Anyone Got an ID For Me?

February 25, 2008 @ 8:42 am | Filed under:

Not the best photo but it’s all I had time for before he flew away. This is a new visitor to our yard; he was supervising the rowdy finches at the feeder this morning. He’s bigger than a finch, almost robin-sized.

We don’t get anything like the variety of birds to our feeders here that we got in Virginia, at the feet of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Gone are the charcoal-colored juncoes, the chipper titmice, the sweet chickadees, the nuthatches and downy woodpeckers and flickers. We used to have a nesting pair of bluebirds right outside my office window, and two cardinal couples who came for dinner every evening. Now and then a huge pileated woodpecker would dazzle us from the neighbor’s tree, and sometimes a hawk would swoop low and scare the mourning doves.

Here in the suburbs of San Diego, in this particular yard at least, there are only finches: house, purple, gold; and sparrows; and arrogant crows; and one inquisitive phoebe, a Say’s Phoebe, who likes to perch on our side-yard fencepost and survey the action in the street.

Oh, and parrots! A raucous flock of them, green and squawking in the treetops, fluttering up en masse and swirling together to the next tree. Always, by the time I’ve run for my camera, they are gone.

There is an elementary school on the other side of our back fence (I know, the irony is delicious), and last week my parents were walking along along the schoolyard fence with my three youngest bairns when they encountered a science teacher carrying cages of cockatiels. He let the kids play with the birds and told my parents he is putting a nesting box for the parrots in the big tree right behind us; he’s hoping for eggs so he can raise a pair.

So: parrots we’ve got. But I miss my Eastern birds, I do.

This fellow, the newcomer: I hope he’ll return. I don’t know what he is—yet. Any thoughts?

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9 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. J says:

    lol. This must be the week for spotting odd birds. We spotted a giant gray and white, shaggy–a little bit frumpy–looking bird perched in the top of a bare tree on the way to Wisconsin yesterday. It was oddly proportioned like a turkey, but had the head shape of a bird of prey and markings like an eagle.

  2. Melissa Wiley says:

    J, could it be an osprey? Yours, I mean.

  3. J says:

    It might be, but it looked a bit top heavy and it was very shabby-looking like an ornamental chicken in molting season. It looked about the size of a larger house cat.

  4. Jennifer says:

    I have no idea – but we had three robins pop in this morning, the first I’ve seen all winter. Our resident mockingbird was furious and chased them around the yard, squawking and flapping. It was hilarious though not really relevant to your post.

  5. DT says:

    Hi Lissa. Dan T. here.

    I just checked in with a work-related pal who is very much the birder. I sent him the pic and I believe he has ID’d your new friend.

    You’ve likely got yourself a Western King Bird. It is definitely either that or the closely related Flycatcher, my workpal advises.

    (When he first opened the email from me he got very excited, thinking perhaps this bird was spotted here in CT. Which would have been major news among birders. Alas…)

    Anyway, he says if you have a Western Bird Book, you can look under King Birds and likely find this guy.

    So there you go. Hope all is well. Keep on birdin’.


  6. Dixie says:

    I just dropped by to give you an answer but it looks like you already have the ID for your bird. This afternoon my son was reading about the Kingbird in Christian Liberty Nature Reader #4 and I thought from the description he read that this was your bird.


  7. Ernie says:

    Actually Question Mark,
    It is known among birders that San Diego County boasts more species of birds than any county in the United States. It is probably due to the variety of habitats: mountains, chaparral, lagoons, estuaries, beaches and also grasslands. The Tijuana River Estuary is a world famous bird watching spot.

    Ernie the Colon (not the organ) Grimm
    Come May, if you hang clumps of grapes on your back fence you are likely to spot the beautiful orange and yellow Western Tanager.

  8. Melissa Wiley says:

    Ooh, thanks for the grape tip, Ernie the Colon!

    I’ve been itching to go on some birding outings but we’ve not managed to get that organized. Besides, I am very lazy and I want my birdwatching to happen right in my own backyard.

    The nerve of these west coast birds, expecting me to get up early on a Saturday and trek through the wilderness! What do they think I am, a dash?

  9. mamacrow says:

    i’m late on the id, but have to drop in and comment – you have parrots?! that’s unbeliveably exotic. We’re in the south of the UK and have blackbirds, starlings, sparrows, assorted tits (blue, great, coal) chaffinches, pigeons, wood pigeons, crows, rooks, magpies, robins.. actually, that does sound a lot now I’ve written it.

    Also saw a wren the other day! Occasional see a jay, have herring gulls and terns (on the coast) and herons, moorhens, coots etc on the wetlands, plus are on migration paths – get swallows and swifts too.

    On holiday in Cornwall we saw buzzards.

    Parrots still sound unbelievably exotic!