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The Alaska Water-Thrush in California

Joseph Grinnell
Publication Information
1 (January-February)
From Field and Study

The Alaska Water-thrush in California

On August 16, 1905, I obtained an example of Seiurus noveboracensis notabilis which provides the second record known to me for this State. The bird was flushed from a tangle of bushes which surrounded a spring in a ravine, a hundred yards or so back of Jim Johnston's house at Cactus Flat. This is a “pocket” at about 6000 feet elevation, on the desert slope of the San Bernardino Mountains, San Bernardino County, California.

The region is an arid one, and I was at the spring on purpose to scrutinize the hordes of birds which were constantly visiting it for a drink and a bath. A good part of these were transients, which reminds us again that to stand the best chance of finding northern stragglers, one must strike the fall migration early in August.

The water-thrush was among a throng of warblers and small sparrows, several of the latter in streaked juvenal plumage, and I did not recognize it as anything noteworthy, until it flew up out of the shade and perched with other small birds, drying themselves in the open branch-work of a fire-killed oak. Then my attention became fixed upon it because of the peculiar recurrent dipping movement of its body, and its identity flashed into my mind. I promptly “auxed” the bird, and found upon skinning that it was a “bird-of-the-year,” as shown by the large “windows” in the skull yet ungranulated. To be more explicit the specimen (No. 7157, COB. J. G.) is in complete first-winter plumage. It is precisely like examples from northern Alaska in both coloration and measurements.


Pasadena, California

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