Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mimics and More Mimics

In addition to sparrows, the mimics are also well represented in the desert, in fact the more uncommon thrashers are most easily found in February, as this is the time of year they will sing from exposed perches. They're starting to wind down but they're still easier now than when I was in Arizona in July once before.

This is the curve-billed thrasher, the most common of them, a bird that I've seen multiple times in Texas and Arizona. Note the size and shape of the bill.

Next up is Bendire's thrasher, one of the birds Stuart Healy helped me find. It is very similar to curve-billed but has a shorter, straighter bill. There are also subtle differences of the patterning of the breast not easily seen in this view:

Crissal thrasher is a darker duskier bird, which was another bird Stuart Healy got me into the right area for. There were 2 birds (at least) in this large mesquite field though neither came that close:

LeConte's thrasher isn't really a bird of SE Arizona. I found this bird at a well-known site about 40 miles west of Phoenix. I had to walk about a quarter mile out into the mesquite and sagebrush to get close to the bird which I'd spotted perched up when I was about 200 yards out. It was extremely tame and just sat there for the better part of 20 minutes until its mate appeared with a caterpillar:

Finally we have an extremely poor photo of a Code 5 bird, blue mockingbird. This staked-out bird was found about a month ago on a very birdy oasis ranch abutting the Mexican border. The bird skulked in a thicket working about in the leaf litter like an overgrown thrasher and did not give up views easily. In this pic the blue on the farthest left is the base of the tail. The rump and flanks are visible. The darker blue-black running at an angle are the flight feathers and then the right-most bright blue is the scapulars at the base of the back. Yeah yeah a bit of a stretch, I know:

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