Monday, May 12, 2014

Western Kingbird

Whereas you can poke me with a stick in the middle of the night and point at a juvenile gull on Gloucester harbor and I can tell you what you’re looking at, when it comes to distinguishing Cassin’s Kingbirds from Western Kingbirds, I struggle.
The most obvious field mark, or lack thereof, is the outer tail feathers on the Western Kingbird are white…usually. In my first image, we are lacking the white outer tail feathers.
©2014 Steve Borichevsky
But looks can be deceiving. Here this Western Kingbird has the white outer tail feathers tucked in. 
©2014 Steve Borichevsky
Other field marks such as the Cassin’s is darker grey in the head giving the chin more contrast did not help me here. The light is coming in from behind the bird (or rather in front of the bird, due to position).
©2014 Steve Borichevsky
And the bill shape is a bid different. But I’m not ready to call my first kingbird a Cassin’s…yet. But that head does look a bit darker…
©2014 Steve Borichevsky
My first bird was shot in the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. My second bird was shot at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge at the southern end of the Salton Sea.
What do you think?

3 comments:

Roy Norris said...

Beautiful colouring. Great shots Steve.

Geoff Coe said...

One of the enduring frustrations and joys of birding is that as soon as you go to a different part of the country or the world it is almost as though you've never looked at a bird in your life!

Birding is like golf and baseball in that way: As soon as you think you've got it figured out, you get humbled, big-time! ;-)

Steve Borichevsky said...

Thanks, Roy,

Exactly, Geoff. That is what I told Becky last weekend. "Why do I need to play golf?. I photograph birds."

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