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.


Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

The Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) is a medium-sized woodpecker found across North America. It belongs to the family Picidae, which includes woodpeckers, sapsuckers, and flickers. This species is known for its distinctive sharp bill, behavior, and widespread distribution.

Northern Flicker nesting in the cedar siding of a Big Bear mountain cabin.
Northern Flicker nesting in the cedar siding of a Big Bear mountain cabin.


The Northern Flicker exhibits sexual dimorphism, with males and females displaying different coloration. They have a length ranging from 28 to 36 centimeters (11 to 14 inches) and a wingspan of approximately 42 to 54 centimeters (16.5 to 21.3 inches).

  • Plumage: The upperparts of the Northern Flicker are brown with black barring, while the underparts are beige or tan with black spots. They have a black bib on their chest and a prominent black crescent on the breast. The undersides of their wings and tails are a vibrant yellow or red, depending on the subspecies.
  • Head: Their head is distinctive, with a gray face, a long, slightly curved bill, and a black malar stripe extending from the base of the bill to the neck.
  • Behavior: Northern Flickers are primarily ground foragers, often seen hopping on lawns or probing the soil for insects with their long, barbed tongues. They also feed on ants, beetles, termites, and fruits.


Northern Flickers inhabit a variety of habitats, including open woodlands, forest edges, parks, suburban areas, and occasionally urban environments. They prefer areas with scattered trees and ample open ground for foraging.

Breeding and Nesting

Breeding season for Northern Flickers typically begins in late April and extends into August. They are cavity nesters and will excavate their own nest holes in dead or decaying trees, fence posts, or even buildings.

  • Eggs: Clutch sizes usually range from 3 to 8 eggs, which are white and elongated.
  • Incubation: Both parents participate in incubating the eggs, which lasts for about 11 to 14 days.
  • Fledging: The young birds fledge after approximately 25 to 28 days and remain dependent on their parents for several weeks after leaving the nest.


Approximate range/distribution map of the Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus). In keeping with WikiProject: Birds guidelines, yellow indicates the summer-only range, blue indicates the winter-only range, and green indicates the year-round range of the species.
Approximate range/distribution map of the Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus). In keeping with WikiProject: Birds guidelines, yellow indicates the summer-only range, blue indicates the winter-only range, and green indicates the year-round range of the species.

While some Northern Flicker populations are migratory, others are year-round residents. Migratory populations breed in northern regions and winter in southern areas, while non-migratory populations may remain in the same area throughout the year.

Conservation Status

The Northern Flicker is widespread and generally considered to be of least concern in terms of conservation status, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as competition for nest sites with invasive species such as European Starlings, pose localized threats.

The Northern Flicker is a fascinating species with its distinctive appearance, behavior, and adaptability to various habitats. Understanding its ecology and conservation needs is crucial for ensuring the continued well-being of this iconic woodpecker across its range. Further research into its nesting habits, population dynamics, and response to environmental changes can aid in effective conservation strategies.

Field Guide Description

“Two distinct groups occur: “Yellow-shafted Flicker” in the east and far north, and the “Red-shafted Flicker” in the west. These flickers have brown, barred back; spotted underparts, with black crescent bib. White rump is conspicuous in flight; no white wing patches. Intergrades are regularly seen in the Great Plains. “Yellow-shafted Flicker” has yellow wing lining and undertail color, gray crown, and tan face with a red crescent on nape. “Red-shafter Flicker” has brown crown and gray face, with no red crescent.”

Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Third Edition, pg 318




Edward Lawrence Schieffelin

Edward Lawrence Schieffelin, a rugged and determined prospector, carved his name in the annals of American history as the man who discovered silver and founded the legendary mining town of Tombstone, Arizona. Born on May 7, 1847, in the small town of Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, Schieffelin embodied the spirit of adventure and exploration that characterized the American West during the late 19th century. From his humble beginnings as a prospector to his eventual success in striking it rich, this biography delves into the life and achievements of Ed Schieffelin, shedding light on his extraordinary journey and his enduring legacy in the American mining industry.

Edward Lawrence Schieffelin
Ed Schieffelin

Early Years and Adventurous Spirit

Edward Lawrence Schieffelin, known as Ed, was born into a family of eight siblings. Raised in a modest household, he developed a strong work ethic and a sense of wanderlust from an early age. Ed’s adventurous spirit led him to leave his hometown in pursuit of opportunities out West when he was just a teenager. Inspired by stories of the California Gold Rush, Schieffelin set out on a quest for fortune and adventure into California, Death Valley, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.

