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.



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