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Great facts about common birds at SOS

Here at SOS we are lucky to see a great variety of wildlife, from Monarch butterflies to Scorpions and Mule Deer to Black Bears, the Stanislaus forest never ceases with activity around our campus. Of all the wildlife living in our forest, birds are the most frequently spotted. Although so called “common” species such as the Dark-eyed Junco and Stellar’s Jay are sometimes overlooked, they actually deserve a double take. Here are some interesting facts about birds which are regularly seen on and around SOS campus.

Dark-Eyed Junco
- This species is one of the most abundant in all of North American with an estimated 630 million individuals
-The most commonly seen Junco here at SOS belongs to the sub-species Oregon Junco, which proudly displays a dark hood and pink beak along with white outer tail feathers
- Although females are responsible for nest building and incubation (the act of warming eggs in order to hatch them), both males and females share nestling (hatched birds still in nest) and fledgling (juvenile birds out of nest but still dependent upon parents) care

Steller’s Jay
- Although “blue” in coloration and “Jay” by family, Stellar’s Jays represent a completely different species from the Blue Jay which is found only east of the Rocky Mountains
 - Steller’s Jays and Blue Jays are the only New World (Americas) Jays that use mud to build their nests
- Steller’s Jays are habitual nest robbers, like many other Jay species, and have been seen robbing Junco and other song bird species’ nests of eggs and nestlings

Common Raven
- Ravens are among the most intelligent of all birds – sometimes working together to raid seabird nesting colonies and stealing eggs from other songbird species’ nests
- Although commonly mistaken for the American Crow, the Common Raven represents a completely different species and can be identified by its bigger size, rounded tail during flight and larger beak
- Ravens are known for their acrobatic performances they often show off in the air, doing turns and dives and sometimes even playing “catch” by constantly dropping and catching a stick

Red-tailed Hawk Photo
Red-tailed Hawk
- Red-tailed Hawks are the most common hawk in all of North America
- They are distinguished by their reddish-orange tail seen in soaring flight
- Males and females have been observed locking talons while diving toward the ground during a courtship ritual
- SOS has a captive female Red-tailed Hawk at the Raptor’s Center – take our raptor’s class to find out more!

Watch for more common birds in the future!

*All photos and some information are courtesy of


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