Inspired by a chance encounter with a Pacific Coast Flycatcher in the olive grove next to our guest house I decided to head outside before breakfast – not that early, but, at 7:30, before the neighborhood chain saws and power drills whirr into action. From the back terrace I was rewarded with the sight of two black-capped Wilson’s Warblers hopping around some echium bushes. I wandered down to see the flowering agave in the cactus garden and the four or five Anna’s hummingbirds flitting in and out. To my pleasant surprise a male and female Hooded Oriole landed on the agave spike. They quickly departed, but I was thrilled with their visit. I had seen them in the two tall palms that came with our house, but since the palms’ removal I hadn’t seen any orioles here. The sighting of these unusual species, after watching a blue-grey gnatcatcher in my bottlebrush tree the week before, convinced me to start my Yard List, which I will do once I determine where to keep it.

A short p.s. on the Wilson’s Warblers: seeing a pair together, I assumed they would be male and female, but seeing bold black caps on both I wavered, thinking the cap was exclusive to the female. Turning to Sibley for elucidation, my uncertainty continued. He pictures a first-year female without black cap but says or shows nothing about a mature female. My other guides are similarly vague, leaving me to conclude that the female may or may not have as bold a black cap as the male, and thinking it probably was both hanging together in my echium.