Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Very Strange Kingbird

A couple of weekends ago while I was in northwest Ohio to lead one of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory Lake Erie pelagic trips, some photos of a very strange kingbird were posted on the Birding Ohio Facebook page. The bird appeared to be one of the yellow bellied kingbirds but something just did not seem right. Several people started to suggest that this bird was likely a hybrid between a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and either Western or Couch's Kingbird. Kenn Kaufman and I decided to run over to Sandusky the next morning to see if the bird was still around and try to get some photographs of it.

We arrived at Pipe Creek Wildlife Area in Sandusky shortly after sunrise and found that several other birders had already arrived. No one had seen the bird yet but it was still quite cold out so we weren't too discouraged by that. After searching all over the area for awhile, one of the birders started to quickly motion for us to hurry over! The bird was just sitting in a tree about 20-30 yards from the road! We spent the next couple of hours watching and photographing the bird. It was also quite vocal so we attempted to get some recordings but they did not really come out very well.

Below were the best photos I took of the bird. It was quite dark while we were there so my photos are not as sharp as I would like but they do a good job of showing a lot of the features of this bird.

While it may never be known what species hybridized to create this bird (without DNA analysis), it was absolutely awesome to see it in person. I know some people will not go see this bird because it does not "count" on their life lists, but they are really missing out!