Colorful Birds of Summer

Besides looking for some of the wildflowers I recently wrote about, I highly recommend trying to spot a few of the colorful feathered birds that return to our mountains each Summer. In a month or so, they will start leaving so now is the time to find them.

The male Western Tanager with its bright yellow body and orange head is absolutely beautiful! Last year, our mountains were full of them but this year, there are far less. It'll take more time finding one. I did see one of these beauties last week near Tahquitz Meadow.

The Black-headed Grosbeak is another striking bird that arrives each Spring. When the males are singing, their lengthy, melodic song will catch your attention! Some compare it to a Robin that has taken singing lessons. You may get lucky and have a growing family visit your backyard feeder before they migrate south.


The Green-tailed Towee breeds up in the high country. For the last few years, I have seen them foraging on the ground near the Saddle. Notice the rufous cap and white throat. When the light shines on the tail, you'll see why it got its name. Just like the other two, these birds migrate to Mexico and Central America.


The last two birds are residents. They migrate down slope but they still are in our area in the Fall/Winter. This colorful warbler is one of the few that breed in our mountains, the Yellow-rumped Warbler. They do have yellow rumps that are visible when they are facing away from you. Too bad all the birds aren't so descriptively named. Like most birds, the breeding plumage is pretty spectacular and when nesting is over, they molt into a duller plumage until the following year.


The Western Bluebird is one bird that most people recognize even if they aren't birders. What a brilliant color of blue! They are quite easy to spot since they are using sitting motionlessly on an open branch looking for the next insect to devour.


If you have a nesting box, you may get to see some baby chicks and exhausted parents feeding them throughout the day! This chick took its first jump shortly after this photo.

Most of the birds have finished nesting and are helping their fledglings adjust to life outside the nest now. Look closely, you may see some of these families foraging together. Enjoy! This season will come to an end soon.

Photos and Content by Robin Roberts