari Freedman

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