Friday, September 14, 2018

Rare bird: Greater Pewee

Well, it's not a very good photo. The best that could be said of it is that it is a diagnostic documentation photo.

Here it is, a Greater Pewee I discovered at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. I put the word out and several people were able to view it later that day and even to the next morning. Several people obtained better photos. [eBird photos here]

rare Greater Pewee in San Diego
Greater Pewee. San Diego, California. September 2, 2018.
It is always more exciting to me to find a rare bird to share with others than to go and see a rare bird someone already found (a so-called "stake-out").

I had looked for a long-staying wintering Greater Pewee last December (2017) in Balboa Park, but missed it on the one morning I tried for it (see what I mean about my lack of enthusiasm for finding "someone else's" rare bird?). The previous San Diego sighting was in 2005, and just over a dozen birds since the first in 1974 (San Diego County Bird Atlas, Unitt, 2004). This is the first Greater Pewee for me in the United States (new "ABA bird" for me). My only other sighting was in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, in 2003 (6 birds on a hike through the "jungle").

The bird looks like an Olive-sided Flycatcher. But the wispy crest and long bill with bright orange lower mandible clinches the identification. It is found from the pine-oak mountains in SE Arizona and SW New Mexico south into Nicaragua.

My first field guide (Field Guide to Western Birds, Peterson, 1969) has this bird listed as Coues' Flycatcher, named after Elliott Coues, 1842-1899 (pronounced "cows"), a naturalist and ornithologist trained as a medical surgeon and working for the army in Arizona (a frequent occupation for ornithologists of that period, it seems).

So, even if the photo is less than good, I hope the story makes it interesting none-the-less.

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