Friday, December 28, 2012

Zone-tailed Hawk, ?? more likely the same juvenile

[post note, 12/30: as noted in next post I now believe there has only been one Zone-tailed Hawk, a juvenile] As I noted in an earlier post, I found the juvenile Zone-tailed Hawk in the morning while we were doing the Christmas Bird Count at Frontera Audubon Center. That (yesterday) afternoon Pat Heirs, with whom I was doing this count, spotted this second Zone-tailed Hawk less than a quarter mile from where the juvenile had been perching. This bird was more distant so it was more of a challenge to identify it. Though we looked through my Zeis spotting scope we could not see, and I did not photograph, the wide white band (or additional smaller white bands found on females of this species) that is so diagnostic for Zone-tailed Hawks. However, as noted in Wheeler's Hawks of Western North America, "When perched, wingtips extend far beyond tertials..." The wings can obscure the white tail bands. Note that on middle pic there are some tree blurry tree leaves in front of bottom half of hawk that can distort the view)

This bird does show other field marks for adult Zone-tailed Hawk as noted in Hawks of Western North America: grayish black head, black bill, bright yellow cere, white lores and forehead,undersides of remiges grayish and barred (shows in bottom pic) and yellow legs. Birds of North America online adds the adults have a narrow white ring around their eyes and "narrow ring around eye, and narrow line along supraorbital ridge all whitish"--and this can be seen in the top photo (can be seen closer up by clicking on pic to enlarge it). And this hawk lacks the whitish undertail feathering with thin black bars as found on juveniles. Similar appearing Common Hawk (even rarer) can be ruled out because it has a short tail so the wings fall well short of tail tip on perched bird. SeEtta

Addendum: Please note that I have a super telephoto lens and camera set-up that gives me the equivalent of about 900 mm. Some photos were taken with this set-up and I digiscoped a few so I was not close to this hawk. It is important that birders and photographers not try to get close to this hawk as it is sensitive to disturbance. There are many birders who will want to see it so please don't risk flushing it as it may abandon it's roost. SeEtta

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Juv. Zone-tailed Hawk: interesting photos


The top pic gives a good view of the undertail feathers that in juvenile Zone-tailed Hawks is whitish with narrow black bands. The middle pic is even more interesting as the hawk is stretching it's right wing which allows unusual views of the underside of it's flight feathers that are whitish with black barring. The 'fingers' at the end of it's wing really extend far below it's tail.

The last pic is just fun--the hawk has it's foot stretched up to it's bill as it scratches an itch. SeEtta

Juvenile Zone-tailed Hawk


I found this juvenile Zone-tailed Hawk this morning while doing the Weslaco,TX Christmas Bird Count. This neotropical hawk is a regular visitor to the Lower Rio Grande Valley of TX.

After first finding it at 9:30 this morning, it flew off. I was very surprised to spot it again late this afternoon at 5 p.m. not far from where I saw it this morning. SeEtta

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Guatemalan Leafwing, yet another tropical visitor

While I was focused on getting good photos of the Pavon Emperor butterfly yesterday, there was another butterfly feeding next to it. As I have enough trouble with butterflies that are intact, I didn't pay much attention to it. But Mike Richark, one of the skilled butterflyers who was helping me to see some of the fine butterflies at the National Butterfly Center realized this was not a less rare leafwing. Like the other tropical butterflies I have posted this one 'strays' to the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas as this one has done, albeit without part of it's wings. (get a close-up view by clicking on this pic but please note there is a shadow of a branch that runs vertically across this pic) SeEtta

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Angled Leafwing, another tropical butterfly


Another tropical butterfly that strays into So Texas, this Angled Leafwing's range is from northern So. America north through Mexico according to Butterflies and Moths of North America. I saw my first of this species yesterday at the National Butterfly Center but wasn't able to get a photo. Today's nice sunshine allowed these nice photos--so nice all I did was crop them. Like all but the Malachite that I was able to id on my own, some friendly and skilled butterflyer's pointed this out to me. This butterfly's eyes are pretty cool and can be seen up close by clicking on the top pic. SeEtta

Pavon Emperor, other views


I thought this close up view of the wing of this male Pavon Emperor showed off it's iridescence. And the photo below demonstrates the importance of angle of view which provides the refraction of light that is necessary to show off it's color (or, as shown, not show the color). This is a phenomena also found with the plumage coloration on some birds. SeEtta

Pavon Emperor butterfly again today


Having been told by some of the experienced butterflyers that the forecast sun today would bring more great butterfly action I returned to the National Butterfly Center for an enjoyable Christmas morning (and a little bit of afternoon too). I was told that the Pavon Emperor had not yet been seen. Ah, beginner's luck (and the fact I spent a bunch of time with that butterfly yesterday), I refound it. And today's sunshine allowed me to get some great photos that showed the iridescent bluish purple found on males of this species--what a gorgeous butterfly it is! (note: I was careful to maintain the natural colors and did not enhance them). SeEtta

Monday, December 24, 2012

Pavon Emperor butterfly, another view

This gives a nice ventral view of this rare visiting butterfly. In this one it's proboscis is rolled back up. Interestingly there are two additional green appendages visible on both sides of it's head (or neck?) that can be seen in this pic. I searched the internet some but couldn't find anything about these. SeEtta

Pavon Emperor, rare tropical butterfly

I was very fortunate today to visit the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Tx when a rare tropical butterfly was being seen. I never heard who found this butterfly (apparently found here before today and refound today) whose range is from Bolivia in South America to northern Mexico according to Butterflies and Moths of North America. I am a rank novice who was the beneficiary of others who alerted me and others to this rare find and showed it to us. One more neat photo in next post.

It has a green proboscis which is shown in these pics. I'm sure that someone told me this is a male but it looks more like the photos of female Pavon Emperors. I will have to find that out to be sure. SeEtta