Birds of many feathers on display in the marshes of San Francisco Bay

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on February 4, 2019

On Saturday, InMenlo contributing photographer Robb Most joined local bird expert Kaye Bonney on an expedition through the marshlands adjacent to San Francisco Bay.

He was shooting between storms, and we think the results are terrific.

Bird identified top to bottom: Gull (with a bird in its mouth); Red Tail Hawk in winter plumage [correct to be a male Northern Harrier – see full explanation in comments section],  White-crowned Sparrow, American Avocet, group of Black-necked stilts.

Photos by Robb Most (c) 2019

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris February 4, 2019 at 10:33 am

Hello,
With respect, the raptor shown looks like a male Northern Harrier (readers of a certain age may have known is as “marsh hawk”). Note that it has a white band across its back, where the wings end and tail begins. And it lacks the dark “patagial” marks on the underside of the wing, a dark bar between shoulder and wrist, that a red-tail always has. Merlin is an excellent app to help with bird ID. We invite you to check out Bedwell Bayfront Park, Menlo Park’s own open space park, where you can get wonderful photos of ducks, shorebirds, sometimes raptors. Beginning birders are invited to join our monthly bird walks in winter, 2nd Saturday. See https://www.facebook.com/events/578406205971267/ or check Sequoia Audubon Society’s webpage. Thank you.

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A. Lee February 4, 2019 at 10:07 pm

Bird walks with Sequoia Audubon are excellent. the next “second Saturday” is February 9, (Be sure to mark your calendar!)

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Kaye Bonney February 4, 2019 at 1:11 pm

Thanks, Chris.

I thought that white raptor might have been a Marsh Hawk but I have never before seen one that color.

Do you know whether Red-Tailed Hawks have winter plumage?

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Chris February 4, 2019 at 7:27 pm

Kaye, red-tails don’t have breeding/non-breeding plumages the way many song birds do. N. Harriers are interesting as they are one of the raptors where the males are differently colored than females (sexual dimorphism). Red tails differ only in size (slightly).

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