Sunday, July 27, 2014

America's 2nd most ridiculous tail

In North and Central America is a normal bird with a ridiculous tail, which from this point on will be called bird B. Bird B is grey, with a white throat and a black patch around the face. If it is an adult male it has a bit of peach colour on the underparts. Sometimes they have a red patch under the wing, but it is not always evident.

In many ways this bird is exactly the same as this boring western kingbird:   *
*I've actually seen less than 10 of this bird so they aren't boring yet, but, you know, let's keep the mood going.
In comparison to the boring western kingbird, the bird in question, if you were to make a black-and-white picture out of the two, would be identical. Remembering that the only difference is it has more orange colour as opposed to yellow. However, the bird in question elicits a much greater reaction with "oohs" and "aahs". To be honest, the boring western kingbird would only come close to bringing in as much attention if it were to randomly turn up in England (which chances are it won't given its distribution, so don't count on it. though its even more boring cousin the eastern kingbird has).  And consider this: the female I was looking at didn't even have the orange-peach colour and was completely grey.So you might be wondering why bird B, since it is pretty much identical to the western kingbird, is even worth looking at. Well the answer to that question is one thing: its tail.

Scissor-tailed flycatcher.

Whether you are a birder, a non-birder, a lost traveller who randomly found my blog and wanted to read the first post, chances are even you are looking at that going "that's a long tail". And you wouldn't be exaggerating, as well over half of this bird's length is tail. And if it was a male, that tail would be about 20% longer.

Scissor-tailed flycatcher and western kingbird.
Scissor-tailed flycatcher is also a vagrant to the state of California so there's that too. As it happens, the female above is paired with the (male) western kingbird. The two species are quite closely related, hence their overall similarities, notably in the head. But there are quite a few notable differences too, the kingbird is much chubbier, the wing shape is a little different, etc.

Scissor-tailed flycatcher and western kingbird.
Scissor-tailed flycatcher x western kingbird hybrid offspring! R1 "Medial-shafted king flycatcher" Tyrannus x ferticalus. I made that up.
So you might be wondering what the 1st most ridiculous tail is. Well that belongs to the relatively related fork-tailed flycatcher.

Monday, July 7, 2014


1340 was the number of images I shot today while on a mini birding tour through Angeles Crest with Dan Cooper and Dean Schaff. The trip consisted of stops at various places along the San Gabriel Mountains, and since I was rather lacking in montane species it would have been about as hard as seeing a Lawrence's goldfinch in terms of not to add anything to the list.

Speaking of Lawrence's goldfinch I think this is a tad better than the speck I posted before.

There were a few casual birds throughout the trip that managed to vanish before our eyes various times. Story of my life. No wonder I can never see them, they just teleport all the time.

Since I don't have a huge amount of time because of sorting through 1340 pictures, don't expect too much creative writing from the remainder of this post. Most of these pictures suffer compression as a result to being uploaded on here, so don't point fingers if they don't look as sharp as they should be.

Switzer Falls
Western grey squirrel

Charlton Flat
White-headed woodpecker
White-headed woodpecker

Eriastrum densifolium
 Buckhorn Campground
Merriam's chipmunk. Damn birds can't pose this well can they?
Brown creeper. (It's there somewhere, I promise).
Lilium parryi
Dusky flycatcher. This wins the sarcastic reward for "Best Placed Branch".
Green-tailed towhee
Green-tailed towhee
Green-tailed towhee

I may add more photos later, I just picked some random highlights off the top of my head.