In 1877, at the age of 30, Schieffelin arrived in Arizona Territory. The region was known for its hostile terrain, inhabited by hostile Native American tribes and infested with outlaws. It was an untamed and dangerous land, yet Schieffelin saw the untapped potential hidden within the rocky mountains and rugged landscapes.

The Discovery of Tombstone

Undeterred by the challenges, Schieffelin embarked on a solo prospecting expedition in the southeastern part of Arizona Territory. Despite being warned by soldiers at the nearby Fort Huachuca about the “all he would find would be his own tombstone,” Schieffelin remained undeterred and ventured into the wilderness.

After several months of searching and enduring hardships, Schieffelin struck silver in 1877. His find, located in the area that would become Tombstone, Arizona, ignited a rush of prospectors and speculators. Schieffelin named the mining district “Tombstone” in response to a friend,  Al Sieber who predicted he would only find his own tombstone.

As the news of Schieffelin’s discovery spread, the town of Tombstone boomed with activity. Miners, gamblers, and businessmen flocked to the area, transforming the once desolate region into a thriving mining town. Schieffelin, known for his eccentric personality and adventurous spirit, became a legend in his own right.

The Legacy of Tombstone

Tombstone, under Schieffelin’s influence, rapidly grew into a bustling frontier town. The rich silver veins of the area attracted numerous mining companies, turning Tombstone into one of the wealthiest towns in the West. The town quickly developed essential infrastructure, including saloons, theaters, banks, and a newspaper, the “Tombstone Epitaph,” which chronicled the tumultuous events that unfolded in the region.

Schieffelin, though he had made his fortune, continued to lead the life of a prospector, always searching for the next big strike. However, he faced his fair share of challenges and setbacks. The mines faced legal disputes, water shortages, and labor conflicts, which took a toll on the town’s prosperity. Despite the challenges, Tombstone remained a symbol of the American frontier spirit and resilience.

Ed Schieffelin Monument

A 25 ft tall monument is erected near to spot of Ed Shieffelin original claim in Tombstone. The monument represents the type of marker a miner makes in claiming a strike. A plaque on the monument reads, “Ed Shieffelin, died May 12, 1897, aged 49 years, 8 months. A dutiful son, a faithful husband, a kind brother, and a true friend.” The monument is located just to the East of Ed Schieffelin Monument road, north of the town of Tombstone.

Christopher Houston Carson

Christopher Houston Carson (December 24, 1809 – May 23, 1868), also known as “Kit” Carson, was a nineteenth century American Frontiersman, Army Officer and Politician and the namesake of Carson City, Nevada. During his lifetime, he achieved notoriety for his exploits as an Indian Fighter, Fur Tapper, Mountain man

Christopher 'Kit' Carson (1809-1868), American explorer - Photograph byMathew Brady or Levin C. Handy - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cwpbh.00514.
Christopher ‘Kit’ Carson (1809-1868), American explorer – Photograph by Mathew Brady or Levin C. Handy – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division.

Carson was born on December 24, 1809 in Madison County, Kentucky to Lindsey Carson and Rebecca Robinson Carson. He is a cousin to Danial Boone on his mothers’ side. The family moved to Missouri two years later. Survival being the priority, Carson never learned to read or write. At the age of 16, he signed up with a large caravan of merchants headed west towards Santa Fe.


In 1854, a change encounter with the explorer John C. Frémont, made Carson an active participant in the clash of empires that eventually extended the boundaries of the continental United States to its present. The two men met aboard a steamboat on the Missouri River. He served as a guide to for Fremont on three expeditions for a sum of $100 per month. These expeditions found the Oregon Trail and opened to west for the settlers who followed.

First expedition, 1842

In 1842, during the first expedition, Carson guided Frémont across the Oregon Trail to South Pass, Wyoming. The purpose of this expedition was to map and describe the Oregon Trail as far as South Pass. It is during this trip, that the two men produced a guidebook, maps, and other paraphernalia would be printed for westward-bound migrants and settlers. After the completion of the five-month expedition, Frémont wrote his government reports, which made Carson’s name known across the United States, and spurred a migration of settlers westward to Oregon via the Oregon Trail.

Second expedition, 1843

In 1843, Carson agreed to join Frémont’s again during his second expedition into the west. Carson guided Frémont across part of the Oregon Trail to the Columbia River in Oregon. The purpose of the expedition was to map and describe the Oregon Trail from South Pass, Wyoming, to the Columbia River. They also ventrured towards the Great Salt Lake in Utah, using a rubber raft to navigate the waters.

On the way to California, the party is held up during bad weather in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Fortunately, Carson’s good judgement and his skills as a guide and they found some American settlers who fed them. The expedition turned towards California. This ventures is illegal, at the time, and dangerous because California was Mexican territory.

