Monday, February 6, 2012

Shoot Me Monday

This cute, fluffy Pied-billed Grebe was shot in Lake Havasu, AZ after seeing the Nutting's Flycatcher.  They're always fun to watch dive.  Since they migrate at night and prefer to escape predators by diving rather than flying, they are rarely seen in flight.  Unlike ducks who have webbed feet, the Pied-billed Grebe has lobes on each toe that extend out to the sides providing extra surface area for paddling.

Pied-billed Grebe


  1. I adore Pied-billed Grebes, they are small but fiesty!

  2. What a great pic! We just saw a lone Pied-billed Grebe at the Patuxent Research Refuge in Maryland on Sunday!

  3. The term "lifer" means that it is new to you. I am delighted that you have a photograph of the Pinyon Jay.

    The Nutting's Flycatcher is a Myiarchus, which like Empidonax, is undoubtedly a challenge to spot. Indeed I have seen flycatchers from these genera, but I won't add them to the list because they are what are known as cryptic species. Pairs or groups of species have a more evident common ancestor and have not really diverged from this ancestor or the divergence has not been demonstrated by morphology. It is really one of the fine points of observing birds, but one which I try not to afford too much concern. Thrashers (Bendire's, Curve-billed) may also be approachable to being cryptic; however, the similarities have to do with age (the juvenile of one in comparison to the adult of the other), whereas cryptic sp. in the strictest sense applies to the adults.

    Many species described recently are usually cryptic, such as the tapaculos of the genus Scytalopus. However, there are also many examples of this going back to the 18th century. It may be a matter of identifying them by distribution, but that would have to be a matter of identifying them by default, and only if the distributions do not overlap (are not sympatric) or they could not be (tapaculos so happen to be very sedentary).

  4. Further elaboration on my comment. The Myiarchus flycathers may not be that difficult to distinguish if you consider the important points. Familiarity with their recorded voices, as you had done, is also essential.

    The Nutting's Flycatcher is closest to the Brown-crested, in my opinion. Nutting's (which was omitted/avoided from the Sibley/Western guide) has been attributed only to the s.e. part of the state; interesting that it would be seen near Lake Havasu. It has a distinctive orange lining in its mouth. Your photos also point to another important character, the rufous marking on the undertail--in one shot this clearly extends to the tip (great work). Nutting's has a more diminutive aspect, with the crest not being raised and with a smaller beak. The Brown-crested has a heavier beak.

    In the Ash-throated, the rufous does not extend to the tip of the tail, and terminates with a thin brown edging. However, this is what color illustrations reveal and it may be an oversimplification. The Dusky-capped has little or no rufous on the tail. The Great-crested is a great rarity in the state; it is more saturated in color and seems to have occurred where the Ash-throated has not. La Sagra's is the only N. American Myiarchus not found in Arizona.