California Birds


California Bird Photographer Rodney Kimoto

Photos: Rodney Kimoto watches for movement from a nest. Top: Osprey catches a shark; bottom: White Pelican taken with a Better Beamer.

By C. MacDonald

Birdwatchers come and go just like the birds in California. Rodney Kimoto of Stanton pops in on parks, wetlands, ecological reserves throughout California, where he may spend an hour, all day or longer with his eyes riveted on a nest high atop a tree. We caught him carefully watching and photographing a Red Tailed Hawk patching its nest at one his favorite spots near Bolsa Chica wetlands in Orange County.

"Getting ready for some eggs being laid," predicted longtime birder Kimoto. Once the eggs start hatching, more and more birdwatchers will appear to see how the mother feeds the youngsters, then teach them how to fly and hunt. Last year, there were 3 eggs laid in the same nest, probably by the same pair of hawks; the year before 4 eggs.

"Southern California is a real jewel as far as birds go," said the retired marine estimator. There are a lot of different birds and good growth in many parks and wildlife areas, providing materials for nests. Some parks are way too manicured and don't have the insects and wildlife necessary for the birds.

A friend of Kimoto, Dan Heidrick, loves to see the baby birds learn to fly and hunt. "I've seen a mother move a tennis ball and show the kids how to pounce on it," said the former Kansas resident. "Onetime, the mom had a mouse in her beak, flew over and showed it to the youngsters in the nest, then flew to a nearby tree, encouraging them to fly over for dinner."

Heidrick said the hawks like to eat baby ducks, squirrels, snakes and even smaller birds. "They love Bolsa Chica and nearby parks where they build their nests on the tallest tree limbs."

Birders of all ages are dedicated to their hobby, whether they are retired or stop by on their way home from work or school. "One day, I was talking to Rodney, when he got a call about a rare bird in a park miles away. Off he went in a flash," Heidrick said. "He has driven to the Salton Sea and all over in search of birds, which he photographs. On his phone, he has excellent pictures of a mandarin duck, osprey with a shark, and many other fascinating things."

Birdwatchers love their hobby and point out to curious passersby just what they have their eyes (and often lens) focused on. They usually are a very friendly bunch, who help one another, and have their own network. Remember the old saying, "Birds of a Feather, Stick Together." The same can be said about the birders.

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