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: Clinton Lake; De Witt Co; 03/12/10  ( 5914 )

frakerpovc

  • Matt Fraker
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Clinton Lake; De Witt Co; 03/12/10
« : March 12, 2010, 06:36:39 PM »
Greetings, everyone --

Today I surveyed Clinton Lake for about 6 hours. Although weather started well, it deteriorated to a pretty steady rain for most of the latter half of the survey. The lake and its environs are starting to hit a stride -- good birding is here to be had.

My biggest highlight of the day was encountering a Black-capped Chickadee x Tufted Titmouse Hybrid in the timber at the northwest aspect of the Lake. I was sitting in my car, pishing at a little feeding flock, when a Tufted Titmouse and this little guy popped right up on the roadside:





Apparently, this is a very rare hybrid, with only a few records out there.

Other highlights included:

-- An early American White Pelican

-- 103 Common Mergansers (probably a vast undercount)

-- Three adult and a single immature Bald Eagle

I also found my first Bonaparte's Gull of the year, along with a boatload of Belted Kingfishers at eight birds. A single Lapland made an appearance, and despite some driving and searching, I did not find any Smith's; but I also didn't really find any of the appropriate habitat.

This rare hybrid is timely. I just finished having a discussion with Matthew Winks about how hybrids are freaks and how bland I find the whole hybrid topic. Then this dude pops up, and I found myself uncomfortably excited about this sighting. Needless to say, all of the Titmice and Chickadees in this neighborhood are doing some current partner reevaluation, since somebody was clearly spending time in the wrong tree cavity...

Totals are below.

Matt Fraker
De Witt Co
03/12/10


Location:     Clinton lake
Observation date:     3/12/10
Number of species:     58

Canada Goose     23
Gadwall     10
American Wigeon     11
American Black Duck     2
Mallard     63
Northern Shoveler     15
Northern Pintail     11
Green-winged Teal     9
Ring-necked Duck     11
Lesser Scaup     56
Common Goldeneye     19
Hooded Merganser     1
Common Merganser     103
Red-breasted Merganser     3
Ruddy Duck     4
Wild Turkey     8
Pied-billed Grebe     4
Horned Grebe     2
American White Pelican     1
Great Blue Heron     6
Turkey Vulture     8
Bald Eagle     4
Red-tailed Hawk     8
American Kestrel     3
American Coot     2
Killdeer     8
American Woodcock     1
Bonaparte's Gull     1
Ring-billed Gull     291
Herring Gull     12
Rock Pigeon     2
Mourning Dove     19
Barred Owl     1
Belted Kingfisher     8
Red-bellied Woodpecker     4
Downy Woodpecker     1
Northern Flicker     2
Blue Jay     12
American Crow     33
Horned Lark     13
Black-capped Chickadee     5     
Tufted Titmouse     4     
White-breasted Nuthatch     3
Carolina Wren     2
Eastern Bluebird     6
American Robin     76
European Starling     73
American Tree Sparrow     2
Song Sparrow     2
Dark-eyed Junco     11
Lapland Longspur     1
Northern Cardinal     11
Red-winged Blackbird     184
Eastern Meadowlark     23
Common Grackle     67
Brown-headed Cowbird     102
American Goldfinch     1
House Sparrow     6



"Temperance, like chastity, is its own punishment"
Pliny the Elder

bill rudden

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Re: Clinton Lake; De Witt Co; 03/12/10
« #1 : March 13, 2010, 07:24:48 AM »
Nice find.  Thanks for posting.
Here a web search Black-crested Titmouse.
http://www.blairsociety.com/mc/Lifelist/Birds/Black-crestedTitmouse.jpg

bill rudden

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Re: Clinton Lake; De Witt Co; 03/12/10
« #2 : March 14, 2010, 06:48:19 AM »
Nice find.  Thanks for posting.
Here a web search Black-crested Titmouse.
http://www.blairsociety.com/mc/Lifelist/Birds/Black-crestedTitmouse.jpg

Note that Chickadee(s) and Tufted T. have black foreheads. 
It seems odd that this combo would show a light forehead. 
Has Black-crested Titmouse been eliminated on IDFRONTIERS?.

frakerpovc

  • Matt Fraker
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Re: Clinton Lake; De Witt Co; 03/12/10
« #3 : March 14, 2010, 08:31:19 AM »
Bill --

Thanks for the interest in this oddity.

Not sure if my most recent post to ID Frontiers was seen, but this bird initially presented as a chickadee that was "off". Because these views do not show the dirtier back of this bird (although you can see the browner tone on what little of the wings you can see in the second photo -- compare that tone to the grayer back part of the crest), I can appreciate that this may be difficult to assess here. I had this bird and a Tufted Titmouse right next to each other, and I initially thought I just had a Chickadee and a Titmouse.

