Sunday, March 1, 2009

The desert cardinal and goldfinch

Pyrrhuloxia obviously is a tongue-twister of a name. Per wikipedia apparently pyrr is greek for fiery and loxia means curved (referring to the curved culmen (upper surface of the bill)). Wouldn't desert cardinal be a better name?

Anyway, I went to the San Pedro house just outside of Sierra Vista at dawn this morning on a travel day targeting Abert's towhee (seen briefly) and hoping for some good photos and found a flock of pyrrhuloxia coming in to one of the feeders. I mainly focused on the eye candy males ignoring the duller females (and young males?).

This bird is feeding in the massive cottonwood, eating the young buds that will turn into the cottonballs:

I seem to be doing well this trip with lesser goldfinch:

Here's the somewhat plainer female. Sibley draws attention to its culmen also being somewhat curved (or at least more so than an American goldfinch).

I guess I'd argue that this should be the Desert Goldfinch as well, I don't see much that's "lesser" about it, except for size ... unless Lawrence's should get that monniker (hopefully I'll find out this summer).

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