Friday, 20 April 2012


Being a captive audience and trying to keep the grey matter exercised, I've been reading quite a few of my fellow "Bloggers".
They come in all styles. Witty, informative, controversial, and some are a bit rude! You take your pick and YOU obviously dip into mine of which I thank you. It's very encouraging you know!
Why do I do it?
Well. I like it and that's surprising as I'm not the best at making notes or keeping diaries. Maybe I'm a "techno" after all!
Building up a Blog list is interesting. Whether it provides local interest or great memories from places visited.
There are some excellent Birders out there. Some make you feel like you are there with them!
It also fascinates me that they come from all walks of life but share a love of Birds.
ALL Bloggers obviously share opinions, we don't always agree, but they have the right to air them.
So, that's my view. I hope I can continue to provide some entertainment for you for as long as you find my Blog interesting...

BIG BIRD in the US

Strong case...

We just got the following e-mail from Bret Whitney of Texas.

Eric Gyllenhaal

Sent: Thu, Apr 19, 2012 4:44 pm

Subject: Elaenia in Chicago

Hey Aaron, Nathan and amigos,

                    I’m Bret Whitney, down in Austin, Texas. A friend just sent me a bunch of photos of your bird. It’s a perfectly typical-looking adult White-crested Elaenia (Elaenia albiceps chilensis) in plumage wear fitting for the season (see below). The photos are super and probably are enough to establish the ID, showing the long primary extension, lengthened central/rear crown feathers. What you need to do to lock it down is get a recording; even a single-note call would probably be sufficient to eliminate the only other realistic possibility, Small-billed Elaenia (E. parvirostris). Small-billed has a pretty long primary extension as well, but not as long as White-crested and its crown is rounder, lacking longer feathers in the central/rear-central part of the crown; and it almost always shows a stronger eye-ring than adult White-crested in April. Take a look at the attached Elaenia plate I’m using for my upcoming field guide to birds of southeast Brazil, painted by British artist Brian Small. Upper left is White-crested, upper right Small-billed, lower left Olivaceous (E. mesoleuca), lower right Highland (E. obscura sordida). The plate isn’t quite finished yet, but it should be helpful for you, especially if you imagine the wings, for example, looking somewhat worn, like the bird you found.

Both of these elaenias are common birds in southern South America, White-crested being primarily Andean as a breeder and Small-billed being more widespread as a breeder all the way east to sea-level in southeastern Brazil south into Argentina. More importantly, both of them are long-distant austral migrants that depart their breeding areas Jan-Feb to undertake massive migrations north and east, the more dramatic being that of White-crested, which moves north through the eastern Brazilian mountains and, to a lesser exent but still regularly, through the lowlands mostly east of the mountains along the coastal plain. We think the entire population out of the Andes probably takes this route. The birds move through southeastern Brazil Feb-Apr and then swing north and west to move through northern Amazonia before swinging back south to breeding areas Sep-Nov.

You guys found an austral overshoot in Chicago! This is very much in the same pattern as spring Fork-tailed Flycatchers showing up in eastern N. America. Your finding of this single bird in Chicago makes me imagine that there are likely many other White-crested Elaenias scattered through the eastern US right now; people should be on the lookout for them, especially around any fruiting shrubs or trees with smallish fruits.

Feel free to post this message anywhere you want, and get in touch by e-mail if you have any thoughts or questions.

A fantastic record, guys, and you did a super job of documenting it -- now try to get its voice recorded!! You can pull up recordings of both of these from the Macaulay Library on the Cornell Lab or Ornithology website or from There are also some good reference photos to look through on the Brazilian photographers’ website (this site is truly awesome for the number and quality of photos on it, always worth studying!).

Good birding,
field guides
live to bird <> bird to live
LSU Museum of Natural Science
Honorary Research Associate

More Texas. Can you tell I've got time on my hands?!

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