American Birding Podcast



#ABArare – Brown Shrike – California

On March 5, 2015, Alison Cebula of California State Parks found an unusual shrike at Manchester Beach State Park in Mendocino County, California. She took a distant digiscoped photo and sent it off to some local experts who confirmed that she had, indeed, found an ABA Code 4 Brown Shrike.

The original photo by Alison Sebula, used with permission.

The original photo by Alison Cebula, used with permission.

Better photos by Steve Stump, from when the bird was recently refound, can be seen on Flickr here.

The bird was seen at the boundary of Manchester Beach State Park, near the mouth of Alder Creek. It was seen as recently as 3/13 and is likely still in the area but ranging fairly widely.

Due to access issues, the presence of the bird was only made public in the last couple days. There are a number of important caveats to consider for those seeking this bird out, as relayed to the California Rare Birds Facebook group by Matt Brady as follows.

LOCATION: Manchester State Park/Beach – Alder Creek Beach Road (County Road 515) – across from milemarker MEN 22.50 on Hwy 1 (east side)

* This is located on the west side of Highway 1 about two or three miles north of the town of Manchester

* This is a remote area … places to stay include KOA campground near Manchester (Kinney Road) or Point Arena about 20 minutes south

* At the entrance to Alder Creek Road you will see signage that the road is closed. DO NOT follow the paved Alder Creek Road as it soon is barricaded off and also enters a NO PARKING area in front of private residence/yard. PLEASE DO NOT PARK HERE.

* PARKING – as you turn onto Alder Creek Beach Road (Rd 515) immediately turn to your left (south) and turn onto the little side dirt road … there is room to park about 3 vehicles here.

* From there, respecting all private properties and fences, walk WNW on Alder Creek Road, pass the barricade, and continue walking the old road (eroded away to one lane in places) until you reach the end where it overlooks a major bend/turn in Alder Creek. There is a deep fishing hole directly in front of you, and an old concrete bridge foundation on your right. Scope from here onto the slope of shrubby willows and other brush that is directly across the creek.

* The Brown Shrike was first observed and photographed in the only small willow patch (reddish orange in color right now) that is directly below you on your side (southside) of the creek. It was seen two day ago on the farside of the creek, in the swale that is west of the “fishing hole” and directly across from the original observation willow patch.

* The Alder Creek Beach path, turns sharply to the west here to access the beach, which you may want to go down to and walk north towards the mouth of the creek. Scope along the slope on the opposite (east) side of the creek for the bird …. Jerry White and I both believe it may spend time here.

* To get to this location on Highway 1, I would suggest using HWY 128 from Highway 101. You can either take the Mountain View Road from Boonville to Manchester, or continue on Hwy 128 to the Hwy 1 Navarro River bridge and turn south onto Highway 1. DO NOT take the Fish Rock Road from Hwy 128 to Anchor Bay.

Brown Shrike is known in the ABA Area mostly from western Alaska, but there are 4 previous records from California, all in the northern part of the state and all from the fall-winter. At least two of them have overwintered, as this one may have done undetected. The most recent was a long-staying individual in Humboldt County in 2010-11.

All records of this species in the ABA Area come from the western part of the North America, save one from Nova Scotia in 1997.