April 13, 2021

Searching for Birds in San Jose

This weekend, I was trying to find and identify 5 species of birds around my home in San Jose. I don't know a lot about the local species of birds, and I would like to practice taking pictures of them because it can be so difficult!

Beginning on Thursday, April 8th, I started my search for birds. Sitting with a friend of mine outdoors and working on some homework, I kept my eyes peeled for the afternoon. I was excited to see when a small, round bird landed on a nearby fence. My friend was able to quickly snap a photo of it while it was sitting still and send it to me. I thought it might be a Towhee based on an identification an iNaturalist user made on one of my observations last week (on April 2nd), but I don't know a lot about birds and I wasn't sure at first. I posted it and used the automatic identification feature which seemed to confirm my suspicions.

Later (on April 11th) we took a walk in the nearby Santa Teresa County Park and heard a distinctive call from the trees above. A moment later, I saw a flash of blue swoop down and land on a nearby wooden fence. I initially thought "jay" and wondered how many specific types of jays live around me. I posted a photo of the bird and waited to see if anyone else could help me identify it. Someone suggested that it was a California Scrub-Jay, so I looked up a recording of the call, which sounded very similar to what I heard when we were walking.

We found another small bird sitting along the same fence later, which the automatic identification called a sparrow. Later, someone suggested that it was a white-crowned sparrow and I loved how fitting the name was. The beautiful white stripes along its head really did look like a delicate crown.

At the end of the walk, we reached a small turtle pond, which is frequented by ducks and other animals as it's a nice, cool and shady spot to escape the heat of the open hills. We found a couple of ducks resting by the water - a colorful male and a pale brown female. This was the easiest species to identify because of the mallard's beautiful green-blue head.

A few days later (April 13) I went out to finish my search early in the morning before my classes began, when my local park would be empty and I thought some birds may be around to look for food before the dogs and children arrived in the afternoon. Immediately after I walked out the door, I saw a large bird soaring in the distance. It was a familiar sight- I knew it was one of the huge turkey vultures who live around here and hunt in the local fields and often circle above. Unfortunately, it was so far away and quickly moving out of sight so I wasn't able to capture a great picture - but a previous identification I made about a week ago helped me know what this bird was without any AI assistance.

I walked to the park and found lots of small birds flying in and out of the tall trees, but they all moved too quickly to capture... hopefully I'll be able to snap a picture sometime. I did get a picture of one small bird, though it was a bit obscured by the trees. I was unable to identify it on my own, and so I'm still waiting on any assistance from other iNaturalist users to see if they can tell what it is based on the image. I added some brief notes in order to try to help anyone who tried to identify it.

I will keep searching for birds around my neighborhood. There is one who keeps calling in my backyard who I can't spot with my eyes, so I hope to be able to use the audio function in order to find out who my noisy neighbor is based on a recording of its call.

Posted on April 13, 2021 19:10 by amychattaway amychattaway | 7 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

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