Swainson’s Thrush

Swainson’s Thrush, Catharus ustulatus

One of the things I most look forward to each spring is the arrival of the year’s first Swainson’s thrush. They announce their presence through, first, their calls, then a bit later the males will start to sing: usually in the late dusk, long after most other birds have gone to roost for the evening. They are shy and secretive birds that prefer dense thickets of deciduous brush and mature trees. We are fortunate to have them in our yard, and it seems the past couple of years there are more of them.

Once you learn the clear whistling “whit” of their calls, and the entrancing flutelike song, you’ll never forget them.

Swainson’s Thrush, call

Swainson’s Thrush, song

Photo by Matt Reinbold // CC licensed // Recordings by Tayler Brooks

Truckee Pump

Cortney Knudson diggin’ for Truckee

Mikey Silvestry, dust devil

Concept plan for Truckee Pump Park

File this under: Why Doesn’t Every Town Have One? Truckee, California has a crazy beautiful new place for riders. It’s more than a pump track – it’s a BMX-style pump park, with starting mound, lots and lots of lops, and a strider loop surrounding it for the groms.

Read about it on Pinkbike // Follow on Facebook.

Budnitz bikes

Budnitz Bicycles No.3 Black Steel

Adding to the ranks of boutique bicycle builders, Paul Budnitz builds these elegant city bikes from titanium and CoMo steel. Components are from Chris King, Thomson, Paul Components, Phil Wood, and other high end makers. No suspension: just a cantilever frame design, wide tires,  and the forgiving nature of steel and TI.

Budnitz builds with top-notch components

There’s also no chain. Budnitz uses a Gates carbon belt drive with with either a single-speed or 11-speed Shimano Alfine automatic hub.

Gates carbon belt drive

These are damn pretty bikes. When I’m rich and famous, I’ll get one and let you know how it rides.


Male Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)

April 9th, evening. I drive to downtown Menlo Park,  Applewood Pizza, to pick up dinner. It is my last night in Menlo Park. I’m returning to my car with the pizza and, just before opening the door to my mother’s car, I see the sillouette of a small bird on a short post, about three feet from me. The bird doesn’t fly off, and after a second or two I make out his profile and the darker patches on either side of his breast. He is softly twittering and fluffing his feathers, looking at me. I realize he is a male Western Bluebird. He utters a small clear whistle, and I respond in kind. He fluffs and twitters, whistles again, completely unafraid of me. I continue to talk softly to him, as I often do to birds.

Finally, this fellow sees that he has things to do before settling in for the night and darts off. I open the car door, pack in my pizza, and head for my last night at mother’s house. I feel a lightness, as though I have just been given the secrets of the Universe.

Photo by Kevin Cole.