Friday, May 08, 2009

Two Odd Sightings

A pair of Western Kingbirds has come to nest near the basketball court on the CyFair campus every spring for several years. However, yesterday I was surprised to see four Kingbirds there. Their behavior was odd, too. The birds would fy up into the air in pairs and then hover/flutter face to face, chattering all the while. Sometimes it looked as if their beaks touched.
I assumed this was mating or pair bonding behavior but then three birds flew up together and did the same thing. Finally, all four birds flew up together and repeated the behavior. All I can think is that it was some sort of family bonding behavior.

On my way home, I stopped off at Paul Rushing / Chain-of-Lakes Park. Most of the shorebirds had left, except for a few Yellowlegs and Black-necked Stilts, a single Marbled Godwit and a solitary Wilson's Phalarope.

Marbled Godwit

Wilson's Phalarope

There were Whistling Ducks on the far side of some of the lakes but too far away to see clearly. Suddenly, something spooked them and they all took off together. For the next couple of minutes I watched in amazement as about 500 ducks swirled and circled above me. Quite a sight! As far as I could tell, 90% were Fulvous Whistling Ducks and only 10% Black-bellied.

Fulvous Whistling Ducks

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

It is easy to tell the two species apart in flight. The Fulvous have all-black wings but have white-edged tails. The Whistling have all-black tails but the tops of their wings have a large white stripe.


T Shaughnessy said...

Hi Jeff

I was near the entrance to the nature trail last week (too muddy to go down) and followed one of the Kingbirds w/ my binocs as it flew from a tree behind the tennis courts up to the very top of one of the lights on the tennis courts. It was the farthest corner pole on the northeast corner. I was hoping to see a nest being built. He/she finally flew off towards the west over the trees after about 3-4 minutes.

Jeff said...

They usually build somewhere around the edge of the basketball court roof.
I'll watch the light pole, too.