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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Gray Catbird was indeed at Thousand Palms

Coachella Valley Preserve--Thousand Palms Oasis, Riverside County, California, US Map ) Hotspot )
Date and Effort
Sat Apr 01, 2017 7:00 AM
Protocol:
Traveling
Party Size:
6
Duration:
1 hour(s), 30 minute(s)
Distance:
0.5 kilometer(s)
Observers:
Alexander Koonce List , Curtis Marantz , Howard King List , Matthew Grube List
Submitted from eBird Android, version 1.5.2
Species
21 species total
1
Gambel's Quail
(calling; heard-only)
1
Great Blue Heron
(seen flying by the palm grove on our arrival)
3
White-winged Dove
(singing; I saw at least two birds, but I am okay with Matt's estimate of three)
3
Mourning Dove
1
White-throated Swift
(calling; I only heard this species and thus cannot be sure if there were one or more birds)
1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)
(an unsexed bird seen briefly in flight)
1
Say's Phoebe
(calling; heard-only)
1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
(calling; heard-only)
2
Verdin
(calling)
1
Rock Wren
(singing; an unseen bird heard from the slope to the west of the grove)
2
Marsh Wren
(calling; unseen birds heard from the second boardwalk)
2
Bewick's Wren
(singing and calling)
2
Cactus Wren
(calling; heard-only)
1
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
(I missed a calling female that was seen by Howard)
Age & Sex
JuvenileImmatureAdultAge Unknown
Male
Female1
Sex Unknown
1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
(I missed this bird)
1
Gray Catbird
I believe it was Paul who initially located the continuing bird amid mesquite thickets along the southern side of the main palm grove. I obtained only briefly glimpses of the catbird while in the mesquites, but Matt eventually spotted it foraging on a cluster of fruits located high up in one of the palms, where it remained for a minute or two before dropping back down into the mesquites and disappearing altogether. Drawing Matt’s attention to the bird in the palms was the fact that it gave two or three distinctive, “mewing” calls which were heard by at least most of us. Given the moderate distance and less than ideal light, my views of the bird were less than ideal even when it was in the palm, but I was at least able to identify it with confidence and get a few mediocre photos at this time.
This was a small to medium-sized passerine that was relatively similar to a Northern Mockingbird in its size and general shape. It had a relatively short bill that tapered from a base of medium-depth to a blunt tip. The forehead was weakly sloping and the crown was gently rounded on a head of unremarkable size. The neck was relatively short and inconspicuous, and the body was slim. The wings seemed to be relatively short, but I did not see them well enough to note the primary projection or the placement of the wingtips relative to the tail. The tail was conspicuously long, maybe as long as the head and body combined, and it was slim and parallel-sided.
My views of the plumage were as superficial as those of the structure. I was able to get scope views of the head, in which I noted that the slate-gray face contrasted with a black cap that extended down to the upper edge of the superciliary region, but I had a hard time determining if the black extended through the forehead to the bill. Apart from the contrast between the black cap and gray face, this bird lacked any obvious pattern on the head. The rest of the plumage was also slate-gray in color, maybe with the wings and tail being a bit darker than the body, but I could not be sure. Given the distance and poor light I could not even discern the color of the undertail coverts on a bird that appeared almost entirely dark gray in color. My impression was that the bill was black and the eyes contrasted as conspicuously darker than the gray feathering of the face, seemingly appearing black in the field.
© Matthew Grube
© Curtis Marantz
This Gray Catbird was initially reported on 24 March 2017 by Tommy Richey and photographed here by Curtis A. Marantz on 1 April 2017 at the Thousand Palms Oasis, Coachella Valley Preserve, Riverside County, California.
© Curtis Marantz
This Gray Catbird was initially reported on 24 March 2017 by Tommy Richey and photographed here by Curtis A. Marantz on 1 April 2017 at the Thousand Palms Oasis, Coachella Valley Preserve, Riverside County, California.
2
Common Yellowthroat
(calling; the bird that I saw was a male)
Age & Sex
JuvenileImmatureAdultAge Unknown
Male1
Female
Sex Unknown1
1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's)
(calling; I saw this bird but not very well)
1
White-crowned Sparrow (Gambel's)
(I saw an adult Z. l. gambelii, but I suspect there were others)
Age & Sex
JuvenileImmatureAdultAge Unknown
Male
Female
Sex Unknown1
2
Lincoln's Sparrow
(calling; I only heard these birds)
8
House Finch
(singing and calling)
Additional species seen by Matthew Grube:
1
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Additional species seen by Howard King:
1
Yellow-rumped Warbler

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