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Lagoon Bird Photos

Link to additional photos of the lagoon and elsewhere.

Occasionally Malibu Lagoon gets an uncommon avian visitor.  When we receive photos of these birds, we try to get them into an appropriate and upcoming blog/email, such as an announcement of an upcoming field trip.  To reduce blogsite clutter, these announcements are deleted after the trip has run, but we hate to lose any interesting photos they may have contained.  This page is now their permanent residence.  It will change when we add photos, but you won’t receive an email notification of such changes.  You’ll just have to check back!  New submissions always welcome.

Because Malibu Lagoon is such a great place to bird, there are plenty of people who visit it and take photos. Here are links to a few more websites which have selections of photos from the lagoon.
James Kenney
Monica Minden
Dr. Callyn Yorke   (includes much additional sighting information)

Killdeer chick, as leggy as a Secretary-Bird (J.Waterman 4/21/12)


Killdeer chick, a little unsteady. (J.Waterman 4/21/12)

Northern Wheatear likely has the longest migration route of any passerine. The entire population winters in the Sahel and sub-Saharan east Africa. From there, some races migrate NW to and through Europe, England, Iceland, Greenland and into NE Canada. Other races migrate NE to and through Asia, Siberia, Alaska and NW Canada. They have possibly the geographically widest record of vagrancy of any passerine. They have appeared in: Mexico, West Indies, Seychelles, Borneo and Philippines, as well as California and the Gulf Coast. [HBW]

Northern Wheatear (Daniel Tinoco 9/23/11 5:14PM)

Wandering Tattler looking fuzzy in the lagoon (C. Bragg 8/28/11)

Virginia Rail (J. Waterman 11/28/10)

Black Tern juvenile (J.Kenney 9/26/10)

Gray Flycatcher – note dark tip of lower mandible (Joyce Waterman 9/26/10)

Eastern Kingbird (Frank/Susan Gilliland 9/25/10)

Lesser Nighthawk in the evening (Daniel Tinoco 9/7/10)

“Hey! Look! You can see the bottom!” (Wilson’s Phalaropes by J.Kenney 9/10)

Even a juvenile Ruff appears! (J.Kenney 9/5/10)

White-winged Dove (Joyce Waterman 8/29/10)

Yellow-crowned x Black-crowned Night-Heron Hybrid(?) on its favorite log (L.Johnson 8/6/10

Yellow-crowned x Black-crowned Night-Heron Hybrid (L.Johnson 8/6/10

Brant (C.Bragg 5/10)

Merlin momentarily resting (L.Johnson 11/09)

Sora seen from 1st footbridge (C.Almdale 11/09)

Franklin’s Gull (Monica Minden (4/10/08)

Bicolored Blackbird – note lack of yellow margin on epaulets (J.Kenney 4/11)

Bicolored Blackbird – subspecies or accidental aberration of Red-winged? (J.Kenney 4/11)

A few years back, while watching either a Red-winged or Tricolored Blackbird (getting old, don’t remember which), I made a personal discovery. Until then, I had always assumed that the yellow or white “margin” on the red epaulets was the terminal end of the mostly red feather. This bird was in full display; it erected its epaulets to the maximum, I could see right to the base of the feathers, I saw that the “margin” was actually a separate set of feathers lying below the red epaulet feathers, and these sub-epaulet feathers were completely white (or yellow) right to where they grew from the skin.

These pictures were taken by local photographer James Kenney on 4/30/11 about 8 a.m. at the 2nd footbridge on the path to the beach. So far as I know at this time, it’s the first appearance of the Bicolored Blackbird at the lagoon, and it may well be its southernmost sighting. Dan Cooper commented on the pictures, “I can’t remember seeing one down here, though it’s a common form up in central California to the Bay Area, and probably occurs rarely throughout populations.” He also passed on a Wikipedia citation written by central Californian bird maven Alvaro Jaramillo: “There are a number of subspecies, some of doubtful status, which are  mostly quite similar in appearance, but the ‘Bicolored Blackbird’ A. p. gubernator of California and central Mexico is distinctive. The male lacks the yellow wing patch of the nominate race, and the female is much darker than the female nominate. The taxonomy of this form is little understood.” Commenting on Alvaro’s citation, Dan added, “I can’t imagine that a race occurs as disjunct in both coastal California and central Mexico (and not in between), so it may be, as I suspect, a normal/relatively common variation – like the yellow house finch, that simply”pops up” here and there across the huge range of the species.” I concur with Dan, but I wonder whether the margin feathers in the Bicolored are merely shortened or are completely absent. If anyone knows, drop me a line or post a reply here. I found an interesting article on the web but could get access to only the first page: The Status of the California Bi-colored Blackbird, Joseph Mailliard, The Condor (Cooper Ornithological Union), March 1910.  If anyone can send this article to me, I’d greatly appreciate it and will report what (if anything) I discover. Addenda and comments to this discussion can be found at the original blog from May 4, 2011.

Brant looks quite regal (Randy Ehler 10-23-16)

Black Skimmer with the giant schnozz (Grace Murayama 3-26-17)

Male Allen’s Hummingbird (Grace Murayama 3-26-17)

Least Tern and chick (J. Waterman 7-23-17)

Brewer’s Sparrow normally in the high desert or chaparral (J. Waterman 9-24-17)

Clark’s Grebe with his bright orange bill (J. Waterman 10-22-17)

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, gleaning invertebrates (R. Ehler 1-28-18)

Newly-hatched Western Snowy Plovers hiding in plain sight L.Plauzoles Malibu Lagoon 5/6/18

Heermann’s Gulls, juvenile on right (L. Loeher 7-22-18)


Red-necked Phalaropes (G. Murayama 9-21-18)

Ho hum – Just another young Magnificent Frigatebird crusing o’er the lagoon (Larry Loeher, 8-10-18)

[Chuck Almdale]

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