DATELINE: Feb 9 2008, Sheepshead road, South Padre Island, lower TX coast, 3:54pm
photo credit: scarlet colley
A post shows up on the Texas bird list. The poster explains that Dan Jones (http://antshrike.blogspot.com/) just called to report a very rare bird. A bird so rare that there is not yet a record north of the equator.
The bird Dan reported was initially IDed as a Yellow-Bellied Elaenia. A common flycatcher of central and south america. Hours later, the bird was Re-identified as a WHITE-CRESTED ELAENIA. A bird rarely seen in Northern Brazil and never before north of the equator.
The following is excerpted from the ABA's E-bulletin:
"Elaenias are tyrant flycatchers found in two genera, Elaenia and Myiopagis (smaller than former and often resembling tyrannulets), all representatives native to the Caribbean, Central, or South America. There is one accepted North American record of a Greenish Elaenia, Myiopagis viridicata present on High Island 20–23 May ’84 and another elaenia, one not accepted to species but thought to be a Caribbean Elaenia, from Santa Rosa Island, Escambia County, FL on 28 April ‘84.
As many birders to South America know, elaenias are very difficult to separate. Elaenias in the genus Elaenia are mostly frugivorous birds of the forest edge. First thought to be Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Elaenia flavogaster, a species which breeds north to the southern Mexican states of Veracruz and Oaxaca, the SPI bird is now thought to be a subspecies of the highly migratory southern subspecies of the entirely South American White-crested Elaenia, Elaenia albiceps chilensis (embed this URL in the word “White-crested Elaenia”) http://www.otterside.com/winter2008/index.htm#Elaenia Elaenia albiceps chilensis, a species that breeds as far south as Tierra del Fuego, Chile. The chilensis subspecies spends the Austral winter as far north as Brazil, arriving by March.
John Arvin, from the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, explains that highly migratory southern populations of species (longer wings) are often the ones that are found as extralimital, and not the northern populations that are usually short distance migrants."
Pictures and videos were taken as well as recordings.
While the record still has to be reviewed by the TX records committee, the ABA, the AOU and a few other people, there is little doubt that it is indeed a White-crested Elaenia.
This bird, if accepted, will be a new record for North America, the ABA area, the AOU area and the Northern Hemisphere.
Huh, and the closest I will come to the bird will be High island TX. If the bird is still there 5 weeks from now.
Links to posts and pics: