Eric Caine

Kewin, Thousand Oaks, and La Loma Parks are near the Edgebrook/La Loma residential area just south of Dry Creek in Modesto. These parks feature a variety of trees and plants that supports residential birds, and provides attractive habitat for spring and fall migrants. Oaks, willows, box elder, mulberry and elderberry trees, pyracantha, and countless decorative trees and shrubs in nearby yards provide food and shelter for birds year-round.

An easy access point to all three parks is the parking lot at the intersection of Coffee Road and Scenic Avenue. Park in the lot and walk east to the brown bridge. You are now in Thousand Oaks Park. Across the bridge and west is Kewin Park, while La Loma Park is to the east.

Resident species include Western Scrub-Jay, Spotted Towhee, Northern Mockingbird, Black Phoebe, Wood Duck, Oak Titmouse, Northern Flicker, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Acorn and Nuttall’s Woodpeckers. Many of these birds can be found by walking the paved path through the three parks. Be alert, however; joggers, bicyclists and pedestrians use the path, and traffic is especially heavy on weekends. The park restrooms are frequented by homeless people in the early mornings especially, and theft is always a possibility for those careless of their possessions. Always lock your cars and stow valuables out of sight.

In winter, there are the usual winter residents, including many White- and Golden-crowned Sparrows. The willows and shrubs along the creek itself harbor these sparrows, as well as Lincoln’s Sparrows. These areas comprise one of the best places in Stanislaus County for the uncommon White-throated Sparrow. Downy Woodpeckers are often foraging in the trees, along with White-breasted Nuthatches, in addition to the occasional Red-breasted Sapsucker and Red-breasted Nuthatch. Yellow-rumped Warblers are also easily seen here, along with the occasional Black-throated Gray or Orange-crowned Warbler. Amazing is a winter record for Virginia’s Warbler.

Many of these birds are best found by walking the dirt path alongside Dry Creek. Beware “off-road” bicyclists, however. Despite the rules which prohibit bikes on this path, these two-wheelers often careen along the dirt path at breakneck speeds, oblivious to the stationary birder gazing across the creek. Be careful also of the steep and dangerous margins all along the creek.

These parks are among the more exciting local birding locales during spring and fall migration. Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Myrtle, Orange-crowned, Black-throated Gray, Townsend’s, and occasionally Hermit and Nashville Warblers can be seen during migration. Willow and Pacific-slope Flycatchers also come through. Merlins have been seen here, and there are overhead flights of White-faced Ibis, Canada and Snow Goose, and Turkey Vulture. Red-shouldered Hawk is a regular resident.

Birders should be alert for unusual sightings. An occasional Olive-sided Flycatcher can come through during migration. There are three records of Black-and-white Warbler and one of Magnolia Warbler here. There is a record for Summer Tanager and two records for Rose-breasted Grosbeak, as well as an amazing record for White-eyed Vireo. There is at least one record of Dusky Flycatcher here, too.