San Gabriel Mountains and Mount Wilson—Field Trip Report

By Dessi Sieburth

August 17th, 2013

We heard “toot, toot, toot” in the distance and saw some agitated Mountain Chickadees flying around in a big pine tree up Angeles Crest Highway. That was when Mary Freeman, our fieldtrip leader, found us the Northern Pygmy Owl. The owl was tiny with streaks on the breast and big eyes. The Northern Pygmy Owl was certainly the best bird for me on this trip. Another special bird was the Clark’s Nutcracker which we heard calling. We ended up seeing 6 of them.

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Clark's Nutcracker, Photo by Dessi Sieburth

Another birdy hotspot was the Chileo Visitor Center where we heard at least three Crossbills and got a good look at five species of woodpeckers including Hairy and White-Headed Woodpeckers. We also spotted the Hermit Warbler and saw Pygmy and White-Breasted Nuthatch side by side for comparison. The surprise birds of the day were two Lilac-Crowned Parrots which we saw when we first met to carpool in La Cañada. We ended up with 28 species. A big thanks to Mary and Nick Freeman to make sure everyone had an amazing time.

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Mary Freeman and Dessi Sieburth

The second part of the trip was visiting the observatory at Mount Wilson. Norm Vargas helped lead a two hour tour. The most exciting part when we saw the 100 inch telescope which will be open to the public for star gazing soon. We also got to see the sunspots at the solar telescope and visited the Mt. Wilson history museum. I really enjoyed this trip and I recommend this trip to everyone who likes birds and is interested in learning about the Mount Wilson Observatory.


 100 inch telescope at Mt. Wilson Observatory, Photo by Dessi Sieburth

Dessi Sieburth is a 6th Grader at Foothill Progressive Montessori school in La Canada.  Dessi's passion for birds started when he built his first bird feeder at the age of eight. Since then Dessi saw 354 different species of birds. He led a bird walk at the Huntington library and plans on leading more walks. When Dessi isn't birding he is building and monitoring Bluebird Nest Boxes. He also helps conserving the California Condor. He visited a senator and wrote 2 articles about AB 711 which bans lead ammunition in California. Dessi likes to educate other students about birds. He talked to ninety 3th graders Longfellow Elementary school about creating bird habitat, leaving cats inside and about his nest box project. Dessi plans for the future: being an ornithologist.

Originally published Western Tanager Vol. 80 No. 2 Nov/Dec 2013