Black-crested Titmice can look capped, but that cap does not have nearly the coverage of this bird's cap. They really look like a Tufted Titmouse that ran into a black paintbrush. They do have a pale forehead versus the black of a Tufted Titmouse. This bird had an orange tuft at this location, which none of the three birds discussed present with, but don't hybrid combinations sometimes put the right colors in the wrong places?. (For what it's worth, and of no importance here, I personally think that Black-crested Titmice seem a lot more spooky than Tufteds in the field -- Tufted's will land on your head during a good PISH -- Black-crested's always seem to stop one layer back -- has anyone else noticed this?).

Also -- and this is very clear in both photos -- I have never encountered a Titmouse that presented with such a dramatic face pattern. That pattern is due to that prominent cap, which was flat and dark initially; the bird "crested" it while it was checking me out. Like I noted in my last IDFr. post, I expected to have to defend this bird against an odd Chickadee.

Below are two more photos with more of a side view showing the extent of the white face pattern.

There is no doubt in my mind that this bird is not a pure Titmouse.
"Temperance, like chastity, is its own punishment"
Pliny the Elder

Ari Rice

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Re: Clinton Lake; De Witt Co; 03/12/10
« #4 : March 20, 2010, 06:48:08 PM »
It's a Tufted Chicka-mouse!
@@@@@@@@ Ari R. @@@@@@@@@

Jeff Skrentny

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Re: Clinton Lake; De Witt Co; 03/12/10
« #5 : March 24, 2010, 12:13:39 PM »
Thanks for sharing this rare hybrid treat Matt.  So what did we decide...BCCH x TUTI?

BTW, next time you get an urge for a Texas canonball run, call, txt or email.  I would love to have your expertise there to help build my life and Texas lists.    
-jrrs
Jeff Skrentny
SkrentnySpeaks@me.com
Chicago, Cook County, IL

Michael Retter

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Re: Clinton Lake; De Witt Co; 03/12/10
« #6 : November 26, 2010, 10:15:40 AM »
As someone who routinely sees BCTI, I can assure you this is not one. I am not troubled by pale nasal tufts in a TUTI ◊ BCCH hybrid, as hybrids routinely show characteristics not typically shown by either parent species. Witness the white throat of Brewster's Warbler.
Michael Retter
Fort Worth, TX
http://aba.org/birdersguide/editor.html

Michael Retter

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Re: Clinton Lake; De Witt Co; 03/12/10
« #7 : November 26, 2010, 02:54:46 PM »
Here's a photo from north-central IN of another apparent TUTI ◊ BCCH.

http://www.wbu.com/chipperwoods/photos/hybridtt.htm
Michael Retter
Fort Worth, TX
http://aba.org/birdersguide/editor.html

frakerpovc

  • Matt Fraker
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Re: Clinton Lake; De Witt Co; 03/12/10
« #8 : December 06, 2010, 05:46:21 PM »
I'm still somewhat dismayed that there is any question about this bird, which according to Winks there apparently is (although he would not elaborate). I've heard that it's "within normal titmouse variation" and that it's just an "aberrant" titmouse. In 38 years of looking at Titmice, I can honestly say I've never seen an aberrant one. Plus -- as I noted -- the bird presented in the field as a Chickadee. Here is the hybrid:



a Titmouse just shot last week at the Fraker Farm:



and a Chickadee taken on the same day:



Frankly, the bird has more Chickadee traits than Titmouse:

Chickadee features:
--Black-cap
--tan diffusion through underparts
--greenish-gray back Ė this can be seen just barely on both shoulders of the hybrid in the photo
-- gray bib

Titmouse features:
--Doe eye placed almost into white of face
--tufted crest
--thicker bill

Unclaimed features:
--orange nasal tufts

Discussing the Black-crested Titmouse or Carolina Chickadee possibility is necessary. I agree with Michael that Black-crested is simply ruled out by the bird; Carolina probably canít be ruled out, but as unlikely as those birds are in this area, I think itís exponentially less likely.  Considering that this is the 5th or 6th time this hybrid has ever been documented, and I think only the second time photographically, I do feel itís a pretty significant record.



"Temperance, like chastity, is its own punishment"
Pliny the Elder

Michael Retter

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Re: Clinton Lake; De Witt Co; 03/12/10
« #9 : December 06, 2010, 06:53:11 PM »
No question in my mind, Matt, that it's a hybrid. It's certainly not within the normal variation for a titmouse. Did you post on IDF?
Michael Retter
Fort Worth, TX
http://aba.org/birdersguide/editor.html

frakerpovc

  • Matt Fraker
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Re: Clinton Lake; De Witt Co; 03/12/10
« #10 : December 06, 2010, 08:38:07 PM »
I did. Not for feedback, mind you -- but just to share the bird. One person asked for further field details and was supportive after they were provided. That was when I was first surprised -- I thought that I would be arguing against aberrant Chickadee -- the bird presented strongly as Chickadee in the field. The photos do not show the bird's essentially Chickadee body. One person thought it was a Titmouse (Allan Chartier), and two people concurred with the hybrid, including a strong response from Tony Leukering.



"Temperance, like chastity, is its own punishment"
Pliny the Elder

 

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