let me tell you what I do know….

30May07

…..on some days it don’t seem like much.

I have loads of birds I’m having a hard time figuring out the species oh yeah, and wildflowers… So today I’m going to a misc. post on what I do know. (Maybe this will actually cause me to break this barrier on not being able to identify the ones I don’t know….)

The red tailed hawk (buteo jamaicensis)

My lens was a little dirty because I hopped out of the truck onto our dusty old driveway to take the photo. That disappointed me a little. This guy usually visits me each morning. He shocks me daily just swooping out of one of the pine trees when I go to sit on the front porch with my coffee. He may not be the same bird but I think he is.

This is what I think I know….

The Western Kingbird (tyrannus verticalis)

And what I don’t know…

This bird looks like a Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli)to me – however, when I look up the species in the area they all have a white marking on the nape of the bird and the “eye brow” area (or supercillium in bird talk)  and as you can see this guy is totally gray in these areas, with only the barest hinting of white.

I threw in this photo to show identification. The difference between the black-capped and the mountain is that “eye brow” line. (supercillium) This does not exist on the black-capped chickadee.

Okay off to play!

ps. if anyone knows better please correct me (hint: he is the size of a chickadee.)

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4 Responses to “let me tell you what I do know….”

  1. 1 montucky

    I love that shot of the red-tail! I had a pair overhead the other day, but they never came within range for me.

    I always get lost in the detail marking of the small birds. Do those different Chickadees all have the same calls? As far as I know, all we have here is the black-capped, and I know both of his calls very well.

    That’s a pretty shot of the Western Kingbird!

  2. I loved redtailed hawks – they are really common over here. All the buteos are so amazing. I even like watching the turkey vultures fly.

    I read somewhere that the chickadee is one of the most popular birds because of it’s familiar call: “chika dzee dzee”. I wouldn’t be suprized if you run into this guy. They were named “mountain” chickadees after the Rockies. (There are minor sightings on the coast but the supercillium is very thin there.)His call the “dzee dzee” part is a bit harsher but very similar.

    The western kingbird is all over in the bushes by my house. (My hubby keeps wanting to crop them down and I say, “no way” because the birds will go away.) I kept seeing them but couldn’t get a decent shot until yesterday.

    All the little birds are really getting my cat chubby!

  3. Lucky you to have W’ern Kingbirds in your yard! I’ve only seen them rarely. The 2nd shot especially is very good.

    Red-tails are a fun ID challenge when they’re not showing off their red tails or are juveniles. At a hawk banding demonstration last year, I learned a great tip for IDing the non-obvious ones – if it a black patch on the leading edge of its wing, when viewed from underneath, it’s a Red-tailed. These patches are visible in both of your nice RTH photos above.

    Your chickadee is definitely a Mountain Chickadee – no other North American chickadee has an eye stripe (ref. “The Sibley Guide to Birds” by David Sibley p. 375) and it being white vs. gray could be 1) the lighting, or 2) individual variation.

    Great post!

  4. Thanks Adam! I just love when you hand over what I consider your expert opinion! We have a lot of buetos over here and if it isn’t this guy or a turkey vulture I struggle a bit – so I’ll take any tips at Id’ing you hand down! On the western kingbird – I felt so lucky that I finally got a shot! I had been chasing those buggers for the whole week. I’m glad you stepped up and confirmed the ID – because when I was looking him up he was a bit tricky. (I kept confusing him with flycatchers that aren’t in this area.) Oh well another lesson learned! Thanks for visiting!


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