American Robin ( Turdus migratorius )

The American Robin (Turdus migratorius), a member of the thrush family is a migratory songbird commonly found across North America. Recognized for its bright orange-red breast, this species is a member of the thrush family, Turdidae. It is often considered a harbinger of spring due to its early arrival from migration and its prominent presence in backyards and gardens.

An American Robin ( Turdus migratorius ) pearched high in the branches of a pine tree.
An American Robin ( Turdus migratorius ) pearched high in the branches of a pine tree.

Physical Description

The American Robin measures about 9-11 inches (23-28 cm) in length with a wingspan of 12-16 inches (31-41 cm). Adults display a striking coloration: a reddish-orange breast, a dark gray to black head, back, wings, and tail, and a white lower belly and undertail. Their bill is yellow with a slight curve, and their eyes are surrounded by white rings, giving them a distinctive appearance.

Habitat and Distribution

More details
Approximate range/distribution map of the American Robin (Turdus migratorius). - Ken Thomas
More details Approximate range/distribution map of the American Robin (Turdus migratorius). – Ken Thomas

American Robins are highly adaptable birds that inhabit a wide range of environments. They are found in woodlands, farmlands, urban areas, and suburban gardens. Their distribution extends from the northern parts of Canada to Central America. During breeding season, they prefer habitats with abundant trees and shrubs, while in the winter, they may flock to areas with ample fruit-bearing trees.

Behavior and Diet

American Robins are known for their characteristic behaviors, such as running and stopping on lawns while foraging for food. Their diet is omnivorous, consisting mainly of insects, earthworms, and fruits. In the spring and summer, they predominantly feed on invertebrates, switching to a fruit-heavy diet in the fall and winter. Robins play a significant role in controlling insect populations and seed dispersal.


Breeding season for American Robins starts in early spring and can continue through late summer. They typically have two to three broods per year. Nests are built by the female using grass, twigs, and mud, and are often located in trees, shrubs, or on man-made structures. The female lays 3-5 blue eggs, which she incubates for about two weeks. Both parents are involved in feeding the nestlings, which fledge approximately two weeks after hatching.


American Robins are partial migrants. Northern populations migrate southward in the fall to escape harsh winter conditions, while southern populations tend to be more sedentary. Migration patterns are influenced by food availability and weather conditions. Robins migrate in flocks and can travel considerable distances, often returning to the same breeding grounds each year.


The American Robin is known for its melodious song, which consists of a series of clear whistles and phrases. Their song is often described as “cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up.” Males sing to establish and defend their territories and to attract mates. Robins are also known for their “tut-tut-tut” alarm calls when threatened.

Conservation Status

The American Robin is currently listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their population is stable and widespread, benefitting from their adaptability to human-modified environments. However, they face threats from pesticide use, habitat loss, and window collisions.

Cultural Significance

American Robins hold a significant place in North American culture, often symbolizing renewal and the arrival of spring. They appear in various folklore and literature, celebrated for their vibrant appearance and cheerful song. The robin is also the state bird of Connecticut, Michigan, and Wisconsin, reflecting its widespread recognition and admiration.

The American Robin is a resilient and versatile bird that plays an important role in ecosystems across North America. Its striking appearance, melodious song, and adaptability have made it a beloved bird among birdwatchers and the general public. Ongoing conservation efforts ensure that this iconic species continues to thrive in its natural habitats.


White-throated Swift (Aeronautes saxatalis)

The fast flying White-throated Swift (Aeronautes saxatalis)
The fast flying White-throated Swift (Aeronautes saxatalis)

The White-throated Swift is a medium-sized bird known for its swift and agile flight, sleek body, and distinctive white throat patch. Adults typically measure around 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) in length, with a wingspan of approximately 15 inches (38 cm). They have a dark, glossy plumage that aids in camouflage against the rocky cliffs where they often dwell. Their wings are long and slender, adapted for rapid and maneuverable flight, while their short bills are perfect for catching insects mid-air. Juveniles resemble adults but may have less contrast in their plumage.

Habitat and Distribution

White-throated Swifts are primarily found in the western regions of North America, ranging from the southwestern United States through parts of Mexico. They inhabit rugged, rocky terrain such as canyons, cliffs, and gorges, where they nest in crevices and on ledges. These birds are particularly well adapted to arid environments and are often seen in desert landscapes, although they may also occur in mountainous regions.

