[CT Birds] Mystery Kingbird

Mark Szantyr birddog55 at Charter.net
Sat Jan 12 01:16:09 EST 2008

While I know the answer to this quiz, I just want to say that the bird was 
in fact yellow on the body.

Mark S.Szantyr
80 Bicknell Road
Apt. 9
Ashford, CT 06278

Birddog55 at Charter.net
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Clay Taylor" <ctaylor at att.net>
To: <james.bair at snet.net>; "CT Birding Listserv" 
<ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
Sent: Friday, January 11, 2008 11:38 PM
Subject: Re: [CT Birds] Mystery Kingbird

> All -
> I'm writing this from my hotel room in GA, so all I have for reference are
> my photos on the laptop, my Nat Geo guide, and whatever I can find online.
> OK, with the Warbler Fiasco in mind, can we see ALL the images, not just 
> the
> sitting shot and cropped wing shot?   How were the slides scanned / duped,
> and are the tones and color balance similar to the original slides?
> As for the sighting, WHY was it "unusual"?    What caused you to question
> it?
> I have a real problem with Cassin's Kingbird - the leaves are showing some
> color against the sky, so the image is not totally blown out by the sky
> color, but I don't see a hint of yellow on the undersides.   This bird is
> showing a "capped" look, and the dark chest is not a function of 
> shadowing,
> as the belly and UTCs are definitely lighter, yet are more shielded from 
> the
> sun.
> I'm actually looking at Cassin's K photos that I shot in CA a month ago, 
> and
> on one pose where the bird's head is in shadow, the white of the throat
> actually extends up toward the eye and base of the bill, while the cheeks
> are as dark as the side of the head.   In the Hammo bird, the throat is 
> not
> white enough against the breast / head color, it doesn't extend up toward
> the bill, and the cheeks and nape appear to be lighter than the cap, while
> Cassin's has a head, nape, and cheeks that are all close in tone.
> OK, on to Western K.   Again, where's the yellow?    Western also should
> show a post-ocular line that is darker than the crown, nape, etc., and the
> whitish of the throat goes past the eye.  This bird does not.
> The Nat Geo guide shows that there can be a diffuse breast band on Eastern
> Kingbird, and a quick Google Images search of EAKI finds plenty of 
> examples
> of this - some breast bands appearing pretty smudgy.   That plus the dark
> cap and lighter nape makes the bird appear pretty good for Eastern, with 
> the
> apparent lack of the signature white terminal band on the tail to explain.
> Mark (or any of the banders out there), when do Kingbirds molt their 
> flight
> feathers?    I photographed a Gray Kingbird in TX in November, and it was
> just starting to molt both its primaries and tail feathers.  With the 
> August
> 19 date, this might be a bird that has worn most of the weaker white 
> feather
> barbs off the end of its tail (kind of like a Cooper's Hawk in spring vs.
> fall) but has yet to molt its flight feathers for the fall (wish I could 
> see
> the entire wing shot, but all the feathers appear to be the same age 
> class).
> The other mostly black & white kingbirds (Loggerhead and Thick-billed) do
> not seem to have the diffuse breast band, and the bills are far too long /
> fat for the Hammo bird.
> A Fork-tailed Flycatcher with short tail feathers has a phoebe-sized body,
> so I won't even go there.
> I vote Eastern Kingbird.
> Clay Taylor
> Moodus, CT
> ctaylor at att.net
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: <james.bair at snet.net>
> To: "CT Birding Listserv" <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
> Sent: Friday, January 11, 2008 8:11 PM
> Subject: Re: [CT Birds] Mystery Kingbird
>> Dear Brian:
>> You wrote:
>> I was going through some old slides when I happened upon one that created
> quite a stir back in 1998.
>> Jay Kaplan and myself were leading a bird walk at Hammonasett SP on 
>> August
> 19, 1998.  Our group was enjoying a couple of Philadelphia Vireos in this
> large isolated tree.  When all of a sudden this unusual looking kingbird
> flew in.  I managed to get a couple shots before it was never seen again.
> Now, before I tell you the conclusion of the story I would like your
> thoughts on this bird.  I was never truly satisfied with the 
> identification.
>> If you are familiar with this photo please don't give it away ~ just yet.
>> Click on the link below to see the pic.
>> http://members.cox.net/snaketat/kingbird%20web.jpg
>> Have Fun!
>> This was fun! It has enough features to make one think it was a Cassin's
> Kingbird--darker breast, white on tip of tail and fine white lines on 
> wings.
> However, the photo is fuzzy enough and apparently backlit by the sun, that
> my inclination is to call it a Western. We get them in CT; the first 
> Western
> I ever saw was a fall bird with no white on the outer tail. The darker
> breast could be attributed simply to the shadow since the sun is clearly
> behind it. The realtively dark underwing coverts are clearly attributed to
> the position of the sun as all the yellow-bellied kingbirds have yellow
> coverts.
>> That position of the sun could also account for the whitish appearance of
> the tail feathers in the photo as a refraction through the tips or edges 
> of
> the feathers.
>> Photos don't always have the complete answer. Last summer there was a
> photo in this forum we discussed as a possible Mourning Warbler or
> Yellowthroat. The photo by itself could have been of either one, but the
> jizz of each of those two birds is so different, that the field 
> observation
> would be critical. In the case of the warblers, I would ask, "Did it look
> and act like a green wren [Yellowthroat] or a green thrush [Mourning
> Warbler}?" Similarly, my question would be to you and Jay: did you see the
> white band on the end of the tail or was that only visible in the photo? 
> If
> the white band at the end of the tail was clearly part of the tail and not
> just a trick of the lighting, then perhaps it was a Cassin's. I might 
> still
> be leaning to Western...or did anyone consider a Western x Eastern hybrid?
> The time of year would certainly be appropriate for any of the western
> kingbirds to be a vagrant here.
>> In the meantime, I will wait till the next issue comes out with the 
>> puzzle
> solution...
>> Jim Bair
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