Savvy Spotters Say Bernal’s Birds Are Not So Sexy

San Francisco’s annual Christmas Bird Count happened last week. (The counts don’t have to be on Christmas, just around that time.) The Golden Gate Audubon Society is still tallying the final results, but here’s the initial report on the birds of Bernal Heights: Not so exciting.

Tom White, who led the group that covered Bernal, said they didn’t see anything spectacular up here — certainly not any candidates for bird of the day. (For the uninitiated, birding is a slightly competitive activity.) Participants in Christmas Bird Counts count everything: crows, pigeons,  starlings, and ravens.

Between the Hill, Holly Park, and one of the community gardens, the Bernal group also counted Anna’s hummingbirds, a mockingbird, robins, house finches, pygmy nuthatches, yellow-rumped warblers, and two American kestrels. Mundane stuff. To them.

So Bernal’s not a hot birding spot — or at least it wasn’t the morning of the Christmas Bird Count. But we do have some nice birds. My favorites are the colorful scrub jays, squawking from a yard near you. The kestrels are cool, too: they’re tiny, colorful falcons. You can find them sometimes if you see a bunch of upset pigeons, but no hawk. Check nearby branches; chances are there’s a badass little kestrel hanging out. Even in the city, it’s a jungle out there.

Photo: A local hummingbird, by Molly Samuel

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About Molly Samuel

Molly joined KQED as an intern in 2007, and since then has worked here as a reporter, producer, director and blogger. Molly has also reported for NPR, KALW and High Country News, and has produced audio stories for The Encyclopedia of Life and the Oakland Museum of California. She has a degree in Ancient Greek from Oberlin College and is a co-founder of the record label True Panther Sounds.
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6 Responses to Savvy Spotters Say Bernal’s Birds Are Not So Sexy

  1. Birdmonster says:

    I feel like I’ve seen a couple of hawks or falcons that hang out on Bernal…. and I definitely hear owls, though I’ve never seen them.

  2. Derek says:

    Don’t forget the parrots. Love them.

    • mollysamuel says:

      Yes! The parrots! Over the summer and fall it seemed like they were spending some time in a huge Eucalyptus around Powhattan and Banks. Have you seen or heard them recently? I haven’t, but since it’s been colder I’ve had my windows closed more.

      • Derek says:

        Around September a whole bunch were perched on the wires outside my house on Mullen, just briefly. So fun. I have heard them once or twice since then, flying over.

  3. Brett Levine says:

    Sometime I’ve seen a caique riding (or flying next to) an electric scooter down Cortland. I think his name is pixel, and that dork riding the scooter is probably Brett.

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