Behavior and Ecology

White-throated Swifts are highly adapted for aerial foraging, feeding primarily on flying insects such as flies, beetles, and mosquitoes. They are renowned for their impressive flight abilities, performing intricate maneuvers as they hunt on the wing. Their swift and agile movements enable them to navigate through narrow passages and steep cliffs with ease. Breeding pairs typically construct cup-shaped nests made of twigs, feathers, and saliva, which they attach to vertical rock faces. During the breeding season, males perform aerial courtship displays to attract females.

Conservation Status

The White-throated Swift is not currently considered globally threatened, although local populations may be impacted by habitat loss and disturbance. Conservation efforts are focused on protecting nesting sites, particularly in areas where cliffs are subject to human development or recreational activities. As an insectivorous species, White-throated Swifts may also be vulnerable to pesticide use, which can reduce their prey availability.

The White-throated Swift is a fascinating species well adapted to its rugged habitat and aerial lifestyle. Its graceful flight and striking appearance make it a favorite among birdwatchers and enthusiasts. By understanding the ecology and behavior of the White-throated Swift, we can better appreciate the importance of conserving its unique habitat and ensuring the long-term survival of this remarkable bird.

Field Guide Description

“Black above, black and white below, with long, forked tail. Distinguished from Violet-green swallow, (page 322) by longer narrower wings, bicolored underparts. In poor light, may be mistaken for Black Swift but smaller, with faster wingbeats. Common in mountains, canyons, cliffs. Nests in crevices.”

Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Third Edition, pg 262




Jackson Lee Davis “Diamondfield Jack”

Jackson Lee “Diamondfield Jack” Davis who was pardoned for murder in Idaho and moved to Nevada where he founded several mining camps. Davis was a hired gun who worked for the cattlemen “protecting” cattle herds and their grazing land from sheep famers.

Jackson Lee "Diamondfield Jack" Davis (12 Aug 1863–2 Jan 1949)
Jackson Lee “Diamondfield Jack” Davis (12 Aug 1863–2 Jan 1949)

In 1895, Davis is hired by the Sparks-Harrell cattle company to keep the sheepherders off of the grazing lands. After an altercation where Davis wounded Bill Tolman in a shooting. Following this incident, he fled south to Nevada to star or of sight. While in Nevada, Davis is known to brad about his exploits.

In February, 1896, Davis returned to Idaho and returned to work for Sparks-Harrell in Idaho. During this time, two sheepherders, Daniel Cummings and John Wilson, are shot and killed. Due to he previous bragging and his being in the area at the time, Davis became a suspect. Davis fled to Arizona and is eventually captured. Upon his capture, he is returned to Idaho, tried, found guilty and sentenced to death for of the shooting.

DiamondField Nevada  - 1904 - Paher
DiamondField Nevada – 1904 – Paher

keep the sheep back. Don’t kill but shoot to wound if necessary. Use what measures you think best. If you have to kill, the company will stand behind you – regardless what happens.

While “Diamondfield Jack” is waiting his execution, two other men, James Bower and Jeff Gray, confess to the killing. During their trial, the two men are found not guilty. Regardless, this trial raised doubt as to the trial and Davis is reprieved one day before his scheduled execution.

Following a series of appeals, Davis is again scheduled for execution on July 3rd, 1901. At this point in time, public opinion no longer supported the death penalty. His execution is rescheduled until the Board of Pardons commutes his sentence to life in prisons. Davis is eventually pardoned on December 17th, 1902.

Following his release, Davis moved south into Nevada. In the spring of 1903, when news of promising gold strikes in Goldfield, Davis travelled to the town. After exploring and prospecting he uncovered promising ore ledges on McMahon Ridge northeast of town.

Within weeks of his discovery, prospectors flooded into the area. “Diamondfield Jack”, ever the opportunist plotted a townsite for the location and build a toll road to the new town from Goldfield. In the fall of 1904, the town reached its apex. At that time, it boasted a Post Office, three saloons, restaurants, general stores, schools, church, livery, butcher shop, blacksmith and union hall for the miners, which is impressive for a town just six months old. Public servants such as a sheriff, notary public and lawyer also maintained offices in the new formed district.