During the expedition, the expedition arrive in the Mojave Desert. His party met a Mexican man and boy, who informed Carson that Native Americans had ambushed their party. The Native Americans killed the men, and the women are staked to the ground, sexually mutilated, and killed. The murderers then stole the Mexicans’ 30 horses. Carson and a mountain man friend, Alexis Godey, went after the murderers. It took the two men, two days to find the culprits. The pair rushed into their camp and killed and scalped two of the murderers. The horses were recovered and returned to the Mexican man and boy. This act brought Carson even greater reputation and confirmed his status as a western hero in the eyes of the American people.

The Mexican government ordered Frémont to leave. Frémont returned to Washington, DC and filed his reports. He but did not mention the California trip. The government liked his reports but ignored his illegal trip into Mexico. Frémont was made a captain. The newspapers nicknamed Fremont, “The Pathfinder.”

Third expedition, 1845

In 1845, Carson lead Frémont on a third expedition. Leaving Westport Landing, Missouri, they crossed the Rockies, passed the Great Salt Lake, and down the Humboldt River to the Sierra Nevada of California and Oregon. The third expedition is more political in nature. Frémont may have been working under secret government orders. US President Polk wanted Alta California, which includes parts of California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and parts of Wyoming.

Once in California, Frémont set out to rouse American settlers into a patriotic fervor. The Mexican General Jose Castro at Monterey ordered him to leave. On Gavilan Mountain, Frémont erected a makeshift fort and raised the American Flag in defiance to these orders. While in Oregon, while camped near Klamath Lake, a messenger from Washington, DC, caught up with Fremont and made it clear that Polk wanted California.

On 30 March 1846, while traveling north along the Sacramento Valley, Fremont’s expedition met a group of Americans Settlers. The settlers claimed that a band of Native Americans was planning to attack them. Frémont’s party set about searching for Native Americans. On April 5 1846, Frémont’s party spotted a Wintu village and launched a vicious attack, which resulted in the deaths of approximately 120 to 300 men, women, and children and the displacement of many more. This act of savagery became known as the Sacramento River massacre. Carson, later stated that “It was a perfect butchery.


Kit Carson accepted a commission as a colonel in the U.S. Army in 1861, Carson fought against Native American and Confederate forces in several actions.

His fame was then at its height,… and I was very anxious to see a man who had achieved such feats of daring among the wild animals of the Rocky Mountains, and still wilder Indians of the plains…. I cannot express my surprise at beholding such a small, stoop-shouldered man, with reddish hair, freckled face, soft blue eyes, and nothing to indicate extraordinary courage or daring. He spoke but little and answered questions in monosyllables.

Northern Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman


Old Spanish Trail

The Old Spanish Trail was a historic trade route that linked Santa Fe, New Mexico to Los Angeles, California. The trail was established in the early 19th century and was primarily used for the transportation of goods, such as furs, horses, and mules.

The Told Spanish Trail BLM Sign
The Told Spanish Trail BLM Sign

The trail began as a network of routes used by Native American tribes, who traded goods such as salt, obsidian, and turquoise. In the late 18th century, Spanish traders began to use these routes to transport goods between Santa Fe and California. These traders were known as the “Comancheros” and were primarily focused on trading with the Ute and Navajo tribes in the area.

The route became known as the Old Spanish Trail in the early 19th century, when American traders began using the trail to transport furs and other goods to California. The trail was difficult to traverse, with harsh deserts, steep mountains, and treacherous canyons, but it was a vital link between the Southwest and the West Coast.

The trail was not a single route, but rather a network of different paths that crossed the desert and mountains of the Southwest. The most popular route followed the Virgin River in Utah, crossed the Colorado River at the mouth of the Virgin River, and then passed through the Mojave Desert to Los Angeles. Another route followed the Gila River in Arizona and crossed the Sonoran Desert to California.

The Old Spanish Trail played an important role in the development of the American West, as it provided a direct link between the remote and isolated communities of the Southwest and the growing cities of California. The trail was also a source of conflict, as American traders often clashed with Native American tribes over access to resources and trading rights.

In the mid-19th century, the discovery of gold in California brought thousands of settlers to the West Coast, and the Old Spanish Trail became a major thoroughfare for travelers and goods. The trail was also used by the Mormon pioneers, who traveled to California in the late 1840s and early 1850s.

In the late 19th century, the construction of railroads and highways made the Old Spanish Trail less important as a trade route. However, the trail remained an important part of the cultural history of the American Southwest, and efforts were made to preserve the trail and its landmarks.

