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.
Dr. Callyn Yorke (includes much additional sighting information)
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.