Nevada State Historic Marker #251 Text

This historical marker commemorates the lasting notoriety of flamboyant western gunman Jackson Lee Davis (1870-1949), who was better known by the colorful name, “Diamondfield Jack.” As a young man, after unsuccessfully prospecting for diamonds in the nearby hills, Davis was jokingly called “Diamondfield Jack,” a nickname that he carried the rest of his life.

In the late 1890’s, Davis gained a measure of fame as a gunman for the cattle interests, including rancher John Sparks, who would later become a Nevada governor, that were attempting to restrict sheep ranchers from southern Idaho and northeastern Nevada rangelands. Following a sensational trial in 1896, Davis was convicted of murdering two sheepherders. He was sentenced to be hanged, even after others confessed to the murders.

In 1902, Davis was finally pardoned for the crimes. He moved to the central Nevada mining towns of Tonopah and Goldfield, where he became a successful mine operator. He also helped found several mining camps, including one called Diamondfield. In later years, he drifted into obscurity and died in Las Vegas in 1949 after being struck by a car.

Nevada State Historic Marker #251 Summary

Nevada State Historic Marker251
NameDiamondfield Jack Davis
LocationElko County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude41.9847, -114.6720


Stellars Jay ( Cyanocitta stelleri )

The Stellars Jay ( Cyanocitta stelleri ) is a common character found in the forests of the western half of the United States. The bird is an opportunistic omnivore and closely related to the Blue Jay. The Stellars Jay has a black crested head and a vibrant blue body which is commonly about between eleven and twelve inches long. This bird has a lot of variations depending on location.

Stellars Jay ( Cyanocitta stelleri )
Stellars Jay ( Cyanocitta stelleri )

The Stellars Jay is commonly, mistakenly, called a “Blue Jay” in the Pacific Northwest. The Stellar, however, is a distinct species from the Blue Jay ( Cyanocitta cristata ). The major differentiating characteristic is the Blue Jay does not have a crest.

Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.
Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.

This bird commonly feeds upon seeds, nuts and acorns. Speaking from first hand information, they also love unsalted peanuts. The will also eat insects and other small invertebrates, including mammals. They are also known to raid other birds nests and can be very aggressive with other birds.

Stellars Jay breed in monogamous pairs and a clutch of eggs is typically 3 – 5 in number. Both parents are active is feeding the young.


The Stellar’s Jay is a common bird located primarily in pine-oak woodlands and coniferous forests. The dark blue and black coloring of the species helps aid in camouflage in the shadows of the forest.

The species is fairly bold and aggressive in its behavior and it is quite common to encounter them around campgrounds and picnic areas.

This animal is found across most of the western states. The bird is known to cross breed with the Blue Jay when their ranges overlap.

The range of this bird is as far north as Alaska and to the south in Nicaragua. The Eastern boundary in the United States for this bird is Colorado and New Mexico.

A Stellar's Jay ( Cyanocitta stelleri ) stealing peanuts in Big Bear, California
A Stellar’s Jay ( Cyanocitta stelleri ) stealing peanuts in Big Bear, California

Field Guide Description

“Crested; dark blue and black overall. Some races, including nominate from coast to northern Rockies are darker backed; have blueish streaks on forehead. Central and southern Rockies race, C.s. macrolopha, have long crest, paler back, white streaks on forehead, white mark over eye; largest race, carlottae, resident of Queen Charlotte Island off British Columbia, is almost entirely black above. Where ranges overlap in the eastern Rockies, Stellar’s Jay occasionally hybridizes with Blue Jay. Calls include a series of shack or shooka notes and other calls suggestive of Red-tailed Hawks. Range: Common in pine-oak woodlands and coniferous forests. Bold and aggressive; often scavenges at campgrounds and picnic areas. Casual winter visitor of lower elevations of the Great Basin, southern California and southwestern deserts.”

Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Third Edition, pg 312


Genus Cyanocitta


Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatium)

A member of the mustard family, the Western Wallflower ( Erysimum capitatium ) is a brightly colored yellow flower which is quite common across the western United States, including Arizona, Utah and Nevada.. In European countries, the wallflower earned its name from a habit of growing on… you guess it, walls. More specifically stone, masonry or wooden fences. The name was transposed to the American species despite the fact the plants have no preference for walls.

Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatium)
Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatium)
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