Next Five SF Birds
This whimsical contribution is a grassroots effort from several SF birders. Join the fun and let me know your predictions for the next five birds to be added to the SF City List. For a consenus of the "experts" opinions, see Luke's summary at the end.
I like this thread, as it takes us beyond the quotidian to the fantasy
realm. My five new species, and honorable mentions, would be:
1. Emperor Goose. As of 1997, there were 57 accepted records of
EMGO, from Del Norte down through Marin, Monterey and SLO counties, as well
as Solano and Alameda. Although we don't have much habitat, I could easily
see one sitting out on the Cliff House rocks or hanging at Sutro Baths.
2. South Polar Skua. Dan M thought he had one in 1998, a "coulda
been." This is not an uncommon bird offshore (I've had up to 15 in a day in
Marin/SF/Sonoma waters), and we should see it soon from land. Again, the
Cliff House is not a bad place to look.
3. Gray Catbird. I agree with Hugh et al. that this one should
show up. East Wash? 69 accepted records in CA as of 1997, with more than
10% being from the Farallones, as well as multiple Marin records and also
records from Monterey, Sonoma and Santa Cruz.
4. Scarlet Tanager. I agree with Paul that this should show up.
Golden Gate Park, or even Paul's beloved Mt. Davidson, would be my bet for
this bird. 89 accepted records in CA as of 1997, including multiple records
from Marin and SEFI, as well as singles from Alameda and Santa Clara.
5. Little Gull. I'm with Dan S on this one. 59 accepted records
through 1997, including multiple records for Humboldt, Alameda, and
Monterey, and records for almost all coastal counties in our area, including
Marin, Santa Clara, San Mateo, and Santa Cruz.
Luke's Honorable Mention list:
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. 94 records as of 1997, including SEFI
and all coastal counties EXCEPT SF City between San Mateo and Humboldt.
East Wash, anyone?
King Eider. Multiple records from Humboldt, Marin, Sonoma, San
Mateo, Contra Costa, and even Alameda. Sooner or later, this bird will be
Thick-billed Murre. SEFI, Marin, Sta Cruz, Monterey... Cliff
House? Tough to ID at a long distance and we dont have regular boat trips
Flesh-footed Shearwater. If we ran boats offshore more frequently,
I bet we would see one of these within sight of the City.
Manx Shearwater. Just a matter of time.
Short-tailed Albatross. Seen from shore repeatedly in Monterey over
the past two years; our day will come!
Royal Tern. Range expansion, be here regularly by 2085.
Painted Bunting. Records from Sonoma, Humboldt, S Cruz, as well as
7-8 from SEFI.
LeConte's Sparrow. 5 records from the Farallones -- why not here?
Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow. Records from Alameda, Santa Clara;
not much habitat here but if Heron's Head gets a good salicornia marsh we
could be in business.
Mark pointed out four reasons for new birds:
- Better coverage
- Better skill
- New wetlands
- Dumb luck
Alan mentioned range expansion as another factor. I would offer weather,
both short term and long term, as a further influence on what could show up.
Short-term, a big storm could bring in interesting pelagic species such as
pterodromas, storm-petrels, albatross sp., etc. Long-term, global warming
will cause range expansion of southern species such as Black Skimmer
(already in the Bay!) and Royal Tern, as well as some passerines.
Black-footed Albatross (within 3 miles)
Red Throated Pipit
My other considerations would be:
White or Black-backed Wagtail
There aren't a whole lot of birding spots left to be discovered in the
city since most of SF is already paved over. The notable exceptions
to this are the Crissy Wetlands and Heron's Head Park. So, the
question is what will cause a new city bird? Options include:
- Better coverage
- Better skill
- New wetlands
- Dumb luck
In the better coverage area, things were pretty well covered during
the big year in '98 and seem to be pretty well-covered this year, so
I'm not sure what we might expect here with the exceptions of
In the better skill area, certainly seabirds fall into this, but
identification of passerines with distinctive flight calls fall into
this category. Another variant of the better skill is knowing exactly
the weather patterns that are good for vagrants.
The new wetlands (mostly Crissy) will provide at least one of the next
five birds in SF. Don't forget gulls, terns
Finally, there's not a lot to say about dumb luck. Clearly,
incredible birds show up not more than twenty miles away on the
Farallons; eventually, one of them is going to get here. The only
question is whether they get here sooner or later.
South Polar Skua
If I were pressed only for five, in no particular order:
I can't find my copy of the my next five birds but it was something like this:
With some changes my next 5:
I also like:
Brown Booby (Seal Rocks?)
Laughing Gull (Lake Merced?)
Mountain Bluebird (Mt. Davidson?)
Gray Catbird (East Wash?)
Scarlet Tanager (Middle/North Lake?)
I thought this would be a fairly simple exercise until I started reviewing the list. It is very hard to narrow it down to five, so I'll offer five more for consideration that haven't been mentioned this go-around:
Consensus (courtesy of Luke Cole)
So, what does it all mean? Well, in this month of polls and votes, the
beauty contest winners are as follows...
(the "honorable mention" lists are included as "Luke II," "Mark II," etc.)
Little Gull (Luke, Scott Morical, Hugh II, Mark II)
Ruff (Hugh II, Mark II, Scott Morical, Alan)
Flesh-footed Shearwater (Dan Singer, Luke II, Mark II)
Gray Catbird (Hugh II, Paul, Luke)
Mountain Bluebird (Scott Morical, Paul, Luke II)
Mourning Warbler (Mark, Alan II, Scott Morical II)
Scarlet Tanager (Luke, Paul, Alan II)
Bay-breasted Warbler (Dan Singer, Mark II)
Black-footed Albatross (Hugh, Mark II)
Black Skimmer (Alan, Mark II)
Brambling (Alan, Mark II)
Connecticut Warbler (Dan Singer, Mark II)
Lapland Longspur (Mark, Hugh)
Laughing Gull (Hugh, Paul)
Red-throated Pipit (Hugh, Mark II)
Royal Tern (Mark, Luke II)
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Alan, Mark II)
South Polar Skua (Luke, Mark II)
Stilt Sandpiper (Mark, Hugh)
Thick-billed Murre (Scott Morical, Luke)
Asian warbler sp. (Hugh II)
Black-headed Gull (Dan Singer)
Brown Booby (Paul)
Calliope Hummer (Hugh)
Canyon Wren (Luke II)
Common Ground-Dove (Scott Morical II)
Dickcissel (Dan Singer)
Emperor Goose (Luke)
Iceland Gull (Mark II)
King Eider (Luke II)
LeConte's Sparrow (Luke II)
LB murrelet (Hugh II)
Manx Shearwater (Luke II)
Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow (Luke II)
Painted Bunting (Luke II)
Painted Redstart (Mark II)
Phylloscopus sp. (Mark II)
Pteredroma sp. (Mark)
Red-faced Warbler (Alan II)
Rufous C Sparrow (Hugh II)
Rusty Blackbird (Scott Morical II)
Sandhill Crane (Alan II)
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (Luke II)
Short-tailed Albatross (Luke II)
Stint sp. (Scott Morical)
Thick-billed Murre (Luke II)
Tropicbird sp. (Mark II)
Vermillion Flycatcher (Luke II)
Wagtail sp. (Mark II)
White-rumped Sandpiper (Mark II)
White/ BB Wagtail (Hugh II)
ALREADY ON LIST: