Ornithology 2 Summary (Fall 2013)
If you miss a class, please check this page and study the listed topics in your field guide. Click here for last semester's calendar.
Note: Please park in the Hayes Street Parking lot. All spaces are available except disabled and reserved drop off for the child care center. If the lot is full and you park in the Grove Street lot you will likely get a parking ticket unless you display the temporary parking passes which have been emailed to all registered students. These passes must be stamped by the John Adams office!
Class notes by Elisabeth Koster are here. (Plumage and molt terminology here. )
Please register at eBird and email me your eBird ID. I can then offer to share field trip lists with you.
for a summary of bird name changes from the 53rd AOU supplement.
Click here for a summary of bird name changes from the 54th AOU supplement.
Before you attend this Saturday's scheduled outing to the Cliff House, please check
the class field trip page for possible last minute changes.
December 4, 2013
We completed and reviewed the ducks on page 26. Click here for my photos of Eastern Spot-billed Duck from Japan with taxonomic notes.
Click here for my account of the Falcated Duck at Honey Lake; and here for my account and photos of the Falcated Duck at Colusa NWR. Click here for a Falcated Duck photo from Washington State.
Click here for my Green-winged Teal photo: 17 January 2006 - Leonabell Turnbull Birding Center, Port Aransas, Texas. This species is often called just Teal or Common Teal, with the name Green-winged Teal reserved for the North American subspecies, A. c. carolinensis. This is the only one of the three races with a white stripe down the side of the chest. This individual was part of a large flock sheltering from strong winds and allowing very close approach. The photo is uncropped and no sharpening filters have been applied. You can see the gray body coloration is formed by a dense herring-bone pattern of fine vermiculations.Olympus D-550z / Nikon FieldScope 3 / 30XWA (hand-held - no adapter). Additional Green-winged Teal here. Eurasian Green-winged Teal here. Controversial Green-winged Teal thought by some to be a female Garganey.
Click here for my photos and notes on a Baikal Teal at Lompoc, California. Click here for a Baikal Teal in Arizona.
We completed and reviewed the ducks on page 24.
Click here for the article by Peter Pyle on
molt in ducks.
Morlan, J. 2009. What, if anything, is "eclipse" plumage. Birding 41(6):50-52. (PDF)
Click here for a photo and discussion of a female Mallard showing male-like plumage characters. Click here for photos of an apparent "Brewer's Duck," a hybrid between Mallard and Gadwall. Click here for an excellent recent article on the taxonomic status of "Mexican Duck."
Click here for my photo of a pair of Mottled Ducks in Texas: 16 January 2006 - Connie Hagar Wildlife Sanctuary on Little Bay, Rockport, Texas. This close relative of the American Black Duck and Mallard is resident on the Gulf Coast and in Florida. Males and females pair early in the season, usually by November and breeding begins in January. Here the female is on the right. The female has an orange bill and the male has a yellow bill. Females also have broader buff fringes on the body feathers giving them a subtly lighter overall appearance. The main threat to this species is hybridization with feral Mallards. Olympus D-550z / Nikon FieldScope 3 / 30XWA (hand-held - no adapter).
We completed and reviewed the ducks on page 24.
Click here for my photo of Black-bellied Whistling-Duck in Texas. 11 January 2006 - Edinburg Scenic Wetlands. These birds were formerly known as Black-bellied Tree-Ducks and they frequently spend much time perched in trees. This individual was part of a larger flock which kept up a pleasant whistling chatter. This is the northern subspecies, D. a. fulgens which lacks the gray collar found on the more southerly populations. This photo is uncropped. Olympus D-550z / Nikon FieldScope 3 / 30XWA (hand-held - no adapter).
Click here for photos and discussion of an escaped Black-bellied Whistling Duck in California showing the clipped rear toe.
My photo of a male Wood Duck at Colma 2 Feb. 2003 is here. My description of the female Mandarin at the Palace of Fine Arts is here.
We completed and reviewed the swans on page 22.
Click here, here, here, here & here for my photos of an immature Tundra Swan that was originally misidentified as a Trumpeter. My Trumpeter Swan page is here The swan ID page is here. Trumpeter Swan head photos are here. Additional Trumpeter Swan photos are here, My notes on a Whooper Swan at White Lake are here. Click here for additional Whooper Swan photos.
We completed and review the geese on page 20.
Click here (minima) and here (possibly taverneri) for my photos of Cackling Goose. Click here for my photo of a "Dusky" Canada Goose and Snow Goose at Half Moon Bay. Click here for an ID article on Cackling Goose by David Sibley. Another helpful article by Harry Krueger is here. Click here for a Cackling/Canada goose article by Don Roberson. Click here for a Canada/Cackling Goose ID summary. An 83 page color pamphlet on goose identification.
We completed and reviewed the geese on page 18.
My notes on an Emperor Goose at Bodega Bay with photos are here.
Additional Emperor Goose photos are here, here,
here and here.
Click here for details with photos of a Barnacle
Goose. Click here for discussion and photo of an apparent
hybrid Barnacle X Canada Goose.
We completed and reviewed the geese on page 16.
Click here, here, here, here, and here for photos of Ross's Geese from the Bay Area. Click here, here and here for photos of dark morph Ross's Geese.
We completed the rarities on pages 540-547 and began the geese on pages 14 & 16.
Kingfisher - Panama
My photos of Eurasian Hoopoe from Tanzania are here and here; and from Thailand here.
My photos of Social Flycatcher are here (Belize), here and here (Costa Rica), and here (Panama).
Masked Tityra - Belize
My photo of Gray-breasted Martin from Belize is here.
My photos of Mugimaki Flycatcher from Thailand are here.
My photo of Red-legged Thrush from Puerto Rico is here.
A full acount of the Orange County Gray-silky Flycatcher with photos is here. A photo of another Gray-silky Flycatcher in San Diego County is here.
Click here for a scan of the paper I coauthored on green morph Pine Siskins which provides details on how they differ from Eurasian Siskins.
Click here for my photos of immature Greater White-fronted Geese, here and here for an adult and immature, and here for an adult White-front. Details of the California Bean Goose are here. Click here for a Taiga Bean Goose photo from Alaska and here for photos of a Tundra Bean Goose from Washington State.
My photo of immature Snow Goose is here. A controversial immature blue morph Snow Goose is discussed here.
We completed the rarities on pages 534-539.
Hawk - My photo from Panama.
Photos and my account of the Greater Sandplover in Bolinas are here.
My photo of a Black-winged Stilt from Thailand is here.
Black-winged Stilt - This widespread old world bird is resident in Australia. I understand that females have slightly longer, more upturned bills than males. If so, I would judge this individual to be a female. Centennial Park, Sydney, 8 August 2005.
Swallow-tailed Gull - 27 July 2008, Punta Suarez, Espanola Island, Galapagos, Ecuador. I caught this adult Swallow-tailed Gull reacting to the background spray from a spectacular blowhole. This strange gull breeds only on the Galapagos and on Malpelo Island, Columbia. It was originally thought to be sedentary, but migrates regularly south to Central Chile. In the Northern Hemisphere there are recent records off Costa Rica. A controversial record from Monterey, California 6-8 June 1985 was eventually accepted after being questioned with regard to its natural occurrence. There is also an accepted sight record from near the Farallon Islands in California. Away from the rocky cliffs where it nests, this is a pelagic species which feeds at night. We often saw them following our boat after dark. The recent 49th supplement to the AOU Checklist moves this species to the front of the pack in the gull assemblage. This is based on genetic data (Pons et al. 2005) which suggest that it is a basal taxon within the Laridae. It is also different enough from other gulls to maintain it in its own genus, Creagrus. Reference: PONS, J.-M., A. HASSANIN, AND P.-A. CROCHET. 2005. Phylogenetic relationships within the Laridae (Charadriiformes: Aves) inferred from mitochondrial markers. Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution 37: 686-699.
Swallow-tailed Gull - 27 July 2008, Punta Suarez, Espanola Island, Galapagos, Ecuador. Here we found young Swallow-tailed Gulls in various stages of development, from downy chicks all the way to full-sized juveniles such as this. Nesting on the equator, there are no seasons. Thus these birds breed throughout the year depending food availability. Unlike other gulls, they only lay one egg. Also this is the only species of gull where the juvenal plumage is white-bodied. These features in addition to the genetic evidence, support the uniqueness of Creagrus as a valid genus basal to other gulls.
Gray-hooded Gull - St. Lucia, Maputaland, KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa July 27, 2007. This was the only gull we saw in the eastern parts of South Africa where it was as common inland as along the coast. Many recent sources call this bird the Grey-hooded Gull (often with American spelling "Gray-hooded Gull") to conform with the name usually applied to South American populations. However, HBW, Roberts, the African Bird Club checklist, and some older sources call it Grey-headed Gull. Two races usually recognized. African birds are L. c. poiocephalus. The nominate L. c. cirrocephalus found in South America is marginally larger. A proposal is pending in the South American checklist committee to place this gull, along with several other related gulls in the genus Chroicocephalus.
My photo of a Whiskered Tern from Thailand is here.
My photo of a Scaly-naped Pigeon from Puerto Rico is here.
My photo of a Mottled Owl from Costa Rica is here.
My photos of Brown Hawk-Owl from Japan are here.
We completed the rarities on pages 530-533.
Click here for a photo of a Ringed Storm-Petrel
off California (1st for North America).
Click here for photo of a Tristram's Storm-Petrel (1st for North America).
Great Frigatebird - 31 July 2008, Prince Phillip's Steps, Genovesa Island, Galapagos, Ecuador. Frigatebirds are inveterate pirates, often chasing down boobies and terns to steal their food. Although they have webbed feet, they are apparently unable to swim. They catch all their food in the air or from the surface of the water. Their long forked tails provide dual rudders for quick twists and turns. Around the Galapagos we mostly saw the larger Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) but on Genovesa we only saw Great Frigatebirds breeding. This female can be distinguished from the female Magnificent, by its pink, not blue orbital rings. Five subspecies are recognized. These are F. m. ridgwayi which breed in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. However these races are doubtfully distinguishable on size and bare-part coloration (HBW).
Frigatebird - 31 July 2008, Prince Philip's Steps, Genovesa Island, Galapagos, Ecuador. Notice the brown carpal
bar and greenish sheen the back of this male Great Frigatebird. The adult male Great Frigatebird is almost identical
to the adult male of the Magnificent Frigatebird. Differences include the brown carpal bar on the upper wing (present
on Great, missing on adult Magnificent), and more greenish iridescence on the back of Great, more purple on Magnificent.
In my experience this latter difference was not particularly reliable. Great is also a somewhat smaller bird, and
tends to forage out to sea avoiding coastal waters inhabited by the larger Magnificent Frigatebird. The chicks
of both species have white natal down. Great Frigatebird chicks are dependent on the adults for nearly a year after
exceptionally long time for any bird.
Booby - 27 July 2008, Punta Suarez, Espanola Island, Galapagos, Ecuador. This is the largest booby found on
the Galapagos. Notice the rosy-pink color of the bill indicating a female. Males have more orange bill coloration.
Nazca Booby was formerly considered a subspecies of Blue-faced Booby (S. dactylatra). It is best distinguished
by the bright orange color to the bill of adults. Masked Booby adults have a duller yellow bill. Nazca is also
smaller with a smaller bill, shorter legs, but longer wings than the Masked Booby. The Nazca Booby is so-named
because it is endemic to islands belonging to
the "Nazca" geological plate in the Eastern Pacific. Nazca and Masked boobies breed side-by-side with very limited hybridization on Clipperton Island and a few other sites. Birds on the Galapagos are all Nazca.
PITMAN, R. L., AND JEHL, J. R., JR. 1998. Geographic variation and reassessment of species limits in the "masked" boobies of the eastern Pacific Ocean. Wilson Bull. 110:155-170. [PDF]
FRIESEN, V. L., D. J. ANDERSON, T. E. STEEVES, H. JONES, AND E. A. SCHREIBER. 2002. Molecular support for species status of the Nazca Booby (Sula granti). Auk 119:82-86. [PDF]
Nazca Booby - 31 July 2008, Prince Phillip's Steps, Genovesa Island, Galapagos, Ecuador. Boobies do not develop a brood patch. Instead they incubate their eggs with their feet as seen here. Although two eggs are laid, only one chick normally survives.
Nazca Booby - 31 July 2008, Prince Philip's Steps, Genovesa Island, Galapagos, Ecuador. I was particularly interested in the juvenal plumage of Nazca Booby. Since this species was split from Masked Booby (Sula dactylatra), there have been problems with the identification of juveniles of the species pair. Bill color will readily identify adults, but the bill color of juveniles varies. Also, the plumage of both species has an uncanny resemblance to the plumage of the adult Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster). Furthermore there are a number of sightings, some photographed, of juvenile or immature Masked/Nazca Boobies in California whose identity within the species pair has not been established. They have been accepted to the level of Masked/Nazca Booby. Nazca Booby has not yet been accepted in California but a juvenile which rode a ship from Mexican waters into San Diego was identified as Nazca using DNA analysis. Nevertheless the record was not accepted by the California Bird Records Committee (the bird was sick and questionable natural occurrence was the issue). A photo of that bird is at: http://californiabirds.org/photos/nabo.html
Nazca Booby - 31 July 2008, Prince Philip's Steps, Genovesa Island, Galapagos, Ecuador. Showing stretched wing. Note dark area on the rear thighs. Same details as previous. More information here.
My photos of Bare-thoated Tiger-Heron in Belize are here. Click here and here for my photos of Gray Heron in Japan.
Intermediate Egret - 16 August 2005. This graceful bird was preening and scratching as it sat high in a tree at the Cairns Esplanade. I had trouble distinguishing this species from the larger Great Egret at first, but after a while I learned that this species has more extensive diaphanous plumes hanging from its scapulars and breast. Formerly it was called "Plumed Egret."
Western Reef-Heron - By the Stokes. An excellent summary of the bird and identification issues surrounding it.
My photo of a presumed Chinese Pond-Heron in Thailand is here.
We completed and reviewed the finches on pages 526, the sparrows, weavers and Estrelids on page 528, and started the rarities on page 530.
A photo of an escaped Chaffinch is here.
My account of the Light-mantled Albatross sighting is here. My photos of Wandering (Gibson's) Albatross from Australia are here, here and here. (Links are now fixed!).
We completed and reviewed the finches on page 524.
Click here, here,
here and here
for Common Redpoll photos and here for a Hoary Redpoll.
Click here for more information.
Click here for my Pine Siskin photo. Click here for a scan of the paper I coauthored on green morph Pine Siskins.