Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Back to the (sub) Tropics

The holidays bring an opportunity to go south again, this time to the Orlando area to visit family.  I won't be posting long blogs, but perhaps a few pictures.  Here is one for today, a Loggerhead Shrike in a stiff breeze.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Red-tailed Conundrum

Today while doing some early scouting for CBC in Concord I spotted a brilliant white raptor perched above a field with some pretty active edges.  My first hope, of course, was a Snowy, but instead it proved to be a buteo, and a very pale one.  I am no raptor expert, but I am aware that Red Tails have a Western pale morph, the nearly white high plains Krider's, and an uncommon light morph in the Eastern population.  I don't think this is a western or plains bird, but in my experience it was so unusual—and pretty—I thought I would post my highly-cropped record shots for some comment.

It was 17F, overcast, with snow flakes and a light north breeze, so this bird was really puffed up, with feathers down over its legs.  You can just make out a hint of a "belly band" and some buffiness in the un-banded tail, but overall this is a very pale bird from the throat (typical of eastern birds) through the undertail.  I did not see it fly, so I can't offer dorsal details, but the shoulder suggests light brown wings.  Not a leucistic bird but maybe a light morph Eastern bird.  Comments and corrections welcome.

I have gotten a few comments suggesting that, while pale, this bird is within range for a normal male juvenal bird.  I did not know males tended to be paler. Also, because of the cold, the bird is very puffed up, likely blurring the belly band; additionally, the flat lighting suggested the bird is whiter than it actually is,

Another instance of the great variety and variation in birds.