By Rick Sall
BIRD UPDATE: Good news – the weather has warmed and the Coots are “hitting the flyway” – no foolin’! The first of April is a pretty reliable date for the winter visitors to head for breeding grounds the north. This is why you just don’t see baby Coots here in the Desert. The birds, not unlike many people, prefer to spend the summer paddling around in more northern climes – I actually don’t blame them. Some early severely cold weather in the Sierra probably pushed more birds farther south and led to the highest population of Coots in Southern California in years. On the bright side, we also are seeing more species of other birds here at Toscana than ever in the past. Seeing, and photographing, a Prairie Falcon sitting on the 18 fairway was one of the highlights of the season. Team Coot was “one bird down” after this beautiful falcon’s visit.
The parking lot of the Sports Club is alive with sound each morning and this is not piped in artificially. There are avid golfers/birders who know when television networks use bird sound effects, but fail to realize those birds are not indigenous to that area! Verdins, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Yellow-breasted Chats, and Anna’s Hummingbird frequent this area. If you hear two notes followed by short little trill, the Bewick’s Wren is near, and this little guy repeats this 6-12 times per minute.
Many are now realizing the health benefits of birding. The idea that bird watching can have great health benefits might lead to healthy skepticism or stun one momentarily. Debora Szekely, the founder of the first destination spa; Rancho La Puerta Spa, and Dr. Mechel Henry who conducts birding workshops at Rancho la Puerta, would respectfully disagree:
Dr. Henry teaches spa-goers the many medical, psychological and social benefits of bird watching. She covers such topics as: What is a birdgasm? And how do I know if I’ve had one? How is bird watching a form of pet therapy? What are the similarities between bird watching and meditation? While you probably won’t have your favorite wild bird snoozing on your lap like you can with a dog or a cat, bird watching has the same therapeutic and physiological benefits including: decreasing anxiety, lowering blood pressure, managing pain and helping you exercise.
Dr. Henry aside from being an avid birdwatcher holds a medical degree from the University of Texas. She completed her residency at Stanford University Medical Center in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.Dr. Henry is Board Certified in Physical Medicine and is a licensed Physician and Surgeon for the State of California.
If you enjoy birding, or have an interest in exploring the benefits of birding, we have another fairly rare visitor this year that I was able to photograph. The color in the photo does not do justice to what you see through a 10x binocular. Use the clues to solve this crossword puzzle (print it out and fill in the answers) and name this bird.
Send the name of the bird to firstname.lastname@example.org to be entered into a drawing to win a bottle of Newton 2007 ‘The Puzzle’ from the Toscana wine cellar.