Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Life Bird: Thick-billed Kingbird

Thick-billed Kingbird
Thick-billed Kingbird. Chula Vista, California. January 18, 2015. Greg Gillson.
In December 2010 an adult female Thick-billed Kingbird was found in an apartment complex bordering the Poggi Creek Greenbelt in Chula Vista. It has returned for each of the past 5 winters.

Last week I took a trip down to the south end of San Diego Bay and the Tijuana River Valley with this bird one of several on my list. After a half hour wandering through this apartment complex and disturbing most of the dogs more than once, I gave up. As I was driving out of my parking space, I spotted it in the top of a sycamore behind one of the apartment buildings. How many times does this happen, that you give up on a stake-out rarity and view it from your car as you are leaving? [This reminds me that Robert Mortensen claims adding 6 life birds while peeing in the woods. Conversely, I know many birders bemoan how the call of nature has robbed them of life birds that showed up for the group while they were momentarily away....]

Where does this individual bird go in summer? Probably Mexico, as birds breed along the western Mexico mainland and reach up to SE Arizona in summer. They also occur at the very tip of Baja. (Map)

They seem to really like sycamores and lowland stream canyons in desert habitat.

Thick-billed Kingbird

Thick-billed Kingbird