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Birds of Yosemite National Park (1954, 1963) by Cyril A. Stebbins and Robert C. Stebbins
PLOVERS: Family Charadriidae
KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus):
9-11 in. Above brown; rump and base
of tail feathers rusty; below white; two
black bands on chest; white band around
neck; white thumb-marks on tail feathers
diminishing in size toward center. Runs
along the ground as though balancing a
package on its head. Immature: Generally
duller with more rust above. Voice
a shrill, high-pitched kill-dee, kill-dee,
accent on last syllable; may be heard
calling late at night. Eggs often laid on
bare ground in gravelly or sandy place
where difficult to see because of their
resemblance to the background.
Frequents meadows, cultivated lands,
and shores of lakes, ponds, and streams.
Widespread, abundant R., withdrawing
from higher elevations and more northerly
areas in winter. S.V. to wet meadows
in Yosemite region such as Tuolumne
Meadows and parts of Yosemite Valley.
SNIPE, SANDPIPERS, ETC.:
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularia):
7-8 in. Above brown; faint
white line over eye; line of white spots
in wing when extended; tail short,
brown, outer feathers barred with brown
and white; below white with round dusky
spots; spots absent in immature birds
and in adults in winter; bill orange-yellow,
slightly curved downward. Bobs
and teeters. In flight wings curve downward
in shallow arc and wingtips vibrate.
Voice peet weet, the first note the higher.
Eggs often found laid on bare gravelly
or sandy ground.
Frequents rocky ocean shores in winter.
Summers in mountains, frequenting
sand- and gravelbars along streams and
lake shores. S. V. to Yosemite region.
Seen along the Merced River in Yosemite
Valley (where it nests) or in Tuolumne
COMMON SNIPE (Capella gallinago):
10 1/2-11 1/2 in. Plumage generally
brown; crown crossed by black and white
stripes; brown line from bill to eye; long,
slender, straight bill; tail reddish-brown
with black bars and whitish tip; belly
whitish; breast light brown marked with
darker brown spots. Seldom seen away
from cover, where it is well concealed.
Breeds chiefly east of the Sierra and
to the north. C. V. to Yosemite region,
having been observed in Yosemite Valley
and on the Tuolumne River at 9,000
AVOCETS AND STILTS:
AMERICAN AVOCET (Recurvirostra
16-20 in. Head, neck,
and breast washed with light cinnamon-brown;
eye-ring and base of bill white;
white patch down middle of back bordered
on each side with black, black
areas in turn bordered with broad white
stripes; belly white; bill long, upturned;
iris red. Adult in winter and immature:
Head, neck, and chest grayish.
Frequents expanses of shallow water
as in marshes or grazing lands; inhabits
coastal shores. C. V. to Yosemite region.
A single record for Yosemite Valley,
several for Tenaya Lake and Tuolumne
meadows. Often seen at Mono Lake in
WILSON’S PHALAROPE (Steganopus tricolor):
8 1/2-10 in. Female: Top
of head, stripe down back of neck, and
upper back ash-gray; black stripe back
of eye extends down side of neck and
blends with rich chestnut on lower neck;
base of tail and under parts white; feet
black; no light-colored wing stripe. Male:
Similar to female but duller; top of head,
wings, and back brown; sides of neck
dull reddish-brown. Adult and immature
in fall: Above ash-gray; white line over
eye; under parts white; line back of eye,
The phalaropes show a reversal of the
usual situation among birds. The female
is the brighter and is the aggressor in
courtship. The male incubates the eggs
and cares for the young.
Frequents marshes and wet meadows
where there is open shallow water. C. V.
to Yosemite region where it has been
observed in Yosemite Valley. Common
S. V. on Mono Lake.
NORTHERN PHALAROPE (Lobipes
7-8 in. Female: Back, hind-neck,
and head slaty or lead-colored;
back streaked with rusty; sides of neck
and upper breast rufous; eyelids, chin,
throat, and remaining under parts white;
white bar in extended wing. Male: Resembles
female but less reddish-brown
and back marked with more black and
white. Adults in winter and immature:
Upper parts streaked with black and
white; top of head and behind eye dusky;
white line over eye.
Often seen in flocks. Head is moved
back and forth when swimming. As with
other phalaropes, a whirling motion of
the body is often employed in feeding.
This may stir up small aquatic animals
that are common in their diet.
Most common along the coast but also
on sloughs and ponds inland. C. V. to
Yosemite region; observed in Yosemite
Valley. Large numbers in spring and late
summer on Mono Lake.
GULLS AND TERNS:
CALIFORNIA GULL (Larus californicus):
20-23 in. Head, neck, tail, and
under parts white; back gray; primaries
black, tipped with white; a large white
spot inside tip of second primary and
sometimes also first; bill pale yellow with
red spot preceded by black spot near end
of lower mandible; feet greenish-gray;
iris dark brown. In a flock of gulls, many
may be seen that are mottled with grayish-brown
and whitish, with, blackish
primaries and black at the tip of the
flesh-colored bill; others approach more
nearly the plumage of the adults. Such
birds are immatures, 1 to 3 years old.
Along the coast and about inland
bodies of water. C. V. to the Yosemite
region. Observed on Tenaya Lake (8,141
feet) and Young Lake (10,000 feet) and
on other lakes of the high Sierra. Abundant
at Mono Lake.
RING-BILLED GULL (Larus delawarensis):
18-20 in. Resembles California
gull, but bill yellow encircled by
black band near tip, back lighter gray,
feet yellow, and iris light yellow. Immature:
Differs from California gull in
having narrower and better defined dark
band at tip of tail.
C. V. on interior bodies of water.
Occasionally seen in Yosemite Valley.
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