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Life in the Fast Elaenia

February 15, 2008

Oh, to be in Texas this week. Not only for the “regular” rarities like Blue Bunting and Hook-billed Kite and Masked Duck that seem to always be around (except when I’m down there), but this week the twitching world was floored by the report of a phenomenal White-crested Eleania at South Padre Island. The find is recounted here.

The bird is a fairly nondescript tyrant flycatcher from a genus that is known for being particularly nondescript. What this individual may lack in flash though, it makes up for in backstory. For instance, this is not only the first record of this species in the United States, but also the first record of this species outside of South America. Not even to mention the first time that an example of the highly migratory chilensis subspecies has been reported in the Northern Hemisphere. Pretty wild huh?

Closer to home, North Carolina is sitting on the verge of another big state rarity as well. A reported Ferruginous Hawk in Alamance Co (just half an hour away from me by the way) would be the first confirmed record of this species in the state. The only photo so far is a blurry cell-phone photo that looks good for Ferruginous Hawk but doesn’t completely rule out a pale Red-tail. And even if the bird is in fact legit, there is always the question of provenance in a open country bird reported from the I-40 corridor. For those not from Carolina, there’s very little undeveloped land between here and Charlotte.

Several birders from the area are convening a posse to track the hawk down. I’d love to be out there with them but I’m heading out for a pelagic tomorrow from Hatteras. Dovekie and Fulmar are on my wish list, and if that hawk is the real deal, I may have to check it out as well. It’s no Eleania, but what is?

Photo credit Martin Reid

To those in the bird-blogging community and elsewhere affected by the awful NIU shooting incident, my thoughts are with you and yours. Be safe.


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