Today, several sections of the Old Spanish Trail have been designated as National Historic Trails by the National Park Service, including sections in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and California. These trails allow visitors to experience the beauty and history of the Old Spanish Trail and to appreciate the legacy of the traders, Native Americans, and settlers who traveled its rugged terrain.

Old Spanish Trail Routes

All routes came together at Fork of Roads, east of present-day Barstow in the Mojave desert, and then crossed Cajon Pass between the San Gabriel and San Bernadino Mountains to Coastal California. After negotiating the pass, traders had an easy two to three days travel to the San Gabriel Mission and beyond to Los Angeles.

Armijo Route

Exterior, south facade of Mission San Gabriel Arcangel - 1878
Exterior, south facade of Mission San Gabriel Arcangel – 1878

The first complete trip across the trail began in Abiquiú, northwest of Santa Fe. The Armijo party followed well-known trails northwest to the San Juan River, then nearly due west to the Virgin River. They used the Crossing of the Fathers, cut into rock canyon wall some 75 years earlier by the Domínguez-Escalante party. Armijo’s caravan went down the Muddy River and across
the Mojave Desert to the Amargosa and Mojave Rivers, through Cajon Pass and down to Mission San Gabriel.

The Armijo and Northern Route diverge from each other on the east bound trail near the town of Tecopa, California.

Main Northern Route

First blazed by William Wolfskill and George C. Yount in 1831, this route veered northwest from Abiquiú through Southern Colorado and central Utah. It avoided the rugged canyons of the Colorado River that the Armijo party had encountered and took advantage of the better water and pasture resources across central Utah before returning to the Colorado River and Armijo’s route not far from Las Vegas.

Northern Branch

This route followed well-known trapper and trade routes north through the Rio Grande gorge to Taos and into southern Colorado. It then went west through Cochetopa Pass, largely open during the winter when other passes were snowed in and up the Gunnison River valley, rejoining the Northern Route near present-day Green River, Utah.

Mojave Road

Afton Canyon in the Mojave National Preserve.
Afton Canyon in the Mojave National Preserve.

The Mojave Road is a 188-mile crossing of the Mojave Desert long used by area Indians and by Spanish explorers and missionaries, it was first traveled by Jedediah Smith, an American trapper, in 1826.

Old Spanish Trail Locations

Government Holes in the central section of the Old Mojave Road.

Old Mojave Road

The Old Mojave Road (Government Road) is an east-west route that enters the Mojave National Preserve off the highway 95 in Nevada, and Afton Canyon…
The Told Spanish Trail BLM Sign

Old Spanish Trail

The Old Spanish Trail was a historic trade route that linked Santa Fe, New Mexico to Los Angeles, California. The trail was established in the…
Francisco Hermenegildo Tomás Garcés O.F.M. (April 12, 1738 – July 18, 1781)

Old Spanish Trail (Garces Expedition)

Old Spanish Trail (Garces Expedition) is a Nevada State Historic Marker Number 140 located in Clark County, Nevada. This marker is one of several which…
Captain John C. Frémont, explorer first mapped Diamond Valley Nevada

Old Spanish Trail (Journey of the Dead Man)

Old Spanish Trail (Journey of the Dead Man) is a Nevada State Historic Marker Number 139 located in Clark County, Nevada. This marker is one…

Old Spanish Trail Mountain Springs Pass – Nevada State Historic Marker

Old Spanish Trail Mountain Springs Pass is located along highway 160 and Nevada State Historic Marker No. 142 in Clark County, Nevada. The Old Spanish…
Old Tecopa house at smelter on Willow Creek, Amargosa Valley. Dr. Noble, Mrs. Noble. Inyo County, CA. 1922 - Photo from Herbert E. Gregory Book 8: 1915 - 1924.

Tecopa Inyo County

Tecopa is a small town located in the southeastern part of California, United States and its named for Chief Tecopa. The town is situated in…
The Old Spanish Trail 1829-1850 - Nevada State Historic Marker 33

The Old Spanish Trail 1829-1850 – Nevada State Historic Marker 33

Old Spanish Trail 1829-1850 is Nevada State Historic Marker Number 33, located in the town of Blue Diamond, in Clark County, Nevada. The Old Spanish…
Old Spanish Trail 1829-1850 - Nevada State Historic Marker #34 located in Mountain Springs, Nevada

The Old Spanish Trail 1829-1850 – Nevada State Historic Marker 34

Old Spanish Trail 1829-1850 is Nevada State Historic Marker Number 33, located in the town of Mountain Springs, in Clark County, Nevada. Old Spanish Trail…